Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st November 1976
1976 was Thin Lizzy’s year. The album “Jailbreak” gave them the breakthrough that they had been working so had for. Released in March 1976, it featured the worldwide hit “The Boys Are Back in Town” which broke the band and reached no. 8 in the UK. “Jailbreak” had all the right elements; the wonderful twin guitar sound of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, great rock tunes which were heavy yet not metal, fascinating stories of the street (bet Phil listened to Springsteen), great use of Celtic mythology drawn from Phil’s Irish heritage, and an attitude and vibe that shone through in the sleeve and Phil’s image, and which completely captured the mood of the time. The album features some of Lizzy’s best compositions such as as “Emerald”, the single “Boys are Back”, and the title track “Jailbreak” which all quickly became concert favourites and would remain in their live set throughout their career. Suddenly Lizzy went from being the club band you could see all the time, to rock heroes who were selling out concert halls and theatres up and down the country.
Phil Lynott fell ill with hepatitis during a US tour; the tour was cancelled, during which time he wrote the follow up album “Johnny the Fox”. The album was recorded in August 1976, but there were tensions between Lynott and Robertson; including disagreements over the credits for their next hit single “Don’t Believe a Word”. “Johnny the Fox” is a good album, but falls short in comparison to the “Jailbreak”. The band went out on tour in the UK to promote the new album, supported by Clover, featuring Huey Lewis. They performed 25 concerts during the UK tour, all of which were completely sold out. I saw the Newcastle gig which was powerful, energetic and a celebration of Lizzy’s recent success. The crowd welcomed the band back as conquering heroes and Phil was becoming the ultimate rock frontman, who could command a crowd like no-one else at the time. A simple thing, like reflecting light off his mirrored bass front plate so that it cut across the concert hall and dazzled us all, seemed fantastic at the time.
Phil told us stories, got us to sing along with him, and led his two fantastic guitar compatriots Scott and Brian, and drummer Brian, in some perfect rock music. “Emerald” and “The Rocker” were my favourites, and when they played “The Boys Are Back in Town” we just knew that the song was about Phil and the guys, but we also felt that it was about us; and that we were all “boys” together. A wonderful, uplifting performance. We were so proud that this band, who we had followed through the clubs, ballrooms, and festivals was taking on the world, and was doing it with rock songs which we could relate to.
“Lizzy have walked away with the cup this year” and “….. there is no better bona fide rock band in England, maybe the world, at this moment than Thin Lizzy.” (David Housham reviewing the Bristol gig in the music press at the time).
A bootleg of the Newcastle show exists which includes the following songs: Jailbreak; Massacre; Emerald; Johnny; It’s Only Money; Still in Love With You; The Boys Are Back in Town; Rosalie; Suicide; Warriors. Encore: Baby Drives Me Crazy. I suspect that they may also have played “Sha la la ” and “The Rocker”.
Thanks to Mitch for his photo which was taken at this gig.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the length of Scott’s hair, which I was so jealous of. I never quite figured out why mine stopped growing at a certain length, and never quite reached my waist 🙂
Archive for the ‘Clover’ Category
Thin Lizzy Newcastle City Hall 1st November 1976
Lynyrd Skynyrd Newcastle City Hall 1977 (and a look back to 1974 and 1976)
I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd three times in the 70s; once at Newcastle City Hall supporting Golden Earring (they blew them offstage), supporting the Stones at Knebworth in 76 (some would argue that they were the better band on the day) and then this gig where they headlined their own UK tour and called at Newcastle City Hall in 1977.
I’ll start with some brief memories of the Golden Earring support slot, which I have already blogged on, under Golden Earring. “The most memorable thing that I remember about the City Hall gig was the support act, who were Lynyrd Skynyrd, and blew Golden Earring off the stage that night. It was an unlikely pairing of acts even at the time, as Skynyrd were an up and coming band, having just released their second album. In fact, many members of the audience left after Skynyrd’s set.” My friend John recalls: “I can remember the very large Confederate Flag behind the band and for me it was the best gig I saw them play. They were fresh, different and very exciting with an epic version of Free Bird. At later shows I sometimes felt they were going through the motions and the fire was missing”.
John and I then saw Skynyrd at Knebworth where they (almost) stole the show from the headliners, the Rolling Stones. They played a lengthy version of Freebird that day, with amazing guitar solos, and which gained them a lot of friends. It was a red hot afternoon and Skynyrd came into their own, with their twin guitars dualing across the opposite sides of the Stones tongue stage. This was televised on the Old Grey Whistle Test, and helped propel the band to mega status in the UK. They were back for their own tour in 1977, which sold out very quickly. Support act was Clover, an American band with a country boogie feel. Skynyrd came over as conquering heroes and the thing I remember most is that they were incredibly LOUD. It was probably one of the loudest gigs I have ever been to. Oh and Freebird went on for ever, and ever, and ever. I thought that the song was never going to end (but it was still good 🙂 ).
The setlist from Knebworth 1976 is listed here. I think their set at the City Hall in 1977 was quite similar; give or take a couple of songs: Workin’ for MCA; I Ain’t the One; Saturday Night Special; Whiskey Rock-a-Roller; Travelin’ Man; Searching; What’s Your Name; That Smell; Gimme Three Steps; Call Me the Breeze; T for Texas; Sweet Home Alabama; Free Bird.
On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and five shows into their most successful headlining tour to date, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered jet ran out of fuel near the end of their flight from Greenville where they had just performed at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium. The pilots attempted an emergency landing on a small airstrip, but the plane crashed in a forest in Mississippi. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact; the other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman, and road crew all suffered serious injuries.
I had tickets to see the Rossington Collins band at the City Hall in the late 70s, but the tour was cancelled. I saw a more recent (re)incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd at Manchester Apollo in 2009 and they were pretty damn good too! I’ve already blogged on that gig.