Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band Newcastle City Hall 1974

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Newcastle City Hall 4th June 1974
Support from Henry Cow
The Captain completed a hat trick of visits to Newcastle City Hall with this 1974 concert. The line-up for The Magic Band had changed completely since their last UK visit; it seems there had been a fall out between the band and their captain. Beefheart quickly put together a new band to honour existing tour dates.The new Magic Band comprised Fuzzy Fuscaldo on guitar; Ty Grimes on drums; Del Simmons on saxophone; Dean Smith on guitar; Michael Smotherman on keyboards and Paul Uhrig on bass. Unfortunately they weren’t at all familiar with the intricacies and complexity of their predecessors’ material, and it showed. They were described by reviewers of the day as a “bar band”, or “The Tragic Band”, a moniker which stuck and is often used to describe Beefheart’s band of that period. The show consisted of a selection of Beefheart classics delivered more as twelve bar blues, than in their original format. Imagine Beefheart growling over the same soft rock boogie shuffle backing for each song, and you’ve just about got it. It was still an enjoyable show, but far removed from the magnificence of the 1972 tour. Support came from Henry Cow, who were very experimental and avant garde, as I recall. Unlike previous Beefheart gigs at the City Hall, I don’t think this show was very well attended. I saw Beefheart once more, at the 1975 Knebworth festival, on a bill headlined by Pink Floyd. The 1973 Magic Band regrouped as Mallard along with a new singer and toured the UK; I caught their show at Newcastle Mayfair in 1976. Beefheart was a truly unique artist, who is much missed, and I’m please I was lucky enough to see him a few times. A typical set list from the 1974 UK tour was: Mirror Man; Upon the My-Oh-My (which he performed on The Old Great Whistle Test during this visit); Full Moon Hot Sun; Sugar Bowl; Crazy Little Thing; Mighty Crazy; Sweet Georgia Brown; This is the Day; New Electric Ride; Abba Zaba; Peaches.

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