The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 31st May 1976
Support from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, The Outlaws, Chapman and Whitney Streetwalkers, and Widowmaker.
In 1976 The Who played three massive U.K. shows at football stadiums in Charlton, Glasgow and Swansea. The short tour was billed as “The Who Put the Boot In”. I attended the Charlton gig which was rated at the time as the loudest concert ever by the Guiness Book of Records. These were also The Who’s final UK concerts with drummer Keith Moon, apart from a couple of low key gigs filmed for “The Kids Are Alright” movie.
The Charlton concert took place on May bank holiday Monday 1976. A car load of us, with me driving, made the journey down to London on Sunday. We stayed at the flat of a mate who was studying in London, and on Monday morning we drove across London to Charlton and parked in a street somewhere close to the ground. When we got to the gates of the stadium it was very clear that something was wrong. There was a massive crush around the gate, a heavy police presence, and loads of fans being turned away, because they had counterfeit tickets which had been circulating in London for some days before the show. Our tickets were fine, and we eventually made our way through the crowds and into the stadium. When we did manage to get in, we found the place completely ram packed; even more so than for the previous Who concert in 1974. Reports suggest that more than 80,000 people were crammed into a stadium with a concert crowd limit of 50,000. Eventually the police stopped letting anyone in for safety reasons, and many fans with real tickets were not admitted. As compensation, they were given a free ticket to the Swansea show instead, and free buses were laid on to take them there.
Support came from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, The Outlaws, Streetwalkers, and Widowmaker, featuring Steve Ellis and Ariel Bender, who opened the proceedings and were pretty good too. Streetwalkers were also great, and SAHB were excellent, with Alex on top form; they almost (but not quite) stole the show from the Who.
It was wet, with rain falling throughout the day. Not much use for the sun visors which were given away free by Sounds magazine (I still have mine unworn, see left). There was some violence within the crowd, as there was at the 1974 concert, with fights breaking out on the pitch and the terraces. We waited patiently during a long delay before the Who came on, caused by a few fans who had scaled the lighting towers in the hope of gaining a better view. The couple of guys who made it up there were told, over the PA, that the show wouldn’t start until they came down. Some fans on the pitch started to chant “get down” and eventually the guys did so. Shortly afterwards the Who ran out onto the very wet stage, and Roger Daltrey slipped over, going his full length, sliding from one end of the stage to the other. He got up and introduced the band as “The Who On Ice”. They started, as usual, with “I Can’t Explain” followed by “Substitute”. Townshend taunted us all “thank you for waiting for us and getting so wet”. Pete continued to make cracks to the audience throughout the evening, and at one point shouted out to stop a fight at the front of the crowd. An audience recording exists, on which you can also hear Keith Moon shouting at Townshend: “Shut up! ….. You’d think you’ve got some kind of vested interest. I’ve seen your vests, and they stink…underneath this I’m totally nude, Peter! I don’t need any of your great flowing poncey robes. I don’t need all your glittering sequins to be a star! I don’t need to jump in the air, flash what little crotch I’ve got. And I must admit I’ve had no complaints.”
The set was similar to that which they had been playing since 1975, with several of the old ’60s classics, a couple from Quadrophenia, a couple from their current album “The Who By Numbers”, and a “Tommy” segment, with Keith playing his parts as “Uncle Ernie” in “Fiddle About” and “Tommy’s Holiday Camp.” The laser light show, first seen during the 1975 tour, was revealed during “See Me Feel Me”, by which time it was dark. The lasers shot through the smoke to mirrors on the light towers, with blue beams bouncing around the entire stadium, and red laser beams cutting through them. Im sure it would seem quite primitive now, but it was impressive at the time. I remember the entire stadium singing along to “Listening to you”: “Listening to you I get the music. Gazing at you I get the heat. Following you I climb the mountain. I get excitement at your feet!” with laser beams criss crossing the crowd in the darkness. An amazing moment. The Who finished with “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, ending with an incredible scream from Roger. We chanted “We Want The Who” for 5 or 10 minutes, but there was no encore, as was often the case for a Who concert at the time.
It took ages to find the car. We walked from street to street; each one looked the same, and I hadn’t noted the street name. After what seemed like hours, but probably wasn’t, we located my car and set off through the crowded streets. At one point we were sat stationary in a queue of traffic, when a big black limo pulled up alongside. Sitting alone in the back seat was Pete Townshend. We waved but he didn’t respond.
It’s a long drive from London to the north east, and the dawn was breaking as I drove up Houghton Cut. My mates were all asleep around me. A couple of them went straight to work. Happy days. I think I’ve just decided that The Who actually were the greatest rock band of the 70s. 🙂
Setlist: I Can’t Explain; Substitute; My Wife; Baba O’Riley; Squeeze Box; Behind Blue Eyes; Dreaming From The Waist; Magic Bus; Amazing Journey; Sparks; The Acid Queen; Fiddle About; Pinball Wizard; I’m Free; Tommy’s Holiday Camp; We’re Not Gonna Take It; Summertime Blues; My Generation; Join Together; My Generation Blues; Won’t Get Fooled Again
The Who stopped touring after 1976, largely as a result of Keith Moon’s failing health, caused by alcohol issues. Keith Moon died on 7th Sept 1978 of an overdose of heminevrin, prescribed to combat alcoholism. The Who’s 1978 album “Who Are You” was released two weeks before his death. Keith Moon was one of rock’s finest drummers, but he was so much more. Moon was the crazy, manic, childish fun side of The Who; the perfect foil to Townshend’s moods, and although The Who would continue as a strong rock force, a Who concert could never be quite the same again.
Tomorrow I will write about the first time I saw The Who without Moon, at a low key comeback show at Edinburgh Odeon in 1979.
Archive for the ‘Roger Chapman’ Category
The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 31st May 1976
The Buxton Festival 1974
Line-up: The Faces, Humble Pie, Mott The Hoople, Horslips , Chapman/Whitney StreetWalkers, Trapeze , Chopper, Badger, Strider, Lindisfarne, Man. My friend John and I have spent the week swapping memories of The Faces to help me write my blog. One memory that we share is of the 1974 Buxton Festival which we both attended. I’m not sure if it is a pleasant memory or not; and those of you who attended any of the outdoor Buxton events will know why I say that. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means; I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test. Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All of the three outdoor festivals (there were some indoor events which preceded them) suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. I’ll write separately about the 1973 festival in a day or so, it was a strange event at which the Hells Angels took over and ran the event (which was pretty scary). Anyway, back to 1974. I drove down to Buxton with my friend Gilly, who also came to the 1973 event with me. We arrived on Friday afternoon, finding the place cold and windswept. Not being the most prepared festival-goers at the time, we didn’t have a tent and planned on sleeping in the car (not easy in an MG Midget), or in sleeping bags on the ground. When we arrived on the moor we saw lots of people building makeshift huts from planks of wood. I asked them where they found the wood, and they pointed me to a storehouse in the next field. So off I went to retrieve some wood for us to build our own shelter. I was leaving the store with some planks under my arm with a few other guys, when we were stopped by a policeman, who asked us where we were taking the wood. He quickly bundled us all into the back of a police jeep and took us off to a temporary police cabin which they had set up for the weekend. Once in their they searched us, took statements, and made us wait a few hours, telling us that we would probably be charged with theft for taking the wood. When they eventually did let us go we had to walk back to the site, where I found my mate Gilly lying asleep by the car. The bands had started by that point, and we went into the arena and caught as much of the show as we could. I remember seeing Man and Mott the Hoople that night. Mott started with Golden Age of Rock n Roll and were just great. I slept in the car and Gilly slept in a sleeping bag underneath the car. We were both frozen; it was truly awful. Highlights of the next day were Humble Pie (Stevie Marriott was awesome in those days and a big festival favourite), and Roger Chapman and the Streetwalkers. Anyone who was there will remember the magic moment in that dull rainy day when the sun came out during My Friend the Sun, as Roger sang “He’s there in the distance” to a great cheer from the crowd. The Faces were OK, but it wasn’t the best time I saw them; by this point they had added a horn section to the band. I remember keeping warm in the Release tent and chatting to Caroline Coon. My friend John was also there with a group of mates, although I don’t recall us running into each other. His memories: “My own recollections were that the weather was terrible,wet and cold,the facilities non existent and I slept in my dad’s car with three other mates. The Friday bands were good Mott , Man and Lindisarne. On Saturday there was the famous “My Friend the Sun moment” which I do recall and Humble pie were great.The Faces came on late and I remember the stage being pelted with bottles – reports on the Web said this is because they refused to play an encore…..those were the days!!!” Postcript: several weeks after the festival I received a letter summoning me to attend my local police station where I was issued with a formal caution for “stealing” the wood; and that was the last I heard of it. I did run into a couple of the lads who were in the jeep with me at Reading and Knebworth over the years and we always said hello. I wonder where they are now. Thanks to John for the ad showing the line-up for the festival. Note The New York Dolls were listed to play at one point (although they don’t appear in the listing above), but didn’t make it for some reason.
Roger Chapman Newcastle Tyne Theatre
Marie and I have been to see Roger Chapman a couple of times over the past ten years. Both gigs were in the beautiful setting of the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle. Chappo is in a great shape, and his voice is as strong as ever, which is pretty amazing, given his throaty warbling style. The set was a mix of solo stuff and Family favourites, the latter going down well with the local crowd, who were all 40 to 50 somethings, steeped in Family music and looking for memories and a night of great rock; both of which were delivered in ample helpings. A CD exists of a 2002 gig at the Tyne Theatre, the ste being: Kiss My Soul; Down Bound Train; Habits Of A Lifetime; Midnite Child; Blind Willie McTell; Wheels & A Crowbar; X Town; Weavers Answer; My Friend The Sun; Holding The Compass; Shank (Shadow On The Wall); Toe Nail Draggin’; Short List; Burlesque; Jesus & The Devil; In My Own Time
Family in concert 1972 and 1973 Newcastle Mayfair and Newcastle City Hall
Family were a great favourite with rock fans in the North East of England. They came up here a lot in the late 60s and early 70s, playing Sunderland Bay Hotel, Newcastle Mayfair, Sunderland Locarno and other local venues. As I posted yesterday when writing about Roger Chapman, back in those days, if you asked anyone in the North East their favourite live band, my guess is that they would choose a band like Family who regularly played in local ballrooms and put on a great live show. In Sunderland the answer would have been Free, Family, and possibly Stray or Edgar Broughton. The first time I got to see Family was at Newcastle Mayfair in June 1972. I have very vague memories of them playing a gig at Silksworth Youth club in the late 60s, and standing outside listening, as I was too young to get in. The gig definitely happened, but my standing outside may well be a figment of my imagination. Thanks to Barry for his memories of the Silksworth Youth Club gig: “A couple of vague memories. Roger Chapman was wearing bright red trousers. When the group had a break a girl asked Chapman if they did any “Soul” music. No, was Rogers brusque reply. If I remember correctly the leader of the new youth club was a guy called Clive. He wanted to put Silksworth Youth Club on the map as music venue. Happy days..”. Family played at the City Hall in 1971, with support from America. Some of my mates went to that gig, but I chose (wisely methinks in hindsight) to see Led Zeppelin at Sunderland Locarno that night. Back to that gig in 1973. I queued outside the Mayfair to get in early and get a good spot in front of the stage. Support came from Audience, featuring Howard Werth who, like Roger Chapman, has his own vocal and musical style. Their album, “House on the Hill” is a classic of the period. Listen to the track “You’re Not Smiling” and you’ll see what I mean. Family were great that night. Roger Chapman sang in his usual unique style, with lots of vocal and mike stand gymnastics; but what really struck my was the way that he engaged, and interacted with the audience. It was like he was meeting a group of old mates. Most of the crowd had clearly seen the band before, and there seemed to be some private joke between Roger and some of the crowd, starting with the crowd asking “What about the workers, Roger?”. The other thing, that sticks in my memory is Poli Palmer’s vibraphone; I hadn’t seen or heard anything like it before. By the following year Family had sadly decided to call it a day, and the next time I saw them was during their farewell tour, at Newcastle City Hall. The line up had changed (again) by the time of that gig, and the atmosphere in the City Hall was great, but tinged with sadness. Support came from Phillip Goodhand-Tait. Chapman was once again the focal point of the evening. I recall sensing as we walked out of the hall, that everyone was upset that they would not see this great band again. Family’s music was a strange and unique mix of rock, psychedelia and r&b. Singles such as The Weaver’s Answer, In My Own Time, and Burlesque were great favourites in the ballrooms of the time, the dancefloor always filling with lots of hippy dancers. Unlike many bands of that era, Family have never reformed; however Chappo continues to play (he has just announced a Christmas gig at the Y theatre is his hometown Leicester) and his set often includes several Family songs. Its a few year since I’ve seen Roger in concert (will blog on recent gigs tomorrow), but recent reports suggest that his voice remains as strong as ever.
Roger Chapman Streetwalkers Newcastle City Hall 1977
Roger Chapman is often forgotten these days. In my eyes he is a major figure in English rock music and has one of the most unique rock voices. Back in the early 70s, if you asked anyone in the North East their favourite live band, my guess is that they would choose a band who regularly played in local ballrooms and put on a great live show. In Sunderland the answer would have been Free, Family, and possibly Stray or Edgar Broughton. I saw Family a couple of times in the early days, and I’ll blog on that in a day or so. By the mid 70s Family were no more, and Roger Chapman was fronting Streetwalkers, along with Family compatriot Charlie Whitney. I saw Streetwalkers a few times: once at the very rainy Buxton 74 Festival, again at Reading 74, supporting The Who at Charlton in 1976, and at this gig at the City Hall in 1977. The Buxton gig was particularly memorable for one thing. Rain poured down the whole weekend, but when Chapman and Whitney sang Family’s My Friend the Sun, the sun came peeping out through the clouds, as if by magic, to a great roar from the festival crowd. It was a moment that anyone who was there will remember. I was there with my mate Gillie, and John was there with Susan; we were just talking about that special moment the other week. I also went to this Newcastle gig with Marie. I remember the City Hall being about half full; I guess by that point in time Chappo and his Streetwalkers were beginning to go out of fashion, particularly with punk coming along. The Streetwalkers always delivered a great set of rock with Chapman’s voice and stage presence being like no other. He would talk the crowd as if he knew them, and perhaps in some cases, he did. By 1977 the set featured tracks from their 1970s lps, with one or two Family songs thrown in for good measure. There was then a big gap, where I didn’t see Roger Chapman at all, which was a mistake on my part. I’ll report on some more recent gigs, however, in the next day or so.