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 ‘Maggie Bell’ Category
The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Ultimate Rhythm and Blues show Sage Gateshead 4th March 2014
The Zombies, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Maggie Bell, Dave Berry
A great concert with a host of acts from the 60s. Much more enjoyable than I expected. Two things stick in my mind from last night, and will be the themes of my blog entry today. The first is the subject of authenticity and the question “when is a band not a band?” (if you see what I mean 🙂 ), and the second is just how powerful a performer Maggie Bell is.
First up were The Animals and Friends which features original Animals drummer John Steel, keyboards player Mickey Gallagher (who replaced Alan Price in 1965), Danny Handley on guitar and Pete Barton on bass and lead vocals. Now you have to admire Pete Barton, he is an amazing front man, and has a growling, powerful voice which actually matches and rivals the original vocals of Eric Burdon. He also has the unenviable position of not only taking the position of the powerhouse Burdon, but also making announcements like “We’re going back to the Club A’Gogo” and introducing songs from 1964 (when he was actually 2 years old at the time). Amazingly, he pulls it all off and leads the band in authentic (there’s that word) renditions of all those great songs: We Got To Get Out Of This Place, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, and of course House of the Rising Sun. So although on the one hand, this version of the Animals features only one original member, on the other hand, the spirit and passion remains true to the roots of the ’60s band, and the performance comes over as authentic, true to the rich legacy and is delivered with passion and humility. A great start to the evening.
The Animals were joined first by Dave Berry, who has replaced Spencer Davis on the tour, as Spencer is not well at the moment. I wondered at first whether Dave would fit well with this bill. In my mind I link him with the ’60s revival package pop tour, rather than a R&B package. But, as Dave reminded us, his roots lie in the Sheffield (and UK) R&B scene in the early ’60s, and he geared his short set towards this. He sang a few R&B classics and finished with an excellent version of “The Crying Game”. His performance was professional and slick, and he came over as a pretty cool guy.
Now when I was a young teenage kid, I stood a few feet in front of Maggie Bell and Les Harvey at Sunderland Locarno at a Stone the Crows gig. My mate and I were totally blown away by her voice and her performance that night. The lady simply oozed the blues, and sang with a passion and authenticity which came from deep in her soul. Now I haven’t seen her since the ’70s and wasn’t expecting what I saw last night. Maggie was simply sensational in every way. Much better than I could have hoped. Her voice remains strong, her performance electrifying, and she looks great. She sang a few blues classics including I’d Rather Go Blind, and finished with a an amazing duet with Pete Barton (by now I was starting to really admire that guy) of P J Proby’s “Hold Me”. I’d forgotten that Maggie hit the charts with a version of this on which she dueted with B A Roberston. Stunning.
After a short interval, next up was the latest line-up of the Yardbirds. Again the subject of authenticity comes to mind. This line-up features original drummer Jim McCarty and, back in the band after 50 years (!), original guitarist Top Topham who was in the band in the very early years and was replaced by Eric Clapton. The rest of the line-up are all relatively new: Ben King on lead guitar, Andy Mitchell on vocals and mouth harp, and David Smale on bass. Original rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja has recently left the band because of ill health. Like The Animals, this line-up remains true to the roots of the music and delivered pretty flawless versions of all those classics; “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Over Under Sideways Down” “Shapes of Things” and an amazing version of “Dazed and Confused” (I’d forgotten that this was a Yardbirds song which Page took with him into Zeppelin).
The evening closed with a performance by the Zombies, who remain pretty authentic in that they feature two of the main originals in Colin Blunstone (vocals) and Rod Argent (keyboards, or was in “organ” in those days? 🙂 ). The Zombies took us through all the hits, including Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, Blunstones’ Say You Don’t Mind, and the classis Time Of the Season. The closed the evening with She’s Not There. Great stuff.
From the promotional material: “Relive the musical revolution of 1964 as the chart-topping stars of the 1960s, including The Zombies, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Dave Berry and Maggie Bell perform some of their greatest hits. This amazing line-up have collectively, over 50 years, delivered 37 hit records and held chart-topping positions for more than 300 weeks.”