The Boomtown Rats Newcastle City Hall 1978 – 1982

The Boomtown Rats Newcastle City Hall 1978 – 1982
Blogging every day is turning up a lot of memories for me. I didn’t realise how many times I’d seen the Boomtown Rats. I must have seen them on quite a number of occassions, as I found four tickets and programmes from Newcastle City Hall in my collection, covering the period 1978 to 1982. Actually, the first time I saw the band was before those City Hall gigs, in 1977, at Newcastle Mayfair. I remember that gig well. It was originally going to be at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and still appears as such in published Rats gig lists, however, it was moved to Newcastle at a couple of days notice, I have no idea why. It was a Friday night, which was normally a heavy rock night at the Mayfair and the ballroom was filled with a mixture of rock fans and punks. The Newcastle crowd gave the Rats a pretty hard time, with a constant stream of beer and spit being flung at them. The poor keyboard player, Johnnie Fingers, who was famed for wearing pyjamas on stage, was completely soaked right through. In the end Geldof called a halt to the show and the band left the stage without completing their set. Looking After No 1 had just been released at the time and the band were very much in the news and up and coming. They were the first new wave / punk band to appear on Top of the Pops. The next tour, around the time of Rat Trap brought them to the City Hall. A DVD exists of the Hammersmith show from that tour including live performances of the hit singles Looking After No.1, She’s So Modern, Like Clockwork and Rat Trap, along with other Rats favorites such as Joey’s On The Streets Again (very Springsteenish as I recall) and the audience participation number Do The Rat. They toured pretty constantly over the next few years, on the back of a string of single successes, reaching a peak with the great I Don’t Like Mondays in 1979. I loved that single, and recall being very excited about seeing them on tour at that time. They were great in concert, Geldof a ball of energy, and the band really tight. I also saw them at Knebworth on a show with Frank Zappa, The Tubes and Peter Gabriel, where they seemed out of place and performed early on the day, low down on the bill. My last Boomtown Rats experience was at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium, by which point Geldof had become involved in other things and the band was coming to an end. I’ve never been to see Bob Geldof in concert since, although I did see him at Live 8 in Hyde Park. I also went along to see him receive an honorary doctorate from Newcastle University as a ceremony at the Sage Gateshead, which was a different, and interesting experience. I found a setlist from 1979 on the setlist.com site, which reminded me of some of their old tracks
: Blind Date; (I Never Loved) Eva Braun; Neon Heart; Me and Howard Hughes; Don’t Believe What You Read; Like Clockwork; Rat Trap/Kicks/Joey’s On The Street Again; Living in an Island; (She’s Gonna) Do You In; She’s So Modern; Looking After Number 1; Mary of the 4th Form; Do the Rat. Encore: I Don’t Like Mondays. Looking back, they had some pretty great singles. I’d forgotten Like Clockwork, I can picture Geldof tick tocking the intro. Do The Rat always signalled some pretty manic dancing. To summarise my thoughts, the Boomtown Rats were a fun live band, high energy and much more pop than they were punk or new wave. Geldof was amazing on stage, a dynamic front man who truly engaged the audience. For some reason I’d almost forgotten them, or how good they were at the time. I still play stuff by contemporaries the Clash, Jam, Damned and the Pistols, but would never play a Boomtown Rats track. Perhaps that something I should remedy. The Boomtown Rats have reformed, without Geldof, in recent years, and have toured a couple of times. I wonder what they are like these days.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by david wilkinson on May 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    they also played sunderland empire.when the punks flooded the toilets and they brought the safety curtain down,before the band came on,

    Reply

  2. Posted by vintagerock on May 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    You are right Dave. I remember now. Lots of seats got broken that night

    Reply

  3. What was the date of the Empire gig? I remember going down that night and hanging around outside the Empire with some mates. We were hoping (naively) that we could sneak in, but it didn’t happen (does it ever?) I could have only been about 13 or 14.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Steve on November 29, 2014 at 12:12 am

    You’re right, the rats are probably the one band of that era that I liked that I no longer play. Convinced I saw Punilux support them at the City Hall once over?

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on November 29, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Hi Steve Thanks for your post. It is quite possible that Punilux support the Rats. Fraid the gigs all blur into one for me these days….Cheers Peter

      Reply

      • Posted by Steve on November 29, 2014 at 9:28 am

        You’ve done a remarkable job then, all I have is very vague recollections of who I saw and an approximate year. Your posts have added a great deal of clarity to my memories.

      • Posted by vintagerock on November 29, 2014 at 10:05 am

        Thanks for your support Steve. To be honest I spend some time each day researching past gigs on the internet to try and remind myself, as my memory is often wrong. I have to look up things like support acts and setlists, and I can often find them. But even then I sometimes still get things wrong 🙂 Cheers Peter

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