Baker Gurvitz Army Newcastle Mayfair 24th November 1975
Ginger Baker formed the powerhouse rock band Baker Gurvitz Army with brothers Paul and Adrian Gurvitz (formerly of The Gun and “Race with the Devil” fame), former Shark’s singer ‘Mr Snips’ (I recall seeing Sharks at Sunderland Mecca and they were excellent) and keyboard player Peter Lemer. They recorded their first album ‘Baker Gurvitz Army’ in 1974. The album was very much in the mould of Cream; “This album’s a strong, decisive statement, and if hard rock’s what you crave, you won’t be disappointed.” (Ralph Heibutzki, All Music Guide). In 1975 the band went out on tour. I saw their show at Newcastle Mayfair on 24th November. I’d always regretted missing out of seeing Cream first time round, and had made every effort to see their three members in concert. I’d seen Clapton and Bruce, and this was my first chance to see Ginger Baker. I remember enjoying the concert and that they played “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love”; and being delighted that they did so. Ginger had a massive drum kit which took up much of the stage; Adrian Gurvitz was an excellent guitarist and Snips, who I had seen before in Sharks, was a cocky punky character with a bluesy soulful voice.
A 1975 concert at Derby was recorded and released as a live album many years later. The tracklisting is: The Hustler; Space Machine; Remember; White Room; Neon Lights; Inside Of Me; Memory Lane; Sunshine Of Your Love; The Artist; Freedom; Time; Going To Heaven. I would imagine that the set at the Mayfair will have been similar to this. Baker Gurvitz Army were a great and now largely forgotten part of heavy blues rock history.
Chris Salewicz reviewed a gig in Watford on the same tour: “Okay, so there’s no phasing on the drums and he must be one of the only drummers currently working the rock and roll circuit who doesn’t take his shirt off on stage, and occasionally his style may still smack of ’67 And All That, but nevertheless Ginger Baker’s drumming is a positive joy to listen to. Baker’s playing oozes power. As such it blends in with and propels along the sheer energy which the Baker-Gurvitz Army seem to have cornered for themselves. Snips’ singing … is a direct utilisation of the lead singer’s voice as sensual instrument. Adrian Gurvitz, though not perhaps the most athletic lead guitarist around, certainly ain’t no slouch when it comes to the old brain power necessary for searching out those squealing, fleshy guitar notes or those near-psychedelic indented blues runs.”
Baker Gurvitz Army split in 1976 in part because “Adrian’s guitar playing was just too loud” and he was “getting off with every chick that I fancied!” (Ginger)
Archive for the ‘Ginger Baker’ Category
Baker Gurvitz Army Newcastle Mayfair 24th November 1975
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.
Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion Stockton Arc July 2nd 2012
I couldn’t resist taking up the opportunity to see the legendary drummer Ginger Baker at Stockton Arc last night. It was the first time that I have been to the Arc, which is an arts centre venue in the centre of Stockton. Ginger’s current band consists of Pee Wee Ellis on saxophone, Pee Wee was in James Brown’s band in the 60s and is also long-time musical director for Van Morrison (aha I thought I recognised this guy), Alec Dankworth, on electric and double bass, Alec is son of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, and twice named Bassist of the Year in the British Jazz Awards, and Abass Dodoo on percussion. Ginger took the stage spot on the advertised start time of 8pm. The band played two sets of jazz instrumentals. I’m not a big jazz fan, but enjoyed this gig. These guys can really play, and it shows. Great to see Ginger again.