Slade : The wilderness years & a night with skinheads at Middlesbrough Rock Garden 24th June 1980

Slade : The wilderness years & a night with skinheads at Middlesbrough Rock Garden 24th June 1980
SladeGiveusaGoalUKsingleThe Rock Garden was a scary place. If the skins didn’t get you, then the rock garden burgers would almost certainly finish you off. A visit to the Rock Garden was an experience not to be forgotten; a fight or two was guaranteed as part of the evening’s entertainment, alongside performances by some of the finest punk or heavy rock bands around at the time.
Slade were on their never ending tour of clubs, pubs, cabaret and ballrooms in 1980. The years between 1977 and 1980 were their “wilderness years”; at the time Slade were down on their luck and receiving next to no money. Their records were no longer making the charts and they were forced to play small halls and clubs around the UK, their only income coming from royalties from the old hits, most of which will have gone to Noddy and Jim, as the band’s two songwriters. Their single releases from this period were not their best and included “Give Us A Goal” and “Okey Cokey”. Nuff said. But live in concert they were as great as ever, perhaps more so as they fought and played hard to win new fans and to win back their place in the charts.
The Rock Garden was packed with skinheads for Slade. My mate Norm has vague memories of the support act being pelted off stage, and having to hide behind the bar while the skins continued to throw handfuls of ice at them. But the skins loved Slade, and Noddy managed to keep them in order. When a scuffle broke out he would tell the hard guys to behave and they would listen to him and take notice. They saw him as one of their own. The Rock Garden stage was tiny, and Slade came with masses of amps, which they still had from the days when they would pack out big halls. So Nod, Dave, Jim and Don were limited to playing in a tiny area in front of a massive back line and surrounded by big PA speakers. And they were deafeningly LOUD. I swear my ears were ringing for days afterwards. The set was a mix of their hits, recent tracks and a few covers. The place went crazy. Slade were called back for several encores and finished with “Born to be Wild”, just like old times. Happy days.
Set list: Dizzy Mamma; My Baby Left Me; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; When I’m Dancin’ I Ain’t Fightin’; Wheels Ain’t Coming Down; Lemme Love Into Ya; Everyday; Somethin’ Else (Eddie Cochran); Pistol Packin’ Mama; Keep a Rollin’; Night Starvation; Gudbuy T’Jane; Get Down and Get With It
Encore: Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Encore 2: Cum on Feel the Noize; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley; Born to Be Wild
A couple of months later I was at the Reading Festival, when a lucky break gave Slade the chance to show everyone just how great a live band they still were, and put them back in the music public’s eye, this time as heroes of the heavy metal brigade. I’ll write about that tomorrow

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