Graham Parker and the Rumour Newcastle Academy 1st June 2014
A few weeks ago I was writing about my memories of seeing Graham Parker in the 70s. At the time I wrote” “there was no better band than Graham Parker and the Rumour in the late 70s. They exploded out of pub rock and were part of the scene, and sound, which influenced punk and new wave. Graham Parker was the coolest guy on the planet and rocked and sang white soul and R&B like no-one else (OK maybe that’s a little unfair on Van Morrisson who was clearly a strong influence on Graham). The Rumour came with all the right pub-rock credentials featuring the legnedary Brinsley Schwarz (lead guitar) and Bob Andrews (keyboards) (both ex Brinsley Schwarz), Martin Belmont (rhythm guitar, ex Ducks Deluxe) and Andrew Bodnar (bass) and Steve Goulding (drums).”
At the time I didn’t know that I would be seeing them again, for the first time in 30-odd years. In 2011, Parker called up his old Rumour band mates and asked them to work with him again; they produced a new album that was their first together in over 30 years, and went out to play some shows. Last night they made their way back to Newcastle. Graham Parker explained how, outside the venue, a guy caught him and showed him a ticket for their concert at the City Hall in 1979, which he had signed at the time. He asked Graham to sign it again; which he duly did. He recalled those nights at the City Hall and other venues (the Poly as I recall) to cheers from the crowd, most of whom were surely at those gigs themselves. Of the reunion Parker says: “This has not been about touring for touring’s sake, or about making money….but we felt we had to get out there for a short while at least and be a part of the “This Is 40″ entourage….and bash some instruments around for the heck of it.” The tour has been having rave reviews; for example: “There was no need for any concerns over the 35-year gap. GP and the Rumour resolutely remain one of rock’s great live acts and the intervening years have done nothing to diminish their enduring powers. ” (the Birmingham Mail)
Well he didn’t let us down. Parker is still the same cool, cocky, energetic guy that he always was. From the moment they opened with Fool’s Gold, you just knew it was going to be good. The Rumour are still the tightest, hottest, rock, soul and reggae band on the planet (skanky beats, as Parker called them) and Parker is as animated and soulful as ever. Great stuff.
The setlist was something like this; I may have missed some: Fool’s Gold; Hotel Chambermaid; Snake Oil Capital of the World; Coathangers; No Holding Back; Howlin’ Wind; New Song; Live in Shadows; Lady Doctor; Love Gets You Twisted; Stick to Me; Watch the Moon Come Down; Get Started, Start a Fire; Discovering Japan; Nobody Hurts You; Pourin” it all out; Local Girls. Encore: You Can’t Be Too Strong; Don’t Ask Me Questions. Encore 2: Soul Shoes
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Graham Parker and the Rumour Newcastle Academy 1st June 2014
Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂
Graham Parker and the Rumour Live in the late ’70s
There was no better band than Graham Parker and the Rumour in the late 70s. They exploded out of pub rock and were part of the scene, and sound, which influenced punk and new wave. Graham Parker was the coolest guy on the planet and rocked and sang white soul and R&B like no-one else (OK maybe that’s a little unfair on Van Morrisson who was clearly a strong influence on Graham). The Rumour came with all the right pub-rock credentials featuring the legnedary Brinsley Schwarz (lead guitar) and Bob Andrews (keyboards) (both ex Brinsley Schwarz), Martin Belmont (rhythm guitar, ex Ducks Deluxe) and Andrew Bodnar (bass) and Steve Goulding (drums). And those songs: Fool’s Gold, Pourin’ It All Out, White Honey, and the show-stopping reggae-tinged (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions; it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about being at a gig with the entire audience singing along “Hey Lord; Don’t Ask Me Questions”. There was just no-one to touch them on a good night; power, passion, rhythms, rock, dancing, and Graham Parker on fire in terms of his singing and his overall performance. Graham Parker and the Rumour gigged relentlessly from 1976 on, and I saw them lots of times. My tickets tell me I was at gigs at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd March 1977 with Southside Johnny as support, 17th November 1977 (Marie’s birthday, she agreed to come along although she wasn’t a fan, and a drunken guy behind us spilled a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale all over her head…I still haven’t been forgiven for that night… 🙂 ), 5th March 1979 and 5th April 1982 (by that point the Rumour had departed and the concert was Parker solo). I also remember a great gig at Newcastle Poly and seeing Parker as part of the supporting bill for Bob Dylan at his massive Blackbushe concert. There were probably others which escape my fading memory.
Graham Parker has been absent from UK stages for too many years, but has reunited with the Rumour and is playing over here again. Something else for me to look forward to.
Note added on 18th May 2014. I have just discovered a large poster programme for Graham Parker, which comes from the 1982 tour. I had it filed away separately because it was so big. I have added it today.
Bob Dylan Blackbushe Aerodrome 1978
Support: Eric Clapton and Band, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and The Rumour, and Lake
Demand for Dylan’s run of concerts at Earls Court in 1978 was so high that a massive open air show was added. At first I wasn’t sure whether to go and see him again, but in the end I couldn’t resist going along. I travelled down on my own, but ran into a group of friends when I arrived at the gig. They had a spot pretty close to the front, so I joined them there. The attendance at this event was huge. I think it was something like 250,000 people. There were people everywhere. And the line up was very strong indeed. Dylan was supported by Eric Clapton and Band (I think Clapton also played with Dylan for part of the set?), Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and The Rumour, and Lake. I don’t recall much about the supports, other than Clapton, who went down well with the crowd. It was a hot day, and a great atmosphere. Dylan performed a set which was similar to that he performed at Earls Court. I remember him wearing a top hat, and that there was a long wait before he took to the stage. The sound wasn’t too great, and if you were at the back of the arena, I suspect you will have seen very little, particularly as there were no screens. We were quite close to the front, and had a good view, so I really enjoyed the event. After the gig I spent hours in queues to get the train back across London, and start my journey home. I later learnt that my friend John had also gone down to the gig on his own, neither of us realising that the other was going. Setlist: My Back Pages (Instrumental); Love Her With A Feeling; Baby Stop Crying; Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues; Shelter From The Storm; It’s All Over Now Baby Blue; Girl From The North Country; Ballad Of A Thin Man; Maggie’s Farm; Simple Twist Of Fate; Like A Rolling Stone; I Shall Be Released; Is Your Love In Vain?; Where Are You Tonight?; A Change Is Gonna Come (Carolyn Dennis vocal); Mr. Tambourine Man (Helena Springs vocal); The Long And Winding Road (Jo Ann Harris vocal); What Would We Do If No One’s Dreams Came True? (Steven Soles vocal); Gates Of Eden; True Love Tends To Forget; One More Cup Of Coffee; Blowin’ In The Wind; I Want You; Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power); Masters Of War; Just Like A Woman; Ramona; Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright); All Along The Watchtower; All I Really Want To Do; It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding); Forever Young. Encores: Changing Of The Guards; The Times They Are A-Changin’