In my daily blogging I have tended to write about gigs of major bands that I have attended, in most cases including a scan of a ticket or a programme or both. Well in the case of this band, I am afraid that I don’t have either a ticket or a programme. I also found it very difficult to find any image relating to the band that I could use. I guess most people will not have heard of Fat Grapple, but I just couldn’t move from letter F to G without mentioning them. Fat Grapple came from the North East of England (Billingham to be precise) and featured a young Eddie Jobson before he moved on to Curved Air, Rozy Music and prog rock fame. The picture I have here is of violinist Eddie Jobson in his days with Roxy music.I saw them a few times at local gigs in Sunderland Locarno, and they were just amazing, and it was very clear that Eddie was a virtuoso musician and a star in the making. The first time I saw Fat Grapple was at one of the regular Friday night gigs at the Locarno. All we knew was that they were a local band, and none of us had heard of them before. There was only a small crowd that night but they just blew us away with a blend of prog rock, and a great violin player that they introduced as “the beautiful Edwin”. This was the young Eddie Jobson of course, who was totally unknown at the time. He was great, playing covers of Jig a Jig, Curved Air’s interpretation of Vivaldi, and Hava Nagila, and stole the show. We all went crazy and called them back for encore after encore. They got such a great reception that they were booked again for the following week, and the place was packed this time; the word had clearly got around just how good this band were. It wasn’t long before Eddie had joined Curved Air. Fat Grapple continued to gig up and down the country into the mid 70s, by which time Eddie Jobson had left the band. They also produced a single in 1975, called Happy in the Lord. I remember that they had a song Skinhead Sandy which I thought was particularly catchy and was a live favourite. It had lyrics something like: I-I-I-I-I-I said, I’ve Got no hair on top of my head, So I-I-I-I-I’ll be a Skinhead said Sandy. I wish I could find a recording of it, or even better some video footage of the band, but I have searched and I suspect nothing exists.
Archive for the ‘Fat Grapple’ Category
Curved Air 70s gigs
I believe that the bands that you see when you are young shape your musical tastes for the rest of life. Curved Air are one of those bands for me. I first saw them at Newcastle City Hall in 1971, and was mesmerised by them in many different ways. Their mix of classical music, folk and electronic sounds was quite unique, Sonja Kristina was just stunning on stage, and the musicianship of Darryl Way on violin and Francis Monkman on moog synthesiser was outstanding. And they had great songs: the hit single “Back Street Luv”, “Marie Antoinette”, the beautiful and haunting “Melinda (More or Less)”, their first single “It Happened Today”, and the set closer “Vivaldi” during which Daryl Way went wild with his electric violin. Support at that 1971 gig came from Irish band Skid Row, not to be confused with the American heavy rock band of the 80s. I’d seen the bluesy Skid Row a few months before in Sunderland Locarno, with the young Gary Moore on guitar (he just blew me away: I went home and practised and practised). However, by the time of this gig Gary had been replaced by Paul Chapman. Brush Sheils was the bass player and front man of Skid Row; his name coming from his big brush of hair. He sported a persplex bass and was totally crazy on stage: a real wild guy. I then saw Curved Air play a great set on the Friday night of the 1972 Reading Festival where they headlined over Genesis and Mungo Jerry. They came onstage late, around midnight by which time we were all sitting on the grass, waiting in the cold night. Their set was just amazing that night. Sonja sang those lovely songs over the evening mist, and brought the first night of the festival to a lovely end. From then on I saw Curved Air almost any and every time that they played in the North East. I remember gigs at Newcastle Mayfair, Newcastle Poly, Sunderland Poly and Durham Students Union. I recall Marie and I turning up at a sold out Freshers Ball at Teesside Poly one night and managing somehow to blag our way in to the hall (backhander to the doorman methinks). I saw them again at the City Hall in 1976. I think I may have seen them at Redcar Bowl. There were probably other gigs that I don’t remember; Curved Air played a lot in those days and must have been up and down the motorway playing Student Union dances most weekends. Over the years the line up changed (a lot). At one point local guy Eddie Jobson joined on violin. Jobson was a young and extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who I’d seen several times at Sunderland Locarno, playing in Hartlepool (or was it Peterlee?) band Fat Grapple. Fat Grapple were great, its a shame no recorded material of the band from that era exists. Along the way Stewart Copeland, who was to become Sonja’s husband and later of The Police, joined on drums, and Darryl Way returned to the fold. The one constant factor throughout that period was Sonja Kristina. I can picture her now, commanding the stage, top hat on her head and a cape around her shoulders, belting out Back Street Luv. Great nights. Can I go back there please? I’ve seen Curved Air a couple of times in recent years, at Holmfirth Picturedrome and at Glastonbury, and the magic is still there; for me anyway. Thanks to John for finding a signed 1971 programme on ebay for me, and for sending me an image of an early 70s poster (also bought on ebay; see scans).