Talking Heads Newcastle Poly 27th Jan 1978 and Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979
I first saw Talking Heads at a concert at Newcastle Poly in January 1978. They were touring with Dire Straits as support at the time. Dire Straits were starting to become known as a result of their single “Sultans of Swing” and Talking Heads were the darlings of the US new wave, with rave reports of their concerts in the States coming through the UK music press. I watched Taking Heads on TV performing “Psycho Killer” on the Old Grey Whistle Test and was hooked. The quirky jabbing rhythms and the strange lyrics (who would write a song about a psycho killer?) intrigued me. By the time they came to play at Newcastle Poly they were performing songs from their first album and the yet-to-be-released “More Songs About Buildings and Food”. Live Talking Heads were excellent. There was a feel of an art school band about them; very different to the punk of the Ramones or to any of the UK new wave. David Byrne was the eccentric school teacher, whose manic stage manner held us all transfixed, and Tina Weymouth bobbed away playing a bass that looked bigger than she did. I remember there being mutters that Dire Straits would outshine them; not so, Talking Heads were great and the crowd loved them.
Roll on a year or so and Talking Heads were back in Newcastle playing to a packed City Hall. By now they had released their third album “Fear of Music” and were massively successful, their popularity transcending the new wave tag. Human League were billed as support but I think they were pulled from the tour because they wanted to play a recorded set? I think A Certain Ratio were support in the end. It was another great performance by Talking Heads, with the packed hall giving the band a great reception.
Talking Heads Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979
Setlist for the Newcastle Poly show: Love-> Building on Fire; Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town; Don’t Worry About the Government; Take Me to the River; The Book I Read; New Feeling; The Big Country; Artists Only; Tentative Decisions; Stay Hungry; Thank You for Sending Me an Angel; Who Is It?; Psycho Killer
Encore: No Compassion; Pulled Up; I’m Not in Love; 1, 2, 3 Red Light
Setlist for the City Hall show: Artists Only; Stay Hungry; Cities; Paper; Mind; Heaven; Electric Guitar; Air; Animals; Love-> Building on Fire; Found a Job; Memories Can’t Wait; Psycho Killer
Encore: Life During Wartime; Take Me to the River
Archive for the ‘Dire Straits’ Category
Talking Heads Newcastle Poly 27th Jan 1978 and Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979
Live Aid Wembley Stadium 13th July 1985
I went with a couple of mates. We missed out on tickets when they went on sale and the only way we could get there was to buy tickets for a coach trip from Middlesbrough. So we were up at 4am, drove to Middlesbrough and joined a coach which left at 5am for London. We arrived well before noon, had a couple of drinks and entered the stadium, which was of course completely packed so we found a spot in the stands right at the back. A few minutes later Status Quo took to the stage with “Rockin’ All Over The World” and the day started. This was Quo reunited one year after the split, with Alan flying over from Oz to join Francis and Rick. Their short set also featured Caroline” and “Don’t Waste My Time”. A fitting start to the day. I have so many great memories of that day.
Queen’s performance is, of course, often rated as the greatest live performance by any band. Freddie certainly commanded the crowd the day and it propelled them to super stardom. Their well planned set was a medley with short sections of their anthems: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Hammer To Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”. They had apparently been rehearsing their short set for days, to ensure perfection, and it showed, and worked. U2 weren’t far behind them, though, in terms of performance, with Bono showing how great a front man he was. U2 played two songs: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and a lengthy version of “Bad” during which Bono dragged a girl from the rush down front to dance with him on stage, and which also included snippets from Lou Reed’s “Satellite of love” and “Walk On The Wild Side”, and The Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Electric.
For me, however. the highlights were The Who and David Bowie, as I was, and remain, a big fan of both acts. Bowie started with “TVC15” (a strange and poor choice I felt, and remember being disappointed on the day), “Rebel Rebel” (great, good choice), “Modern Love” (well, ok) and then “Heroes” (we all sag along and it was pure magic). I still feel that with a better choice of songs Bowie could have eclipsed Queen and U2.
The Who performed “My Generation”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Love Reign O’er Me” (another strange song choice given the magnitude of the event) and a blistering “Won’t Get Fooled Again” with much mike swinging by Daltrey and lots of arm twirling by Townshend.
Other memories: Elton and Kiki sang “Don’t go Breaking my Heart” (great!). Paul McCartney suffered from sound problems and we couldn’t hear him at all for much of “Let It Be” although I gather it was fine on TV. Geldof drew massive cheers every time he set foot on stage, and he deserved every one of them. The scheduling worked amazingly, with very few hitches. Seeing the cameras pick out Charles and Diana over in their enclosure. The amazingly camp Bowie and Jagger video. The awful, sad and moving video of starving children played to the Cars’ “Drive”. Phil Collins playing Wembley and JFK courtesy of Concorde (show off).
But the truly unforgettable moment came at the end, and will stay in my mind for ever. That was the finale, with the entire stadium singing along to “Do They Know It’s Christmas ?” with Bob Geldof leading us, and everyone else on stage. I’ve never seen, felt, or heard anything like it before or since. We walked out of that stadium to the coach park, all of us still singing…..”Feed The World”…..
Then it was a long coach ride back to Middlesbrough. We arrived back around 5 or 6am, then drove home. 24 hours with hardly any sleep, just an hour or so caught on the bus, but a day I will remember forever.
Line-up: Status Quo; The Style Council; The Boomtown Rats; Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet; Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw; Sade; Sting; Phil Collins; Howard Jones; Bryan Ferry (with David Gilmour on guitar); Paul Young/Alison Moyet; U2; Dire Straits/Sting; Queen; Video “Dancing in the Streets” by David Bowie/Mick Jagger; David Bowie; The Who; Elton John (Kiki Dee and George Michael join Elton); Mercury and May; Paul McCartney; Finale
The Police Newcastle Mayfair 14 June 1979
The next time I saw The Police was at Newcastle Mayfair. By then they had hit the charts with Can’t Stand Losing You, So Lonely and Roxanne, and had built up a strong following. They were on the brink of the mega-stardom which was to follow, starting later that year when they hit No 1 in the UK with Message in a Bottle and Walking on the Moon. I was spoilt for choice this night. Dire Straits were playing the City Hall, and The Police at the Mayfair. Which gig to go to? Well I tried to go to both, as I often did in those days. So my mate and I saw Dire Straits at the City Hall, and then raced down to the Mayfair for the Police. I’ve already written about the Dire Straits gig which was sold out and great; this was the first time they had played the City Hall and it was at the time of Sultans of Swing. For once the timings worked. We arrived at the Mayfair in time for the Police’s set having missed support acts The Cramps and Bobby Henry. The Mayfair was packed, and the Police were just great. Sting was on top form and was getting heavily into his Yo..Yo..Yo.. reggae cum jazz / scat singing at the time. It was very clear that this band was much more than a punk band, and were a great pop act. I always found it strange going into a gig late. Its like arriving at a party where everyone has been drinking all night and you come along sober. When we entered the Mayfair it was packed, hot, sweaty and the Police were just coming on stage. Sting was wearing his boiler suit, Andy was chopping out some great guitar rhythms and Stewart was at the back pounding away on his drums. A great night. The next time I saw the Police was when they returned to play two triumphant shows at the City Hall.
Dire Straits Newcastle City Hall 1980 and 1982
Dire Straits returned to the City Hall in 1980, and again in 1982. By this time they were on their way to mega-stardom and could easily sell out a venue of this size. In fact on both occasions the band sold out two nights at the City Hall. If you look at the two ticket stubs, you can see that both gigs were on the 9th December, exactly two years apart from each other. The line up of Dire Straits had changed, with David Knopfler leaving his brother’s band, and the members for the 1980 tour being Mark Knopfler (vocals and guitar), John Illsley (bass), Pick Withers (drums) and new band members: Alan Clark (keyboards) and Hal Lindes (guitar). The albums at the time were Making Movies (1980), and Love Over Gold (1982). The nine times platinum Brothers in Arms was to follow a few years later in 1985. Dire Straits developed a lot during these early years of their career; the songs were longer, more involved and more complex, with greater opportunity for Mark to solo. This was the period of great tracks such as Romeo and Juliet, Tunnel of Love, and Private Investigations, all of which are epic songs, and they all soon became big favourites of their live shows. Although I enjoyed those City Hall gigs in 1980 and 1982, I also missed the bar band who had broken onto the scene with Sultans of Swing. If you compare a Dire Straits setlist from 1979 with one from 1982, the contrast is quite stark and quite obvious. In 1979 a typical Dire Straits show featured around 20 (quite short) songs. By 1982 the length of the songs had increased to the extent that a typical set comprised around only a dozen songs. Also by now the gigs had no support act and no interval; these were evenings of pure Dire Straits music, and quite long shows. A typical setlist from 1982: Once Upon a Time in the West; Industrial Disease; Expresso Love; It Never Rains; Romeo and Juliet; Love Over Gold; Private Investigations; Sultans of Swing; Twisting by the Pool; Two Young Lovers; Portobello Belle; Tunnel of Love I saw Dire Straits twice more in concert, both at large gigs. In 1985 I saw them at Wembley Stadium when they appeared at Live Aid, and again at Knebworth in 1990 during the Silver Clef concert. It was 21 years till I saw Mark Knopfler again, when he co-headlined with Bob Dylan in Glasgow. I was disappointed that he didn’t play Sultans of Swing, although looking at setlists from previous gigs it seems that he does still include it his set. For me, Sultans is his supreme moment; his guitar playing seems so simple, so effortless and yet so complex, and his lyrics tell the story of his band at the time. Just perfect.
Thanks to John for the scan of the Brothers in Arms programme. I checked out the setlists for Live Aid and Knebworth. For Live Aid at Wembley Stadium 1985, they played Money for Nothing and Sultans. At Knebworth in 1990 they played Solid Rock; I Think I Love You Too Much, and Money for Nothing. Those were the last times I saw Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler is touring again next year and playing the Newcastle Arena. I met well go along and see him.
Dire Straits in concert late 70s
I can’t remember where I first saw Dire Straits, or where I first hear “Sultans of Swing”, but the song was everywhere during 1978. It provided a welcome alternative to the fast and loud punk music which was also omnipresent in university student unions and ballrooms at the time. Not that I didn’t like punk, I did, but it was nice to have a softer alternative. Somehow this rootsy pub rock band crept up from left field, and established themselves as a major act. Their relentless touring was a large part of the secret to their success. I saw them support Talking Heads at Newcastle Poly, a few months later headlining at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, and then back at the Poly. Each time “Sultans” was the stand out song of the night. By June 1979 Dire Straits were big enough to headline at Newcastle City Hall, in support of their second album “Communique”. I recall being surprised at how quickly they had graduated to playing concert halls, and wondering if they could sell out such a large venue. The fact was, the tickets sold out quickly for the City Hall gig and the place was packed. This was one of those nights that posed a dilemma for me. The City Hall had Dire Straits, and on the same night The Police were headlining at the Mayfair, with support from The Cramps. My mate Ian and I decided to try and see both gigs, and for once the timings worked. We went to the City Hall, saw the Dire Straits gig (the support came from a band called Metro) and then we headed straight down to The Mayfair for The Police. We had missed The Cramps, but saw The Police’s set. A great night, seeing two great bands who were both on their first headlining tour, and both on the brink of mega stardom. “Sultans” is still my favourite Dire Straits song, and for me they were at their very best in those early days. A typical Dire Straits setlist from 1979: Down to the Waterline; Six Blade Knife; Once Upon a Time in the West; Lady Writer; Single-Handed Sailor; News; What’s the Matter Baby?; Portobello Belle; Wild West End; Lions; Angel of Mercy; Solid Rock; Sultans of Swing; Where Do You Think You’re Going?; Southbound Again; Setting Me Up; Twisting by the Pool.