John Mayall Newcastle City Hall 1971 and 1972
I first saw John Mayall in 1971 and 1972 at Newcastle City Hall. I had the “Hard Road” and “Bluesbreakers” lps, and played them a lot, and I was also aware of the pedigree of Mayall’s bands over the years. The line-up for the 1971 tour was: John Mayall on vocals, harmonica, keyboards; the young Jimmy McCulloch on guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Keef Hartley on drums. Jimmy McCulloch was just 18 at the time, and had already had major chart success as a member of Thunderclap Newman. Larry Taylor joined Mayall from Canned Heat, and Keef Hartley was leading his own band at the time. McCulloch was just an amazing guitarist, and went on to join Stone the Crows and then Paul McCartney and Wings. Support for the 1972 tour came from American soft rock band Eggs Over Easy, who were quite good. I’m afraid I don’t recall which tracks Mayall and the band played that night, but it was, of course, some great blues. There is a live recording of the band from October 1971 on Youtube. Mayall was back at the City Hall the following year. I’m less clear who was in his band for that concert, but think it was probably like this: Keef Hartley on drums again, John Mayall (of course), Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Freddy Robinson on guitar, Clifford Solomon on sax. This was a much more jazz oriented band than previous years. Support for the 1972 tour was Matching Mole featuring the great Robert Wyatt. I saw Matching Mole a couple of times; the other was at the Reading festival. In 1973, Wyatt fell from a third floor window during a party, leaving him paralysed from the waist downwards. From that day onwards he has concentrated his efforts into solo recordings. I remember Matching Mole as being quite avant garde and, like the headliners, they were also quite jazz-rock influenced. One of my favourite Mayall songs at the time was “Room to Move” which was played a lot in clubs at the time. The live version would come towards the end of the set and always included a lengthy and impressive mouth harp solo by Mayall. At the time I saw him, John Mayall had already been playing for many years, and of course he continues to play to this day. The great man hits 80 (!) this year, and will be touring the UK next year to celebrate. It was many years until I saw John Mayall again after these early 70s gigs. He moved to the USA in the 70s and his visits to the UK become less and less frequent. I have, however, seen him a few times in recent years, on blues package tours with Chicken Shack and Peter Green and I’ll write about those concerts over the next few days.
Archive for the ‘Jimmy McCulloch’ Category
John Mayall Newcastle City Hall 1971 and 1972
Mountain Newcastle City Hall 2 Feb 1972 (and 2002, and 2003)
My friend John is over from the USA this week, and he is a big Mountain fan, so for today’s post I thought I would cover the first time I saw Mountain, which was back in 1972. Support that night came from the Jimmy McCulloch Band. I remember that I arrived early for the gig, specifically to catch Jimmy. I’d seen him the year before at the City Hall when he was a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He’d left Mayall to form his own band which was initially called Bent Frame, and by this stage was known as The Jimmy McCulloch Band. I remember being once again impressed by how bluesy and technically good this young guy was. The next time I was to see Jimmy was as a member of Stone The Crows, who he joined a few months later. They had been a rumour around before this gig, that Mountain’s bass player Felix Papalardi was unwell and that his place was to be taken by Jack Bruce. I don’t know how true the rumour was, but on the night Felix was in place, and the line up of Mountain was the classic line up of Leslie West on guitar, Felix on bass, Corky Laing on drums and Bruce Knight on keyboards. Mountain were just great. Leslie is a giant of a man, lumbering around the stage with his Gibson slung low across his knees. The music was very LOUD, and very heavy, with Leslie’s unique guitar style and tone riding across the top. The set included Mountain classics such as: Crossroader; Nantucket Sleighride; and Mississippi Queen, and great covers like Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven and Jack Bruce’s Theme from an Imaginary Western. I remember being surprised when I began to hear Nantucket Sleighride as the theme for the UK TV show Weekend World. I saw Mountain a couple of times some 30 years or so later, and saw West Bruce and Laing a year or so afterwards, but the best time that I saw Leslie and Mountain was definitely that night in 1972. The programme scan is of a copy from the previous year (thanks John). The Tyne Theatre tickets are from Mountain shows in 2002 and 2003. It was great to see Leslie and Mountain at the Tyne Theatre after so many years, and the shows were both memorable, featuring all the old classics. Leslie’s guitar playing was as good as ever, and Corky Laing was there on drums, Felix having sadly passed away in 1983. The great Stray were support at one of those gigs. Leslie hasn’t been so well, and hasn’t made it over to the UK for a few years now, but is still playing in the US.