The Rezillos and The Mekons Newcastle City Hall 30th November 1978
The Rezillos had appeared at the City Hall the year before as support to the Ramones. This time they returned as headliners, riding on the success of their “Top of the Pops” single. The Rezillos were a wonderful quirky punk / new wave act from Edinburgh who took a much more light-hearted approach to their music than many other bands of the time. They were fronted by vocalist Fay Fife, who seemed to me to be a cross between Lulu, Twiggy, Sandie Shaw and Mary Quant; fellow singer Eugene Reynolds, who was a very cool cross between James Dean and Steve Zodiac, and guitarist Jo Callis, who went on to join the Human League. Their influences came through very clearly as 60s pop, rock n roll, and B movie sci-fi. The Rezillos split shortly after this tour, to re-emerge with a new line-up as The Revillos. “Top of the Pops” was their biggest hit, but their earlier singles “Can’t Stand my Baby” and “(My baby does) Good Sculptures” were also both good clean fun, as were their covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Somebody’s Gonna Get their Head Kicked in Tonight”, The Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” and Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “I Like It”. The album “Can’t Stand the Rezillos” is generally recognised as a classic of its genre and era. The Mekons were a punk band formed by a group of Leeds University students ; quite left wing and noisy as I recall. They continue to this day, and are now based in Chicago. A fun night for all super sci-fi pop hipsters.
PS The Rezillos have recently reformed and are gigging again.
Archive for the ‘Rezillos’ Category
The Rezillos and The Mekons Newcastle City Hall 30th November 1978
The Ramones: Da Brudders hit Newcastle City Hall, 20th December 1977. I’m jumping out of sequence in my blogging over the next few days, as there are a few gigs that I am need to write about for another project I am working on, and focusing on them here will help me along my way. The first of these are my reflections on the first time that I saw the Ramones. Da Brudders had played the UK a couple of times before they ventured up north to Newcastle. They first came across to play a couple of gigs in London in July 1976; one at the Roundhouse as support for the Flamin’ Groovies on 4th July, and a headlining gig at Dingwalls the following evening. The influence of the Ramones on UK punk rock can’t be understated, and these gigs are widely recognised as being seminal in the birth and growth of the UK scene. The Guardian (in their “History of Indie Music”) listed this gig as one a key event: “On Independence Day 1976, the Roundhouse in London hosted the veteran San Francisco band Flamin’ Groovies. All the young punks came out that night, but not to see the headliners. They were there to see and (in the cases of the Clash and the Sex Pistols) meet the support band, the Ramones, who had inspired the first wave of UK punks, and whose appearance here would galvanise many more.” This concert took place just as punk rock was emerging in London, and before it started to spread to the rest of the UK. The Ramones toured the UK in May 1977, missing the North East; the closest they came was to play at Leeds University Refectory (wish I’d gone to that 🙂 ). Way “Up North” in Newcastle we had to wait until their second UK tour of 1977, which brought the boys to Newcastle City Hall on 20th December. The gig took place a few days before a triumphant return to London where they played a monumental set of 28 songs to a packed Rainbow Theatre. The Rainbow gig was recorded and released as the “It’s Alive” double lp. In fact four concerts during the UK tour were recorded (I think one of these may have been Newcastle), but the New Year’s Eve performance was chosen “because ten rows of seats were thrown at the stage after the concert and it was considered the best of the performances at the venue”. (Wikipedia).
So on 20th December 1977, the North East finally got to see the Ramones. We’d heard “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and all sung along to “Blitzkrieg Bop”, and we’d read so much about this band. Now we finally got the chance to see them. The City Hall was packed. It seemed everyone in the region who was into punk rock was there, including several who had already formed bands, and many others who were no doubt inspired to go and do so. Support came from Scotland’s The Rezillos (note spelling error on the ticket) who blended an image lifted from 60s Scifi B movies with frantic and fast surf rock, and featured lively singer Fay Fife. This was before they hit the charts with “Top of the Pops”. They put on a suitably crazy and fun performance and warmed the crowd up admirably for the arrival of our comic book heroes. I’d gone along with a group of mates, and we had seats pretty near the front, with a clear view of all the action. The Ramones lived up to everything we had read and heard. They must have played at least 25 songs and yet they were probably on stage for less than one hour. The pace was fast and furious; 1. 2. 3. 4. and straight into the next song, each one a minor classic of teenage rock’n’roll angst. Joey held high a sign proclaiming “Gabba Gabba Hey” (I still don’t understand what the hell that means). Johnny frantically, yet effortlessly, buzzed those furious rock’roll chords out of his guitar, which was placed elegantly down on his knee. It was like nothing else I have seen before or since. These guys had speed down to a craft; it was almost as if they were willing themselves to play each song faster than the one before. By the time of this concert the Ramones had released three albums, and the tour was to promote their “Rocket to Russia” lp. The four brothers looked so cool in their denims and Lewis Leathers jackets (I always wanted a Lewis Leathers jacket; I had a cheap copy at the time but it just wasn’t the same 😦 ). From the Lewis Leathers website: “..in the ‘70s when the Ramones were wearing their leather jackets, the English Punks wanted to do the same, including the bands. The Clash went there, Brian James, Rat Scabies of The Damned, Steve Jones. Sid Vicious had an old Dominator jacket that he got off Viv Albertine of The Slits. The leather jacket was something to be seen in.” The set consisted of tracks from all three of their albums. Before we knew it..Phew..it was all over far too soon, and we were left to reflect on what we had just witnessed, and for many to go back home and try to play as fast as those guys.
From the programme: “Dear Joey, I think you’re the best Ramones brother. Are you really brothers?…They were once called the “perfect band”….The Ramones are now recognised as innovators of a healthy British Scene.”
In 1977 the Ramones were, of course: Joey Ramone – lead vocals; Johnny Ramone – guitar; Dee Dee Ramone – bass; and Tommy Ramone – drums. Setlist from the Ramones gig in Glasgow, which took place a couple of days before the City Hall show: Rockaway Beach; Teenage Lobotomy; Blitzkrieg Bop; I Wanna Be Well; Glad to See You Go; Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment; You’re Gonna Kill That Girl; I Don’t Care; Sheena Is a Punk Rocker; Carbona Not Glue; Commando; Here Today, Gone Tomorrow; Surfin’ Bird; Cretin Hop; Listen to My Heart; California Sun; I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You; Pinhead; Do You Wanna Dance?; Chain Saw; Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World; Now I Wanna Be a Good Boy; Suzy Is a Headbanger; Let’s Dance; Judy Is a Punk; Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue; We’re a Happy Family. I saw the Ramones on two further occasions at the City Hall, in 1978 and 1980, and will write a little about those gigs on another day. Hey Ho! Lets Go! Hey Ho! Lets Go!