Sutherland Brothers & Quiver 1975 and 1976
I was aware of The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver as two separate bands, and saw them both live a few times. I saw The Sutherland Brothers at the Lincoln and Reading festivals in 1972, and Quiver as support for T Rex, and at Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall. They were two very different bands. The Sutherland Brothers an acoustic fold duo, who had a great 1972 single “The Pie” and the song “Sailing” which was to become a massive hit when covered by Rod Stewart. Quiver were a folky rock band, led by excellent guitarist Tim Renwick, and did a great version of The Beatles “Saw Her Standing There”.
In late 1972 the two acts joined forces and became Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. This seemed to me to be a strange move at the time, but proved to be very sensible. They released an album “Dream Kid”, and the excellent title track was released as a single, which should have been a hit but sadly didn’t chart. The new band toured constantly; I saw them at the Reading Festival in 1974 and 1976, and at Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall on 5th December 1975. In 1976 they released “Arms of Mary”, their biggest hit, which reached No. 5 in the UK singles chart. They headlined a major tour at the time, calling at Newcastle City Hall on 26th September 1976. Support came from Moon, a successful pub rock band. The success was to be short lived. Tim Renwick left the group in 1977 and by 1979 the Sutherland Brothers had parted company with Quiver, and returned to recording as a duo. Sutherland Brothers & Quiver were a very under-rated band. The combination of the Sutherland Brothers’ great songs, and the guitar-based rock music of Quiver was a powerful mixture. Their live performances were always excellent, and their music crossed and combined genres including pop, country, rock, reggae and folk. There was so much more to them than their rather middle of the road (MOR) hit “Arms of Mary” might suggest. Perhaps that was the problem; a fine band who were difficult to pigeon hole, and landed a MOR hit, which gave them an audience who didn’t fully appreciate the breadth and depth of their music. That, and the advent of punk, probably sealed their fate. Listen to “The Pie” or “Dream Kid”.
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver 1975 and 1976
Sweet Newcastle City Hall 6th March 1981
In 1979 Brian Connolly left Sweet. His alcoholism had become a problem and had started to affect the band’s music and performances. Sweet continued as a trio with Steve Priest and Andy Scott handling lead vocals, and Mick Tucker continuing on drums. Keyboard player Gary Moberley joined the group for live concerts. I saw the three piece Sweet at Newcastle City Hall in March 1981. Sadly the venue was far from full, which was a shame because this was a great show, very loud and rocky. The set was a mis of a few of the hits, and soke of the rockier album tracks. Based on a live recording of the tour rehearsals, it is likely to have been something like this: Ballroom Blitz; Burn On The Flame/Restless; Burning/Some Else Will; Two wont go; It makes me wonder; Hey mama; Love is like oxygen; Fox on the run; Done me wrong alright; Guitar solo; Action; Set Me Free; Drum Solo; Sweet FA
Sweet split at the end of the tour, playing their last gig in Glasgow on 20th March 1981.
In 1983 I saw Brian Connolly supporting Pat Benatar at Newcastle City Hall. At the time Brian was fronting his new band called Connolly’s Encore, which consisted of ex-Argent guitarist John Verity and Terry Uttley, bass player from Smokie. The next time I saw a version of Sweet, was when Brain Connolly’s Sweet played Sunderland Wearmouth Hall in the early 1990s. The line-up was Brian Connolly (lead vocals), Dave Farmer (ex Blackfoot Sue on drums), Gary Farmer (Dave’s younger brother on bass) and Steve Turner (guitar). The hall was packed and Brian and his band played pretty good versions of all the hits to the delight of a very drunk Saturday night student crowd.
In 1985 Andy Scott and Mick Tucker re-formed their own version of Sweet.
Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker both sadly passed away; Connolly in 1997 and Tucker in 2002. Andy Scott continues to front Sweet today; I saw them a couple of years ago at the Sage on a Xmas tour with Slade. Steve Priest fronts his own version of the band, which performs in the USA.
Darlington Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Festival, Mungo Jerry 14th Sep 2014
Ray Dorset is Mr Boogie; a one man rhythm machine who has been rockin’ and rollin’ for over 40 years. Yesterday he brought his brand of rhythm ‘n’ blues to Darlington, where his band Mungo Jerry headlined the Darlington Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Festival.
The annual Darlo event takes place in venues across the town, with a main stage in the market square. Previous headliners have included The Pretty Things and Andy Fairweather-Low. The music runs from 1pm until 11pm and is organised in by Darlington Borough Council, Darlington Rhythm n Blues Club and Gasto Promotions.
I arrived in time to catch the Marcus Malone band who were playing some fine blues rock, and warmed the crowd up for the main event. The square was packed; everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the music on a chilly, but dry Sunday afternoon.
Just after 5 o’clock Ray Dorset walked on stage, strapped on his guitar, stamped his foot, and showed us all how he can still command a big crowd at an open air show, 44 years after he stole the show at the Hollywood music festival.
It’s 42 years since I saw Mungo Jerry rock the Friday night of the Reading festival, and I was looking forward to reliving some of the memories of that event and of Mungo gigs in the mid 70s at Sunderland Locarno. Today Mungo Jerry is Ray Dorset (of course, and as it always has been) on guitar, mouth harp and vocals, Jon Playle (bass), Mark David (drums) and Toby Hounsham (keyboards).
The set was a mix of blues, Mungo Jerry hits, and “Feels like I’m in love”, which was written by Ray Dorset and a big hit for Kelly Marie in 1980 (I’d forgotten that he’d written that one).They went down well with the audience in the market square; Ray was as energetic and funny as ever, getting the crowd to join in and sing along, which everyone did, particularly during “In the Summertime”. Great stuff. A good show from a real trouper, and it was great to see that him still rocking.
Setlist: Rock Me Baby, Rolling and Tumbling, Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black, You Don’t Have to be in the Army to Fight in the War, Lady Rose, The blues has got you?, Open up, Feels like I’m in love, In the Summertime.
The Style Council Newcastle City Hall 19th March 1984
Paul Weller formed the Style Council in 1983, along with his friend and keyboardist Mick Talbot, who was formerly of Dexys Midnight Runners and The Merton Parkas. I saw them perform three times; at this headline concert in Newcastle City Hall in 1984, as part of the Red Wedge tour at the same venue, and at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium in 1985. For me, the Style Council were musically the least successful of Paul Weller’s incarnations, sandwiched between the wonderful Jam, and his later, excellent solo work. By March 1984, and the time of this concert, the Style Council had been in the UK singles charts on four occasions with “Speak Like a Child”, “Money Go Round (Part 1)”, “Long Hot Summer” and “A Solid Bond in Your Heart”. Their single “My Ever Changing Moods” was in the chart at the time, giving them their fifth UK chart success.
The ethic of The Style Council was sound and honourable, aiming to produce perfect blue-eyed soul, tinged with right-on politics and sharp, (sometimes too, and embarrassingly) cool style. “They were socialists, vegetarian, didn’t drink, wore cool rain macs, colourful knitwear, expensive footwear and made some of the most brilliant modernist music ever. They also spoke out against the corrosive issues of the day, even if it meant the threat of commercial suicide” (from the Paul Weller website). For me, musically, well I felt it just didn’t quite work. That was perhaps because I’d enjoyed seeing the Jam so much on several crazy occasions. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this 1984 concert at the City Hall, but I also missed the power and passion of Weller’s previous mod combo. Support came from post punk new mod Scottish hipsters The Questions.
The Slits, Don Cherry & Happy House, Prince Hammer & Creation Rebel: Simply Whats Happening; Newcastle City Hall 23rd September 1979
This was a very adventurous and quite ground breaking tour, which united female punk thrash icons The Slits with legendary innovative jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and Jamaican reggae masters Prince Hammer and Creation Rebel. An early example of punk acting as a platform for world music fusion, this collection of artists toured the major concert halls in the UK, calling at Newcastle City Hall. I’d seen the Slits perform twice before as support for the Clash, and also supporting the Buzzcocks. They had just released their first album “Cut”. Viv Albertine “We knew we were a first, which could be uncomfortable, and we were much more revolutionary than the Pistols and the Clash. They were rock bands, whereas we were using world music and reggae, filtered through our own musicality. We were like a female Spinal Tap, really: we argued, toured and wanted to make a classic album that never dated.” (Interview by Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian, Monday 24 June 2013)
The Slits line-up was the late Ari Up on vocals, guitarist Viv Albertine, Tessa Pollitt on bass and (soon to be Banshee) Budgie on drums. I think Neneh Cherry, Don’s daughter joined them for the tour. Ari Up was a crazy wild front lady, complete with dreads, outlandish outfits and nifty dancing.
From the programme: “This is simply what’s happening…..what’s happening here is real music played by people from three different cultures. Three different musics united by one expression – freedom.
Enjoy yourself, keep room in your head and heart for music from all different cultures and places – we all live under the same sun…” Disc O’Dell
Sadly, with no massive audience draw on the tour, attendance was not great. The Newcastle show was very poorly attended with only a couple of hundred people in a hall which holds 2,400. Pity, because this was an interesting evening with some different and challenging music. The programme (pictured here) is also very different and contains some scribbly doodling artwork and slogans, presumably drawn by one or more of the band.