Men at Work Newcastle City Hall 5th July 1983
“Do you come from a land down under?” Its easy to forget just how massively successful Australian band Men at Work were in the early 1980s. The statistics are formidable: a simultaneous No. 1 album and No. 1 single in the US and the UK; winner of the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and sales of over 30 million albums worldwide. In the UK, the single “Down Under” topped the charts in January and February 1983, and is the only Men at Work song to make the UK top 20. “Down Under” was one of those earworm songs which plays again and again in your head, and it was playing everywhere you went in early 1983. I remember buying a ticket for this gig simply on the strength of that one song. I was surprised just how quickly the concert sold out. Unlike every one else in the City Hall that night, I didn’t but their albums “Business and Usual” and “Cargo, and so all the songs, other than “Down Under” were fresh to me. I remember enjoying the gig; I think they may have played “Down Under” twice, once during the set and again as an encore’ or that could be my mind playing tricks again. Support came from Cook da Books a new wave band from Liverpool.
I found a setlist from a 1983 concert in the USA: Overkill; Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive; Underground; The Longest Night; Down Under; Blue for You; Highwire; No Sign of Yesterday; Who Can It Be Now?; Helpless Automaton; It’s a Mistake. Encore: Mr. Entertainer; Be Good Johnny.
“Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover.” (Down Under, Men at Work, 1981)
Men at Work Newcastle City Hall 5th July 1983
Meat Loaf Newcastle City Hall 1983 and 1985
I first became aware of Meat Loaf when I saw the video of “Bat out of Hell” on the Old Grey Whistle Test in the late 70s. That video screening caused quite a stir for a number of reasons. First it was an epic 9 minutes long; much longer than the clips which were normally aired on the programme. And secondly the power and drama of the performance was unlike anything else around at the time. Yes it was very Springsteen-like in its arrangement and its story of the street, love and passion. But this guy just took the concept to an entire new level. Meat Loaf came crashing into our sitting rooms that night, singing his tale of love and the street, and anyone who saw it couldn’t fail to have been moved. The video caused such a reaction that Bob Harris had to screen it again the following week; and it was often requested over the months and years that followed. I remember being totally knocked out by the drama, theatre and passion of the song, by Meat Loaf’s epic performance and Jim Steinman’s arrangement. Steinman is on record as saying: “I never really saw classical music and rock ‘n’ roll as different. I still don’t. I grew up liking extremes in music – big gothic textures. I never have much regard for more subtle stuff. Dire Straits may be good, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I was attracted to William Blake, Hieronymus Bosch, I couldn’t see the point in writing songs about ordinary, real-life stuff….Meat was the most mesmerizing thing I’d ever seen…..He was much bigger than he is now, he was f***ing huge, and since I grew up with Wagner, all my heroes were larger than life. His eyes went into his head, like he was transfixed”
I didn’t get to see Meat Loaf in concert until 20th August 1983 when he featured as part of the Donington Monsters of Rock jamboree. The full line up on that day was: Whitesnake; Meat Loaf; ZZ Top; Twisted Sister; Dio and Diamond Head (pretty good eh :)). I then saw him play at Newcastle City Hall a month or so later on 26th September 1983, and again on 19th January 1985. I also saw the big man sing at the 22nd June 1985 Knebworth concert which had a line up of Deep Purple , Scorpions, Meat Loaf , UFO, Mountain, Blackfoot , Mama’s Boys, and Alaska.
Meat Loaf in concert was a magnificent piece of theatre, full-on drama and passion. Support on both occasions at the City Hall came from Terraplane, a pop rock band who would later morph into Thunder. The 1985 concert was also memorable for another reason: “1985. Meatloaf collapses on stage at Newcastle City Hall. He is taken by ambulance to the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital where he undergoes a 30 minute examination in the casualty department. Tour manager Robbie Johnstone later said, ‘Meatloaf collapsed onstage due to food poisoning contracted the previous evening, leaving his system completely dehydrated’”. The gig was rescheduled a month or so later and Meat Loaf returned to Newcastle on 8th February 1985 to play another great concert.
Typical set list from 1985: Bad Attitude; Dead Ringer For Love; Jumping the Gun; Midnight At the Lost and Found; I’m Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us; Paradise By the Dashboard Light; Nowhere Fast; Piece Of the Action; All Revved Up With No Place To Go; Modern Girl; Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad; Bat Out Of Hell.
“The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling, Way down in the valley tonight, There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye, And a blade shining oh so bright, There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in the sky, And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets, Oh and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising, Oh I swear I saw a young boy, Down in the gutter, He was starting to foam in the heat” (Bat Out Of Hell, Steinman, 1977).
John Martyn in concert
I saw the great John Martyn several times in the 1970s. The first time was at festivals; the Lincoln Festival in 1972, and then Reading 1973. I remember the Reading appearance well; John appeared early on the Sunday afternoon with the great Danny Thompson on bass. At that time John was very much the folk hippy troubadour, and the song that we all knew was “May You Never” which appeared on the “Solid Air” album. I also saw John Martyn at a concert upstairs in the Londonderry pub in Sunderland; it must have been in 1972 or 1973. By that point John was beginning to experiment with his echoplex, and he was just amazing. The sound of his voice and guitar echoed again and again, filling the room with layers of sound. It was tremendous and not what I was expecting at all. John was exploring the use of his voice as an instrument, intertwining it with his echoing guitar, and creating sounds unlike anything I have ever heard before. I googled to see if I could find any record of that gig, as it doesn’t appear on his gigography. The only thing I could find was a blog report by a guy who was also at the gig: “Saw JM only once – in Sunderland at the Londonderry Hotel. Brilliant evening where he wasn’t paid a lot but promised to come and play and kept his word. Arrived in Newcastle station from London and was picked up by John …. somebody and driven through to Sunderland. Walked in – set up in a flash an started to play. I sat 8 feet away and could not believe that he was better live than on disc. Rolled the guy a j and shared it while he played. Very quiet – came into our lives and went in a couple of hours – back on the train to London…..Singing in the rain will never sound the same as when he played it live – brilliant guitar playing accompanying as always. Doo doo doo doo doo dee doo doo doo dee do dee doooo!!!!”(John B) I’d almost forgotten that he played a great version of “Singing in the Rain”.
After that great gig at the Londonderry my memories are a little vague, I’m afraid. I remember going to a gig at Newcastle University in the lateish 70s and possibly one at Sunderland Poly and Newcastle Poly? I also found a report of a gig at Redcar: “1979-11-18 UK, Redcar (Teesside), Coatham Bowl. The place wasn’t full and he was swearing (like bigtime!)” (Ian Hepplewhite). “He came on stage pissed, then smoked the biggest spliff seen by mankind and was then too out of it to play. My friend ended up crying at our table because he was so disappointed with the performance..” (Ian Wallis). I also though I saw John at Redcar, but don’t recall the gig being as poor as that. All of those 70s gigs seem to blend into one now…..
The next time I definitely saw John Martyn was at a gig at Newcastle City Hall on the Glorious Fool Tour. His band was Jeff Allen, Drums; Danny Cummings, Percussion; Max Middleton, Keyboards; and Alan Thomson, Bass. The programme sums the gig up well: “Who can fill a hall with sound using just a guitar and an echoplex? Who wears natty suits, complete with braces? Who has gained ecstatic reviews for every album he has released in the last ten years? The answer to all these questions is John Martyn. His new album “Glorious Fool” will be eagerly awaited by rock fans, not least because producer and drummer is Phil Collins, with whom Martyn collaborated on his last album Grace and Danger, his final album for Island, after an eleven album run with that label.” The Support Act that night was a band called Bumble And The Beez.
I saw John once more before he sadly passed away. That was at a concert at the Sage Gateshead in 2007. John was playing the Solid Air album, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. By then his health was poor, and he had lost part of his right leg and was in a wheelchair. But his spirit and voice were still great, and the concert was simply spell binding. John sadly passed away two years after that gig, and we lost a unique spirit and talent.
Setlist from John Martyn’s 2007 Solid Air tour: Cooltide; Looking On; Dreams by the Sea; The Man in the Station; Over The Hill; The Easy Blues; Gentle Blues; Don’t Want to Know; May You Never; I’d Rather Be the Devil; Go Down Easy; Solid Air; Rock Salt and Nails; Never Let Me Go
The Monkees Newcastle City Hall 1990 and Newcastle Arena 1997
Hey Hey We’re the Monkees! When I was a kid, we would play out in the streets all day. But there were two TV shows that brought us all running back home so that we could watch them. One was Batman (Ker Pow ) and the other was The Monkees. We just loved to watch the crazy antics of Mickey, Davy, Peter and Mike, and listen to those great, just perfect, pop songs. Sadly I didn’t manage to see the Monkees in concert in their hey day; the first time I saw them was when they came to Newcastle City Hall in 1989. This was their first UK tour for many years, and it was great to see them live. That show featured three of the band; Mickey, Davy, and Peter. Mike often resisted joining them on tour, preferring to concentrate on his own music and other projects. They were back again in 1997; this time at the cavernous Newcastle Arena, and Mike Nesmith was there too. On both occasions the guys played all of their hits, and covered the many different aspects of their career. The Monkees were always a mix of pop, country, vaudeville, stage and dance, and their shows reflected that. I saw The Monkees once more, at the City Hall a few years ago, at a concert which once again featured Mickey, Davy, and Peter (no Mike), and I blogged on that show at the time.
Sadly, on the morning of 29 February 2012, after riding one of his horses, Davy Jones complained of chest pains and was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead of a heart attack, and we lost another of our teen heroes. The Monkees were often dismissed as a “manufactured band” but if you look at the legacy of those hit pop songs, and those great TV episodes, there was much more to them. They captured a sense of freedom, and made us feel that the world was ours and that if we wanted to we could do just about anything. Very much of the time, but for those of us who ran into the house to watch the show, pretty special.
Setlist from the 1997 Newcastle Arena show: Last Train to Clarksville; Circle Sky; Sunny Girlfriend; Mary, Mary; You and I; Randy Scouse Git; Shades of Gray; Zilch; You Just May Be the One; Oh, What a Night; I’m a Believer; Bach’s Two-Part Invention in F Major (Peter’s keyboard solo); Rio (Mike Nesmith song); Lucille; Since I Fell for You; Daddy’s Song; For Pete’s Sake; A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You; Goin’ Down; Your Auntie Grizelda; Valleri; Listen to the Band; Porpoise Song (Theme From “Head”); Daydream Believer. Encore: (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone; Pleasant Valley Sunday.
Marillion Newcastle Mayfair 1983 & Newcastle City Hall 1984
Marillion came along when we least expected it. They sneaked up on us in the early 80s, playing very unfashionable prog rock, which really shouldn’t have been successful given the mood of the time. But Marillion were true to the cause, and the beauty and depth of their music shone through. This ensured their success and popularity, which continues to this day, despite the departure of their charismatic front man Fish. The first time I heard Marillion, at the time of their first album “Script for a Jester’s Tear”, I was struck by the similarity to early Gabriel era Genesis. I heard shades of “Musical Box” and “The Knife” in their music, and of Van Der Graaf (perhaps “Refugees”); and yet they also had their own distinctive sound. Being a devotee of early 70s prog and Genesis, I made sure I saw Marillion when the “Script” tour called at Newcastle. If I remember right Marillion played the Mayfair on that tour, on the same night as my mate Dave and I were due to see Culture Club at the City Hall. No problem, the timings were such that we managed to catch both gigs, calling at the City Hall first to see Boy George and co (which was good fun), and then racing round to the Mayfair Ballroom for Marillion’s set. This meant we sadly missed ex Van Der Graaf front man Peter Hamill, who was the support act for Marillion. But hey you can’t have everything. We arrived just as Marillion took to the stage. Marillion were great that night; the Mayfair was packed and their intricate prog sound filled the ballroom. The set consisted of the Script album, and of course their single “Market Square Heroes”. Fish was amazing at the time, the Gabriel and Hammill influences clearly showing; but he had his own stage presence.
Marillion were back in Newcastle a year or so later to promote the “Fugazi” album, and played another great gig at the City Hall. The last time I saw the band was in 1985 at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festivl, where they were second on the bill to Z Z Top. By then the classic “Kayleigh” had been released, and it called for a major sing a long by the crowd. I haven’t seen Marillion or Fish since the 80s; both continue to gig regularly and retain a strong fan base.
Setlist for 1983 Script tour: Script for a Jester’s Tear; Garden Party; Three Boats Down From the Candy; The Web; Charting the Single; Chelsea Monday; He Knows You Know; Forgotten Sons; Market Square Heroes; Margaret. Setlist for 1984 Fugazi tour: Assassing; Punch and Judy; Jigsaw; Script for a Jester’s Tear; Emerald Lies; Chelsea Monday; Incubus; He Knows You Know; Fugazi; Forgotten Sons; Garden Party; Market Square Heroes
“Do you remember, chalk hearts melting on a playground wall? Do you remember, dawn escaped from moonwashed college halls? Do you remember, the cherry blossom in the market square? Do you remember, I thought it was confetti in our hair?” (Kayleigh, Marillion, 1985).
Magazine Redcar 1978 and Newcastle 1979
I have fond memories of seeing Magazine in concert a few times during the late 70s and early 80s. In particular, I recall being impressed with Howard Devoto’s stage presence the very first time I saw the band, which was at a show at Redcar Coatham Bowl in 1978. This was their first major UK tour. Howard spent the entire night up high on a mike stand on a raised platform, looking menacingly down at the audience and snarling out the vocals at us all. It was pretty spooky, and quite different to the punk rock gigs that I was used to at the time. It was an amazing gig, and the crowd were mesmerised by Howard and the band.
Howard Devoto, of course, formed Magazine in 1977, having left the Buzzcocks during their early days. The line-up of Magazine in July 1978 at the time of the Redcar gig which I attended was Howard Devoto on vocals, the late great John McGeoch on atmospheric, discordant and truly inventive guitar, Barry Adamson on thundering, pumping bass, Martin Jackson on drums, and Dave Formula on swirling keyboards. This was the classic Magazine line-up. They had just released their first album “Real Life” and the single “Shot By Both Sides”, which reached the lower regions of the UK chart (No 41 to be exact) and is a true classic of the new wave era. I saw Magazine at least twice more during that period of exhilarating punk gigs, including a concert at Newcastle City Hall, where they were supported by an up and coming band called Simple Minds :), and at a Saturday night gig at Newcastle University Students Union Canteen. “And The Light pours down on me”, and “Shot by both sides” are two of my favourite songs, and Magazine concert performances at the time were amazing.
Laura later became familiar with the band through Morrissey, who has covered a couple of their songs. So when Magazine reformed in 2009 we both decided we should go along and see them, and made the trip to London on a cold Friday night to see them perform at the London Forum, and to see if they would live up to their legend. They did indeed and it was another great gig, which I blogged on at the time.
Paul McCartney Sheffield and Birmingham April and May 2003
Paul McCartney didn’t tour for quite some years after his 1990 outing, so when he announced a concert tour in 2003, I wanted to catch a show. I bought tickets for Marie, Laura, David and me to see Paul’s concert at Sheffield Arena. He was scheduled to play two nights in Sheffield, and the concert were due to take place in April 2003. We were booked to attend the second of the two nights. We booked a couple of rooms in the Travelodge next to the venue, and we were all really looking forward to the gig. On the afternoon of the show we drove down, checked into our rooms, and set off to walk just around the corner to the concert. Imagine our disappointment when we were greeted by fans coming in the opposite direction, everyone telling us that the concert was cancelled as Paul had ‘flu. We checked with the stewards, but sure enough it was true, the gig was cancelled with only an hour to go to show time. We decided not to stay the night, and drove home, very down about the whole thing. We had also been told that the show would be rescheduled but, not wanting to leave anything to chance, I got straight on the phone to Ticketmaster and booked tickets to see McCartney at Birmingham NIA the following week. I quickly booked hotel rooms and trains, and my disappointment started to lift…
So a week after our disappointment at Sheffield we traveled by train to Birmingham to see Paul McCartney in concert. Sometimes booking late for a show can be a good thing, as promoters often release excellent tickets close to the date of the concert. This was certainly the case for us this time, as our seats were in the third row, although a little to the side of the stage. The concert was just great. Paul played a marathon set, although the time seemed to fly over. Its easy to forget just how many classic songs the Beatles had, and on this tour Paul delved right back into that rich catalogue, playing excellent versions of songs that brought back so many memories for everyone there that night. Indeed, many of the songs had never been played live before this tour. For me the classic Beatles songs were highlights: All My Loving; We Can Work It Out; The Fool on the Hill; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There, and Everywhere; Things We Said Today; I’ve Just Seen a Face; Two of Us. All just great. Massive explosive flares burnt high into the roof of the hall during Live and Let Die. We were so close we could feel the heat, although the fire was so strong I suspect you could feel it at the back of the venue. At one point in the show I looked around the hall and saw so many people singing every word, and so many visibly weeping at the emotion of it all. Spine tingling, classic stuff.
The Sheffield concert was rescheduled for the end of May, and we couldn’t resist going to see Paul again. So a few weeks after seeing the show in Birmingham we drove to Sheffield and experienced the whole thing again. And it was just as good….:)
The band (who were, by the way, first class): Rusty Anderson: backing vocals, guitar; Brian Ray: backing vocals, guitar, bass guitar; Paul “Wix” Wickens: backing vocals, keyboards, accordion, acoustic guitar, percussion; and Abe Laboriel Jr: backing vocals, drums, percussion. Rusty and Abe were particularly outstanding.
Setlist from Birmingham: Hello, Goodbye; Jet; All My Loving; Getting Better; Let Me Roll It; Lonely Road; Your Loving Flame; Blackbird; Every Night; We Can Work It Out; You Never Give Me Your Money/Carry That Weight; The Fool on the Hill; Here Today; Something; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There, and Everywhere; Things We Said Today; I’ve Just Seen a Face; Calico Skies; Two of Us; Michelle; Band on the Run; Back in the U.S.S.R.; Let ‘Em In; My Love; She’s Leaving Home; Can’t Buy Me Love; Birthday; Live and Let Die; Let It Be; Hey Jude; The Long and Winding Road; Lady Madonna; I Saw Her Standing There; Yesterday; Sergeant Peppers/The End
Paul has continued to tour since 2003. We have seen him at Live 8 (2005), Liverpool Sound (2008) and at Glasgow Hampden Park (2010). I blogged on the Liverpool and Glasgow concerts at the time, and will write about Live 8 in a separate post one day soon.