Steppenwolf Newcastle Mayfair 6th October 1972
“Born to be Wild” was a big song in the early ’70s. We’d seen Easy Rider, with Peter Fonda riding his Harley to the song, and Slade would close their set with their version of the song. Everywhere we went it was played. So a chance to see the legendary American masters of biker rock and heavy metal thunder, Steppenwolf, in Newcastle Mayfair ballroom wasn’t to be passed on. The Mayfair was packed; I got myself a spot close to the stage and waited for what seemed like hours (and probably was) for the band to take the stage; bands came on late at the Mayfair, probably around 11pm, and the venue was open until 2am. There were a lot of songs which were unfamiliar to me, but I recognised the doomy anti-drug anthem (God Damn) “The Pusher”, and “Magic Carpet Ride” with its great swirling organ intro and which was a minor UK singles chart hit in the late ’60s. The encore was of course “Born to be Wild” and the Mayfair crowd did exactly that; went wild and crazy. Front man John Kay looked super cool; all in black leather with dark shades. Steppenwolf performed “Born to be Wild” on the Old Grey Whistle Test during their visit to England; you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_8hAfRrTJ0 I just watched it and it brought back great memories of the Mayfair gig.
A Steppenwolf setlist in 1972 would be something like this: Sookie Sookie; Ride With Me; Foggy Mental Breakdown; Tighten Up Your Wig; Ball Crusher; Shackles and Chains; Monster / Suicide / America; The Pusher
Encore: Magic Carpet Ride; Born to Be Wild; Hoochie Coochie Man
Line-up at the time: John Kay (vocals); Kent Henry (guitar); George Biondo (bass); Goldy McJohn (keyboards) and Jerry Edmonton (drums).
Steppenwolf split in 1972, but reformed in the mid-’70s. Marie and I saw the reformed band when the returned to the Mayfair in, I think, 1975.
“Like a true nature’s child, We were born, born to be wild, We can climb so high, I never wanna die.
Born to be wild, Born to be wild”
(Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf, 1968)
Steppenwolf Newcastle Mayfair 6th October 1972
Yazoo Newcastle City Hall 19th November 1982
Yazoo were the British synthpop duo formed by Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke (keyboards) and Alison Moyet (vocals). They came together in late 1981, and over the next 18 months they made two albums which blended Clarke’s synthesizers and pop tunes with Moyet’s bluesy vocals. They had big single hits with “Only You”, “Don’t Go” and “Nobody’s Diary”. From the official Yazoo site: “I put an ad in Melody Maker looking for a semi-professional band,” say Alison “Not someone who’d just had a massive hit album.” Vince: “I’d heard Alison perform under various guises and I knew she was an amazing singer,” Vince recalls. “I wanted songs to be sung with a lot of emotion. I didn’t know how it would work, but I wanted to try.” Schooled in the ideologies of the “splendidly low rent” punk scene, Alison was hardly looking for stardom: “Ambition was wanting to move up from being third on the bill at a pub to headlining at a pub,” she recalls. “Vince was an anomaly – he’d taken it to the next level with Depeche Mode and achieved success at a point when, for me, there was nothing cool about being on Top Of The Pops. But when he got in touch, there was a certain perverse appeal in trying something I’d never done before. It’s almost freak like, this idea of someone from Basildon moving out and actually doing something. I found it incredibly compelling.”On stage Yazoo incorporated a slide/film visual display, using seven slide projectors and film projectors. The films and slides were (back) projected onto five screens at the back of the stage. From a review of the time: “Three of the projectors produce most of the animated effects on the centre screen and there are approximately 350 different slides seen in each set. The screens are used to display various pieces of photography and graphics, which ‘sort of’ relate to the music.” A great concert by an excellent pop act. Yazoo split acrimoniously in May 1983; however they have reunited to play a series of concerts in recent years.
Setlist: Situation; Too Pieces; Goodbye Seventies; Winter Kills; Bad Connection; Tuesday; Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I); Midnight; Chinese Detectives; In My Room; Don’t Go; The Other Side of Love; Ode to Boy; Only You; Situation.
The UK Subs Middlesbrough Rock Garden 20th October 1979
“The U The U The UK Subs! The U The U The UK Subs!” The chant got louder and louder. The Rock Garden was packed. Completely. You couldn’t move and the crowd were hungry to see their heroes again. The UK Subs were big favourites as the Rock Garden and played there on several occasions. They were almost the house band there and big favourites with the Boro punk crowd. Charlie Harper bounded on to the stage and the Subs crashed straight into the set; fast, frantic, manic, loud. The punks went totally crazy, pushing, shoving, moshing, pogoing, and spitting. My mate Dave and I were lurking at the back of the dancefloor, trying to avoid the scuffles and stopping ourselves from being dragged into the moshpit. The Subs had just released their debut album Another Kind of Blues which reached No. 21 in the UK album charts and had been in the singles charts (and on Top of the Pops) with “Stranglehold” (reached No. 26) and “Tomorrow’s Girls” (No. 28). You could easily find reasons to knock the UK Subs. Their music was pretty basic punk thrash with a hint of pub rock, their songs had no particularly deep or political message, and (shock horror) singer and front man Charlie Harper was 35 years old! But there was a worth ethic and honesty to the Subs, that made them working class heroes to punks like the Rock Garden mob, and those in clubs up and down the country. And on a good night (and they we both good nights on the two occasions I saw them) the UK Subs were great fun.
The UK Subs returned to the Rock Garden again on 5th April 1980. This time they played two shows, we went to the late show, as the early gig was aimed at under 14s.
The Subs line-up at the time was Charlie Harper (vocals), Nicky Garratt (guitar), Paul Slack (bass), and Pete Davies (drums). The UK Subs continue to this day, still fronted by a 70 years young Charlie Harper. Respect!
Wizzard live 1972 and 1972
I’ve always been a big Roy Wood fan. “Fire Brigade” and “Blackberry Way” are two of my favourite songs; I remember sitting as a kid, in front of the TV with my parents, watching Top of the Pops totally transfixed by Roy and the late great Carl Wayne. By the time I got to see Roy live the Move had split, Roy had formed ELO with Jeff Lyne, and then left to form his own ultimate rock’n’roll band Wizzard. I first saw Wizzard when the made their second live appearance at the Reading Festival in August 1972. They had just released “Ball Park Incident”. I recall being surprised how different to the Move Wizzard were, complete with horns and that great full big band sound. I saw Wizzard twice more; at Sunderland Locarno on 19th January 1973, with the Jook support and again at the Locarno on 13th July 1973 with Silverhead support (thanks to Mitch for confirming the dates and support acts). Roy Wood was a marvel to behold in those days, with his distinctive warpaint make-up, long backcombed dyed locks and colourful costumes. And Wizzard were a big crazy band, complete with piano, cello and horns. They completely filled the small Mecca stage, and the ballroom was packed for those two shows. Wizzard were flying high in the UK single charts with two Number 1 singles “See my Baby Jive” and “Angel Fingers” during 1973, and of course that Christmas song later in the year. Roy Wood understood rock’n’roll and managed to create the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” both on record and live in concert. Wizzard was, however, a big and expensive band to maintain, because of the large line-up, and in terms of recording costs. Bassist Rick Price: “When we finished recording “Angel Fingers” it was rumoured that we had spent more time in the studio than Paul McCartney had with the whole of the Band on the Run album. Whether it was true or not, this meant that most of the record company’s money was spent in studio time and that the members of the band had to rely on live touring work for their income. A couple of tours in the U.K. and one tour of the U.S. were not enough to ensure regular wages for the band.” By autumn 1975 they had split.
Wkzzard line-up: Roy Wood (vocals, guitars, saxophone, percussion); Mike Burney (saxophone, clarinet, flute); Charlie Grima (drums, percussion, vocals); Nick Pentelow (saxophone, clarinet, flute); Rick Price (bass); Keith Smart (drums); Bill Hunt (keyboards, French horn); Hugh McDowell (cello, synthesisers).
Neil Young Edinburgh Playhouse 3rd March 2008
Thirty five years after I first saw Neil Young in concert, David and I went to see him at Edinburgh Playhouse on a cold Winter evening. We drove up through Jedburgh, stopping for a coffee along the way. The Playhouse is a beautiful old theatre, and was completely sold out for this concert. Neil played two sets, and this time he played a lot of old favourites. There was no support act; rather he was accompanied by an artist who painted as Neil played. From the Guardian review of the London concert (2008): “For reasons known only to Young, an artist paints canvases at the rear of the stage and announces songs by placing interpretative pictures on a large easel stage right. The unexplained visual art theme extends to Young’s paint-spattered suit.” The first set was acoustic, during which Young performed old favourites including “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man” much to the delight of the crowd.
After the interval, Neil became Mr rock’n’roll and grunge, and we were treated to an excellent and powerful electric set, with some amazing meandering guitar solos. The encore included “Cinammon Girl”. Classic.
The snow was falling as we drove home. This time we followed the A1 through Berwick, which is a slightly longer route, but a safer road, given the winter conditions. A great concert by a legendary artist.
Set 1: From Hank to Hendrix; Ambulance Blues; Sad Movies; A Man Needs a Maid; Try; Harvest; After the Gold Rush; Mellow My Mind; Love Art Blues; Don’t Let It Bring You Down; Heart of Gold; Old Man
Set 2: Mr. Soul; Dirty Old Man; Spirit Road; Down by the River; Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black); Too Far Gone; Oh, Lonesome Me; The Believer; Powderfinger; No Hidden Path
Encore: Fuckin’ Up; Cinnamon Girl
Neil Young & Eagles Newcastle City Hall 9th November 1973
I went along to this concert on spec, hoping to score a ticket outside. The City Hall sometimes used to let fans pay to sit on the choir seats which surround the stage. These seats are on the stage itself, facing the back of the performers. On this occasion, there was quite a queue of ticketless people hoping to see Neil Young, so they decided to let us into the choir seats. Support came from the Eagles, who were simply on fire, and in many ways upstaged Neil Young. This was the original Eagles line-up of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, at the time of their second album “Desparado”, and their set featured songs from their first two lps. So that included classics like “Take it Easy”, “Tequila Sunrise”, “Witchy Woman” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling”. Stunning. I became an Eagles fan that night and remain one to this day.
Neil Young was touring with backing band the Santa Monica Flyers, who were Billy Talbot (bass), Ralph Molina (drums), Ben Keith (pedal steel) and Nils Lofgren (guitar, piano). Now Neil is a pretty uncompromising performer and for this tour he decided he would play his forthcoming album “Tonight’s the Night” in its entirety. A brave and crazy move, but then Neil Young plays what Neil wants to play; even today. The stage was set out as a beach, complete with sand and a palm tree, and Neil was drinking from a bottle of Tequila throughout the show. We were all expecting tracks from “After the Goldrush” and “Harvest” but instead we were treated to a set of unfamiliar tunes, much to the annoyance of most of the audience. After he had finished playing the new songs, Young did play “Cinnamon Girl” with a crazy, meandering guitar solo, which got a great reception from the crowd; who were pleased to hear something familiar. Published setlists suggest that he also may have played “Southern Man”, although I don’t remember him doing so, and I think I would have remembered if he did, as it was one of my favourite songs at the time. A great gig, with Neil Young on great form, even if the set wasn’t what we had expected or hoped for.
Setlist: Tonight’s the Night; Mellow My Mind; World on a String; Speakin’ Out; Albuquerque; New Mama; Roll Another Number (For the Road); Tired Eyes; Tonight’s the Night; Flying on the Ground Is Wrong; Human Highway; Helpless; Cinnamon Girl; Southern Man??; The Losing End; Don’t Be Denied
The Vibrators live 1977 – 1978
Well I’m getting within sight of the end of my project. I’ve covered the letters up to and including “X”, leaving only “Y” and “Z” to do. I’ve been working through my concert memories with the aid of my tickets and programmes, which means I’ve missed some bands for whom I don’t have anything in my collection. For instance, any gig where I paid on the door, and wasn’t given a ticket, may have been missed. So over the remaining period I will be jumping about a bit, trying to cover those bands, or at least the ones I can remember and who I feel should be mentioned. I also have some festival events to cover. Still I reckon another couple of months and I will probably be finished. Mitch reminded me that I hadn’t written about The Vibrators, so here goes.
Ian “Knox” Carnocan, bassist Pat Collier, guitarist John Ellis and drummer Eddie formed The Vibrators in early 1976, and they played their first gig supporting The Stranglers in London. The band’s debut single “We Vibrate” came out in November 1977 and was one of the first punk singles. Marie and I first saw the band at Middlesbrough Rock Garden in December 1976. The gig was close to Christmas, I think it may have been 23rd December, and if I remember correctly, the band played two nights at the venue. This was one of the first gigs at the Rock Garden and our first visit, of many, to the venue which was to become the home of punk rock in the North East. I remember them playing “We Vibrate” which was quite a catchy rock’n’roll single. The Rock Garden was quite empty, punk (and the venue) were just starting to take off. We saw the Vibrators again at a packed gig in Newcastle Poly bar a few months later. I remember we were standing right in front of Knox, and the music was deafening in the small venue.
Early in 1977 I saw The Vibrators again, this time at Newcastle City Hall supporting Iggy Pop (the “Idiot” tour with David Bowie on keyboards). Around this time they released their classic “Baby Baby” single, which was a big live favourite, followed by their debut lp “Pure Mania”, a punk rock classic, which spent five weeks in the UK album charts. A second, live, single from the album “London Girls” (another great song, which I remember seeing them play), came out in Summer 1977. We next saw The Vibrators supporting Ian Hunter at Newcastle Mayfair (Hunter’s “Overnight Angels” tour). Bassist Pat Collier left soon after the Ian Hunter tour, and was replaced by Gary Tibbs (who would go on to play with Roxy Music and Adam and the Ants). The last time I recall seeing The Vibrators was at a headline gig at Seaburn Hall, Sunderland (pictured). This was soon after they released the single “Automatic Lover”, which reached No. 35 in the UK singles chart and got the band a spot on Top of the Pops. They released their second lp “V2″ in April 1977; another punk classic, and the line-up of the band started to change shortly afterwards. Drummer Eddie continues to lead The Vibrators today. The Vibrators were a great live act, full of energy and with some classic punk tunes, and a very important part of the early punk scene.