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 ‘Slade’ Category
Slade Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall 21st February 1981
The “Live at Reading” EP reached number 44 in the UK singles chart; the band’s first chart placing since 1977. Polydor Records seized the opportunity to capitalise on Slade’s recent success and released a compilation “Slade Smashes!” in November 1980. The album was a big succees, turning a whole new audience onto Slade; it spent 15 weeks in the UK chart, was certified Gold, and sold over 200,000 copies. Success continued with the release of their new single “We’ll Bring the House Down” which was released in January 1981. Aimed at the new heavy metal audience who had picked up and them at, and after, Reading 1980, it was a bit heavier than their normal sound.”We’ll Bring the House Down” got to number 10 in the UK singles chart, and became Slade’s first top ten hit since 1976.
Slade were starting to fill concert halls again, and toured relentlessly throughout 1981. The next time I got to see them Live after Reading in August 1980, was 6 months later at a sold-out gig at Sunderland Polytechnic’s Students Union dance at Wearmouth Hall on 21st February 1981. The place was ram packed with students and heavy rock fans who gave Slade the returning heroes welcome that they deserved. It was great to see them back filling halls again, and you could tell how much Noddy, Dave, Jim and Don were enjoying their newly found stardom.
I saw Slade again that year, 6 months later at the Donington Monsters of Rock festival on 22nd August 1981 , where they shared the bill with Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult, Blackfoot, More, and headliners AC/DC. Slade were 4th on the bill, appearing after Blackfoot and before Blue Öyster Cult. By now they were well and truly accepted as bona fide members of the heavy metal fraternity. Denim jackets were starting to sport Slade patches alongside those of Motorhead, AC/DC, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. You couldn’t make it up 🙂
Slade’s setlist at the time was: Dizzy Mamma; When I’m Dancin’ I Ain’t Fightin’; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; Lock Up Your Daughters; Everyday; Somethin’ Else; Pistol Packin’ Mama; Gudbuy T’Jane; We’ll Bring the House Down; Get Down and Get With It; Mama Weer All Crazee Now; Cum on Feel the Noize; Born to Be Wild; Merry Xmas Everybody
Almost finished my coverage of Slade gigs. One more day to go 🙂
Slade : The wilderness years & a night with skinheads at Middlesbrough Rock Garden 24th June 1980
The Rock Garden was a scary place. If the skins didn’t get you, then the rock garden burgers would almost certainly finish you off. A visit to the Rock Garden was an experience not to be forgotten; a fight or two was guaranteed as part of the evening’s entertainment, alongside performances by some of the finest punk or heavy rock bands around at the time.
Slade were on their never ending tour of clubs, pubs, cabaret and ballrooms in 1980. The years between 1977 and 1980 were their “wilderness years”; at the time Slade were down on their luck and receiving next to no money. Their records were no longer making the charts and they were forced to play small halls and clubs around the UK, their only income coming from royalties from the old hits, most of which will have gone to Noddy and Jim, as the band’s two songwriters. Their single releases from this period were not their best and included “Give Us A Goal” and “Okey Cokey”. Nuff said. But live in concert they were as great as ever, perhaps more so as they fought and played hard to win new fans and to win back their place in the charts.
The Rock Garden was packed with skinheads for Slade. My mate Norm has vague memories of the support act being pelted off stage, and having to hide behind the bar while the skins continued to throw handfuls of ice at them. But the skins loved Slade, and Noddy managed to keep them in order. When a scuffle broke out he would tell the hard guys to behave and they would listen to him and take notice. They saw him as one of their own. The Rock Garden stage was tiny, and Slade came with masses of amps, which they still had from the days when they would pack out big halls. So Nod, Dave, Jim and Don were limited to playing in a tiny area in front of a massive back line and surrounded by big PA speakers. And they were deafeningly LOUD. I swear my ears were ringing for days afterwards. The set was a mix of their hits, recent tracks and a few covers. The place went crazy. Slade were called back for several encores and finished with “Born to be Wild”, just like old times. Happy days.
Set list: Dizzy Mamma; My Baby Left Me; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; When I’m Dancin’ I Ain’t Fightin’; Wheels Ain’t Coming Down; Lemme Love Into Ya; Everyday; Somethin’ Else (Eddie Cochran); Pistol Packin’ Mama; Keep a Rollin’; Night Starvation; Gudbuy T’Jane; Get Down and Get With It
Encore: Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Encore 2: Cum on Feel the Noize; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley; Born to Be Wild
A couple of months later I was at the Reading Festival, when a lucky break gave Slade the chance to show everyone just how great a live band they still were, and put them back in the music public’s eye, this time as heroes of the heavy metal brigade. I’ll write about that tomorrow
“Rock fans wreak havoc in Empire”
(From The Sunderland Echo, 13th April 1978)
“Seats and brass rails were smashed and twisted at the Sunderland Empire last night, as rock group Slade worked a young audience to fever pitch.
House manager, Mr Ron Jameson said today that the cost of the damage had not yet been counted, but it was expected to run to hundreds of pounds.
“The youngsters tend to stand on the arms and backs of the seats which smashes the framework, and the sheer weight of numbers pressing up against the brass rails bent them easily”
He added that although there was an audience of only 800 – less than half the theatre’s capacity – they had been very involved in the performance, and at times some became carried away with the highly charged atmosphere.”
You can find a copy of the original article from the Echo on the Sladescrapbook website:
The next time I saw Slade was at Sunderland Empire, a gig which ended with serious damage to the first few rows of the seats. Support came from local rockers Geordie. I was quite close to the front, with a group of mates, and we watched the first few rows of seats collapse under the weight of fans pushing, shoving and generally going crazy. By the end of the concert all that was left of the first five or so rows was a pile of smashed up wood. The same thing happened at a Boomtown Rats gig around the same time.
The set list at the Empire will have been something like this: Hear Me Calling; Get on Up; Be; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; My Baby Left Me; Burning in the Heat of Love; Everyday; Far Far Away; Them Kinda Monkeys Can’t Swing; Gudbuy T’Jane; Give Us a Goal!; Get Down and Get With It; Mama Weer All Crazee Now; Cum on Feel the Noize; Keep on Rocking
My ticket for the gig looks a bit of a mess. I have written “Slade” on it (at the time the Empire tickets didn’t list the act who was playing) but the change of date was done by the Empire when we bought the tickets. It looks like they were reusing some tickets from another night!
Slade went further into the wilderness in 1979, playing cabaret and residencies at Baileys Nightspots up and down the country. The next time I saw them was another wild night, at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, which I’ll write about tomorrow.
Slade: Whatever Happened to Slade? (or the night I saw the old Slade return) Newcastle City Hall 8th May 1977
Slade: Whatever Happened to Slade? (or the night I saw the old Slade return) Newcastle City Hall 8th May 1977
Slade had been away too long. They’d been over in America working the US market, and had taken their eye off the ball in terms of their home fans. As a result their popularity was waning. They realised this, and in early 1977 Slade came back home to England and recorded their sixth album “Whatever Happened to Slade?” The album was a return to their rock’n’roll roots, and received positive critical reviews, but failed to make the UK album charts. Musical tastes were changing in the UK, the glam craze had passed, “dinosaur” or “old fart” bands were being passed over for new bands, and the fashion of the day was “punk rock”. Some of us could see the similarities between the rawness of punk, early Slade, and their original skinhead image; however to the majority of the music public Slade were a forgotten band; a thing of the past.
Not deterred, however, Slade decided to go out on a national tour, returning to the theatres and concert halls which they were selling out just two or three years earlier. The tour called at Newcastle City Hall and I went along with a few mates to renew our acquaintance with Slade. Support for the tour came from Liar, a rock band formed by a former member of Edison Lighthouse and featuring Clive Brooks, who was previously in Egg and the Groundhogs. The City Hall was far from full, which was a shame, as Slade were on fire, working so hard to regain their fans, and demonstrating just how great a rock band they were. The stage was set with the one of the biggest backlines of stacks that I’d ever seen. I knew this was going to be LOUD 🙂 The lights went down, and Slade walked on stage. The first I noticed was the appearance of guitarist Dave Hill. Dave’s hair was gone; he was completely bald with a shaved head and the biggest dangly earring that I’d ever seen. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans, and looked amazing!! Noddy was wearing a Napolean hat and jacket! Now what was all that about? Then I heard the opening chords of “Hear Me Calling’ and everyone was up on their feet. And away we went. For an hour or so Slade showed us exactly how and why they made it big the first time. By playing LOUD, good honest raucous rock, like only Slade could. They even finished with “Born to be Wild”. It was just like old times, as if the last five years had never happened. The loud, heavy rock band that was early Slade was back 🙂
From a review of the time: “But poor old Slade have blown it, have they? Oh no…..The music suggested havoc. It was sensational: a riff as pile driving as anything Quo have produced with the distinctive fuzzed, rough texture of the Slade guitars and a hint of American funkiness working through. Compulsion……I could hardly believe it….Dynamics, dynamite….The crowd……were on their feet and singing ‘The Blaydon Races’ while Noddy in total friendly rapport squawked away like a cross between Mr Punch and schnozzle Durante….. I expect Slade will be the Status Quo of 1987.” (Phil Sutcliffe, Sounds, May 1977).
Setlist: Hear Me Calling; Get on Up; Be; Take Me Bak ‘Ome; Gypsy Roadhog; Everyday; Gudbuy T’Jane; Coz I Luv You; The Bangin’ Man; Lightning Never Strikes Twice; The Soul, the Roll and the Motion; Mama Weer All Crazee Now; Cum on Feel the Noize; Born to Be Wild
Yes, Slade were playing excellently, but it was a few years before they would rebuild their fan base and return to the charts. During the period between 1977 and 1980 Slade entered their “wilderness years” playing up and down the country in clubs, dives and cabaret. I attended a couple more great Slade gigs during those wilderness years, and will reflect on them over the next couple of days.