Robin Trower Newcastle City Hall 22nd Feb 1976
Come 1976 and Robin Trower was one of the most popular acts in the country. He toured the UK in February and March calling at the City Hall for two nights this time, and closing the tour by playing to 8,000 fans at Wembley Empire Pool. Support for the tour was local north east pop rock act John Miles. I remember driving through to the City Hall to buy tickets the day they went on sale. It had been snowing heavily and the roads were quite treacherous. My mate and I watched in horror as the car in front of us slid off the road and into the trees at the side of the carriageway. We made our way safely to the box office and bought tickets for the first night.
The concert was excellent, with Trower on top form, his feet surrounded by an array of effects pedals which enabled him to create some unbelievable sounds with his trusty Fender Strat. The Trower band had changed slightly with a new drummer Bill Lordan playing alongside Trower and Dewar. They were tight and loud, and delighted the City Hall crowd with classics like “Bridge of Sighs”, “Lady Love” and my fave “Too Rolling Stoned”, tracks from their current, third, album “For Earth Below” and a couple of new songs which would feature on the fourth album “Long Misty Days”. Brian Harrigan reviewed the Wembley gig for Melody Maker: “There ain’t nothing like Robin Trower at full blast……in the cavernous Wembley Empire Pool, they thundered like a three-man blitzkrieg.”
Typical 1976 setlist: Day of the Eagle; Bridge of Sighs; Sailing; Lady Love; Long Misty Days; The Fool and Me; Too Rolling Stoned; Daydream; Same Rain Falls; I Can’t Wait Much Longer; Alethea; Little Bit of Sympathy; Rock Me Baby; S.M.O.
Many thanks to Mitch for his photo of Trower which was taken at this concert.
Archive for the ‘John Miles’ Category
Robin Trower Newcastle City Hall 22nd Feb 1976
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 🙂
John Miles in concert in the 70s. I first became aware of John Miles in the early 70s. At that time, he was playing in ballrooms and workingmen’s clubs in his native North East. The John Miles Set were one of the best and most popular club bands of the time. I saw The John Miles Set support many bands, including The Kinks at the City Hall. I also remember a gig by David Bowie at Sunderland Locarno, where Bowie didn’t show and John Miles became the headliner. I also recall gigs at local clubs; one in particular sticks comes to mind at Ryhope Poplars club, where the packed concert room gave him a reception like nothing else I’d experienced at the time. In 1972 he appeared on the TV programme “Opportunity Knocks”, hosted by Hughie Green, and won, singing Bridge Over Troubled Water”. By then he was starting to gain a reputation outside the North East. From the early days, he had this song “Music”, which was pretty middle of the road, but none the less catchy, and it was obvious it was going to be a big hit at some stage. The next time I saw John Miles in concert he was headlining at Redcar Coatham Bowl. This must have been in 1976, as it was around the time of his debut album “Rebel”, and the “Highfly” single. “Highfly” was his first hit, reaching No 17 in the UK charts. “Music” followed; reaching No 3, and becoming a standard, which must have been performed by hundreds on artists. I saw John Miles at the Reading Festival in 1977, where he appeared on a very muddy weekend; headlined by Think Lizzy. Come 1979 John was out on his own UK concert tour, which I caught at Newcastle City Hal, where he was supported by Bandit, featuring fellow North East musician Mick Grabham. John says in the “In Flight ’79” programme: “Hello. I was born 29 years ago in Jarrow. My musical education followed the usual pattern of events. Piano lessons from the age of 5 (which were boring) and then trying to persuade my dad to buy a guitar for me when I was still at Grammar School. It was about this time that I joined my first semi-professional group “The Influence”. As a band we didn’t last that long, so when “The Influence” split up I decided to form the “John Miles Band”. We went down really well in clubs in the North and Midlands, so well in fact, that we decided to try and get a recording contract. Bob Marshall [Bob was the long standing bass player with John Miles] and I travelled down to London with our manager Cliff Cooper. While Cliff visited the record companies, Bob and I stayed at home and wrote songs. Eventually we signed a deal with Decca Records. Our first album was called “Rebel” and produced by Alan Parsons. Now three albums later Alan and I have been working together on a new one; “More Miles Per Hour”. Finally on behalf of the Crew and myself, have a good flight. John Miles.” John Miles live was always guaranteed to be a good show. As well as a singer, keyboard player and songwriter; John is also an excellent guitarist. Since the 70s John has gone on to sing and play with many big names. He has played with Joe Cocker; I saw him with Jimmy Page on his Outrider tour in 1988, and with Tina Turner. John is still playing, and recently appeared (June 2013) at a charity event at Newcastle City Hall.