Argent in concert 1972 – 1974
I first saw Argent in concert at Sunderland Top Rank on a double bill with Beggars Opera. I have a feeling it was a 12 midnight to 4am show that they put on now and then, sometimes on bank holiday weekends. Both bands were heavily organ-based; I had already seen Beggars Opera before, but Argent were new to me. Hold Your Head had just been realised, which places the concert sometime in 1972. I remember everyone standing on the tables in the Rink, singing to Hold Your Head Up; think they played in twice, once in the set and once as an encore. (Update note: I’ve just seen someone selling a poster for the gig on ebay. It was on Sunday 28th/ Monday 29th May 1972, from midnight to 4am. The gig was promoted by Fillmore North ie Geof Docherty. Support for Argent came from local bands Brass Alley and Beckett, and Beggars Opera. Tickets were all of 60p). I was impressed enough to go and see Argent again at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. Their lp at that time was “In Deep” which features the track God Gave Rock and Roll to You, later to be covered by Kiss. Argent were back at the City Hall in 1974, boasting a quadrophonic/stereo show, which featured speakers around the hall; I remember I was sitting right next to one on the balcony. The ticket advertised the concert as quadrophonic downstairs and stereo in the balcony! Interesting concept. The lp for this tour was Nexus, which was pretty heavy prog rock stuff, with tracks such as The Coming Of Kohoutek (great title) and the mega opus Music From The Spheres, which clocks in at over 8 minutes on the lp and was probably longer live. Alongside these new songs, The Zombies’ Time of the Season also got an outing in concert in those days. By 1974 Russ Ballard had left the band to be replaced by John Verity and guitarist John Grimaldi. Argent was a class act. Some great songs, and some top keyboard form Rod Argent. I remember being jealous of Rod Argent’s (very) long hair, and being fascinated by Russ Ballard’s guitar which had holes drilled through the body. A few years after Argent had split, I saw Rod Argent at a free keyboard demonstration concert at Middlesbrough Town Hall. I notice the ticket for the 1974 tour shows that Clancy, who were part of the pub rock scene of the early 70s, were the support act. Argent have reformed recently, and have been playing a few concerts in the past week. I would like to see them again, but haven’t caught up with them yet. (Update note: I found a flyer for the Quadrophonic gig at the City Hall so have added it here). I have since seen Rod a couple of times with Colin Blunstone and with The Zombies, who he tours with now. Update on 26/12/12. I’ve added a scan of the poster from the gig at Sunderland Top Rank, which John bought on ebay. This shows that it was a midnight to 4am show, on May 28/29 1972 (late May bank holiday). The Line-up was Argent, Beggars Opera, Beckett and Brass Alley.
Archive for the ‘Beggars Opera’ Category
The Grangemouth Pop Festival
Line up: Beck Bogert Appice; Status Quo; Steeleye Span; Lindisfarne; The Everley Brothers; Beggars Opera; Average White Band; Sunshine; Billy Connolly; The Chris McClure Section; MC: John Peel. All for £1.50!
I’m going to see Billy Connolly at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to the gig, and it made me think about the couple of times I’ve seen Billy Connolly in the past. The first time I saw him was at The Grangemouth Pop Festival in Scotland in 1972 (see ticket right). At the time he was unknown outside Scotland and, as he delighted in telling us, he was scared shitless about this gig, as it was his biggest to date. The festival was organised by Great Western Festivals, who had also run the excellent Lincoln Festival which I attended earlier in 1972, and was billed as Scotland’s first pop festival. My friend Nicky and I went by train to the gig. Grangemouth is north west of Edinburgh. The festival took place on Saturday 23 September 1972 and was part of the Grangemouth centenary celebrations. It was held in a sports stadium, which was in an industrial area, next to a gasworks, which spewed smoke over us at various times during the day. It wasn’t that well attended as I recall, with quite a heavy atmosphere, drunkenness, and some fights as the day went on. The promised line up was good, however a few of the bands who were billed did not play; a not uncommon occurrence in those days. Billy Connolly (see left from the programme of the festival) delivered a set pretty early during the day which was a mix of comedy and folk songs, and was one of the hits of the day for me. He’d just had a success at the Edinburgh festival and was just starting to make a name for himself.Other highlights of the day were Beggars Opera who were also local heroes with great swirling Hammond organ, The Everley Brothers who sang all those timeless hits, and Steeleye Span, who were still playing quite traditionally-based elecric folk at that time, before the days of All Around My Hat. Status Quo were at the top of their game in the early 70s, and were great favourites of Peel, who was DJ/MC for the day. Marsh Hunt was to seen wandering around the crowd. The extract to the right, which is taken from the newspaper programme (also see below) shows the line up and timings. Chris Mclure, who was another local hero, also played. Unfortunately, neither Uriah Heep or The Electric Light Orchestra played. Beck, Bogert and Appice were the main reason we went along, and Beck was a revelation. His guitar playing eclipses Clapton in my view, and I was in awe of him that night. I remember him playing Superstition and am pretty sure that he used a mouth-tube, which was the first time I’d seen suc a strange contraption, and was a few years before Peter Frampton used one on Show Me The Way. I can’t remember much of the set, but I’m pretty sure it contained Morning Dew, a new song called Black Cat Moan, Going Down, and an epic version of Keep Me Hanging On, which Bogert and Appice will have brought with them from Vanilla Fudge. After the gig we got the train back to Edinburgh, where we spent the night trying, and failing, to sleep on some pretty hard and uncomfortable benches, until it was time for the first train back to Newcastle on the Sunday morning.