Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1979
This was my 8th visit to Reading. The line-up was a predictable mix of new wave and heavy rock. It was also a year of line-up changes. Two of the main bands who were billed to play: Thin Lizzy and The Ramones did not appear. Thin Lizzy pulled out at a few days notice due to Gary Moore’s departure from the band. Lizzy were replaced by Scorpions and The Ramones by Nils Lofgren. Both of these changes were major disappointments. The weather wasn’t bad and the event was well-attended, but didn’t sell out. My recollections of the weekend are below:
Friday line-up: Bite the Pillow, The Jags, Punishment of Luxury, Doll by Doll, The Cure, Wilko Johnson, Motorhead, The Tourists, The Police.
Friday was the “new wave” day. I watched all of the bands from Punilux onwards. Highlights were The Cure who impressed me even though the only song I had heard before was “Killing an Arab”, and Wilko and Motorhead, both acts going down a storm with the crowd, who preferred their rock heavier and more traditional. The Police were riding on the crest of a wave of success, and were amazing, Sting had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the entire field sang along to the hits. It was great to witness a band at their peak.
The Police setlist: Deathwish; Next To You; So Lonely; Truth Hits Everybody; Walking On The Moon; Hole In My Life; Fall Out; Message In A Bottle; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Peanuts; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Landlord; Born In The 60s
Saturday line-up: Root Boy Slim; Fame; The Yachts; Little Bo Bitch (not sure that they played?); The Movies; Bram Tchaikovsky; Gillan; Steve Hackett; Cheap Trick; Inner Circle; Scorpions
We spent much of Saturday enjoying the delights of local hostelries and didn’t venture into the arena until later in the day. To be honest, looking at the line-up now, it was pretty uninspiring. We made it into the festival for Gillan onwards. Gillan seemed to play everywhere at the time, and were always good fun. I’d seen them so many times that I was getting to know the new songs, but I also always looked forward to hearing Purple classics, which they did including ‘Smoke on the Water”. Steve Hackett played “I Know What I Like” which prompted a mass crowd singalong. The highlight was Cheap Trick with crazy antics from Rick Nielson and an exquisite performance by Robin Zander. A video of their performance that night is on YouTube. You can find “I Want You To Want Me” here, a bit rough, but still amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTLEYcO2VnE
For the encore Cheap Trick were joined onstage by Dave Edmunds and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs for a rendition of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”. Classic 😄
Inner Circle’s reggae rhythms went down well. Scorpions were great (I really liked “Loving You Sunday Morning” at the time), but we were disappointed that we weren’t seeing Lizzy who had become a Reading favourite and were massive at the time.
Sunday line-up: The Cobbers; Terra Nova; Speedometers; Zaine Griff; Wild Horses; The Members; Molly Hatchett; Climax Blues Band; Nils Lofgren; Peter Gabriel; Whitesnake.
Sunday highlights for me were The Members who were in the charts with “Sounds of the Suburbs” and got a mixed reaction from the crowds with some people liking them, and others lobbing cans, and Peter Gabriel who started with “Biko” and played classic solo tracks like “Moribund The Burgermeister”, “Solsbury Hill” and “Here Comes The Flood”. Phil Collins joined Gabriel for the end of his set for “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. Whitesnake closed the evening and were worthy headliners (although they weren’t billed as so, with Peter Gabriel and non-showers The Ramones having shared top billing in the pre-festival publicity). They started with an amazing new song “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” which set the tone for the evening. Ian Paice had just joined on drums and Whitesnake now had three former Purple members (Coverdale, Lord and Paice).
Whitesnake setlist: Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Steal Away; Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick; Mistreated; Soldier Of Fortune; Love Hunter; Breakdown; Whitesnake Boogie.
An enjoyable Reading weekend, if not one of the strongest line-ups.
Archive for the ‘Doll by Doll’ Category
Rock on the Tyne Gateshead Stadium 29th/30th August 1981
In 1981 the north east for its own rock festival in the shape of Rock on the Tyne, a two day event which took place at Gateshead Stadium over the August bank holiday weekend. So we decided to forego our usual annual trek to Reading and sample the delights of this new event. That seemed a big choice, and a bit of a dilemma for me at the time, as I had been going to Reading for 9 consecutive years. As it happened, having made the break from going to Reading I never returned, which in hindsight was a mistake….
The line-up for Rock on the Tyne was (according to my tickets) as below.
Saturday. Huang Chung, Doll by Doll, The Polecats, Pauline Murray, U2, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Elvis Costello. [note the programme doesn’t list Pauline Murray, and does list Beckett. I can’t remember seeing Pauline play, and suspect the programme may be correct.]
Sunday. Fist, Diamond Head, Trimmer & Jenkins, Dr Feelgood, Ginger Baker’s Nutters, Lindisfarne, Rory Gallagher.
One of my main reasons for attending was to see up and coming new wave Irish band U2; this was their first appearance in the north east. I remember getting to the festival just in time to see their set late on Saturday afternoon. U2 were amazing at this point in their career. Bono was passionate, full of energy and you could just feel how hungry he and the rest of the band were for the massive success which was soon to follow. Stand-out songs were 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow (which they performed twice, once during the main set and again as part of the encore) and Fire. I remember Bono climbing up the lighting rig during (I think) Fire. Or perhaps that was the following year when they supported the Police at the same venue, or maybe it was on both occasions (actually I think it was both times ?) The memories are fading now, but what I do remember is that U2 were the highlight of the festival, and they were the band that everyone was talking about.
My other memory of the weekend was Rory Gallagher. Rory was never less than excellent, and this performance was no exception. He’d put on a little weight and added a brass section, and played the festival out with all those blues rock classics…Well did out ever get up with them bullfrogs on our mind?! Pure class 🙂
Ian Dury was good, Elvis was moving into his country period, Ginger Baker had a massive drum kit (of course). The festival wasn’t that well attended and wasn’t repeated although Gateshead Stadium has been used for concerts since then, including the aforementioned Police and U2 gig which took place the following year.
U2 setlist: With A Shout; 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow; An Cat Dubh; Into The Heart; Another Time, Another Place; The Cry; The Electric Co.; I Threw A Brick Through A Window; Stories For Boys; Out Of Control.
Encores: I Will Follow; Fire.
Rory Gallagher setlist: The Devil Made Me Do It; Bad Penny; Nadine; I Wonder Who; Moonchild; Double Vision; Wayward Child; Bourbon; Brute Force and Ignorance; Ride on Red, Ride On; Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy); Tattoo’d Lady; Leavin’ Blues; Philby; Shadow Play; Bullfrog Blues
This post takes me up to the letter “U”. I will continue with “U” tomorrow, by writing about U2 in concert.
Hawkwind Newcastle City Hall 1979
Support came from Doll by Doll
In late 1979, Hawkwind regrouped with a line-up of Dave Brock on guitar, Harvey Bainbridge on bass and Simon King on drums. The three core members were joined by Huw Lloyd-Langton (who had played on Hawkwind’s debut album) and Tim Blake (formerly of Gong). At this point in time the band had no record deal and no new album to promote. However, they went out on their normal Autumn/Winter tour around the UK, delivering a set of Hawkwind classics, and tracks from the Levitation album, which was to be released in the following year. The programme bears the title: Masters of the Universe. Support came from Doll by Doll, led by the late and sadly missed Jackie Leven. Doll by Doll surfaced around the time of punk, but their music was much deeper than the punk moniker suggests. I have blogged on Doll by Doll previously. A live album, recorded at the Oxford gig of the tour, was released the following year. Further line-up changes were to take place after the tour, with the departure of long-time drummer Simon King, to be replaced by legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker. I’ll report on that line-up tomorrow. Setlist from the Newcastle gig: Shot Down In The Night; Motorway City; Spirit Of The Age; Urban Guerilla; Prelude; Who’s Gonna Win The War; World Of Tiers; New Jerusalem; Lighthouse; Brainstorm; Phenomenon Of Luminosity; PXR5; Master Of The Universe; Silver Machine; Levitation.
Doll by Doll in the late 70s
Doll by Doll were an intriguing band. Led by the late and sadly missed Jackie Leven, Doll by Doll surfaced around the time of punk, but their music was much deeper than the punk moniker suggests. One of my mates was raving about their first album, so I went to see them when they played at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, think it was around 1979. I also seem to recall seeing them as a support act at Newcastle City Hall, I think it was in the same year, on a Hawkwind tour. They are worthy of mention, as looking back, it is clear that they were a pretty significant, and very under-rated band. Jackie Leven came from a folk-roots background and blended this with psychedelia, some great guitar, and smattering of punk. The first album, Remember, is pretty special, and unlike anything else around at the time. Although I didn’t recognise Doll by Doll as anything particularly special when I saw them, I had their first album and played it quite often, and now realise just how unique the band were. “There are spiritual story tellers and there are soulful story tellers. I hope to be a soulful story teller. I see the two kinds as two different directions. Spiritual is ascending. Sky, God and all that. I hope my story telling is going down into the earth, is wetter, has more moisture.” Jackie Leven.
Devo Newcastle City Hall 1978 and 1980
Question: Are we not men? Answer: We are DEVO.
There were some pretty crazy messages coming out of planet DEVO in the late 70s. The messages even got through to the north east of England and drew us all to Newcastle City Hall to observe these strange beings that were DEVO, listen to the songs that they chose to share with us, and do our mad DEVO dances. The DEVO guys were very different to UK punk rock, and to anything else that we earthlings had seen come out of American new wave. So along we went (twice in my case!) to be DEVOed and to stare in awe at these crazy guys who wore red pointy hats, weird yellow suits and sang quirky punk songs with strange lyrics and obscure messages, many of which also had quite catchy hooks. Mongoloid and Jocko Homo were quite good fun, and their version of Satisfaction was ok, if a little strange. As the programme says: “The band eveolved from a long line of brain-eating apes, some of which settled in N.E. Ohio around Akron where members of Devo eventually appeared years after the A-Bomb ended World War II. By the process of natural selection they met and shared the habits of making electronic noise, watching TV and watching everybody esle. They called that they saw around them De-evolution and called their music Devo. It made the sound of things falling apart.” Support for the 1978 Newcastle gig came from The Members whose Sound of the Suburbs was pretty neat. They were fronted by singer Nicky Tesco who was a cool guy and good fun on stage. The Members had been brought in at short notice to replace Doll by Doll (featuring Jackie Leven) who had been dropped from the tour because they were “not sufficiently DEVO”. Apparently Doll by Doll turned up for this gig, only to find out that they were not playing and were understandably not too pleased. Anyway, my two interactions with the DEVO aliens were both good clean fun, even if it was all a little crazy. But then, these were crazy times. I also had the good fortune to be present when the DEVO space craft landed in a field at Knebworth and they performed on a bill with Genesis, Tom Petty and Jefferson Starship. But thats a story for another days blogging. Perhaps the DEVO guys, who are still playing in the States, will yet take over the world and I will wake up tomorrow and find that I am living on planet DEVO. Perhaps I already am? Are we not men? We are DEVO? “If the spud fits; wear it : DEVO”