Gong, Hatfield and the North & Tubular Bells film Newcastle City Hall 1974

Gong, Hatfield and the North, Tubular Bells Newcastle City Hall 25th April 1974
Virgin Records Crisis Concert
Ticket price 44p
As I’ve just seen Gong, and blogged about them yesterday, I thought I would have have a little break from covering bands beginning with the letter F and cover the only other time I saw the crazy Gong guys in concert. It was in 1974 as part of the Virgin Records Crisis (can’t remember what the crisis was at the time!) tour, which featured Gong, Hatfield and the North, and a film of Mike Oldfield performing Tubular Bells. To be honest, my friends and I went along largely to see the Tubular Bells film, as it was the only chance at the time to see a performance of this great album. We were also attracted by the very reasonable 44p ticket price! Although Mike Olfield did tour a few years later, at that time he was resisting offers to take his masterpiece on the road. The film was very good, and featured footage of Mike performing the entire album as I recall, in the studio I think. I also recall Viv Stanshall being part of it. The sound wasn’t great and the film was projected onto a small screen, which wasn’t too woderful, but I still recall enjoying it. I wonder if you can get a DVD of this? Gong and Hatfield and the North rotated headlining status on the tour; I don’t remember who closed the gig at Newcastle. I do remember finding both bands quite hard going, but that we enjoyed Gong’s silliness, and loved Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen’s Heads, from Camembert Electrique, which I am pretty sure they played. There were lots of wooly tea cosey hats and flying teapots in evidence.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Neil Thompson on February 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Gong headlined – they went down really well – Hatfields supported – to mild applause


  2. Posted by Row A on February 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    This was Gong minus Daevid Allen / Gilli Smyth at the time (apparently also known as Paragong?). Stevie Hillage did the reluctant frontman bit and Didier Malherbe was on find form. It was basically the stripped down band that later did ‘Fish Rising’. The Hatfields were understated but excellent, complete with the co-ordinated smashing of plantpots, and were certainly well appreciated by all the folks sitting around me. Plenty woolly hats around, even in the Mike Oldfield film (which had already been shown on BBC2 as I recall). Top gig, and somewhat better attended than Magma a couple of months later!


    • Posted by Gertrude on October 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Not correct, I’m afraid. Fish Rising would not be released until 1975. The tour promoting Fish Rising left Allen with very little input – a bit of singing and glissando guitar, which is why he finally quit.
      In the spring of 1974 the classic lineup toured with Allen, Malherbe, Blake, Hillage, Smyth and the incredible rhythm section of Howlett & Moerlen. Thjey already played a few numbers from “You”, which would be released a few months later


      • Posted by Row A on October 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        Allen certainly did not play Newcastle with Gong on the ‘Virgin crisis tour’ in question (April ’74) with H&TN, I was there. The line up was Moerlen, Howlett, Malherbe, Hillage, Blake, Giraudy – the core of the eventual Fish Rising studio band a few months later. I read later this stripped down line up was termed ParaGong to reflect the Allen-less status. What I don’t know is if this reduced line up played the whole ’74 Virgin crisis tour with H&TN, only that Allen and Smyth definitely did not play Newcastle City Hall on April 25th for whatever reason.

        Gong (with Allen back) did visit Newcastle again a few months later in August ’74 and played the Mayfair Ballroom (supported by Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias). The only notable absentee that night was Pierre Moerlen, who was replaced by Chris Cutler (of Henry Cow) for this short Summer tour.

        PS: As I took pics at this gig, I can still say this with some confidence!

  3. Posted by Paul Carr on September 21, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I was at the gig too – age 14. It was the 2nd time I had seen Gong – they were actually the first band I seen the City Hall – maybe around 72? I later became friends with Mike H – who went on to help the formation of The Police. I am listening the first Hatfield album as I type – lots of Zappa influence in there!


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