Rip Rig and Panic Newcastle University 30th January 1982
Doing my daily blog is teaching me a hell of a lot about rock music, and refreshing my memories about the bands I have been to see. Today is a good example. I remember seeing Rip Rig and Panic at Newcastle University students union in early 1982, but have to admit to remembering very little about their performance. They performed on a Saturday night, and Marie and I were just as likely to be found in the bar as in the ballroom. I would always watch some of the band’s set, and recall Rip Rig and Panic as being an energetic band fronted by a great female lead singer, with lots of members dancing around on stage and loads of jazzy rhythms. What I had forgotten was that the lead singer was Neneh Cherry, and that the band had in part spun out of the Pop Group. Neneh would have been known to me at the time as the step-daughter of American jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, who I had seen touring with The Slits. Rip Rig + Panic were a post-punk band, founded in 1981. They had a short career, breaking up in 1983, and took their name from a 1965 Roland Kirk album. Their line-up was Sean Oliver (bass), Mark Springer (piano, sax, vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar, sax, keyboards, vocals), Bruce Smith (drums, percussion), Neneh Cherry (vocals), Flash (saxophone), Andrea Oliver (vocals), David De Fries (trumpet) and Sarah Sarhandi (viola). Rip Rig and Panic’s music mixed avantgarde elements with jazz, led by Cherry’s great pop/soul singing. Don Cherry guested on some of their recordings. They had very positive reviews from the music press at the time, which prompted me to go and see this gig. Neneh Cherry had briefly been a member of The Slits, and of course she went on to massive success, starting with her single “Buffalo Stance”. She grew up in a musical family, and said she found her voice singing along with Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex: “Music was always there, it was like food in my house. But in my home I had never really found my own thing. I really identified with Poly, the voice. Culturally, she was mixed. I recognized her when I looked at her. One day I was singing along to their records, Germfree Adolescents or Oh Bondage Up Yours!, but I found my voice. And I’ll never forget it happening.” Cherry remembers singing with her dad, Don Cherry, in the voice she had found. “Oh look, I have a voice, it’s been born. It was like an ejection, like a release button. It was like, here you go, do your own thing.” (Wikipedia).