Kraftwerk Newcastle Mayfair 1976 and Newcastle City Hall 1981
I saw Kraftwerk twice. The first occasion was in 1975 when they were on tour in the UK in support of their Radio-Activity album. I’d heard Autobahn, which reached No 11 in the UK charts in 1975, but didn’t know anything else by the band. I found the gig quite strange. First it took place at Newcastle Mayfair on a Friday night. Now Friday night at the Mayfair in the mid 70s was a heavy metal stronghold, and host to gigs by the likes of Thin Lizzy, UFO, and Judas Priest. So Kraftwerk were a bit of an off the wall proposition for the venue, to say the least. Most of the heavy rock fans stayed away and the ballroom was quite empty for the visit by the German rockers who stood, statue-like at their (then) futurist computer terminals at the front of the stage, making strange robotic moves and playing their electronic rhythms. It was quite a bizarre affair, and most of the crowd were having a drink and ignoring the band. And the band themselves stood and sang without any emotion, all dressed in the same sick and dark clothing. Marie and I found it fascinating, and we didn’t realise at the time just how influential this band were going to be. The core line-up for the band that I saw on both occasions was Ralf Hütter on vocals, synthesizer, orchestron, synthanorma-sequenzer, and various strange electronics; Florian Schneider on vocals, vocoder, votrax, and synthesizer and Karl Bartos on electronic percussion. Setlist from 1975: Kling Klang; Tongebirge; Tanzmusik; Ruckzuck; Prolog Im Himmel / Kometenmelodie 1; Die Sonne, Der Monde, Die Sterne; Kometenmelodie 2; Mitternacht / Showroom Dummies; Autobahn. Authobahn was, of course, the only song which I recognised. So we left the gig intrigued, but by no means knocked out, by the band. Support for the 1975 Autobahn tour was folk singer AJ Webber, who is recorded as saying: “They weren’t the easiest people to talk to, probably due to the language barrier. But they were polite and reasonably welcoming. They drew a certain ‘following’! We warmed to each other as the tour went on.”
Roll forward six years to 1981, and Kraftwerk were back in the UK, touring in support of their Computer World album. The tour was entitled The Calculator tour. By now the band were hailed as great innovators and they were the new darlings of the rock scene. The City Hall concert drew a respectable crowd, but it wasn’t by any means a sell-out. This time the band brought all of the electronic technology from their studio and took it out on the road. The show also had a substantial visual element, using back-projection of slides and films, synchronised with the music, They had some hand-held miniature instruments, and replica mannequins of themselves. This was much more a show, which I enjoyed, although I must admit that I remained unfamiliar with much of their music, and hence found some of the concert quite heavy going. Setlist 1981: Computerwelt; Home Computer; Computer Love; The Model; Neonlicht; Radioaktivität; Die Stimme der Energie; Ohm Sweet Ohm; Autobahn; The Hall of Mirrors; Trans-American; Trans-Europe Express. I don’t recall as to whether there was any support for the 1981 concert. I haven’t seen Kraftwerk since those days, although I keep meaning to do so; its about time I caught them again.
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Kraftwerk Newcastle Mayfair 1976 and Newcastle City Hall 1981
Jethro Tull 40th Anniversary Tour Newcastle City Hall 2008
2008 was Jethro Tull’s 40th anniversary year, and they toured extensively to celebrate this momentous occasion. The tour featured special guests on some of the dates, with former Tull members Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Dave Pegg, and Barrie Barlow all putting in an appearance at various venues. Jeffrey Hammond attended one of the gigs but did not appear on stage with the band. A few non-Tull members also joined as guests at some of the gigs including Greg Lake, Seth Lakeman and Fish. There were no special guests at the Newcastle gig, the band being joined by Heather Findlay (vocals) and Brian Josh (guitars) from Mostly Autumn. Mostly Autumn started the show with four songs: Evergreen; Yellow Time; Caught in A Fold; and Hero’s Never Die. They were joined by Tull for two of their four songs. The Tull set was, as you would expect for a 40th Anniversary Tour, a selection of songs from throughout their career. Setlist: My Sunday Feeling, Living In The Past, So Much Trouble, Serenade To A Cuckoo, Nursie, A Song For Jeffrey, A New Day Yesterday (including Kelpie), Bourée. Interval. For A Thousand Mothers, We Used To Know/With You There To Help Me, Dharma For One (incl. drum solo and Count The Chickens), Heavy Horses, Farm On The Freeway, Thick As A Brick, Aqualung, Locomotive Breath. This was a great show, with heavy use of video images from the early days of the Jethro Tull. Ian’s voice was also pretty good, much better than some of the times I have seen him recently, where it has been obvious that he has had some difficulty in reaching some of the high notes. That concludes my Jethro Tull memories for now. I have seen the band twice since then, twice in 2010, and have also seen Ian Anderson perform Thick as a Brick recently. I’ve already posted on those gigs. I hope we get a chance to see Ian and Martin together again as Tull. I don’t know what has happened in recent times, but it has resulted in two versions of Jethro Tull treading the boards, in the form of “Ian Anderson plays Jethro Tull” and “Martin Barre’s New Day” (who I have yet to see in concert, something I must put right soon). It would be great to see them together again as Jethro Tull. That band is so important to me, and many others.
The Hollies Sunderland Empire 2003
The Hollies returned to Sunderland Empire in 2003. By now I was getting used to seeing Carl Wayne in the lead vocal spot. I went with David and we both enjoyed the gig. Drummer Bobby Elliott described Carl as “a fearless performer and powerhouse singer”. Sadly Carl played his last concert with the Hollies on 10 July 2004 in Norway. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to hospital for tests, where he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and he passed away a few weeks later, aged 61. The Hollies were once again left without a singer, and an uncertain future, but the band again decided to continue, this time with the introduction of a less known vocalist Peter Howarth. I’ll write tomorrow of my first concert experiences with that particular line-up of the Hollies. Setlist: Long Cool Woman; Here I Go Again; Jennifer Eccles; Yes I Will; Look Through Any Window; Sandy; Listen to Me; Butterfly; I’m Alive; I Can’t Let Go; Fire Brigade; We’re Through; On a Carousel; Blowin’ In the Wind. Interval. How Will I Survive; Sorry Suzanne; Just One Look; The Baby; Soldiers Song; Gasoline Alley Bred; Too Young to be Married; Bus Stop; Blackberry Way; Carrie Ann; The Air That I Breathe; I Can Hear The Grass Grow; Stop! Stop! Stop!; Tiger Feet; He Ain’t Heavy; It’s In Every One of Us.
Steve Howe in concert 1994 and 2010
Steve Howe is an excellent guitarist with his own, very individual style. He cites several guitarists as influences including Les Paul, Barney Kessel and Chet Atkins. When I first saw Steve in Yes in 1971 I was struck by the Gibson ES-175D that he was playing. About this guitar, Howe said: “No one was playing archtop, hollowbody guitars in a rock band. People laughed at me and thought I was really snooty. To me, it was an object of art, it wasn’t just a guitar”. I was blown away by his performance of “The Clap” that night, and have remained a fan ever since. The way that he blends jazz and classical influences with rock defines his uniques style. A few years later I was equally impressed by “Mood for a Day”. I spent ages trying to learn to play it, and never got past the first few minutes. I have seen Steve twice in solo concert, both times with my mate Will. The first time was a concert in a small room in South Shields Temple Park Leisure centre, with support from Isaac Gullory. The second was at the Sage more recently when he performed with the Steve Howe trio which features his son Dylan Howe on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond organ. The trio is very jazz oriented, but still perform versions of some Yes classics. For me a Steve Howe concert isn’t complete without “The Clap” or “Mood for a Day” (and ideally both!).
Heads, Hands and Feet; Patto Newcastle City Hall March 1972
I’d seen Head, Hands and Feet on the Old Grey Whistle Test, playing Warming Up The Band and was pretty impressed so I decided to go and see them at Newcastle City Hall. For this gig the seats were unreserved; you paid your 60p at the door and could sit whereever you wished. Support came from Patto, who I hadn’t heard of before going to the gig. Patto were formed out of the 60s band Timebox, who did a great version of The Four Seasons song Beggin’ which I can remember being a dancefloor favourite at our local Top Rank in the late 60s. Patto were just great, with Mike Patto on vocals, John Halsey on drums, Ollie Halsall on guitar, and Clive Griffiths on bass. Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall have both now sadly passed away. They were both incredible musicians, Patto with a raucous soulful voice and Ollie with a very fast, fluid and jazzy guitar style. Patto live were just great. Head, Hands and Feet also featured a top guitarist in Albert Lee, and Chas Hodges (later of Chas and Dave) on bass. The rest of the six piece were Tony Colton on lead vocals, Ray Smith on rhythm guitar, Pete Gavin on drums, and Mike O’Neill on keyboards. Head, Hands and Feet were quite American (although they were from the UK) and country rock in style. I sat totally in awe of Albert Lee, particularly when they played Country Boy, which featured much country twang soloing from Albert. I remember this as a gig with two great bands, neither of whom went on to achieve the success that they should have. And come to think of it I don’t have lps by either of these bands, which is something that I really need to correct. I’m off to ebay to have a look for a Patto or a Head, Hands and Feet lp!
Horslips Newcastle Polytechnic 1978
This gig was at the time of Horslips The Man who built America lp. I think I may have seen the band in the early 70s at a festival or two (Buxton I think) but this was the first time I went to see Horslips in their own headlining concert. I’d heard their seminal lp The Tain, and was blown away by it. If you haven’t heard of Horslips these guys were poineers of Irish celtic rock, blending traditional Irish music with rock. They have been cited as influences on many bands which were to follow including U2, and others. From a scholarly work by John Murphy: “They inspired the likes of U2 and the Irish punk and new-wave rock musicians who followed them, and without the pioneering efforts of Horslips, Irish music and culture today may never have reached its current success, three decades later.” (Estudios Irlandeses, Number 3, 2008, pp. 132-142). Horslips in concert were everything I expected and better; great Irish rhythms, catchy pop/rock songs. This was a major tour for the band, possibly the biggest they ever did in the UK, taking in large concert halls such as Glasgow Apollo and Hammersmith Odeon, and an appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test. The programme declares that it was the “American Tour”, but this was simply a play on words taken from the title of their album of the time. cI’ve always fancied seeing the band again, but have never had the chance to do so. I know that they recently reformed, so perhaps I’ll get the chance to go to another Horslips concert one day.
Humble Pie Newcastle Odeon November 1974
The last time that John and I saw Humble Pie was at a gig at Newcastle Odeon in late 1974. I recall my friend Norm being there at the gig as well (will check with him; I did so and yes Norm was with me; he has a strong memory of sitting up in the balcony watching the band). On this occasion the band the 7.30 start time suggests that the band played one show, rather than customary two shows that bands often played when they called at the Odeon. I recall this as a good gig, with Marriott on his usual top form. For me Steve Marriott really came into his own at big, open air gigs. He seemed to draw power in his voice and his performance from a larger crowds. Support for this gig was McGuinness Flint. This was a later version of the band, with a line-up featuring Hughie Flint, Tom McGuinness, Lou Stonebridge and Dixie Dean. I remember them playing When I’m Dead and Gone, The programme says of Humblie Pie: “perhaps one of our hottest bans in the 70s, are also A&M’s most coloirful and illustrious soul childrenof the explosive 60s English rock n roll boom.” Sadly the band was to split up the following year. Humble Pie played a lot of gigs during their brief existence. Over 400 are documented in Jerry Shirley’s book from the August 69 debut at Ronnie Scotts to a show in Houston in March 1975.He believes this is about 70% of the total. Steve Marriott went on to play in the reformed Small Faces, which I saw a couple of times at Newcastle City Hall in the late 70s. I also saw Steve playing at a small venue in Sunderland shortly before he tragically died in a fire, which was on April 20th 1991. A bit like Paul Kossoff, Phil Lyonott and I am sure a number of others, Steve Marriott represents everything which is good and bad about rock and roll, tremendous talent, a huge ego, but the inability to deal with the fame and fortune rollercoster ride full of tremendous highs and depressing lows. Shame. Setlist for the gig at the Odeon was probably something like: Thunderbox; Four Day Creep; Sweet Peace and Time; The Fixer; 30 Days in the Hole; Let Me Be Your Love maker; C’Mon Everybody; I Don’t Need No Doctor. Thanks again to John for all his help with memories of Humble Pie and in writing the last few days’ posts.