Wishbone Ash Newcastle City Hall 16th October 1977 “Front Page News”
Support from the Motors
Wishbone Ash released their eighth album “Front Page News” in 1977. The album contained a clutch of slower soft rock ballads with the influence of the Miami sun coming through in the songs and their lush harmonies. This was Wishbone Ash’s fourth album to be recorded in the US, and marked the end of a three year period of living and recording in the States. The band returned to the UK the following year. The band went out on their now annual UK tour in Autumn 1977. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on 16th October 1977, the first night of the tour. Using the “Front Page News” concept, the band took out full page advertisements in the music papers which featured the red-top newspaper “Daily Wishbone” with the headline news stories: “Ashes Back in Britain”, “Hot from Miami: a brand new album” and “Brand New Tour!”
The newspaper concept was also carried forward to the tour itself. When we entered the City Hall a newspaper featuring fake news stories had been placed on each of the seats (see mine in the picture). This time the paper was called “Wishbone News” and the headlines were “Ash and MCA in Miami Connection” and “Laurie Locked in”. A nice touch and, for once a free programme for my collection 🙂
For this tour Wishbone Ash decided to start with five classic songs: “Blind Eye”, “Lady Whiskey”, “The King Will Come”, “Warrior” and “Throw Down The Sword”. What a great start. “Blind Eye” has always been one of my favourite Wishbone Ash songs, and it was great to hear it again. The title track from the new album “Front Page News” is a great rocker and made a strong impression live, as did the Laurie Wisefield song “Goodbye Baby Hello Friend”, a lovely soft-rock ballad which was released as a single and reminded me a little of Laurie’s old band Home. The rest of the set included songs from previous albums and more classic Ash in the form of “Phoenix”, “Time Was”, “Jailbait” and of course “Blowin’ Free”. By this point in their career Wishbone Ash had an amazing strong and diverse back catalogue, and on this tour they really played to their strengths. Martin Turner explained to Melody Maker: “We decided to play a lot of old songs that we hadn’t done live in ages, rather than play the whole of the new album. We’ve done that in the past, but it’s very ambitious if people don’t know the material, and the new album is quite studio-orientated, with orchestrations on some tracks.” Support for the tour was London band The Motors, who had just been formed by Ducks Deluxe members Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster, together with guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky and drummer Ricky Slaughter. The Motors had scored a minor hit with their first single “Dancing the Night Away”, which reached number 42 in the UK Singles Chart. This was before this big success with “Airport”, which was a number 4 UK hit single in 1978. The Motors were a good solid pub rock band, who were influenced by the new wave, and had some catchy pop songs. We made a point of watching their performance and weren’t disappointed. However, many Wishbone Ash fans were a little dismayed by the appearance of The Motors on the tour. This was after all 1977, the year of punk, and The Motors were seen as a “new wave” band, so those Wishbone Ash fans who remained committed to classic rock chose to stay in the bar.
Chas de Whalley reviewed the Newcastle Wishbone Ash concert in Sounds, giving it an excellent review: “Whatever your tastes in music, there’s one thing you can never argue about. Audience reaction. A hall full of standing rock fans, clapping their hands above their heads and screaming their appreciation…..any band can inspire that has got to be good at what they do. Needless to say, on the first night of their first British tour in a year, Wishbone Ash came out finally on top. Their particular brand of middle class heavy rock sent Newcastle home in ecstasies.”
Setlist (based on published setlists of the time): songs: Blind Eye, Lady Whiskey, The King Will Come, Warrior, Throw Down The Sword, Front Page News, Sometime World, Goodbye Baby Hello Friend, You Rescue Me, Runaway, Come In From the Rain, Phoenix, Time Was, Jailbait, Blowin’ Free, No Easy Road, Bad Weather Blues.
Thanks to Mitch for his photos of The Motors and of Andy Powell, which he took at this concert.
Archive for the ‘The Motors’ Category
Wishbone Ash Newcastle City Hall 16th October 1977 “Front Page News”
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
Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂
The Motors Newcastle Mayfair 1978
Airport! The Motors were a British pub rock band who got swept up in the punk scene and hit the charts with “Airport”, which was a number 4 UK hit single in 1978. They were formed in London in 1977 by former Ducks Deluxe members Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster together with guitarist and front man Bram Tchaikovsky, and drummer Ricky Slaughter. I saw them a few times around this period, notably at the Reading Festival and at Newcastle Mayfair. “Airport” was rising up the charts at the time of the Mayfair gig and the place was packed. These guys had learned their craft in the pub rock scene of London, and it showed. They were a slick and professional live rock band, with some catchy tunes. As well as “Airport”, their earlier single “Dancing the Night Away” was also pretty good. Bram left the band shortly after this, and went on to lead his own band. The Motors continued for a few more years until they folded in 1982. My poster programme (pictured) tells me that support for the Mayfair gig came from heavy rock band “Marseille” and young Glasgow band “The Jolt”.
“Airport, airport, You’ve got a smiling face, You took the one I love so far away, Flying away, flying away, Airport, airport, You’ve got a smiling face, You took my lady to another place, Flying away, flying away” (The Motors, 1978).