The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Support Acts, in order of appearance: Montrose, Lindisfarne, Bad Company, Lou Reed, Humble Pie, Maggie Bell. The support acts were chosen by The Who.
The Who spent some time considering venues for a big outdoor London concert, and selected Charlton ground because, accordingly to Townshend, it had “particular acoustic qualities” and offered “excellent views of the stage from the terraces.” I went to the gig with two mates, travelling down to London by coach, leaving the north east at midnight on Friday night and arriving early on Saturday morning. We then caught the local train across to Charlton. By the time we arrived the ground was pretty full, and fans continued to flood in throughout the morning. By the time Montrose exploded onto the stage at 12 noon, the place was ram packed. The concert was intended to have an attendance limit of 50,000 fans, but breakdowns in security resulted in many additional people getting in, and an estimated crowd of 80,000 (The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958-1978, Neill & Kent, 2007). I ran into quite a few mates from home on the terraces, several of whom had managed to push or blag their way in without paying. The supporting bill was very strong, with Montrose and Bad Company both going down well. This was one of the first appearances of the new Lindisfarne Mk II line-up. Lou Reed and Maggie Bell both played ok, but didn’t go down as well with the crowd as the others. Humble Pie were pure class, with Marriott on his top OTT “my skin is white, but my soul is black” form. They almost upstaged the main act. There was a long wait before The Who took to the stage, and several reports recall an atmosphere of violence, which I must say I don’t remember. I do remember that it was a very hot day and that there were some fights, a heavy smell of dope with many people openly smoking joints, and lots of cans thrown around throughout the day. Brian Farnon writes of a “lunatic…wandering around with a foot-long spike….sticking it in peoples necks” on the excellent ukrockfestivals.com site.
The Who started at 8:45 and played an hour and 45 minute set, starting with “Can’t Explain” and working their way through old classics and some more recent material, including a few from their most recent album “Quadrophenia”. The sound wasn’t that great, even though we had been promised quadrophonic sound, and there were large PA speakers sited around the ground. The Who were excellent, although Pete later admitted that he was drunk and felt that the show wasn’t actually one of their best. To all of us in the crowd it was a great day, and an opportunity to see the best rock band in the world during their prime period. The set included a lot of 60s material, and several songs that I hadn’t seen them play before such as “I’m a Boy” and “Tattoo”. Entwistle performed “Boris the Spider” in his deep bass voice. A lengthy encore included “5:15”, an extended “Magic Bus”, “My Generation”, “Naked Eye”, “Let’s See Action” and the first ever performance of their slow 12-bar blues arrangement of “My Generation”, which is now known as “My Generation Blues”. Pete didn’t smash his guitar.
Charles Shaar Murray reviewed The Who’s performance in NME: “They performed with a freshness and enthusiasm that they haven’t had for quite some time, and generally acted like the epitome of what a rock and roll band should be…The Who are it; as good as it ever gets, and good as we can expect from anybody.”
Pete Townshend admitted (also in the NME): “At Charlton I got completely pissed… I was so happy to get out of it…. I felt really guilty I couldn’t explode into the exuberant and happy energy our fans did….”
When the concert finished it was absolute pandemonium trying to get out through the crowd, and a number of us decided to try and climb over one of the fences. We managed to get over, but one of my mates cut his hand quite badly on the sharp metal top of the fence. It looked quite nasty, and was bleeding a lot, so we decided that we needed to get to a hospital. We pushed our way back into the ground, which wasn’t easy as we were walking against all the people leaving, and made our way to the St Johns Ambulance post, where we all bundled into an ambulance. A poor guy with a pretty cut up face, who had fallen onto a broken bottle, was lying next to us in the ambulance. The ambulance sped through the crowds and 5 minutes or so later we were in the hospital, where we spent most of the night, while my mate had his hand stitched. The hospital was full of fans suffering from injuries, and worse for wear from alcohol and drugs. It was daylight by the time we got out of the hospital, and we walked back into central London and made our way to Victoria where we caught our bus home. The things you do for rock’n’roll 🙂
The Who setlist: I Can’t Explain; Summertime Blues; Young Man Blues; Baba O’Riley; Behind Blue Eyes; Substitute; I’m a Boy; Tattoo; Boris the Spider; Drowned; Bell Boy; Doctor Jimmy; Won’t Get Fooled Again; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me
Encore: 5:15; Magic Bus; My Generation; Naked Eye; Let’s See Action; My Generation Blues
Archive for the ‘Bad Company’ Category
The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Free spin-offs gigs: Back Street Crawler, Andy Fraser band, Paul Rodgers; Bad Company
Having written about my Free concert experiences over the past few days, I thought it would be fitting to blog today about the Free spin-off bands that came about in the early to mid-70s, and the (relatively few) gig memories I have of those bands. I’ll start, for no particular reason with Free guitar legend Paul Kossoff. After Free split, I saw Paul Kossoff play at Sunderland Locarno a couple times. I think (but my memory could be playing tricks again) that one of these gigs was billed as The Paul Kossoff band, and the other as (the more familiar name of) Back Street Crawler. These gigs were, I would guess, in 1974 and 1975. Back Street Crawler featured local singer Terry Wilson-Slesser from Beckett. Although it was great to see Kossoff in action again, and some of the old guitar magic was still there, it was also clear that his health was not good. Sadly Paul Kossoff was to die on on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to New York in 1976. After leaving Free Andy Fraser formed Sharks along with vocalist Ships and guitarist Chris Spedding. He wasn’t with Sharks long; I saw Sharks in concert when they played Sunderland Locarno, but it was after Fraser had left the band. Sharks were a great live band, and Snips is a very under-rated singer. Snips and Chris have recently re-emerged as King Mob, who looked great, but were short-lived and have already split. Anyway, back to Andy Fraser. He next formed the Andy Fraser Band, a trio with Kim Turner on drums and Nick Judd on keyboards. I saw the band once at a gig in Sunderland Locarno in 1973; Andy took the front man role, but the lack of a guitarist seemed strange and didn’t work for me. The gig was poorly attended and I never saw the band again, although I do recall them playing Newcastle City Hall around the same time. Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke formed Bad Company. I have blogged separately about Bad Co in concert, who were just great, and carried the Free flag forward to some extent. However, they became a bit too much standard rock for me, and didn’t have the same emotional feel that Free had; they also moved to a more AOR style in their later days. Thats not to say that I didn’t enjoy Bad Company in concert; I did. But it was a very different band to Free, and although some things were gained and were better, some things were also lost in the transition. As usual, I did some searching to check my facts before blogging. I often discover something new, or I am reminded of something that I have forgetten. Today I discovered that after leaving Bad Con in 1982, Simon Kirke was briefly involved with a band called Wildlife who toured in support of the Michael Schenker Band. Now I saw Michael Schenker on most of his UK tours in the 80s, so will probably have seen Wildlife (although I have no recollection of doing so). I’ll finish today’s bog activity with a Postcript from my friend John who was lucky enough to see Paul Rodgers fronting his band, Peace, who were formed when Free split in 1971. This was at a gig at Newcastle City Hall (see programme right) which I sadly missed out on. Over to John: “I saw Peace play their only ever tour, supporting Mott the Hoople, November 5th 71 at the City Hall. They were a three piece, I liked them but remember think they sounded a lot like Free and so couldn’t understand why they had split up. This tour with Mott was to lay the foundations for Bad Company but that, of course, is a different story.”. I’ll complete my blogging on Free related bands tomorrow, by writing about The Firm, who I saw in Middlesbrough in 1984, and featured Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page.