The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Support Acts, in order of appearance: Montrose, Lindisfarne, Bad Company, Lou Reed, Humble Pie, Maggie Bell. The support acts were chosen by The Who.
The Who spent some time considering venues for a big outdoor London concert, and selected Charlton ground because, accordingly to Townshend, it had “particular acoustic qualities” and offered “excellent views of the stage from the terraces.” I went to the gig with two mates, travelling down to London by coach, leaving the north east at midnight on Friday night and arriving early on Saturday morning. We then caught the local train across to Charlton. By the time we arrived the ground was pretty full, and fans continued to flood in throughout the morning. By the time Montrose exploded onto the stage at 12 noon, the place was ram packed. The concert was intended to have an attendance limit of 50,000 fans, but breakdowns in security resulted in many additional people getting in, and an estimated crowd of 80,000 (The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958-1978, Neill & Kent, 2007). I ran into quite a few mates from home on the terraces, several of whom had managed to push or blag their way in without paying. The supporting bill was very strong, with Montrose and Bad Company both going down well. This was one of the first appearances of the new Lindisfarne Mk II line-up. Lou Reed and Maggie Bell both played ok, but didn’t go down as well with the crowd as the others. Humble Pie were pure class, with Marriott on his top OTT “my skin is white, but my soul is black” form. They almost upstaged the main act. There was a long wait before The Who took to the stage, and several reports recall an atmosphere of violence, which I must say I don’t remember. I do remember that it was a very hot day and that there were some fights, a heavy smell of dope with many people openly smoking joints, and lots of cans thrown around throughout the day. Brian Farnon writes of a “lunatic…wandering around with a foot-long spike….sticking it in peoples necks” on the excellent ukrockfestivals.com site.
The Who started at 8:45 and played an hour and 45 minute set, starting with “Can’t Explain” and working their way through old classics and some more recent material, including a few from their most recent album “Quadrophenia”. The sound wasn’t that great, even though we had been promised quadrophonic sound, and there were large PA speakers sited around the ground. The Who were excellent, although Pete later admitted that he was drunk and felt that the show wasn’t actually one of their best. To all of us in the crowd it was a great day, and an opportunity to see the best rock band in the world during their prime period. The set included a lot of 60s material, and several songs that I hadn’t seen them play before such as “I’m a Boy” and “Tattoo”. Entwistle performed “Boris the Spider” in his deep bass voice. A lengthy encore included “5:15”, an extended “Magic Bus”, “My Generation”, “Naked Eye”, “Let’s See Action” and the first ever performance of their slow 12-bar blues arrangement of “My Generation”, which is now known as “My Generation Blues”. Pete didn’t smash his guitar.
Charles Shaar Murray reviewed The Who’s performance in NME: “They performed with a freshness and enthusiasm that they haven’t had for quite some time, and generally acted like the epitome of what a rock and roll band should be…The Who are it; as good as it ever gets, and good as we can expect from anybody.”
Pete Townshend admitted (also in the NME): “At Charlton I got completely pissed… I was so happy to get out of it…. I felt really guilty I couldn’t explode into the exuberant and happy energy our fans did….”
When the concert finished it was absolute pandemonium trying to get out through the crowd, and a number of us decided to try and climb over one of the fences. We managed to get over, but one of my mates cut his hand quite badly on the sharp metal top of the fence. It looked quite nasty, and was bleeding a lot, so we decided that we needed to get to a hospital. We pushed our way back into the ground, which wasn’t easy as we were walking against all the people leaving, and made our way to the St Johns Ambulance post, where we all bundled into an ambulance. A poor guy with a pretty cut up face, who had fallen onto a broken bottle, was lying next to us in the ambulance. The ambulance sped through the crowds and 5 minutes or so later we were in the hospital, where we spent most of the night, while my mate had his hand stitched. The hospital was full of fans suffering from injuries, and worse for wear from alcohol and drugs. It was daylight by the time we got out of the hospital, and we walked back into central London and made our way to Victoria where we caught our bus home. The things you do for rock’n’roll 🙂
The Who setlist: I Can’t Explain; Summertime Blues; Young Man Blues; Baba O’Riley; Behind Blue Eyes; Substitute; I’m a Boy; Tattoo; Boris the Spider; Drowned; Bell Boy; Doctor Jimmy; Won’t Get Fooled Again; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me
Encore: 5:15; Magic Bus; My Generation; Naked Eye; Let’s See Action; My Generation Blues
Archive for the ‘Lou Reed’ Category
The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Lou Reed Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 22nd April 2005
It had been a long time since I last saw Lou Reed in concert, so when he came over to play a few dates in 2005, I bought tickets for David and I to see him at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. We traveled down to Liverpool by train, and stayed at the Adelphi Hotel, just up from Lime Street station, and a short walk from the Philharmonic Hall, which is a beautiful art deco concert hall. It was good to see Lou Reed in concert again after all this time. I must admit I was hoping for a few Velvet Underground classics, but it wasn’t to be. Lou devoted the set to tracks from his solo albums, most of which were unfamiliar to me. He also played a lot more guitar solos than I recall him doing in the ’70s, and showed us that he was a pretty neat guitarist. The encore was “Perfect Day’ which made the evening for David and me. For once we didn’t have to rush for a train, or have a 3 hour drive home, so we decided to see if we could get Lou’s autograph. We went around to the stage door and joined a line of Reed fans, all of whom had the same idea as us. A guy came out and told us to wait and that Lou would come out and see us all soon. After what seemed a long wait, the guy returned, and apologised to us all. He explained that Lou was feeling tired, and wouldn’t be coming out after all, but if we gave him something for Lou to sign, he would get it signed for us. David and I gave him our tickets, and we all waited again. Soon the guy returned and gave us back our items, now signed, apparently by Lou Reed (see scan). Did Lou really sign it? I like to think so, but who knows….? Its a pretty scribbly autograph 🙂
Setlist: Adventurer; The Proposition; My House; Ecstasy; Guilty; Mad; Talking Book; Slip Away (A Warning); Charley’s Girl; Burning Embers; Vanishing Act; Why Do You Talk?; Guardian Angel; The Blue Mask. Encore: Perfect Day.
The next time I saw Lou Reed perform was when he came on stage for a short guest spot with Gorillaz at Glastonbury 2010 and performed their song “Some Kind of Nature”.
Lou Reed sadly passed away on 27th October 2013, and we lost a big talent.
Lou Reed Newcastle City Hall 30th September 1973
In December 1972, having left the Velvet Underground a year or so earlier, Lou Reed released “Transformer”, his seminal album, which was co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. The record, partly through Bowie’s success, introduced Reed to a wider audience, especially in the UK. The hit single “Walk on the Wild Side” came off the album. Bowie said of Lou Reed’s music” “I had never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me.” Reed released his next album: “Berlin” in 1973 and toured the UK on what is sometimes called “The Rock And Roll Animal Tour” to promote it. I remember that Lou was dressed all in black leather, his face covered in make up. The concert was a mix of highs and lows; at times I recall thinking Reed’s performance excellent, at other times in the same show it seemed that he didn’t care at all about the songs he was singing, or the audience. The moment that sticks in my mind most of all came during his performance of the Velvet Underground classic “Heroin”. During the song, Reed wrapped a belt around his arm, and simulated injecting his vein with heroin. Pretty shocking and heavy stuff, but it underlined the lyrics and the scary message of the song. Looking at the songs he played during that tour, it includes songs which were quite new to me at the time, and are now recognised as classics: “Vicous”, “Sweet Jane”, “Waiting for the Man” (always my favourite), “Satellite of Love” and of course “Walk on the Wild Side”. According to records from the time the support act was the Persuasions, an a cappella group from Brooklyn, New York, formed in the mid-1960s. Now I remember seeing the Persuasions at Lincoln Festival in 1972, and being very impressed by them, but I have absolutely no recollection of seeing them at this gig; but hey ho that’s the way my memory is now. Maybe they did play, maybe I was in the bar during their set (quite likely for the time 🙂 ). Lou Reed’s band for the tour: Lou Reed – vocals, guitar; Steve Hunter – guitar; Dick Wagner -guitar; Ray Colcord – organ; Prakash John – bass; Pentti Glan – drums
Based on setlists from the tour, Reed is likely to have played a selection something like this: Vicious (or Sweet Jane); How Do You Think It Feels?; Caroline Says I; I’m Waiting for the Man; Satellite of Love; Walk on the Wild Side; Oh, Jim; Heroin; White Light/White Heat; Rock & Roll (possibly Sister Ray)
I also saw Lou perform at The Who’s Chartlon concert in 1974. By this point he was sporting bright white bleached hair. He again played a mix of his solo stuff and Velvet Underground classics. I deeply regret that I never got to see the Velvet Underground. I did go and see a version of the band when they were due to play at Sunderland Locarno in 1972. I am pretty sure that they didn’t turn up that night. The next time I saw Lou Reed was some 30 years later. I’ll write more about Lou Reed and about that gig in particular tomorrow.
“Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side, And the colored girls go, Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo” (Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed, 1972). Pure magic.