Twisted Sister Newcastle Mayfair 15th April 1983
Twisted Sister were crazy, sick, evil, motherf**kas. Going to see Twisted Sister was like going to a military drill, where the sergeant major dressed as a woman, made you swear, and ridiculed you if you didn’t join in and go totally crazy. These guys took all the evil, nasty, vile, scary, bits from Alic Cooper, New York Dolls, Slade, Bowie and The Stones, dragged them through their worst nightmares of Frankenstein and Dracula, and produced a metal band with an attitude and image like we had never seen before. Twisted Sister music was anthems and choruses sung again and again over slabs of loud, crashing, metal. Oh, and by the way they were just great :) Perfect for a loud rock night at the Mayfair.
Lead singer and 110% crazy guy Dee Snider looked like a 6 feet something biker, dressed in drag, with the tightest, most disgusting bright spandex pants, make-up smeared all over his face like he had been out partying all night, and the craziest mane of bright yellow hair. “We are Twisted F**in’ Sister”. “And I am a sick muthaf**ka!” “Are you a sick muthaf**ka?!” “Say it, I am a sick muthaf**ka!” “Hey that f**in’ guy up there isn’t f**in’ saying it! Does he think he is at f**in’ Woodstock?! We ain’t no f**in’ Grateful Dead, maaaan.” “Come on man, f**in’ shout it. I am a sick muthaf**ka!” “”What do we say to f**in’ people who don’t want to f**in’ party seven days a week, 365 f**in’ days a year? We are sick muthaf**kas! We are sick muthaf**kas! We are sick muthaf**kas!” There was no escape.
Snider: “I tap into everything negative in my personality. I think about the things I hate, the things I’m angry about. I let it all out – I curse, scream, roll around – and afterwards, I feel good…. Metal is an outlet for negative emotions – anger, frustration, hostility. There’s always anger, and you need to let it go. You want to punch somebody in the face – Heavy Metal, you punch your fist in the air. You want to stomp on somebody, you stomp on the floor. You want to scream at your parents, you scream into the air.”
Wonderful. No Twisted Sister; no Motley Crue, no Ratt, no Poison.
Setlist: What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You); Sin After Sin; Bad Boys (Of Rock ‘n’ Roll); Destroyer; We’re Gonna Make It; Tear It Loose; You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll; Shoot ‘Em Down; Run for Your Life; I Am (I’m Me); It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It); Blaydon Races; Ride to Live, Live to Ride; Under the Blade; Let the Good Times Roll
I saw Twisted Sister later that year at Donington and more recently supporting Alice Cooper.
“We are sick muthaf**kas!”
Toyah Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982
So Toyah became a pop star. She had major chart success with a run of hit singles. First “It’s a Mystery” which was the stand out song on a hit EP. Toyah: “When I first heard ‘It’s a Mystery’ I thought it wasn’t for me….the end of…four brilliant years’ work as a credible rock artist… Because I’d worked from 1977 right up to 1980 and I had an army of followers and I just knew this song wasn’t for them”. This was followed by “I Want to Be Free”. Toyah again: “It resonated with how I felt about my school years.” “Thunder in the Mountains” followed: “I wanted to be Bodicea, set in the future, a woman breaking free… everything I did that year was on the concept of breaking free”.
I saw Toyah on the next couple of tours both of which called at Newcastle City Hall; the Anthem tour on 1st June 1981 and the Changeling tour on 12th July 1982. These were big shows with intricate stage sets, which gave Toyah a platform to run around, playing out her Bodicea fantasy, while she squealed, squawked and screamed her way through the set. Great fun.
The concerts on 17 July and 18 July 1982 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon were recorded for the live double album Warrior Rock: Toyah On Tour.
Setlist from 1982 tour: Good Morning Universe, Warrior Rock, Danced, Jungles Of Jupiter, It’s A Mystery, Castaways, Angel & Me, Brave New World, The Packt, Thunder In The Mountains, We Are, I Want To Be Free, Dawn Chorus, War Boys, Ieya.
Toyah Newcastle Mayfair 1980 & Durham University 1981
My first recollections of Toyah Willcox are of seeing her performances in the seminal punk film “Jubilee” and the film of the Who’s “Quadrophenia”. That started my interest in her and I went to see her live on four occasions I the years between 1980 and 1982. It may not be cool to admit it now, but I was a bit of a fan at the time, and enjoyed her life performances. You have to admit that this lady has achieved a lot including 8 Top 40 singles, over 20 albums, two books, over 40 stage plays and 10 films, and many TV shows. She is also, of course, married to enigmatic prog king Robert Fripp.
I first saw Toyah live on the 1980 IEYA tour, when she called at Newcastle Mayfair on 5th June 1980. This was her first visit to the north east, and I had been waiting for some time for a chance to see her. At the time Toyah was seen as being part of the punk scene, although she said “I don’t use punk whatsoever because my philosophies are so different, my morals are so straight. I’m not a punk, I’m a modern woman.” I recall the gig as a joyous, crazy affair. Toyah live was a manic bundle of energy, charging around the stage, screaming, rolling around, totally into the performance. The band weren’t far behind her, either. The music used dynamics, soaring choruses and thumping beats to drive the gig along. Great fun, and very impressive. Toyah was a serious artist and a real contender at the time.
This was before she yielded to the charts and the hit making machinery. “At some of our gigs the kids go bananas! But this one time it was particularly bad. A riot started before we’d even leapt on stage. I was furious, ‘cos a lot of kids wanted to hear us! I didn’t know what to do, so I stomped off till everyone calmed down!” (Record Mirror, 1980). A live album was recorded during the tour, at Wolverhampton Lafayette a couple of weeks after the Mayfair gig. The track listing is: Victims of the Riddle, Indecision, Love Me, Visions, Tribal Look, Bird in Flight, Danced, Insects, Race Through Space, Ieya. I guess the set at the Mayfair will have been similar.
In early 1981 Toyah toured university student unions; I attended a wild packed gig at Dunelm Ballroom Durham University on 26th January. Toyah was on the verge of massive chart success. The EP “Four by Toyah” would soon be released, which featured the hit “Its a Mystery”.
Television Newcastle City Hall 23rd May 1977 and 10th April 1978
Marquee Moon was one of those songs which seemed to follow me everywhere in 1977. The title track of Television’s highly acclaimed (and rightly so) debut album was on everyone’s playlist. If was so…. different from anything else at the time, and came from a different dimension to any of the more familiar variants of punk or new wave. No thrash, no poppy tune. Instead Marquee Moon had all the ingredients of great new music: Tom Verlaine’s extraordinary razor sharp edgy riffs, cutting in and out of the off-beat, and some seriously weird lyrics which were difficult to understand but seemed to tell some strange dark story. The rest of the album was equally as good, with great twin guitar work, an arty, precise, almost clinical feel and elements of classic rock. The critics loved it. Television’s line-up at the time was Tom Verlaine (guitar, vocals), Richard Lloyd (guitar), Fred Smith (bass) and Billy Ficca (drums). Television toured the UK with support from Blondie, playing at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd May 1977. There was a good turn out for the concert which drew punk, rock and pop fans.
Although both bands hailed from the same New York new wave scene, they were musically and artistically very different and those differences came through in their performances that night. Blondie were on the cusp of massive success, and were bright, poppy, fast and lots of fun. Debbie Harry was amazing. In contrast Television were serious, distant, and simply played their (excellent) music with no particular light show and very little interaction with the audience. A great concert, with two contrasting bands both performing well.
Relations weren’t great between Television and Blondie on the tour. Blondie’s Chris Stein said that Television were “competitive” and recalled the Glasgow show where “all our equipment was shoved up at the Apollo and we had like three feet of room so that [Tom Verlaine] could stand still in this vast space.”
A 1977 Television setlist would be something like this: See No Evil, Friction, Venus, Prove It, Elevation, Marquee Moon, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
(Bob Dylan cover), Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover).
The Damned has a similar experience to Blondie when they played with Television. Brian James: “When we did that first American tour, we had a gig on the West Coast supporting Television. We got there and they said ‘We’re not letting this bunch support us’. We were stuck on a limb. We went down to see them and play and we had tee-shirts saying ‘Television are c**ts’. It really intimidated them. Captain wrote a song called ‘Idiot Box’ — like TV — about them.” “I can turn you off, Well I just tried & left you off
Tumbling you may be art, But you sure ain’t rock’n’roll
People standing in the rain, Just to see that screen Verlaine
Supersonic I’ll come back soon, ‘Cause all we got is a Marquee moon” (Idiot Box, The Damned)
Television returned to Newcastle City Hall on 10th April 1978. The hall was far from full, and much emptier than the previous year. Support this time was The Only Ones, Peter Perret’s great band. This was at their time of their excellent single Another Girl, Another Planet. Another big contrast between support and headliner. This was a lack lustre performance by Television. They spent some considerable time tuning up, ignoring the audience, to the extent that several people walked out. The feeling that came over was one of coldness and distance.
Sorry to leave my memories on a less than positive note. Television were an exceptional band, a breath of fresh air and the sound of Verlaine’s guitar on Marquee Moon cut through everything else around at the time.
Many thanks to Mitch for the photos which he took at the 1977 concert.
Steve Hackett Genesis Extended Tour York Barbican 26th October 2014
Support from Mostly Autumn (Acoustic)
The success of Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited project has grown over the past couple of years. He started with a few classic Genesis songs, playing in smaller venues, but the tour soon developed to a full blown Genesis set, playing in theatres up and down the country, including sold out concerts at Hammersmith Apollo and the Royal Albert Hall. Hackett is now touring with “Genesis Extended” a new show which includes many of the classic songs from the early to mid -’70s era.
Steve has put together a great band featuring Gary O’Toole on drums, Nad Sylvan on vocals, Roger King on keyboards, Rob Townsend on flute, sax and percussion, and Nick Beggs (ex Kajagoogoo) on bass. There are all excellent musicians and manage to do justice to this formidable back catalogue. They started with Dance on a Volcano and featured gems such as Return of the Giant Hogweed, Fountain of Salmancis, Dancing With the Moonlit Knight and Lilywhite Lilith. My favourites were always going to be The Musical Box, which got the first full standing ovation of the evening, and The Knife. Both dark, moody stories and enduring pieces of rock theatre. The intricate beautiful music of The Musical Box was recreated perfectly as was the swirling, manic dance of The Knife. I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to enjoy this concert, as I songs like The Musical Box and The Knife hold a special place in my memory, and I feared that they could never be played with the detail and reverence they deserve. However Steve and the band managed to strike the right balance of playing the music perfectly, and setting a mood that matched that of the originals, including some of the theatrical elements that Peter Gabriel so famously pioneered. Much of that was down to the performance of Nad Sylvan who was incredible, and pulled off the impossible. I wasn’t sure how this long-haired blonde guy, dressed in a ruffle shirt and tight black trousers would be able to play the part of Gabriel, and I remained a little unconvinced during the first few songs. However as the performance progressed I started to warm to the guy. He introduced his own performance, his own theatre to the songs, yet also drawing heavily from the mannerisms and style of Gabriel. Little jerky mannequin movements and twisting hand gestures in The Musical Box, a dark dancing figure in The Knife, wildly grabbing the mike and tearing the words out of his throat and an epic performance in old fan favourite Supper’s Ready dressed in a cloak, and with the crowd helping out with vocals (A Flower?). Epic. The red light eyes even returned in Watcher of the Sky. I even sort of enjoyed Supper’s Ready; I always found it too long and a little tedious in the ’70s. Special mention to Nick Beggs, who played bass, and second guitar flawlessly. And there was dry ice. Perfect.
Setlist: Dance on a Volcano; Squonk; Dancing With the Moonlit Knight; Fly on a Windshield; Broadway Melody of 1974; The Return of the Giant Hogweed; The Fountain of Salmacis; The Musical Box; I Know What I Like; Horizons; Firth of Fifth; Lilywhite Lilith; The Knife; Supper’s Ready.
Encore: Watcher of the Skies; Los Endos
Phil Lynnot’s Grand Slam Middlesbrough Town Hall 11th July 1984
This gig wasn’t well attended. Grand Slam were a shadow of Thin Lizzy, and sadly Phil Lynott didn’t look well. His face was bloated and his performance lack lustre. The concert was a disappointing, sad affair, particularly in comparison to the power and glory days of Lizzy. They played a few Thin Lizzy songs, I think “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Sarah” and “Cold Sweat” from “Thunder and Lightning”. They also performed Phil’s great solo track “Yellow Pearl” (written with Midge Ure and the theme to Top of the Pops in the early ’80s) and “”Parisienne Walkways”, which Phil wrote with Gary Moore. A live CD suggests that they may also have played covers of “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Like a Rolling Stone”, but I don’t recall. Support came from Young Blood a NWOBHM band from Darlington.
Grand Slam’s line-up was Lynott (bass, vocals), Laurence Archer (lead guitar; ex-Stampede, Wild Horses, Lautrec), Donal ‘Doish’ Nagle (guitar; ex-The Bogey Boys),[ Robbie Brennan (drums), and Mark Stanway (keyboards; ex-Magnum).
I prefer to remember Phil as the wild rover, the cowboy, the vagabond, the Rocker, “one of the boys” that he wrote and sung about, and to think about the many magnificent Thin Lizzy performances I saw in the north east and at the Reading festival.
Phil Lynott died on 4th January 1986 (aged just 36) from heart failure and pneumonia. He had been admitted to hospital on Christmas Day, after collapsing from a drink and drug binge at his home in Surrey.
RIP Phil Lynott.
“Down from the glen came the marching men
With their shields and their swords
To fight the fight they believed to be right
Overthrow the overlords
…..They had come to claim the Emerald
Without it they could not leave”
(Emerald, Thin Lizzy, 1976)
Another sad note. Yesterday we lost another great musician, bass player and singer, Jack Bruce. I am a big fan of Jack Bruce’s music. His passing is really sad and makes me realise that we are coming to a stage where we are losing more and more of the legends who formed rock as we know it.
RIP Jack Bruce
Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 20th March 1983
The replacement for Snowy White was John Sykes, from Tygers of Pan Tang. Sykes brought a heavier sound and rock axeman guitar style to Lizzy. Very much a showman, he fitted the Lizzy image and signalled a return to form for the band. The new line-up recorded Thunder and Lightning, the band’s twelfth and final studio album. But this was the beginning of the end for Lizzy and the Thunder and Lightning tour, was announced as the final farewell tour. Support for the UK tour was Mama’s Boys, a hard rock group from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland who featured three brothers Pat, John and Tommy McManus. The tour called at Newcastle City Hall for two nights, and I went the first night.
This was very much Lizzy back on form, with Scott Gorham and John Sykes trading and sparking off each other, and Phil and the guys delivering a performance reminiscent of that great rock band of old. Definitely the best time I had seen them for some years. We all knew that this was going to be the last time we saw the band, and we made the most of it, giving them a rousing reception. Thin Lizzy played their hearts out, drawing from throughout their back catalogue. They even played Whiskey in the Jar. Stunning.
Setlist, something like: Thunder and Lightning; Waiting for an Alibi; Jailbreak; Baby Please Don’t Go; This Is the One; Angel of Death; Are You Ready; The Holy War; The Sun Goes Down; Cold Sweat; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Sha La La; Emerald; Baby Drives Me Crazy; Still in Love With You
Encore: Rosalie; Whiskey in the Jar; Dancing in the Moonlight
Although I didn’t see Thin Lizzy again, I did see Phil Lynott once more. I’ll close my Lizzy memories by reporting on that concert tomorrow.