The Teardrop Explodes Newcastle Mayfair 25th June 1981 & Newcastle City Hall 2nd February 1982

The Teardrop Explodes Newcastle Mayfair 25th June 1981 & Newcastle City Hall 2nd February 1982
teardrop81The Teardrop Explodes were a great pop group. Although they emerged as part of the post-punk / new wave scene of the late 1970s, their music was very clearly influenced by ’60s psychedelia, and was labelled “bubblegum psych” or “bubblegum trance” by the music press. Led by charismatic, and fascinating, front man Julian Cope they exploded out of the Liverpool scene; friends of Wah! and the Bunnymen. I loved the singles “Treason” and “Reward” which remain classics of the genre and continue to influence bands today. I saw The Teardrop Explodes on three occasions, at Newcastle Mayfair on 25th June 1981, at Newcastle City Hall on 2nd February 1982, and supporting Queen at Elland Road on 29th May 1982. I have strongest memories of the Mayfair gig. The Teardrop Explodes had been high in the charts with “Reward” and the band, and Julian Cope in particular, were on top form. Julian was on the brink of becoming a major pop star. He was his usual exuberant, fearless, unashamed, “little boy lost” blonde bob self. And why wouldn’t he be; after all he was on the verge of becoming his hero Scott Walker. “The whole idea of the Teardrops to me is nice, nice melodies and lyrics that, while they’re always sung hopefully, have dark secrets in them when you start listening to them.” (Julian in Record Mirror, 1981). teardopprogA packed Mayfair crowd gave the band a crazy reception; it was a great night; swirling, whirling waves of sound and colour lifted us all and taking us along for the ride. The 1981 programme proclaims the tour “Out of the Culture Bunker”. Julian explained what this was about in Record Mirror (1981): “I have a new song called ‘Culture Bunker’ that’s about the way we all reacted to other people trying to make it in Liverpool. We’d say we really want you to make it but we don’t, the whole thing is so smiley, smiley, stab you in the back. David Balfe is always slagging me off for smiling at people, and saying hello when I’m not interested in them but it’s just the way I’ve been brought up. I’m not one of, those people who declare ‘I’m honest, I’m frank, I tell people that they’re shits’.”
By the time I saw the band again at the City Hall things didn’t seem quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great, enjoyable gig, but it lacked the edge and power, and joy, of the Mayfair concert the previous year. This was due, in part, to the lack of craziness which results when moving from a ballroom to a concert hall, but also I suspect because things weren’t too good in the band; there had been several line-up changes, and there was ill-feeling between Julian and some of the other members. The music was changing as well, and according to reports Julian was experimenting heavily with LSD. Julian’s mood felt darker; he was no longer Scott Walker, and was becoming a moody Jim Morrison. The evening before in Edinburgh the gig had ended on a dark note: “What I do recall very clearly is the interminable nonsense of the final encore: Sleeping Gas. Never a tune I have ever had much time for, the piece degenerated into an embarrassing ten minute Cope rant. The singer ended up on the floor towards the end burbling on about savaging the audience, and I am sure I was not the only one in the place thinking “Julian! For F**’s Sake. Behave yourself” (from http://therockandrollknife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/teardrop-explodes-edinburgh-1982.html ). Such was Julian Cope at the time. teardrop82The last time I saw The Teardrop Explodes they supported Queen at Elland Road. It wasn’t a great day for them. The crowd started hurling bottles and cans at Julian and he spent a lot of time arguing with everyone. “Not sure who was first on, probably Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope, I remember while they were throwing bottles at him, picked one up and started hitting himself with it and stretching his arms out saying he was an Argentinian bomber or something. It was during the Falklands war, remember.” (from a Queen fan forum). It was like watching a band self destruct in front of your eyes.
I like to remember The Teardrop Explodes as they were that night at the Mayfair; joyous, uplifting; a celebration of a young guy from Liverpool who was living out his dreams, and let us come along for the ride.
Julian Cope continues to perform and remains a unique, highly creative, individual.

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