Reading Festival 24th – 26th August 1979
This was my 8th visit to Reading. The line-up was a predictable mix of new wave and heavy rock. It was also a year of line-up changes. Two of the main bands who were billed to play: Thin Lizzy and The Ramones did not appear. Thin Lizzy pulled out at a few days notice due to Gary Moore’s departure from the band. Lizzy were replaced by Scorpions and The Ramones by Nils Lofgren. Both of these changes were major disappointments. The weather wasn’t bad and the event was well-attended, but didn’t sell out. My recollections of the weekend are below:
Friday line-up: Bite the Pillow, The Jags, Punishment of Luxury, Doll by Doll, The Cure, Wilko Johnson, Motorhead, The Tourists, The Police.
Friday was the “new wave” day. I watched all of the bands from Punilux onwards. Highlights were The Cure who impressed me even though the only song I had heard before was “Killing an Arab”, and Wilko and Motorhead, both acts going down a storm with the crowd, who preferred their rock heavier and more traditional. The Police were riding on the crest of a wave of success, and were amazing, Sting had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the entire field sang along to the hits. It was great to witness a band at their peak.
The Police setlist: Deathwish; Next To You; So Lonely; Truth Hits Everybody; Walking On The Moon; Hole In My Life; Fall Out; Message In A Bottle; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Peanuts; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Landlord; Born In The 60s
Saturday line-up: Root Boy Slim; Fame; The Yachts; Little Bo Bitch (not sure that they played?); The Movies; Bram Tchaikovsky; Gillan; Steve Hackett; Cheap Trick; Inner Circle; Scorpions
We spent much of Saturday enjoying the delights of local hostelries and didn’t venture into the arena until later in the day. To be honest, looking at the line-up now, it was pretty uninspiring. We made it into the festival for Gillan onwards. Gillan seemed to play everywhere at the time, and were always good fun. I’d seen them so many times that I was getting to know the new songs, but I also always looked forward to hearing Purple classics, which they did including ‘Smoke on the Water”. Steve Hackett played “I Know What I Like” which prompted a mass crowd singalong. The highlight was Cheap Trick with crazy antics from Rick Nielson and an exquisite performance by Robin Zander. A video of their performance that night is on YouTube. You can find “I Want You To Want Me” here, a bit rough, but still amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTLEYcO2VnE
For the encore Cheap Trick were joined onstage by Dave Edmunds and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs for a rendition of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”. Classic 😄
Inner Circle’s reggae rhythms went down well. Scorpions were great (I really liked “Loving You Sunday Morning” at the time), but we were disappointed that we weren’t seeing Lizzy who had become a Reading favourite and were massive at the time.
Sunday line-up: The Cobbers; Terra Nova; Speedometers; Zaine Griff; Wild Horses; The Members; Molly Hatchett; Climax Blues Band; Nils Lofgren; Peter Gabriel; Whitesnake.
Sunday highlights for me were The Members who were in the charts with “Sounds of the Suburbs” and got a mixed reaction from the crowds with some people liking them, and others lobbing cans, and Peter Gabriel who started with “Biko” and played classic solo tracks like “Moribund The Burgermeister”, “Solsbury Hill” and “Here Comes The Flood”. Phil Collins joined Gabriel for the end of his set for “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. Whitesnake closed the evening and were worthy headliners (although they weren’t billed as so, with Peter Gabriel and non-showers The Ramones having shared top billing in the pre-festival publicity). They started with an amazing new song “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” which set the tone for the evening. Ian Paice had just joined on drums and Whitesnake now had three former Purple members (Coverdale, Lord and Paice).
Whitesnake setlist: Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues; Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City; Steal Away; Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick; Mistreated; Soldier Of Fortune; Love Hunter; Breakdown; Whitesnake Boogie.
An enjoyable Reading weekend, if not one of the strongest line-ups.
Archive for the ‘Tourists’ Category
The Tourists Newcastle City Hall 19th September 1980
The Tourists Luminous tour of Great Britain called at Newcastle City Hall on 19th September 1980. The tour was to promote their third and final album “Luminous Basement”, which wasn’t as successful as the previous two releases, making No. 75 in the chart. The single from the album “Don’t Say I Told You So” made No. 40 in the singles chart. Support came from the Barracudas a surf/garage/psych/pop band who had a summer 1980 hit single “Summer Fun” and were great fun. The Tourists star was starting to wane, and although this was a fun show, the City Hall was far from full, and things weren’t going so well in the Tourists camp. The band split later in 1980, with Anne Lenox and Dave Stewart forming a liaison which would soon yield much greater success as the duo Eurythmics. The end of the Tourists came in Bangkok, when an airline strike stranded the band. The rift came with Stewart and Lennox disagreeing with the band’s main singer-songwriter Peet Coombes. Annie said in NME at the time: “Now Peet can be his own spokesperson…It was always part of Dave’s and my dilemma that we were acting as spokespersons for someone else’s work within a pop context, yet we weren’t able to put across how removed he was from that whole scene….We were on a funny boat, The Tourists….A strange craft… When we did that song [I Only Want to be With You] it was purely for fun. But after that it became bizarre. The things that happened to us were so wild, yet everyone got the impression of nice, clean poppy people. Dave Stewart: “The publicity thing just became like a bigger and bigger black cloud, until the only way we probably could have continued to exist with any dignity as people was to step aside and say, ‘Look this just doesn’t exist anymore. Let’s do something else’.” And that’s exactly what they did.
The Tourists Newcastle City Hall 23rd February 1980 The Tourists were, of course, the pre-Eurythmics band of Annie Lenox and Dave Stewart. I’d seen Stewart perform with local Sunderland folk-rock band Longdancer a number of times, and was a little surprised to see him pop up in a post-punk pop band. However this particular post-punk band had its roots in folk and 60s pop. Harry Doherty, writing in Melody Maker, drew comparisons with Fairport Convention (not sure that I quite see that) and the Mamas and the Papas (I don’t quite see Annie or Dave as Mama Cass either 🙂 ). The first time I saw the Tourists live was on 10th May 1979 when they supported Roxy Music at Newcastle City Hall. They put in a good performance, warmed the crowd up well, and won a few friends that night. I saw them again a few months later on 24th August 1979 at the Reading Festival, sandwiched between performances by Motorhead and Friday night headliners the Police. I remember the Reading performance well; the Tourists had some great songs, particularly the Peet Combes compositions “Blind Among The Flowers” and “The Loneliest Man In The World”, which both featured in their performance that night and came over well on a cool summer evening. Both songs were released as singles. The Tourists went down quite well with the Reading crowd, particularly considering that most people who were there had come to see Motorhead; hardly the sort of crowd to appreciate a new punky pop band. They had some problems with the sound that night: “The only thing that freaks me about touring, is the equipment…It’s right out of your hands if it goes wrong. That’s what happened when we did the Reading Festival. It was mayhem onstage, really frightening.” (Annie Lenox, Record Mirror, 1980). Peet was the main songwriter in the band at the time, and wrote all of the songs on their first album. I saw them again on 19th October 1979 at Newcastle Polytechnic, by which time they had made No. 4 in the UK singles chart with their cover of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be with You”. A drunken Friday night student crowd danced and sang along with Annie. I thought at the time that “I Only Want to Be with You” was a strange, and for me somewhat disappointing, choice for a single; given the strength of their original material. However, it worked for them, and gave them their first big chart success, helped by Annie’s great performance on Top of the Pops. By the time the Tourists went out on their first headline “Last Laugh” tour they had released a new single “So Good to Be Back Home Again”. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd February 1980. A great performance; good fun straight-on pop. Support came form Edinburgh band the Solos. From the programme: “A short story from a short person. I can’t understand what I’m doing in this group when I’m such a brilliant footballer, but life takes strange twists and I twisted my knee, which ruined my chances of captaining England back in ’69” (Dave Stewart); “Pigtailed and precocious, the envy of all the potential Shirley Temples of Abderdeen, I started to learn the flute and went to play in military bands, symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, etc….” (Annie Lennnox); “I was setting up my kit at 10 in the morning in a studio in London when in walked in Dave Stewart. Now, Dave and I had met in a hotel in Amsterdam when he was playing in Longdancer and I was with Colin Blunstone. We had hit it off really well together and as I remember I got very drunk.” (drummer Jim Toomey); “No great history – the only bands I ever played in were Peculiar Star (in Sunderland an experimental toy instrument idea…) and the Tourists.” (Peet Combes); “Q. Edward, do you really come from outer space? A. YES! I’m from the Orion!” (bassist Eddie Chin).
Roxy Music Newcastle City Hall 10th May 1979
Roxy Music took a break from recording and touring and went their separate ways in 1976 after the release of their fifth album “Siren”, with several of the band members going on to follow solo projects. However, in 1979 they decided to regroup with the core members Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, and Paul Thompson being augmented by Paul Carrack (from Ace) on keyboards, and Gary Tibbs (ex Vibrators and late of Adam and the Ants) on bass. Eddie Jobson was recording and touring with his own band UK at the time, and did not join the reformed Roxy. They released a new album “Manifesto” and went out on tour, calling at Newcastle City Hall on 10th and 11th May 1979. Dave Skinner played keyboards on the tour, rather than Paul Carrack who played on the album. I went to the first night at Newcastle. Setlist: Manifesto; Trash; Out of the Blue; Angel Eyes; A Song for Europe; Still Falls the Rain; Mother of Pearl; Ain’t That So; Stronger Through the Years; Ladytron; In Every Dream Home a Heartache; Love Is the Drug; Editions of You; Do the Strand; Re-Make/Re-Model. Virginia Plain was played some nights, but according to the setlist I found, it wasn’t played at the first Newcastle show, which will no doubt have been a disappointment for me. Support came from The Tourists who featured local lad Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. My memories of the 1979 show are scant. I recall it being a good gig, but not quite at the level of craziness of the 1974 and 1975 shows. I also remember being unfamiliar with the new material from “Manifesto” and missing some of the older songs. Roxy Music soon disbanded once more, and it was another 22 years before I saw them in concert again. I’ll complete my Roxy ramblings by writing about that gig tomorrow.