The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 13th May 1979
Two years on since The Tube blew us all away with a crazy visual onslaught, they were back on tour in the UK again. This time they had a concept album to play and show to us all. “Remote Control” was based around the concept that “TV is King” and was produced by Todd Rundgren. The show featured the new album and old favourites with all the crazy stage antics that we had come to expect from these guys. This time The Tubes played two shows in one night, I went to the late show with a bunch of mates. A fun show, but for me it was beginning to feel more like a musical theatre show than a rock show. Still, it was all worth while just to get the chance to see along with Fee on “White Punks on Dope”.
Support came from the excellent Squeeze.
Setlist (something like): Getoverture; Turn Me On; TV Is King; Be Mine Tonight; Don’t Touch Me There; No Mercy; Only the Strong Survive; I Want It All Now; What Do You Want From Life; No Way Out; Telecide; Love’s a Mystery (I Don’t Understand); Tubes World Tour; Stand Up and Shout; White Punks on Dope (The Who’s Baba O’Riley and The Kids are Alright featured as encores at some shows)
“We’re white punks on dope
Mom & Dad moved to Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can’t clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope”
(White Punks on Dope, The Tubes, 1975)
Squeeze and Wreckless Eric Newcastle Mayfair 28th February 1980
I’d seen Squeeze supporting Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Tubes, Dr Feelgood, and at Reading, but this was the first time, and only time, I saw them as a headline act. This was the classic Squeeze line-up featuring Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook and Jools Holland. Squeeze had just released their third album “Argybargy” and had already made the UK top 20 four times, with their first single “Take Me, I’m Yours” which reached No 19 in 1978, the excellent “Cool for Cats” and “Up the Junction”, both of which reached No. 2 in 1979 and their most recent release at the time, “Another Nail in My Heart”, which made No. 17 in January 1980. Support came from the crazy Wreckless Eric, whose most well-known song is the wonderful “Whole Wide World”. Squeeze were a great live act who produced a clutch of perfect pop songs; my favourite is “Up The Junction” which is just pure class. The setlist for the concert at the Mayfair is likely to have been something like this: Slap and Tickle; Touching Me, Touching You; Slightly Drunk; Pulling Mussels (From the Shell); Hop Skip & Jump; Another Nail in My Heart; Cool for Cats; Messed Around; I Think I’m Go Go; Take Me I’m Yours; If I Didn’t Love You; Misadventure; It’s So Dirty; Goodbye Girl; Up the Junction; There at the Top. Encore: Going Crazy
The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
This was the year punk finally arrived. The festival was now officially known as the Reading Rock Festival, having dropped “jazz” from the title and the line-up, and weekend tickets cost all of £8.95. Our old friend John Peel was compere, as always, and a van load of us descended on the riverside site, having driven part of the way down on Thursday, gone for a drink in Wetherby and slept on Wetherby racecourse (the crazy things you do when you are young 🙂 ) Highlights of the weekend for me were Penetration (I was a big fan at the time), Sham 69, The Jam, Status Quo (most of our group were heavily into them) and Patti Smith.
Friday line-up: Dennis O’Brien; The Automatics; New Hearts (who would become mods and change their name to Secret Affair); Radio Stars; Penetration; Sham 69; The Pirates; Ultravox; The Jam.
Memories: Radio Stars were always good for a laugh; “Dirty Pictures” (turn me on) was a favourite at the time; it was great to see local north east punk heroes playing up on the massive Reading stage Penetration, although they suffered from murky sound throughout their set; The Pirates rocked the place with no-nonsense rock’n’roll, “Shaking All Over” and ace guitarist the late Mick Green (a big influence on Wilko); and the John Foxx version of Ultravox! played a quite moody atmospheric electronic set. The main event was Sham 69, who were excellent with Jimmy Pursey his usual cockney “boy on the streets” self, and those anthems “What have we got?”, “Borstal Breakout” and “If the Kids are United”. The Sham Army had come across to Reading in force, all braces, No 2 cuts, and Doc Martins, and ready to take on those hippies. We were right at the front, although we soon moved to the side of the crowd when the fights started. A bunch of skins climbed on to the stage, and Pursey tried to call order, pleading with the crowd to stop fighting to no avail. He was in tears, watching bedlam and violence all around him, and not being able to do anything to stop it. But that was the nature of a Sham gig at the time. Jimmy even brought Steve Hillage on stage to show that it was ok to mix with hippies, but that just annoyed the skins more. A nasty, frightening experience, which marred an excellent performance by Sham. The Jam were great, Weller the edgy young mod, getting himself into a strop at the poor sound quality, and trashing his gear. Punk really had arrived at Reading.
The Jam set included: Mr Clean ; Away From the Numbers; Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane; Tonight at Noon; David Watts; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight; “A” Bomb in Wardour Street; News of the World
Saturday line-up: Speedometors; The Business; Jenny Darren; Next; Gruppo Sportivo; Nutz; Greg Kihn Band; Lindisfarne; Spirit; The Motors; Status Quo.
Saturday was a little more straightforward rock. Lindisfarne had recently reunited and hit the charts with “Run For Home”. The Motors were OK (Airport!). Spirit were excellent, with great Hendrix-style guitar from Randy California. Status Quo played a solid respectable set, nothing earth shattering. I know quite a few people were disappointed with them that night, but I thought they were OK. “Dirty Water’ was to become a crowd singalong favourite.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Rockers Rollin; Is There A Better Way; You Don’t Own Me; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don’t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.
Sunday line-up: After The Fire; Chelsea; Pacific Eardrum; Bethnal; Squeeze; John Otway; The Albion Band; Paul Inder; Ian Gillan Band; Tom Robinson Band; Foreigner; Patti Smith Group.
Memories: Paul Inder is Lemmy’s son and was 11 years old (!) at the time; what a great thing to do when you are 11 🙂 ; Bethnal were a good band, who had a manic violin player; Squeeze were fun; Otway was as crazy as ever (Really Free); Tom Robinson led a mass singalong of “Glad to be Gay”; and Foreigner went down well with the crowd. But the day belonged to Patti Smith who was amazing. I was a big fan and left my mates to push my way right to the front of the crowd for Patti’s set. She had the whole crowd with her as she tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning. I saw her again at Newcastle City Hall two days later and she was equally as electric.
Patti Smith setlist: Rock n Roll Nigger; Privilege (Set Me Free); Redondo Beach; Free Money; Ghost Dance; It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World; So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star); Ask the Angels; 25th Floor; Because the Night; Gloria, You Light Up My Life; My Generation; Godspeed
The Police Milton Keynes Bowl 26th July 1980
Rockatta De Bowl
Support Acts: UB40; Squeeze; Tom Robinson’s Sector 27; Skafish
DJs: John Peel (who else) and Jerry Floyd
Not one of the best one day festival events that I’ve attended, but by no means the worst. It’s a long drive from the North East to Milton Keynes, and it seemed an even long drive back after standing all day getting soaked….
I went with a car load of mates; we had all recently discovered the Police and were quite big fans at the time, having seen them several times in Newcastle. This was the first big concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl, and it was organised by the same people that ran the Reading Festival. The Bowl is, as the name suggests, a natural round amphitheatre; “the site was a former clay-pit…filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a maximum capacity of 65,000. The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.” (Wikipedia). It was by no means full for the Police concert; reports suggest that around 25,000 people attended. There had been a lot of rain in the days leading up to the event and as a result, the bowl was a bit of a quagmire…. The line-up was interesting. I don’t recall whether or not we arrived in time to catch Tom Robinson and his new band Sector 27. I do remember SkaFace who were greeted by a hail of cans, and retreated after a few songs, the singer’s face was quite badly cut. Squeeze were good, as always; they can’t be anything other than good with those catchy pop songs like “Up The Junction”, and great hooks. UB40 were a big hit, with their reggae rhythms drifting around the bowl. There was then a long wait before The Police hit the stage, during which it poured down. The weather and the wait put a damper on things, and I remember that the Police were good, but I couldn’t really get into it for two reasons; first I was soaked (no tents or anywhere else to hide from the rain) and secondly I knew that I had a long four hour drive home. Sting had a pretty classy looking new upright bass (was it hanging from the roof on a wire? Or did I just imagine that?) and he led us all through lots of Yo Yo Yo..ing which started to annoy me after too long….
Some reviews from the time:
“The show by The Police in the hitherto rock and roll backwater of Milton Keynes, proved that there are still few greater thrills available anywhere than to witness a group playing at the absolute peak of its prowess and confidence… One is always astonished at any show The Police perform, by the remarkable power they manage to create with the basic line-up of bass, guitar and drums…” (Evening Standard)
“…they showed a move towards a more varied and mainstream approach, while retaining more than a hint of the white reggae style.” (The Guardian)
“They achieved a better overall sound with three musicians than anyone else did with eight… The white reggae beat was certainly conducive to the festival atmosphere, and the tribal chants brought out the football supporter in all of us.” (Sounds)
Police setlist: Voices Inside My Head; Don’t Stand So Close to Me; Walking on the Moon; Deathwish; Fall Out; Bring on the Night; De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da; Truth Hits Everybody; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Driven to Tears; When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around; Message in a Bottle; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Reggatta de Blanc; Next to You; So Lonely
Eddie and the Hot Rods Newcastle City Hall 1978
Support from Radio Stars Squeeze
By 1978 The Hot Rods had enjoyed chart success with Do Anything You Wanna Do, and had released their second album Life on the Line. They returned to the City Hall with another strong supporting line-up of Radio Stars and Squeeze. Radio Stars had supported the Hot Rods at the City Hall the year before, so we were already acquainted with the mad antics of Andy Ellison, and their great song Dirty Pictures. Squeeze were new to the scene and were the first band on the bill at this concert. Squeeze had just released their first album and single: Take Me I’m Yours and there was a buzz about them, but this was before the massive hits Up THe Junction and Cool For Cats, which followed in 1979. This was the original line up of Squeeze, featuring Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, and Jools Holland. I remember making a point of getting to the gig early to see Squeeze and Radio Stars. Eddie and The Hot Rods were great as usual, super high energy rock n roll. Another fun night. The more I think back to these gigs, the more I realise how much fun we had, and how great the late 70s were. There were gigs going on most nights of the week, and some great new bands to see, all hungry for success and playing vital rock n roll. Eddie and the Hot Rods are another band who have reformed recently and are still out their playing clubs up and down the country. They are supporting Status Quo on some of the dates of their QuoFestive Christmas tour, unfortunately this doesn’t include my own local gig. I must make a point of going to see them next time I get the chance.
Dr Feelgood Newcastle City Hall 1977 to 1979
So Wilko was gone and Gypie Mayo was in. I had big doubts as to whether this could work. Wilko was a class act, and would be very hard to follow. The chemistry between Lee and Wilko was obvious, they worked together so well. It could never be the same again. So we went along to see; and it worked. All credit to Gypie Mayo for taking this on and making it work, but work it did. Apparently Gypie only had a week to learn the set before going out on this tour. He kept his own style, and didn’t try to imitate Wilko, but he and Lee worked together and the Feelgoods continued to rock, just as they had before. Support for the 1977 tour came from the very excellent Mink DeVille, who hit the charts around the same time with “Spanish Stroll”. We went along to the City Hall early to make sure we caught their set; this was one gig where we gave the bar a miss. Will DeVille was a cook guy and warmed the crowd up well for our session in the Dr’s surgery. Dr Feelgood often seemed to choose a strong support act to open for them. The support in 1978 was Squeeze, who are another class act. I think support in 1979 came from Red Beans and Rice. After 1979, the Feelgood’s North East gigs were in smaller venues than the City Hall, such as Durham University and Redcar Coatham Bowl. By 1981 there had been more change and Gypie Mayo had left then band, to be replaced by Johnny Guitar. I saw that line up at the Rock on the Tyne festival which took place over the 1981 August Bank Holiday weekend. This was the start of several more line up changes, which have gone on until this day. I saw Dr Feelgood once more, at Newcastle Mayfair in 1987. I’ll blog on that gig shortly. Its easy to forget just how great Dr Feelgood were in the 70s, particularly as a live act. Without the Feelgoods we may not have had punk, and things just wouldn’t have been the same. I spent some great nights with these guys.