Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 21st Nov 1973 & 17th Oct 1974
The strange little black blob pictured here is a prized plectrum that I was lucky enough to catch at a Uriah Heep gig in the early ’70s. It was thrown to me by Mick Box, and I was so excited when I caught it. It is a small black plastic Hofner pleccie and was well worn when I got it, so it had obviously been used quite a bit by Mick. I have used it myself a few times and found it quite hard and chunky; great for riffs. I would try and play “Gyspy” in the hope that it would somehow transform my playing into that of Mick Box, but sadly it didn’t quite work out. I couldn’t get the same tone or power. Still it’s nice to have it, and frightening to think that 40 or so years have passed since Mick threw it from the stage of the City Hall.
We would always try and get down to the front at Heep gigs. When Uriah Heep came on stage there was always a rush for the front. They would usually start with a favourite, perhaps “Easy Livin'” or “Stealin'” and it would be loud and rocking. There would be a massive crush at the front of the stage and Dave Byron and Mick Box would both play to the crowd. Mick would have a massive grin on his face. He would do a series of strange hand gestures, lifting one arm above his head and wiggling his fingers as a magician would do, pointing towards the strings of his guitar, as if he was magically controlling it and playing it from a distance, just like one of the wizards that they would sing about. Mick in an interview: “The hand movements came about when I play a left hand trill in the old days and we were only playing clubs, and everybody could see it to be clever. When we first went to the USA and supported Three Dog Night playing 10.000-20.000 seaters I waved my arm in the air so that all and sundry could see.” Sometimes Mick would lift his guitar above his head, or hold it out in front of himself, and let those down front strum the strings. Pure magic. I remember reading somewhere that David Byron was the ultimate rock front man, and that ain’t far wrong. Ken Hensley: “David was the communication point, the focal point of the whole group’s stage presentation. He had so much charisma, so much ability.” His vocals were amazing and his stage presence, charisma, ego and attitude were all so much larger than life. Dave Byron knew that he was a star. How could he be anything else? I can picture him now, wearing satin flares, one foot on the monitor, leaning over towards us all, hands outstretched. He was singing directly to us. Byron: “I see myself as more than just a vocalist. I have a definite job in tying the band together visually. It stands to reason that the spotlights will be on me most of the time because I’m the front man, so by moving around I can involve everyone. I take singing very much to heart, and I try to use my voice as an instrument.”
All around us down at the front of the stage were fans going absolutely crazy. I would usually stand and watch but many of the people beside me were totally manic. It was called “idiot dancing” at the time. A definition of “idiot dancing”: “a style of frenzied, abandoned dancing on the spot (invariably consisting of writhing hand and arm movements and shaking of the head) to rock music, particularly the ‘psychedelic’ style (a precursor of heavy metal) of the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s it had mutated into the less picturesque headbanging.” I notice from my tickets for Heep gigs in late 1973 and 1974 that my seat was halfway back in the stalls, or in the balcony. But by the end of the show I swear I was in the crush near to the stage.
Support for the 1974 tour was the mighty Heavy Metal Kids. Imagine it: Gary Holton and Dave Byron on the same stage in one night. Mayhem! The setlist was probably something like this: Easy Livin’; Sweet Lorraine; Stealin’; July Morning; Dreamer; If I Had The Time; Gypsy; Seven Stars; Sweet Freedom; Look At Yourself; Love Machine; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley
According to the Uriah Heep website the support act for the 1974 tour was Peter Frampton. Now I have no recollection of seeing Frampton with Uriah Heep, but hey who knows, the City Hall bar (or the City Vaults) may well have been calling me. If it was Frampton, this was at the time of his third solo album “Somethin’s Happening” and he will have played songs like “Its a Plain Shame”, “Lines on my Face” and “Doobie Wah”. A typical setlist for Uriah Heep in 1974 was: Stealin’; Suicidal Man; Something Or Nothing; Wonderworld; Sweet Freedom; I Won’t Mind; July Morning; Easy Livin’; Sweet Lorraine; Little Piece Of Leather; Look At Yourself; Gypsy; Love Machine; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley
Bass player Gary Thain suffered an electric shock at a concert in Dallas, Texas on 15 September 1974, and was seriously injured. He was also suffering from a drug habit which was affecting his performance, and he was fired by the band in early 1975. He was replaced by former King Crimson bassist John Wetton. Thain passed away as a result of a heroin overdose, on 8 December 1975 at his London flat. He was just aged 27.
Gary Thain had a unique, and very intense bass style. He would play without a plectrum, preferring to use his fingers, and would put his entire body into the performance. I first saw him play in the Keef Hartley band, and remember being impressed by him then. He was undoubtedly a very important part of the classic Uriah Heep line-up. In just three years Gary Thain participated in over 400 live performances all over the world with Uriah Heep.
This was the end of the classic line-up, but there were still many more great concerts to come.
More Heeping tomorrow.
Archive for the ‘Heavy Metal Kids’ Category
Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 21st Nov 1973 & 17th Oct 1974
Posted by vintagerock in Alan Stivell, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Babe Ruth, Caravan, Climax Blues Band, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind, Heavy Metal Kids, Joan Armatrading, John McLaughlin, Judas Priest, Kokomo, Kursaal Flyers, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Reading festival, Robin Trower, SNAFU, Soft Machine, String Driven Thing, Supertramp, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Wally, Wishbone Ash, Yes. Tagged: blues, classic rock, concert, concerts, festival, gig, gigs, R&B, rock, rock n roll. Leave a comment
The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
The Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.
Posted by vintagerock in 10cc, Alex Harvey, Barclay James Harvest, Beckett, Camel, Chilli Willi, Cockney Rebel, Esparanto, Focus, Fumble, G T Moore, Gary Farr, George Melly, Georgie Fame, Greenslade, Harvey Andrews, Heavy Metal Kids, Jack The Lad, JSD Band, Kevin Coyne, Long John Baldry, Procol Harum, Steve Harley, Streetwalkers, Strider, Sutherland Brothers, Thin Lizzy, Traffic, Trapeze, Winkies. Tagged: blues, classic rock, concert, concerts, folk, gig, gigs, jazz, music, pop, R&B, rock, rock n roll. 1 comment
The Reading Festival 23rd – 25th August 1974
This was my third visit to the Reading Festival; I felt I was a seasoned festival goer 🙂 . By now a large crew of local people were going to the festival, so there were lots of mates there, and we spent much of the weekend in the pubs in town, and down near the Caversham Bridge; particularly The Griffin. We would nip back to the festival site to catch the bands we wanted to see. The line-up in 1974 wasn’t particularly strong in comparison to the previous couple of years, and quite a few bands who had been advertised didn’t show (notably Eric Burdon, Ronnie Lane and Blodwyn Pig, all of whom I was looking forward to seeing). The Friday line-up was : Nutz, Johnny Mars, Hustler, Beckett, Camel, 10c, Fumble, Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
The first night of the festival saw the triumphant headlining return of the Alex Harvey band, who lived up to their name and were truly sensational. SAHB had appeared low down on the bill the previous year; there will have been many in the crowd who saw that performance, and knew how good they were. Johnny Mars and his Sunflower Blues Band gigged a lot in the early 70s; they played traditional blues; I remember seeing them at Sunderland Poly a few times; pretty good too. Fumble were a rock’roll revival band who also gigged a lot. Beckett were local North East heroes, featuring singer Terry Slesser. The SAHB setlist was something like this: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Can’t Get Enough; Give My Regards To Sergeant Fury; The Return of Vambo; The Man in the Jar; Money Honey; The Impossible Dream; Schools Out; Framed.
Saturday line-up: Jack the Lad, G T Moore and the Reggae Guitars, Trapeze, Sutherland Brothers, JSD Band, Procol Harum, Thin Lizzy, Long John Baldry, Heavy Metal Kids, Greenslade, Georgie Fame, Traffic.
Two bands stick in my mind from Saturday: Thin Lizzy who were excellent, and about to break through a year or so later, and Traffic. This was the classic Lizzy line-up featuring front-man Phil Lynott, the twin guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, and Brian Downey on drums; at the time of the Nightlife album; they were at the top of their game. Traffic were excellent. They had just released their album When the Eagle Flies, and their set at Reading featured a few songs from that album, plus some old classics. The line-up at the time was Steve Winwood (guitar, vocals, keyboards); Chris Wood (flute, sax); Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals); Rosko Gee (bass); Rebop (percussion). Stand-outs were Steve singing John Barleycorn, simple and beautiful with acoustic guitar, and Rebop’s congas and percussion throughout. I found a published setlist for Traffic, which shows they played: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; 40,000 Headmen; Love; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard. I also have it in my mind that they performed Feelin’ Alright, but maybe that’s my memory playing tricks again. Also worthy of mention are Procol Harum (great version of Whiter Shade of Pale and a big success during the late afternoon), the late great Long John Baldry (excellent voice and a hero of mine), Heavy Metal Kids (the late Gary Holton as crazy and manic as ever), and Georgie Fame who seemed a bit out of place as part of the Saturday night line-up, but carried on the jazz and R’n’B tradition of the festival and went down pretty well.
Sunday Line-up: Gary Farr, Chilli Willi and the Red Hod Peppers, Esparanto, Strider, Barclay James Harvest, Chapman & Whitney Streetwalkers, Kevin Coyne, George Melly, Winkies, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Harvey Andrews, Focus.
My main memories of the final day are of Steve Harley. Cockney Rebel had split a few months before the festival, and this one of Steve’s first appearances with his new band. They stole the show; appearing just as it was getting dark; the audience was with Steve from the start, and the performance was a triumph. Tumbling Down closed the set with a mass crowd singalong of “Oh dear, look what they’ve done to the blues, blues, blues”. It was clear that Steve was back, as cocky as ever; 1975 would bring him massive success with Make Me Smile.
I also remember watching Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade), George Melly (a return after his success the previous year) and Focus who closed the show, and were also great, but seemed a little of anti-climax after Steve Harley’s performance.
DJs for the weekend were John Peel and Jerry Floyd. Oh and there were lots of cheers of “Wally”, “John Peels a c**t” (not sure how that one started), and a revolt at the prices of food in the arena, which resulted in a fish and chip van being trashed. Crazy, happy days.
Alice Cooper Liverpool Empire 1975
Welcome to my Nightmare tour
Support Heavy Metal Kids
This was the first time that I saw Alice Cooper. A group of us went to the gig in a couple of cars, all of us exciting at the prospect of seeing the king of shock rock. We’ll heard the singles, seen him perform “School’s Out” on Top of the Pops and read about the outlandish stage shows in the NME and Sounds. This was our chance to see Alice in the flesh in his ghoulish horror show which featured snakes, an execution and babies being sliced up. It was Alice’s first concert in the north of England; he had previously only played in London and Glasgow. Support came from Heavy Metal Kids, with Gary Holton on top form, giving his usual super cocky cockney act. We had seats right down at the front and all thought the gig was tremendous. There had been some luke warm reviews of the “Welcome to my Nightmare” album, largely because Alice had lost all of the original band members, and was now, in effect, a solo artist, rather than Alice Cooper the band. However, we needn’t have worried, as this was Alice Cooper at his theatrical best, fronting a stage show that was at times just astounding, and, for its time, unbelievable in places. The show started with the taped voice of Vincent Price booming over the PA system, followed by wonderfully choreographed dancers, who seemed to appear out of nowhere from a giant projection screen, which was the size of the stage. Next Alice suddenly appeared singing the opening lines of the title track. Alice had a giant toy box, and from that jumped devils, bats, and a bunch of skeletons who delivered a nifty dance routine complete with top hats and canes. There was a massive graveyard scene with Alice creeping through the gravestones, dancing demons, giant spiders for “Black Widow” and a cyclops during “Department Of Youth”. And he played School’s Out! Just Wonderful! Setlist: Welcome To My Nightmare, Years Ago, No More Mr Nice Guy, Years Ago, Billion Dollar Babies, Years Ago, I’m Eighteen, Some Folks, Cold Ethyl, Only Women Bleed, Devil’s Food, The Black Widow, Steven, Welcome To My Nightmare (reprise), The Awakening, Escape, School’s Out, Department of Youth
The Heavy Metal Kids Gigs in the 70s and 2012
I saw The latest incarnation of The Heavy Metal Kids supporting UFO at Newcastle Academy on Saturday. It made me think about all the times I saw the band in the past during the 70s, with the late great Gary Holton on vocals. One of the first times I saw them must have been supporting Nazareth at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. I know because I’ve just been looking through a Nazareth programme, to get ready for going to see that band on Tuesday in Newcastle. The pages I’ve scanned here come from the back of the Nazareth programme. I remember wondering who the totally mad, cocky, cockney was running around the stage. Looking back their music and their act bridged the worlds of glam and punk. They dressed the part, and were full of arrogance and cheek. They also had some pretty good songs; my favourites were Its The Same from the first lp, and the single She’s No Angel; I remember them playing it on Top of the Pops. For The Cops Are Coming they would stage a scene from a Keystone Cops movie, chasing each other around the stage. The Kids supported lots of bands in the 70s; I saw them as support for Uriah Heep, Alice Cooper and possibly a few others. I also saw them a few times on Friday rock nights in Sunderland Locarno and Newcastle Mayfair, and at the Reading Festival. they played a lot; I must have seen them a fair few times. They were always good fun, a good laugh, and some good rock n roll, but they never quite made the step up to major headliners. A much under rated, and almost forgotten band. If you get the chance, listen to their three albums. Rolling forward to 2012, the latest Heavy Metal Kids line-up consists of original members Cosmo on guitar, Ronnie Garrity on bass, Keith Boyce on drums and new guitarist/vocalist Justin McConville. I arrived late, and missed the first few numbers of the set. They put on a pretty good show, with some nifty guitar work from Cosmo, and strong vocals from Justin. Old Kids classics Chelsea Kids, Delirious and She’s No Angel were rolled out, and pretty good versions they were too. Listening to those songs again made me realise how punky they were. Good fun, and brought back memories of Gary Holton on stage. A big character; much missed. Thanks to Sir Bawls for the set list below. The Kids setlist at Newcastle 17th March 2012 was: Hangin’ On; Blow It All Away; Hit The Right Button; Chelsea Kids; A Hundred Skeletons; Whisky; Marseilles; Rock Candy (Montrose cover); She’s No Angel; Delirious. The line-up: Justin McConville – vocals & guitar; Cosmo – lead guitar; Ronnie Garrity – bass; Keith Boyce – drums.
UFO Newcastle Academy March 17th 2012
Its around five years since I last saw UFO, although it doesn’t seem it. I’ve been preparing myself for the gig, by blogging about UFO during the week, and by playing their live album Strangers in the Night and their classic Phenomenon lp, of which I have a signed copy, which I found at a car boot sale for 50p many years ago! (I have no way, of course, of knowing if the signatures are genuine; but they look pretty authentic to me). I arrived at the Academy early, just after 7pm so that I could catch support act The Heavy Metal Kids. I was intrigued to see what the new incarnation of the Kids would be like, particular without the charismatic Gary Holton. I’ll blog on them separately later this week. They were on stage when I arrived; Saturday gigs at the Academy start and finish early, as the venue turns into a night club at 11pm. UFO came on stage just after 8pm. By then the venue was packed, and the crowd gave the band a great Geordie reception. They started with Mother Mary; the set was a mix of old and new with all of the old favourites featured. Phil Mogg is lean and fit, and his voice is as strong as ever. Old timers Paul Raymond (keyboard and second guitar) and Andy Parker (drums) are still there alongside, and (now well established in the band) guitarist Vinnie Moore played some great solos, and easily matches up to the legend of Schenker and Tonka. Stand outs for me were Only You Can Rock Me, Love to Love, Lights Out and, of course, Doctor Doctor, which is one of my all time fave rock songs. Great night; from a band that never ceases to amaze. Setlist: something like (although I may well have the order wrong): Mother Mary; Let It Roll; Fight Night; a couple of songs from the new album; Wonderland; Only You Can Rock Me; Love to Love; Hell Driver; Venus; Too Hot To Handle; Lights Out; Rock Bottom. Encore: Doctor Doctor; Shoot Shoot.