Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974
For three Saturdays in Summer 1974 a stage appeared in Sunderland’s Backhouse Park and a series of concerts were held. The park was filled with music from a host of local bands and headliners Jack the Lad, Brinsley Schwarz & Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Local heroes Saltgrass played at each event and a grand time was had by all.
13th July 1974 Jack the Lad
When Lindisfarne’s split and main songwriter Alan Hull went off to follow a solo career (and eventually reform Lindisfarne with Ray Jackson) the remaining members: Rod Clements, Si Cowe and Ray Laidlaw formed Jack the Lad with their old friend Billy Mitchell. Jack the Lad followed the folk sound of their former band, and in many ways remained truer to their roots, while the new Lindisfarne went down more of a pop/rock road. Jack the Lad live were great fun with a lot of humour, traditional folk and a set full of jigs, reels, singalongs and dancing which went down well on a sunny afternoon in the park.
27th July 1974 Brinsley Schwarz
Brinsley Schwarz were stalwarts of the pub rock scene. This gig came towards the end of their career, and their line-up was Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe and Carlos Luna. They had just released their sixth and final album “The New Favourites of… Brinsley Schwarz” which featured Nick Lowe’s classic “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”.
The Brinsleys were heavily influenced by The Band and Eggs Over Easy, had a laid-back country-rock sound, with some catchy poppy songs, and were a great live act, and gave us another great afternoon in the sun. They split in 1975 and Schwarz and Andrews joined Graham Parker & the Rumour; Rankin joined Terraplane, and Nick Lowe joined Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Lowe of course then went on to have a very successful solo career and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” became a hit for Elvis Costello.
3rd August 1974 Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers
The last of the trio of concerts featured Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, who were one of the main pub rock groups, and were very popular during the early 1970s. They released three albums and toured as part of the 1975 Naughty Rhythms tour with Dr Feelgood and Kokomo. Their members were Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, Martin Stone, Paul “Dice Man” Bailey, Paul “Bassman” Riley and Pete Thomas. After they split in 1975 Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello, Riley played with Graham Parker; and Stone played with the Pink Fairies.
Archive for the ‘Jack The Lad’ Category
Backhouse Park concerts Sunderland Summer 1974
Split Enz Redcar Coatham Bowl September 1976
Split Enz were one of the most successful New Zealand musical acts of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the forerunner of Crowded House, in that the band featured Tim Finn and later Neil Finn, along with Phil Judd. I saw them only the once, at a gig at Redcar Coatham Bowl which took place in September or October 1976. Split Enz were on tour in the UK as support act for Lindisfarne spin-off Jack The Lad, however for some reason Jack The Lad couldn’t make this gig (I think one of the band was ill) so the gig went ahead with Split Enz headlining. A group of us went down to Redcar for the gig, as e often did on Sunday nights in the mid to late 70s. When we got there we were told that Jack The Lad wouldn’t be appearing but we chose to go into the gig anyway, as we were interested to see what Split Enz were link, having read about them in the music press.
These guys were quite weird with a very theatrical show, and heavy use of make-up. Their music was also quite unique; quite arty with lots of jerky melodies with hints of prog and pop. You could see influences from vaudeville, new wave in their music and the show.
“Split Enz is a strange band. They walk out on stage like a collection of clockwork scarecrows and their music is like a beserk mechanism. There are six musicians, a spoon player cum dancer and a sound effects guy. And everyone of ’em follows their own line of idiosyncratic action. Rhythms and melodies bounce off each other, collide, join hands, change partners – the show just about always teeters on the edge of total anarchy – and sometimes it falls off altogether.” (Anthony O’Grady, Rock Australia, 1975).
Split Enz had just released their second album “Second Thoughts” which was recorded in London with Roxy Music’s guitarist Phil Manzanera as producer. This was a follow up to the album “Mental Notes”, and four of the songs were reworked versions of songs from that debut album. Their set in 1976 will have been drawn from those two early albums. Split Enz hit the UK singles chart a few years later when “I Got You” made No. 12 in 1980.
The Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1973
August 1973 and I was back at the Reading Festival. This year I hooked up with a large group of mates from town who had traveled down in a Transit van. I discovered Reading town centre, and the local pubs for the first time this year, and as a result missed some of the bands. The line-up was pretty mixed, with a clear attempt to become international; featuring bands from France, Italy and the USA, and also retaining jazz elements with appearances by Chris Barber and George Melly (who was great and a surprise success).
Friday line-up: Embryo (Germany), Alquin (Holland), Stray Dog (USA), Greenslade, Capability Brown, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (USA), Jo’Burg Hawk (South Africa), Rory Gallagher. The successes of the day were Commander Cody and of course Rory, who was just amazing. This was classic Rory at his best: Messin’ With the Kid; Laundromat; Walk on Hot Coals; Pistol Slapper Blues; Going to My Home Town; and Bullfrog Blues. The crowd loved him. Capability Brown grew out of the ’60s band Harmony Grass; prog rock with great harmonies. The other thing I discovered was the bridge over the Thames, and we spent many an hour watching people dive off and down into the river (which seemed crazy and dangerous to me).
Saturday line-up: Dave Ellis, Clare Hamill, Tasavallan Presidentti (Finland), Riff Raff, Fumble, Magma (France), Lindisfarne (Mk II), Chris Barber band, Status Quo, Sensation Alex Harvey Band, Strider, Andy Bown, The Faces.
My memories of the Saturday are of Status Quo going down a storm, and the Faces being OK, but the real success of the day being the Sensation Alex Harvey Band. SAHB were just about to release “Next”; I think they started the set with “Faith Healer” which sounded incredible, the intro throbbing across the field. Alex was electric and made a lot of new friends that day. The Faces set was nowhere near as strong as the previous year. This was one of their first gigs after Ronnie Lane had been replaced by Tetsu (who was great by the way); you could sense that the band were losing their enthusiasm and a Rod would soon be on his way. Lots of footballs into the crowd again. Oh and Jesus dancing naked during the afternoon. I don’t recall Andy Bown’s set and didn’t know much about him at the time, other than he was in The Herd with Peter Frampton. I do remember being surprised as how high up on the bill he was. I think this was where he made friends with Quo; he joined them shortly afterwards on keyboards. Fumble were a rock’n’roll revival band who played a lot of gigs at the time; I recall seeing them several times at local student union dances.
Sunday line-up: Aj Webber, John Martyn and Danny Thompson, Ange (France), Tim Hardin and Lesley Duncan with the Tim Horovitz Orchestra, PFM (Italy), Jack the Lad, Medicine Head, Stackridge, George Melly and the Feetwarmers, Jon Hiseman’s Tempest, Mahatma, Jimmy Witherspoon (USA), Spencer Davis, Genesis. I think Roy Buchanan may have played also; he was advertised in early flyers, but doesn’t feature in the programme; I think I recall watching him. The stand-outs on Sunday were (surprisingly) George Melly who wore an incredibly sharp suit and totally engaged the crowd with his crazy jazz campness, and of course Genesis, with Peter Gabriel appearing with a strange pyramid arrangement on his head. Stackridge were good as always (Slark still a favourite of mine); Spencer Davis played all the hits, and had a great band featuring Charlie McCracken, Pete York, Ray Fenwick and Eddie Hardin. Tim Hardin sang his beautiful moving songs (If I was a Carpenter, Reason to Believe) and John Martyn went down well in his early slot, accompanied by the excellent Danny Thompson on double bass. The weather was pretty good as I recall, I don’t think we got much, if any, rain. Not one of the strongest Reading line-ups, but still a good weekend of music and fun, with excellent performances by Rory, George Melly, Alex Harvey, Quo and Genesis. Thanks to Ben Sutherland for making his photograph of the Reading Bridge available through WikiMedia Commons. The programme was once again produced by the local newspaper and cost all of 10p 🙂 . The poster of the Faces comes from the centrepages of the programme.