Wham! Newcastle City Hall 15th Oct 1983 The Club Fantastic Tour

Wham! Newcastle City Hall 15th Oct 1983
whamtix83Real guilty pleasure time; this is. I have to admit to secretly liking Wham! in the ’80s, and going to see them not once, not twice, but three times. So, for my sins, over the next three days I am going to reflect on those three experiences, at least two of which were actually pretty great fun. I’ll start today with my Wham! live initiation, which was the “Club Fantastic Tour” when it called at Newcastle City Hall in 1983.
I’d seen George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley on Top of the Pops performing “Young Guns (Go for It!)” and thought they were good fun. They seemed to burst onto the scene as a pure pop alternative to some of the more serious bands of the time. By the end of 1983, Wham! were competing against the Durannies and Boy George and Culture Club as Britain’s biggest new pop act, and their début LP “Fantastic” spent two weeks at No. 1 in the UK album charts in 1983. I’d been to see most of the other top pop acts of the period, so when Wham! announced a tour I decided to go along to the City Hall concert, which quickly sold out. The tour was sponsored by Fila Sportswear, and George and Andrew modelled Fila clothes on stage. They were both dressed all in white, their t-shirts emblazoned with “Wham!” and wearing white shorts, down which they famously placed shuttlecocks (or at least the press claimed so).
whamprog83They were augmented by a full band (with a rhythm and brass section), and backing vocalists including the two legendary dancers/singers Pepsi and Shirlie (one of their earlier backing singers, Dee (D C Lee) had defected to the Style Council by the time of the tour, and later married Paul Weller). The keyboard player in the band was Tommy Eyre from Joe Cocker’s Grease Band who provided the swirling Hammond sound on the UK chart-topper “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
The concert started with an hour or so of dance records played by the tour resident DJ and compere, Gary Crowley. Wham! played two sets (featuring several costume changes), and between the two spots they showed us home videos of our two heroes. George had a solo spot to sing “Careless Whisper” over a taped backing track, and the show featured all the hits. It was actually great fun (honest 🙂 ) and there was lots of dancing going on, while I stood quietly observing, and yet secretly enjoying the whole thing. Don’t they both look so young on the cover of the programme. And remember at this time, Wham! were truly a duo, with George and Andrew sharing equal billing. The programme presents the band as fun, but serious, white soul / dance act; which to give them credit, I guess they were. I found a flyer in the programme for a concert by K C and the Sunshine band which took place at the City Hall the following week. Now I bet that was a fun night too.
Setlist: Young Guns (Go for It!); Club Tropicana; Blue; Wham! Rap; A Ray of Sunshine; Careless Whisper; Bad Boys; Love Machine; Nothing Looks the Same in the Light; Come On!; Wham! Rap; Good Times.
More guilty pleasures tomorrow, I’m afraid.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by davidx66 on January 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I remember being almost hounded out of a Sunderland pub by my rocker friends in my student days for putting a Wham! record on the juke box. Guilty pleasure indeed, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of good, fun pop music.

    Reply

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