Slade: Whatever Happened to Slade? (or the night I saw the old Slade return) Newcastle City Hall 8th May 1977

Slade: Whatever Happened to Slade? (or the night I saw the old Slade return) Newcastle City Hall 8th May 1977
sladetix77Slade had been away too long. They’d been over in America working the US market, and had taken their eye off the ball in terms of their home fans. As a result their popularity was waning. They realised this, and in early 1977 Slade came back home to England and recorded their sixth album “Whatever Happened to Slade?” The album was a return to their rock’n’roll roots, and received positive critical reviews, but failed to make the UK album charts. Musical tastes were changing in the UK, the glam craze had passed, “dinosaur” or “old fart” bands were being passed over for new bands, and the fashion of the day was “punk rock”. Some of us could see the similarities between the rawness of punk, early Slade, and their original skinhead image; however to the majority of the music public Slade were a forgotten band; a thing of the past.
Not deterred, however, Slade decided to go out on a national tour, returning to the theatres and concert halls which they were selling out just two or three years earlier. The tour called at Newcastle City Hall and I went along with a few mates to renew our acquaintance with Slade. Support for the tour came from Liar, a rock band formed by a former member of Edison Lighthouse and featuring Clive Brooks, who was previously in Egg and the Groundhogs. The City Hall was far from full, which was a shame, as Slade were on fire, working so hard to regain their fans, and demonstrating just how great a rock band they were. The stage was set with the one of the biggest backlines of stacks that I’d ever seen. I knew this was going to be LOUD 🙂 The lights went down, and Slade walked on stage. The first I noticed was the appearance of guitarist Dave Hill. Dave’s hair was gone; he was completely bald with a shaved head and the biggest dangly earring that I’d ever seen. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans, and looked amazing!! Noddy was wearing a Napolean hat and jacket! Now what was all that about? Then I heard the opening chords of “Hear Me Calling’ and everyone was up on their feet. And away we went. For an hour or so Slade showed us exactly how and why they made it big the first time. By playing LOUD, good honest raucous rock, like only Slade could. They even finished with “Born to be Wild”. It was just like old times, as if the last five years had never happened. The loud, heavy rock band that was early Slade was back 🙂
sladepapersFrom a review of the time: “But poor old Slade have blown it, have they? Oh no…..The music suggested havoc. It was sensational: a riff as pile driving as anything Quo have produced with the distinctive fuzzed, rough texture of the Slade guitars and a hint of American funkiness working through. Compulsion……I could hardly believe it….Dynamics, dynamite….The crowd……were on their feet and singing ‘The Blaydon Races’ while Noddy in total friendly rapport squawked away like a cross between Mr Punch and schnozzle Durante….. I expect Slade will be the Status Quo of 1987.” (Phil Sutcliffe, Sounds, May 1977).
Setlist: Hear Me Calling; Get on Up; Be; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; Gypsy Roadhog; Everyday; Gudbuy T’Jane; Coz I Luv You; The Bangin’ Man; Lightning Never Strikes Twice; The Soul, the Roll and the Motion; Mama Weer All Crazee Now; Cum on Feel the Noize; Born to Be Wild
Yes, Slade were playing excellently, but it was a few years before they would rebuild their fan base and return to the charts. During the period between 1977 and 1980 Slade entered their “wilderness years” playing up and down the country in clubs, dives and cabaret. I attended a couple more great Slade gigs during those wilderness years, and will reflect on them over the next couple of days.

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