Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1980
DJs: John Peel, Bob Harris & Jerry Floyd
By 1980, the Reading Festival had become a heavy metal extravaganza. Headliners were Whitesnake, UFO and Rory Gallagher, with a full supporting heavy rock cast including new up-and-coming NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) bands Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. It was the 10th anniversary of the festival being at Reading, and the 20th anniversary of the national jazz and blues festival.
Friday line-up: Red Alert (a heavy rock band, I think and not the North East punk band of the same name); O1 Band; Hellions; Praying Mantis; Fischer Z; 9 Below Zero (a great R&B set); Krokus; Gillan (always a good solid set); Rory Gallagher.
The highlight of Friday was, without a doubt, the reappearance of Rory Gallagher. Rory was a hero of mine, a class act, an amazing guitarist, and always came over as a regular down-to-earth guy. By 1980, Rory had moved to a harder rock sound, dropping many of the classic bluesy tracks which had been staples of his set throughout the 70s. So he was no longer playing Bullfrog Blues or Messin’ with the Kid, as part of the main set, although he would sometimes play one or two of them during the encore. Instead his set was focussing on tracks from his most recent albums; Top Priority, Calling Card and Photo-Finish. But these are minor quibbles; Rory’s performance at Reading in 1980 was, as always, outstanding.
Rory setlist: I Wonder Who; Follow Me; Wayward Child; Tattoo’d Lady; Bought And Sold; Country Mill; Hellcat; Out On The Western Plain; Too Much Alcohol; Going To My Hometown; Moonchild; Shadow Play
Saturday line-up: Trimmer and Jenkins, Quartz; Writz; Broken Home (featuring Dicken from Mr Big); White Spirit (North East NWOBHM heroes featuring Janik Gers); Grand Prix; Samson (the drummer played from inside a cage!); Pat Travers Band; Iron Maiden; UFO
Highlights were Pat Travers who played an intense set, Iron Maiden with original singer Paul Di’Anno at the time of the anthemic “Running Free” and headliners UFO. UFO had released their eighth album “No Place to Run” and the line-up was Phil Mogg (vocals), Paul Chapman (guitar), Paul Raymond (keyboards), Pete Way (bass) and Andy Parker (drums). I was a fan at the time and it was good to see them headlining, and hear heavy rock classics like “Doctor Doctor” and “Lights Out” and more gentle tracks like “Love to Love”.
UFO setlist: Lettin’ Go; Young Blood; No Place to Run; Cherry; Only You Can Rock Me; Love to Love; Electric Phase; Hot ‘n’ Ready; Mystery Train; Doctor Doctor; Too Hot to Handle; Lights Out; Rock Bottom; Shoot Shoot
Sunday line-up: Sledgehammer; Praying Mantis; Angelwitch; Tygers Of Pantang; Girl; Magnum; Budgie; Slade; Def Leppard; Whitesnake
Sunday belonged to two bands: Slade and Whitesnake. Slade first. Metal legend Ozzy Osbourne was billed to play on the Sunday with his new band Blizzard of Oz, but he pulled out at the last minute and was replaced by Slade. I have already written about Slade’s amazing performance, and have reproduced some of my previous post here. Slade appeared after glam heavy metal band Girl, and just before NWOBHM heroes Def Leppard. The field wasn’t that full as Bob Harris announced that Slade were taking the stage. Their entrance was greeted with a hail of cans. Noddy wasn’t phased at all by that, and asked everyone if they were “ready to rock”. And then they launched straight into “Dizzy Mama”. And then it started to happen. Slowly at first, the crowd began to cheer. People wandering around the outskirts of the site started to run towards the stage. Slade knew they had to win the crowd over and were working so hard, rocking so hard, and playing the hits. The area around the stage was soon completely rammed and the whole field was going crazy. Amazing. Slade nailed it, and in the space of one hour made sure that they were well and truly back. Dave Hill: “One heck of an experience, ‘cos I wasn’t going to do that gig. Slade manager Chas Chandler talked me into it…the confidence came when there was a reaction, as it built and built, sort of got bigger and bigger. I mean getting that lot to sing “Merry Xmas Everybody” was amazing.” The event was recorded and a few tracks were released as an EP.
Def Leppard appeared after Slade and didn’t go down too well with the crowd. Joe Elliott: “The legend about us getting bottled off at Reading 1980 is a myth really – we got an encore at Reading. We probably had six or seven bottles of piss thrown up – and maybe a tomato – but it didn’t put us off. That ‘backlash’ was all blown out of proportion. We’re living proof that bad reviews make no difference.” Actually they were pretty good.
Whitesnake consolidated their position as worthy festival headliners. They’d closed the festival the previous year, despite not receiving top billing in the pre-festival publicity. This year, however, their headline status was clear, and they deserved it. They had just released Ready an’ Willing their third studio album, which reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart, and featured the hit single: “Fool for Your Loving”. This was a great Whitesnake performance; their set now included classic Purple tracks “Soldier or Fortune” and “Mistreated” and new favourites the aforementioned “Fool for Your Loving”, along with “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” and “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.”
Whitesnake setlist included: Sweet Talker; Walking in the Shadow of the Blues; Ain’t Gonna Cry No More; Love hunter; Mistreated; Soldier of Fortune; Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City; Fool for Your Loving
I got back to the camp site after Whitesnake and discovered that someone had nicked my tent 😦 Oh well, you can’t win them all. It was a cheap crappy tent anyway. This my last visit to Reading. The following year my mates and I decided to stay up North and attend the Rock on the Tyne festival, and once the annual cycle of attending Reading was broken, we never returned. For me, family and the pressures of parenthood kicked in, and the heavy metal dominance within the line-up made the Reading festival seem a little less attractive. I’d been 9 years in a row, seen the emergence of Quo, Genesis and Thin Lizzy, the re-emergence of Slade, great sets by the Faces, Rory and Yes, festival favourites like Edgar Broughton and Hawkwind, my personal favorites like Stray, the introduction of punk and new wave to the bill, and the recent growth in popularity of (new) heavy metal. Over the years I have toyed with the idea of returning to the Reading festival, or going to the more local Leeds festival, but have never got round to doing so. I suppose I fear that if I do, I will feel too old, and too out of place 🙂 I had some great, crazy times at Reading; maybe it’s best to leave the memories as they are. If I did go along, it could never be the same as when I was young.
Archive for the ‘Rory Gallagher’ Category
Rock on the Tyne Gateshead Stadium 29th/30th August 1981
In 1981 the north east for its own rock festival in the shape of Rock on the Tyne, a two day event which took place at Gateshead Stadium over the August bank holiday weekend. So we decided to forego our usual annual trek to Reading and sample the delights of this new event. That seemed a big choice, and a bit of a dilemma for me at the time, as I had been going to Reading for 9 consecutive years. As it happened, having made the break from going to Reading I never returned, which in hindsight was a mistake….
The line-up for Rock on the Tyne was (according to my tickets) as below.
Saturday. Huang Chung, Doll by Doll, The Polecats, Pauline Murray, U2, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Elvis Costello. [note the programme doesn’t list Pauline Murray, and does list Beckett. I can’t remember seeing Pauline play, and suspect the programme may be correct.]
Sunday. Fist, Diamond Head, Trimmer & Jenkins, Dr Feelgood, Ginger Baker’s Nutters, Lindisfarne, Rory Gallagher.
One of my main reasons for attending was to see up and coming new wave Irish band U2; this was their first appearance in the north east. I remember getting to the festival just in time to see their set late on Saturday afternoon. U2 were amazing at this point in their career. Bono was passionate, full of energy and you could just feel how hungry he and the rest of the band were for the massive success which was soon to follow. Stand-out songs were 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow (which they performed twice, once during the main set and again as part of the encore) and Fire. I remember Bono climbing up the lighting rig during (I think) Fire. Or perhaps that was the following year when they supported the Police at the same venue, or maybe it was on both occasions (actually I think it was both times ?) The memories are fading now, but what I do remember is that U2 were the highlight of the festival, and they were the band that everyone was talking about.
My other memory of the weekend was Rory Gallagher. Rory was never less than excellent, and this performance was no exception. He’d put on a little weight and added a brass section, and played the festival out with all those blues rock classics…Well did out ever get up with them bullfrogs on our mind?! Pure class 🙂
Ian Dury was good, Elvis was moving into his country period, Ginger Baker had a massive drum kit (of course). The festival wasn’t that well attended and wasn’t repeated although Gateshead Stadium has been used for concerts since then, including the aforementioned Police and U2 gig which took place the following year.
U2 setlist: With A Shout; 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow; An Cat Dubh; Into The Heart; Another Time, Another Place; The Cry; The Electric Co.; I Threw A Brick Through A Window; Stories For Boys; Out Of Control.
Encores: I Will Follow; Fire.
Rory Gallagher setlist: The Devil Made Me Do It; Bad Penny; Nadine; I Wonder Who; Moonchild; Double Vision; Wayward Child; Bourbon; Brute Force and Ignorance; Ride on Red, Ride On; Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy); Tattoo’d Lady; Leavin’ Blues; Philby; Shadow Play; Bullfrog Blues
This post takes me up to the letter “U”. I will continue with “U” tomorrow, by writing about U2 in concert.
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
It was August Bank Holiday 1976 and I was back at Reading for the annual festival. By now a group of us went every year, usually traveling down in the back of a hired transit van. The line-up for this festival wasn’t as strong as previous years, and included a mix of reggae, classic rock, underground and heavy metal bands. Punk was on the horizon, but yet to break through. The other memories I have are of rain (some, but not lots in 1976, as I recall), mud, lots of drunkenness (by us, and every one else as I remember), and lots (and I mean lots) of can fights, which seemed fun at the time, but were probably actually pretty dangerous. If you got a half-full can of Watney’s Red Barrel on the back of your head, you really knew about it, and several people must have come home from the festival with pretty nasty cuts and scars. The festival was moving from a friendly, hippy vibe to a drunken, laddish, almost aggro vibe. This also matched the way the line-up and the music would develop, as it moved more to heavy metal in the late ’70s. The main attraction for us this year was Rory, who was the man, and a hero to us all.
Friday’s line-up consisted of Stallion (don’t recall who they were), Roy St John (American pub rock), U Roy (reggae), Supercharge (a Liverpool band fronted by singer and sax player Albie Donnelly, who had quite a bit of success in the mid-70s and played a lot up and down the country; I remember seeing them several times), Mighty Diamonds (reggae), Mallard (Cpt Beefheart’s original Magic Band, and pretty good too) and headliners the hippy, trippy and quite weird Gong. I remember watching Mallard and Gong, who were both pretty good.
Saturday had Nick Pickett (a folk singer, who I’d seen supporting Curved Air a few years earlier), Eddie & The Hot Rods (classed as pub rock as much as punk at this stage), Moon, Pat Travers (ace guitarist), Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, Sadista Sisters, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Van Der Graaf Generator, Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, Camel and Rory Gallagher. Stand outs for me were Van Der Graaf who played an amazing extended version of Killer (John Peel: “Bloody marvellous, Van der Graaf Generator. Come on let’s here it for them”), Manfred Mann, and Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, which was seen as a pretty big deal at the time as Phil had assembled a stella line-up of himself (guitar), ex-Roxy compatriot Brian Eno (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Bill MacCormick (bass, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, piano and clavinet) and Lloyd Watson (ace slide-guitar, vocals). The 801 band released one album, and a live lp which was recorded at one of three gigs that they played, at the Festival Hall. They played a great version of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. But Rory was the highlight of the weekend. We were all massive fans, and made our way to the front of the crowd for his set, which was just amazing. A recording of Rory’s set that night exist which shows that he played: Take What I Want; Bought and Sold; Everybody Wants To Know; Drinkin’ Muddy Water; Tattoo’d Lady; Calling Card; Secret Agent; Pistol Slapper Blues; Too Much Alcohol; Souped-Up Ford and Bullfrog Blues. The Rory Gallagher band was Rory (guitar, vocals), Lou Martin (keyboards), the great Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Rod de’Ath (drums).
Sunday featured: Howard Bragen; Aft; The Enid (who got the crowd singing along with Land Of Hope And Glory and became a festival favourite), A Band Called ‘O’; Back Door (very jazzy); Sassafras; Brand X (featured Phil Collins on drums); AC/DC (one of their early UK appearances, and just blew everyone away; Angus and Bon Scott on top form); Sutherland Bros & Quiver; Ted Nugent (had some arguments with the crowd who were throwing cans at him); Black Oak Arkansas (Jim Dandy to the Rescue 🙂 ) and Osibisa (who were billed as special mystery guests, which seemed a bit of a let down, but got the crowd going and went down well).
Another fun time had by all 🙂
Note; for the first time there was an official glossy programme, as well as the newspaper programme, produced by the local Evening Post. Both are pictured here.
The Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1973
August 1973 and I was back at the Reading Festival. This year I hooked up with a large group of mates from town who had traveled down in a Transit van. I discovered Reading town centre, and the local pubs for the first time this year, and as a result missed some of the bands. The line-up was pretty mixed, with a clear attempt to become international; featuring bands from France, Italy and the USA, and also retaining jazz elements with appearances by Chris Barber and George Melly (who was great and a surprise success).
Friday line-up: Embryo (Germany), Alquin (Holland), Stray Dog (USA), Greenslade, Capability Brown, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (USA), Jo’Burg Hawk (South Africa), Rory Gallagher. The successes of the day were Commander Cody and of course Rory, who was just amazing. This was classic Rory at his best: Messin’ With the Kid; Laundromat; Walk on Hot Coals; Pistol Slapper Blues; Going to My Home Town; and Bullfrog Blues. The crowd loved him. Capability Brown grew out of the ’60s band Harmony Grass; prog rock with great harmonies. The other thing I discovered was the bridge over the Thames, and we spent many an hour watching people dive off and down into the river (which seemed crazy and dangerous to me).
Saturday line-up: Dave Ellis, Clare Hamill, Tasavallan Presidentti (Finland), Riff Raff, Fumble, Magma (France), Lindisfarne (Mk II), Chris Barber band, Status Quo, Sensation Alex Harvey Band, Strider, Andy Bown, The Faces.
My memories of the Saturday are of Status Quo going down a storm, and the Faces being OK, but the real success of the day being the Sensation Alex Harvey Band. SAHB were just about to release “Next”; I think they started the set with “Faith Healer” which sounded incredible, the intro throbbing across the field. Alex was electric and made a lot of new friends that day. The Faces set was nowhere near as strong as the previous year. This was one of their first gigs after Ronnie Lane had been replaced by Tetsu (who was great by the way); you could sense that the band were losing their enthusiasm and a Rod would soon be on his way. Lots of footballs into the crowd again. Oh and Jesus dancing naked during the afternoon. I don’t recall Andy Bown’s set and didn’t know much about him at the time, other than he was in The Herd with Peter Frampton. I do remember being surprised as how high up on the bill he was. I think this was where he made friends with Quo; he joined them shortly afterwards on keyboards. Fumble were a rock’n’roll revival band who played a lot of gigs at the time; I recall seeing them several times at local student union dances.
Sunday line-up: Aj Webber, John Martyn and Danny Thompson, Ange (France), Tim Hardin and Lesley Duncan with the Tim Horovitz Orchestra, PFM (Italy), Jack the Lad, Medicine Head, Stackridge, George Melly and the Feetwarmers, Jon Hiseman’s Tempest, Mahatma, Jimmy Witherspoon (USA), Spencer Davis, Genesis. I think Roy Buchanan may have played also; he was advertised in early flyers, but doesn’t feature in the programme; I think I recall watching him. The stand-outs on Sunday were (surprisingly) George Melly who wore an incredibly sharp suit and totally engaged the crowd with his crazy jazz campness, and of course Genesis, with Peter Gabriel appearing with a strange pyramid arrangement on his head. Stackridge were good as always (Slark still a favourite of mine); Spencer Davis played all the hits, and had a great band featuring Charlie McCracken, Pete York, Ray Fenwick and Eddie Hardin. Tim Hardin sang his beautiful moving songs (If I was a Carpenter, Reason to Believe) and John Martyn went down well in his early slot, accompanied by the excellent Danny Thompson on double bass. The weather was pretty good as I recall, I don’t think we got much, if any, rain. Not one of the strongest Reading line-ups, but still a good weekend of music and fun, with excellent performances by Rory, George Melly, Alex Harvey, Quo and Genesis. Thanks to Ben Sutherland for making his photograph of the Reading Bridge available through WikiMedia Commons. The programme was once again produced by the local newspaper and cost all of 10p 🙂 . The poster of the Faces comes from the centrepages of the programme.
Rory Gallagher Newcastle City Hall 1982 and 1987
I saw Rory twice more at Newcastle City Hall, once in 1982 and once in 1987. I remember the 1987 gig, I particularly recall thinking that it had been some time since I had seen the great man, and looking forward to the gig. I also remember that he played a long set, with a lot of new songs which weren’t familiar to me, and quite a few of the old classics. I found a setlist for the London show of the tour, which shows him playing 25 songs, including old favourites: Out On The Western Plain; Pistol Slapper Blues; Tattoo’d Lady; Bullfrog Blues. This was to be the last time I would see Rory Gallagher live in concert. Setlist (from London gig on 1987 tour): Continental Op; Moonchild; I Wonder Who; Don’t Start Me Talkin’; I Ain’t No Saint; Shin Kicker; Kickback City; Loanshark Blues; Off the Handle; Failsafe Day; Out On The Western Plain; Walkin’ Blues; Pistol Slapper Blues; Keep Your Hands Off Her; Bad Penny; Follow Me; The Loop; Seems to Me; Tattoo’d Lady; Double Vision; When My Baby She Left Me; Shadow Play; Lonely Mile; Bullfrog Blues; I’m Leavin’. In later years Rory suffered health problems, caused by combinations of prescription medication and alcohol use, which resulted in liver damage. He had a liver transplant, but sadly died from an MRSA infection in London on 14 June 1995. A very sad loss. I’ve enjoyed blogging on Rory over the past few days; it has reminded me just how great he was, in many different ways, and how much I looked forward to, and enjoyed, Rory gigs. A great man, who has left a great musical legacy.
By 1980, Rory had moved to a harder rock sound, dropping many of the classic bluesy tracks which had been staples of his set throughout the 70s. So he was no longer playing Bullfrog Blues, Going to my Hometown, Messin with the Kid, as part of the main set, although he would sometimes play one or two of them during the encore, as I recall. Instead his set was focussing on tracks from his most recent albums; Top Priority (1980), Calling Card (1976) and Photo-Finish (1978). His stage show is documented on the live album Stage Stuck which was released in 1980, around the time of this gig at Newcastle City Hall. Although I still enjoyed seeing Rory, and he played with the same energy and passion as before, I missed the old familiar songs. The tracks on Stage Stuck give an indication of Rory’s setlist at this time: Shin Kicker; Wayward Child; Brute Force and Ignorance; Moonchild; Bad Penny; Key Chain; Follow Me; Bought and Sold; The Last of the Independents; Shadow Play. I saw Rory again at the Rock on the Tyne festival which was held at Gateshead Stadium in 1981. He headlined the second night, and came on after Dr Feelgood. The festival was held on the same weekend as the Reading Festival, and my mates and I decided to go to this local event and miss Reading that year. In fact, as things turned out, I never did return to the Reading festival. By this time Rory had put on a little weight, and wasn’t the same slim young guy that I had first seen 10 years or so earlier, but he had lost none of this power as a guitarist.
Rory Gallagher Newcastle City Hall Dec 1978
Rory Gallagher tour relentlessly throughout the 70s. He would often return to Newcastle twice within the same year. In 1978 he played the City Hall in April, and he was back again in December. I never tired of seeing him, which was not the case with many other bands. During the late 1978 tour, which ran into 1979, Rory clocked up 100 concerts in 65 cities in 12 countries in 16 weeks. He was very much the working, gigging bluesman; out on the road playing his guitar to anyone who wanted to see him. Support for this gig came from Bram Tchaikovsky, who had recently left The Motors. Bram was, at the time, fronting his own post-punk powerpop band. This gig was at the height of punk, when many bands were re-examining themselves and their musical approach. Rory seemed untouched by all of that change around him, and did what he did best, turning up at a hall with his old trusty strat, a Vox AC30 or two, and belting out the blues for a couple of hours. This gig was to promote his latest album, which was Photo-Finish. Looking at my ticket I was pretty close to the front for this gig, with a direct view of the great man. These gigs were really something; I just wish Rory was still with us. Setlist (from a date in the USA on the same tour): Bought & Sold; Garbage Man; Secret Agent; A Million Miles Away; Shadow Play; Country Mile; Tattoo’d Lady; Sea Cruise; Bullfrog Blues.