Television Newcastle City Hall 23rd May 1977 and 10th April 1978

Television Newcastle City Hall 23rd May 1977 and 10th April 1978
television77tixMarquee Moon was one of those songs which seemed to follow me everywhere in 1977. The title track of Television’s highly acclaimed (and rightly so) debut album was on everyone’s playlist. If was so…. different from anything else at the time, and came from a different dimension to any of the more familiar variants of punk or new wave. No thrash, no poppy tune. Instead Marquee Moon had all the ingredients of great new music: Tom Verlaine’s extraordinary razor sharp edgy riffs, cutting in and out of the off-beat, and some seriously weird lyrics which were difficult to understand but seemed to tell some strange dark story. The rest of the album was equally as good, with great twin guitar work, an arty, precise, almost clinical feel and elements of classic rock. The critics loved it. Television’s line-up at the time was Tom Verlaine (guitar, vocals), Richard Lloyd (guitar), Fred Smith (bass) and Billy Ficca (drums). Television toured the UK with support from Blondie, playing at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd May 1977. There was a good turn out for the concert which drew punk, rock and pop fans.
Television23.5Although both bands hailed from the same New York new wave scene, they were musically and artistically very different and those differences came through in their performances that night. Blondie were on the cusp of massive success, and were bright, poppy, fast and lots of fun. Debbie Harry was amazing. In contrast Television were serious, distant, and simply played their (excellent) music with no particular light show and very little interaction with the audience. A great concert, with two contrasting bands both performing well.
Relations weren’t great between Television and Blondie on the tour. Blondie’s Chris Stein said that Television were “competitive” and recalled the Glasgow show where “all our equipment was shoved up at the Apollo and we had like three feet of room so that [Tom Verlaine] could stand still in this vast space.”
A 1977 Television setlist would be something like this: See No Evil, Friction, Venus, Prove It, Elevation, Marquee Moon, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
(Bob Dylan cover), Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover).
Television oic 2The Damned has a similar experience to Blondie when they played with Television. Brian James: “When we did that first American tour, we had a gig on the West Coast supporting Television. We got there and they said ‘We’re not letting this bunch support us’. We were stuck on a limb. We went down to see them and play and we had tee-shirts saying ‘Television are c**ts’. It really intimidated them. Captain wrote a song called ‘Idiot Box’ — like TV — about them.” “I can turn you off, Well I just tried & left you off
Tumbling you may be art, But you sure ain’t rock’n’roll
People standing in the rain, Just to see that screen Verlaine
Supersonic I’ll come back soon, ‘Cause all we got is a Marquee moon” (Idiot Box, The Damned)
televisiontix78Television returned to Newcastle City Hall on 10th April 1978. The hall was far from full, and much emptier than the previous year. Support this time was The Only Ones, Peter Perret’s great band. This was at their time of their excellent single Another Girl, Another Planet. Another big contrast between support and headliner. This was a lack lustre performance by Television. They spent some considerable time tuning up, ignoring the audience, to the extent that several people walked out. The feeling that came over was one of coldness and distance.
Sorry to leave my memories on a less than positive note. Television were an exceptional band, a breath of fresh air and the sound of Verlaine’s guitar on Marquee Moon cut through everything else around at the time.
Many thanks to Mitch for the photos which he took at the 1977 concert.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: