Archive for the ‘Penetration’ Category

Cherry Vanilla and the Police Newcastle Poly and Middlesbrough Rock Garden 1977

Fallout I’d seen Sting several times in Last Exit and the Newcastle Big Band, and knew that he had gone down to London with Last Exit. The next thing I heard was that he had formed a punk band called the Police and was supporting an American punk singer called Cherry Vanilla who was touring the UK. The first chance to see this pairing was at a gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden in early 1977. Cherry had been David Bowie’s USA publicist, and relocated to London in 1976. The set up for the tour was the Police as support act, with Sting and Stewart Copeland also playing in Cherry’s band. The Police line-up at the time was Sting on bass and vocals, Stewart Copeland on drums, and Henry Padovani on guitar. I remember thinking it a strange set-up. Here was the drummer from the prog-rock band Curved Air, a jazz bass player and an unknown guitarist supporting an American new wave singer. It didn’t seem that authentic at the time compared to other punk and new wave acts. I’d always been impressed by Sting in Last Exit, liked Curved Air, and was interested in the punk scene, and hence wanted to see Cherry Vanilla, so Marie and I went to the gig at the Rock Garden, which was on 12 March 1977. As it happened Cherry Vanilla didn’t turn up for some reason, and the Police headlined that night. Their set was pretty straight ahead punk as far as I can recall. The only recored output from that period was the single Fall Out. Their set at the time include Grand Hotel, which was a Last Exit song and Clouds in Venice, which was written by Stewart Copeland and his then wife Sonja Kristina (from Curved-Air). I recall the music as fast-paced typical 1977 speed punk. The Cherry Vanilla / Police pairing appeared at Newcastle Polytechnic on 6 May 1977. and Marie and I went along again. This time Cherry Vanilla did perform with Sting and Stewart in her band, the Police played their own short set, and the evening was opened by local band Penetration who were starting to gig around the region at the time. I was a big fan of Penetration and although their songs were just forming at the time, they were the highlight of that night for me.

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle July 1977

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle July 1977
bedrock1 I’m going to jump out of sequence now and then over the next couple of weeks, as I want to cover a few punk and new wave acts that I am writing on for another project. Apologies for that; I’ll return to the letter I soon (lots of Iron Maiden gigs to cover). Today I’m going to blog on The Bedrock Festival which took place over the fist weekend of July in the year that punk broke, 1977. The full line-up was: Friday lunchtime: Penetration; Harry Hack and the Big G; Friday night: Southbound; East Coast; Steve Brown Band; Scratchband; Saturday lunchtime: Sidekick; Harcourt’s Heroes; Saturday night: Pete Scott Band; Arbre; Hot Snax; Sunday lunchtime: Kip; Moonlight Drive; Sunday night: Young Bucks; Michael Ford’s Limousine; Junco Parters. penetration I went along to the Friday lunchtime session and on Sunday evening, although I only have a ticket stub for the Sunday gig. I definitely remember the Friday session because I went especially to see Penetration who I was a great fan of at the time. I can only assume that I paid on the door for that session, and hence didn’t get a ticket. The event was part of broader Newcastle Festival activities, and was a weekend devoted to local rock talent. The venue for all the concert was the University Theatre, which is a small hall sited next to Newcastle University. It is now called the Playhouse Theatre, and is the home of Northern Stage. bedrock77 The venue for the Friday lunchtime gig was changed at the last minute to the dining hall of nearby Newcastle Polytechnic, because the University Theatre took a policy decision to pull out of any punk rock gigs, which just shows the paranoia which surrounded punk at that time. The venue wasn’t full, and the audience was a small grouping of punks, rock fans and students who had gathered on a Friday lunch time to enjoy the music of a couple of local punk bands. Harry Hack and the Big G were up first followed by Penetration, who were starting to build up their own following. newcastle festival1977 Both bands put on a good show, but my memories are of Penetration who had assembled a set of strong, self-penned songs, which became the tracks on their first album, Moving Targets, which was released the following year. I remember my early favourites were Duty Free Technology, Silent Community, Firing Squad (which was to become a single) and Pauline’s great treatment of Patti Smith’s Free Money. Great stuff. The Sunday night was headlined by Michael Ford’s Limousine. Michael Ford was also known as Mick Whittaker, who is a great soul singer in the mould of Joe Cocker and Paul Rodgers. He was great that night, and there was a feeling that this guy was going to go on and make it really big, which never happened, and is a great shame.

Penetration Stockton Georgian Theatre 11 August 2012

Penetration Stockton Georgian Theatre 11 August 2012
Middlesbrough Rock Garden Revisited
“Nostalgia for an age yet to come”
This gig was one of a series of concerts organised under the Rock Garden Revisited banner, which is booking veteran punk acts to play at the Stockton Georgian Theatre and, in doing so, allowing ageing punks to relive their youth. Although I can’t claim to have been a true, and out and out, punk in the late 70s, I did go to gigs at the Rock Garden quite a lot in those glorious days which seem so long ago now, and Penetration were a band that Marie and I saw loads of times at various North East venues. So I decided to join in, and try and relive some of my younger days. This was my first visit to the Georgian Theatre, which is hidden away in the redeveloped Riverside quarter of Stockton. Actually, I was a bit unsure about going to this gig. Penetration are a band that we were really into in the day, to the extent that I still know the lyrics to most of the songs. Sometimes its better to leave memories intact; revisiting them runs a risk of tarnishing precious memories. However, I decided I would go and played their first album “Moving Targets” to remind myself of those great songs. The place was full; tickets had sold out in February. Penetration took to the stage around 10pm, and played a set of all their classic tunes. Great stuff, Pauline was on good form and in good voice, and the crowd loved it. The sound was a bit ropey at times, with feedback and distortion creeping in here and there, and they were really LOUD. My ears are still ringing this morning. Penetration started with Future Daze and the set included (although not necessarily in this order): Life’s a Gamble; Feeling; Lovers of Outrage; Movement; Free Money; Silent Community; Don’t Dictate; Danger Signs; Nostalgia; Come Into the Open; She is the Slave. The encore included Shout Above the Noise and Firing Squad.

Clicks Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall 1980

Clicks Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall 1980
I found this ticket in my collection, but at first sight I had no idea who Clicks were, I am afraid. Marie and I went to the “Poly” dances quite often on Saturdays throughout the 70s and early 80s, and saw a lot of bands there including Sham 69, Stealers Wheel, Arhur Brown, Shakin’ Stevens and the Sunsets, Stray Cats, to name a few; but this one has escaped my memory. I’ve included it simply for completeness as I am working through the letter C. However I googled the name Clicks and found this from Penetrations Wiki page: “The remainder of the band (ie without Pauline Murray) briefly continued under the name Rhythm Clicks, releasing a 7” single in 1980 on the Red Rhino label containing the songs “Short Time”, “Lies Don’t Talk” and “Chains” “. It makes sense to me that this is probably the same band, with the word “Rhythm” missing from the ticket. I was a big fan of local punk heroes Penetration and Marie and I went to see them lots and lots of time from 1976 onwards. It would makes sense that I would have gone to see any spin off band if they played in Sunderland. There is a recording of “Short Time” on Youtube; the music is typical punk / new wave. Further searching revealed that the band were led by Gary Chaplin who was the original guitarist and songwriter from Penetration.

The Buzzcocks Newcastle gigs 1978 and 1979

Saw them at least three times in 1978. Newcastle Mayfair (support from The Slits) in March 1978. The City Hall (support Penetration) in May 1978. The City Hall again (support Subway Sect) in October 1978. And then again in 1979 at the City Hall with Joy Division support. All of these gigs were just great. They was an air of excitement at the time, we all felt that we were part of something new and exciting, and that music (and everything else) was changing, and fast. Although I had been brought up music-wise on The Beatles, The Stones, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, The Who, and was also heavily into Yes, Genesis, ELP and Floyd, and took to punk 100% and immersed myself in new wave music. Marie and I went to all the punk gigs in the North East in the early 70s, even though I was often the only person there with long hair. I remember reading about the Buzzcocks in the Sounds and NME, and hearing the Spiral Scratch ep but we didn’t get to see them play in the North East until they came to The Mayfair in early 1978, supported by The Slits. By then they had released their first album and the singles “What do I get?” and “I don’t mind”. My recollections of that early gig was of a set of great pure pop songs played in an almost shambolic manner at times. The next tour brought the Buzzcocks to the City Hall a couple of months later with support from local heroes Pentration. The ticket for this gig has no seat number, which suggests that seats weren’t allocated and you could sit wherever you wished. I remember sitting upstairs with Marie, and that the sound wasn’t too good up there. If you look at the songs they had assembled in those early days, there was a stream of classic pop: “I don’t mind”, “Ever fallen in love”, “What do I get?”, “Autonomy”, “Fiction Romance”, “Boredom”, “Love you more”. Their gigs were the same, tune after tune of classic hooks, often not sung or played anywhere near as well as the recorded versions, but Pete Shelley and the rest of the band were so engaging, and the crowd was so into it, that none of that actually mattered. My recollections of the 1979 concert were more of support act Joy Division and of Ian Curtis’ unique, bizarre and compelling performance than of The Buzzcocks. Looking at the ticket stubs, and the single programme that I have from those gigs bringsback such vivid memories: “Nostalgia for a time left to come”. Where did all the time go? Typical setlist from 1978: I Don’t Mind; Fast Cars; Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve); Get on Our Own; Sixteen; Moving Away From the Pulsebeat; Fiction Romance; Love You More; Real World; Breakdown; Noise Annoys; What Do I Get?; Autonomy; Boredom; Oh Shit! Laura and I went to see The Buzzcocks a year or so ago at Newcastle Academy, and they were still great. In fact, if anything the band were more together and the sound clearer than in those early days. I wish I’d gone to the recent reunion show in Manchester with Howard Devoto; I regret not doing so. Hope they do another gig together some day.

The Adverts, Penetration, Warsaw (Joy Division), Harry Hack Newcastle Guildhall 1977

The Adverts, Penetration, Warsaw (Joy Division) New Wave Bop Newcastle 1977
By 1977 I was seriously into punk and new wave, and the new bands were starting to play gigs up in the North East. I still liked classic rock bands, but was also excited by the urgency and immediacy of punk. This gig was held at Newcastle Guildhall, a venue on Newcastle Quayside, which no longer holds concerts and is now a Tourist Information office. Punk was still in its early days. The Adverts had released One Chord Wonders as a single, but had yet to release Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. Penetration were starting to become known locally, but had yet to land a record deal. Penetration were quite a favourite of mine at the time. Marie and I saw them many times, and often ran into Pauline and the rest of the band at local punk gigs. This gig was memorable for another reason however. The first band up was a new combo who had come from Manchester to play. They were called Warsaw and Pauline and Gary from Penetration told us that they had played with them in Manchester a few days before at The Electric Circus. They had been impressed by them and had invited them up to Newcastle to play the Guildhall. Thus, as a late addition to the bill, there are not listed on the flyer. Marie and I arrived early primarily to make sure that we caught Penetration’s set, and as a result we were there for Warsaw. Warsaw were, of course, to become Joy Division some months later. I would love to be able to report that we experienced something momentous that evening. However, my recollections were of a band who were nervous, and obviously still learning to play. I don’t recall Ian Curtis displaying any of the manic dancing way that would become his trademark. Rather, I remember a shy guy who appeared uncomfortable on stage. I saw Joy Division a year or so later supporting the Buzzcocks and Ian was incredible; however what we saw at the Guildhall was a new, young band playing pretty average garage punk songs. Reports of the time suggest that they will have played early songs: Reaction and Leaders of Men. A recording of Warsaw playing Reaction at Middlesbrough Rock Garden exists, and can be found on YouTube. Next up was local band Harry Hack and the Big G; I recall one song about “Brown Dog” (Newcastle Brown Ale). Pentration were, as always, excellent; they had some great songs which I was starting to know, having seen them many times. The Adverts were also a good live act. TV Smith was a dynamic front man, and Gaye Advert stood quietly alongside him playing bass. Great memories. I note that the flyer states “all bands to be recorded”. I wonder if any recording exists. I would love to hear it.