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 ‘Montrose’ Category
The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
Status Quo 1974 QUO and on tour again
Quo-woh-oh-oh-oh….Some time in the mid-70s the Quo rituals started. A few drinks in the City Tavern and then in the City Hall bar, catch some of the support act (always guaranteed to be good, so had to watch them), and then up to our seats, the lights would go down and then our chant would start…”Quo-woh-oh-oh-oh….” The Quo intro drone would play and then they would run on stage, Alan at the front for the first song, which we knew would be “Juniors Wailing”.
“Love me baby, love me when I’m down; I said love me baby, love me when I’m down; Yeah you gotta love me baby; ‘cos there’s no use hanging around” (Junior’s Wailing, cover of a Steamhammer song).
Yes it was the same every time, but that was part of the fun, the ritual. The guys (I was going to call them our heroes, which they were, but that just doesn’t feel right, they were more like our mates) were up on that stage and everything felt good. For a few hours we were removed from our day to day lives, and subjected to loud music, frantic rocking with a sell-out crowd, all of whom understood and felt it in exactly the same way as we did. Oh and we had to wear denim. Levi jacket and jeans and t-shirt (ok maybe Wrangler was also allowed).
The other ritual was “the jig”. Not sure when it started, or exactly which song it featured in (I think it may have been included during “Roadhouse Blues” which was always extended and epic) but it became a regular feature of Quo shows in the ’70s, and we came to look forward to, and enjoy it. It’s going to sound naff now, and pretty uncool, but it was basically an Irish type jig played on guitar, led by Francis, and we all had to jump up and down to it. Picture a completely full, hot, sweaty, City Hall, towards the end of the gig, everyone in denim, hair flying around, jumping up and down in our seats with the three Quo front men on stage jumping up and down in front of us. Pure magic (ok it doesn’t sound cool, but you had to be there).
I saw Status Quo twice in 1974, the 9th and 10th times I saw the band. The first time was at Newcastle City Hall on 20th May 1974. The band were so popular that this time they sold out two nights at the City Hall, I went on the second night. I saw them again later that year when they came back to the North East and played at Sunderland Empire on 1st December 1974. I remember going to the Sunderland gig with a load of mates. Looking at the ticket for that gig we were right up in the cheap seats that night (40p! bargain). Note the Empire tickets never named the band in those days.
Support act for the City Hall show was Montrose and at the Empire it was SNAFU. There was a big buzz around Montrose at the time. Montrose were fronted by the late great guitarist Ronnie Montrose and (later of Van Halen) Sammy Hagar on vocals. They had just released their debut album, and the awesome tracks “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Space Station #5” were big dance floor favourites at rock nights in the local Mayfair (Newcastle) and Mecca (Sunerland) ballrooms. It was one of the few times that the City Hall was completely full for the support act.
I’d seen Montrose just two days before, when they appeared on the bill at the Who’s Charlton concert. Montrose were great, very loud, rocking and full of energy. One of the few acts who almost (in my view) managed to upstage the mighty Quo. Hagar was a crazy front man, and Montrose an ace guitarist. From the QUO tour programme: “Montrose have compiled an energy-laden set consisting mostly of original compositions with the bonus of an amazing live version of the Roy Brown classic “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, that’ll keep your feet a dancin’ and your fingers poppin’.” Well I don’t remember my fingers poppin’ 🙂 but I do remember some “Good Rockin'”.
Typical Quo Setlist from this year: Junior’s Wailing, Backwater/Just take me, Claudie, Railroad, Roll over lay down, Big Fat Mama, Don’t waste my Time, Roadhouse Blues, Caroline, Down Down, Bye Bye Johnny.
Status Quo released their seventh studio LP “QUO” 1974. The album included the single “Break the Rules” which reached No 8 in the UK single charts. QUO reached No 2 in the album charts. It is pure classic Quo and one of their heaviest, due to the influence of bass player Alan Lancaster, who wrote six of the eight tracks. “Backwater” and “Just Take Me” were soon to become live favourites; “Backwater” in particular, is one of Status Quo’s best rockers. Quo hit No 1 in November 1974, with “Down Down” another classic, and yet another live favourite. There were truly on a roll.