Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel Newcastle City Hall 1975

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel Newcastle City Hall 1975
The Best Years of Our Lives: Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)
Support band: Sailor
steve75 1975 was a big year for Steve Harley. The original Cockney Rebel, which he formed with violinist John Crocker, had split with a lot of bad feeling. Steve quickly formed a new version of the band, with only drummer Stuart Elliott remaining from the old Rebel. The new band was named Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel rather than simply Cockney Rebel, and also featured Jim Cregan (ex-Family), George Ford on bass and Duncan McKay on Keyboards. Steve wrote a song about the break-up, blaming his former band-mates for deserting him. That song was Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me). As soon as I heard it, I knew Steve was back stronger and better than ever, and that he was going to have a mega hit. Make Me Smile was Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’s biggest selling hit singkle, selling over one million copies globally; it was to be their only number one hit, reaching the top of the UK Singles Chart in February 1975. The single was taken from the Best Years of Our Lives lp, which was the most successful Cockney Rebel album. A tour was announced and sold out immediately and called at Newcastle City Hall in April 1975. My memories of that gig are of an amazing night. Make Me Smile had just dropped off No 1, and the crowd gave Steve and the new band a reception like few I have seen before or since. Support came from Sailor who were wearing their sailor suits, and were soon to hit the charts themselves with Glass of Champagne. I think Steve came on stage very late that night. I seem to remember a big delay before he took to the stqge; my memory tells me that he explained to us that he was late because he had been recording Top of the Pops (this is where I start to question my fuzzy recollections as Make Me Smile had dropped out of the charts at that point and Mr Raffles had not yet been released, so a Top of the Pops appearance that week doesn’t seem that likely). My fuzzy memory also tells me that they started the set with Make Me Smile, and played it again at the end, before the traditional crowd singalong to Tumbling Down. I’m sure they also played old favourites like Sebastian. What I am certain about was it was an amazing night with the crowd going crazy; it was about welcoming back Steve, being pleased that the new band was so good, and celebrating the success of Make Me Smile. This is another gig that I wish I could go back and relive. I have also seen that there was a programme for the tour, which I don’t have. They must have sold out earlier on the tour, as was sometimes the case in those days. I must look for one on ebay.

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