Posts Tagged ‘NWOBHM’

Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1980

Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1980
readingpaper80DJs: 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
readingprog80Sunday 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.

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 6th Feb 1980

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 6th Feb 1980
Support from Girlshool
heeptix80It must have been pretty confusing being a member of Uriah Heep in the late 70s and early 80s. There were so many comings and goings. Let me recap on the Heep saga that I have been telling for the past few days. John Lawton was now an ex-Heepster having been ousted by Heep main man Ken Hensley. Enter a new young guy John Sloman fresh to Heeping, and last seen (by me anyway) singing about the “Bells of Berlin” in the excellent rock band Lone Star. A month or so later long-time drummer Lee Kerslake jumped off the Heep ship. Enter Chris Slade from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The new line-up recorded the “Conquest” lp, which was released in February 1980 and went out on their 10th Anniversary Tour, with NWOBHM rockers Girlschool as support. I saw the band at their concert at Newcastle City Hall, and was pretty impressed by the new Heep, who excelled themselves as usual, playing a set of crowd-pleasing Heep classics. Sloman has a pretty impressive vocal range and a great rock voice.
However, Ken Hensley was less than happy with this new Heep line-up, and felt that they were moving too far along a straightforward rock track: “The band had chosen John and I had opposed that decision. He was a good musician and he looked great but I thought he had little going for him vocally. The way that he interpreted songs was totally different to the way I had written them….we weren’t re-establishing our musical direction..” (from bio on official Uriah Heep site)
heepprog80Ken Hensley decided to leave the band on June 8th, 1980 after the previous night’s gig in Cascais, Portugal (which marked the end of a huge chapter in the band’s history).T his was probably as big a blow to the future of Uriah Heep as the departure of David Byron had been 4 years or so earlier. Hensley was the main songwriter in the band, and along with Mick Box, one of only two remaining original members. Nonetheless, this was Heep, and change was always happening, so onward they went. Gregg Dechert, a Canadian who had worked with John Sloman, was brought in on keyboards and they immediately went on a UK tour. The tour called at Sunderland Mayfair on 12 Nov 1980, where they were supported by NWOBHM bands Spider and Samson. To be honest I have scant memories of that gig, but think I was present. After finishing the tour John Sloman decided that he had enough of being a Heepster and left the band. At this point Mick Box asked David Byron to rejoin, but David turned the offer down. Trevor Bolder then also decided to leave and joined Wishbone Ash (are you following this ? 🙂 ). The band essentially disintegrated and Uriah Heep were down to one member, Mick Box.
More of the Heep saga tomorrow!
Typical Heep set list for 1980: Stealin’; Look at Yourself; Free ‘n’ Easy; No Return; The Wizard; July Morning; Free Me; It Ain’t Easy; Lady In Black; Won’t Have To Wait Too Long; Carry On; Feelings; Sweet Lorraine; Easy Livin’; Do You Feel Alright; Gypsy; Suicidal Man

Saxon Newcastle City Hall 1980, 1981 and 1982

Saxon Newcastle City Hall 1980, 1981 and 1982
saxontixsI saw Saxon on three more occasions at Newcastle City Hall. The first was on 1th December 1980 on the “Strong Arm of the Law” tour. From the programme: “Hi there , this is Biff writing a few lines to tell you what’s happened since we last saw you. As you may know “Wheels of Steel” went silver and I was very proud to receive my silver disc. We are now becoming successful in other countries round the world and we owe all this to you, our British fans. I hope you like the new album and tour..Have a listen to “Heavy Metal Thunder” – it’s dedicated to YOU!”. I’ve just done as Biff suggested and watched a clip of Saxon playing “Heavy Metal Thunder” live at the time. Biff plays the rock star part to a T, long locks flailing about, and great silver spandex trousers. A solid slab of heavy metal rock. “Strong Arm of The Law” was Saxon’s third studio and was released only four months after “Wheels of Steel” charted at No. 11; these guys were on a roll. The song I remember most from the new album, and which I enjoyed seeing them play live was “Dallas 1 PM”, which was written about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Support on the tour was Limelight, a rock band from Mansfield. Limelight had a strong following in the North East clubs at the time. saxonprogs82The next time I saw Saxon was on 21st October 1981. This was the “Denim and Leather tour”. Denim and Leather was their fourth studio album, released in 1981 and was the last album with the classic line, as drummer Pete Gill left the band due to a hand injury. It is also seen as the last of their three classic albums (along with Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law). Following its release Saxon stopped making albums for over a year, and concentrated on looking for success in the USA. Support came from American heavy rock band Riot. From the programme” “Denim and Leather. The two words were made from each. Like bread and butter. Salt and pepper. Gin and topic. Simmons and Stanley. They fit together as snug and neat as an expertly carpentered mortice and tenon joint. They roll over the tongue with ease, like the phrase “And incidentally music lovers” from Fluff Freeman’s lips. And they’re destined to become as much a part of heavy metal’s frenzied folklore as the expressions “mayhem merchant”, “titanic powerchord” and “flashbomb fever”. [Yeah, terms I use every day 🙂 ]. Denim and leather are old friends. And the older, more frayed, scraped, battered and tattered the better. Combined, the two materials make up a uniform to be reckoned with, a Kerrang! kostume more meaningful then the DM’s and Sta-Prest of the cropped-tops; more relevant that the tablecloths and Jolly Rogers….of the ephemeral futurists. Look at the Hammersmith hordes. The multitudinous Mancunians. Cower before the Bristil Battalion. The Glasgow garrison. There’s an army out there and the battledress is the same. Leather jacket, studded, patched with motorcycle brand names, once dark and supple, now cracked and turning brown. Or denim jacket, embroidered, faded, grubby, stiff and stained with the sweat of 100 hothouse holocausts. And the jeans, greasy with engine oil, wearing through all the knees, ill-fitting and overlong…..Heavy Metal, after all, is a mass experience, an enjoyment to be shared, not selfishly guarded, not confined to bleak bedsit seclusion…Some people will never understand but we relish being..An army of thousands surrounded by lights. And we have the power to proclaim that…Nobody stands in our way!” Apologies for reproducing so much from the programme here, but I feel that it sums up the mood of the time, and is very much “of the period”. saxonprog81Saxon were back at the City Hall on 17th September 1982. There was no new studio album to promote, but they had just released a live album “The Eagle has Landed” which was also the title of the tour. The cover of the tour programme shows Biff standing victorious on the Donington stage, facing a massive crowd of denim and leather, the famous tyre in the background. Support for the 1982 tour were Cheetah, a rock band fronted by two girl vocalists. The live albums contains the following tracks, which give a feel for Saxon concert sets at the time: Motorcycle Man; 747 (Strangers in the Night); Princess of the Night; Strong Arm of the Law; Heavy Metal Thunder; 20,000 Ft.; Wheels of Steel; Never Surrender; Fire in the Sky; Machine Gun; And the Bands Played On; See the Light Shining; Frozen Rainbow; Midnight Rider; Dallas 1PM; Hungry Years.
Part of the attraction of Saxon was the working class, Northern, nature and work ethic of these guys. They were living the dream, living their life through rock, and using as an escape from the pits and the factories which may otherwise have been their future. This was, I am sure, part of the reason they were so successful in the North East. The audience identified with them, it was as if they were looking at themselves on stage, and living out their fantasies and dreams through Biff and the guys.
I saw Saxon once or twice more at Monsters of Rock festival, but haven’t seem them again since those days. They continue to gig and have recently returned to the public eye, in part due to a TV programme in which Harvey Goldsmith helped them relaunch their career.
Another one for my ever-growing list of bands to see again, at least once more.
PS Just noticed that I was pretty close down front for all these gigs. That explains why my hearing is starting to fail these days….Has anyone ever taken a case against a group of bands for hearing loss ? 🙂
PPS Another memory entered my head today. I recall seeing Saxon play at West Cornforth (Doggy) club one night, it must have been in 1979. I think they were still billed as Son of a Bitch, but had changed their name to Saxon by the time they played the gig. They were awesome (and LOUD) in a small workingmens’ club. I still don’t know why they call West Cornforth “Doggy” 🙂

Saxon “Wheels of Steel” Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1980

Saxon “Wheels of Steel” Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1980
saxon80tixFrom the 1980 tour programme:
“Saxon. The name immediately conjures up visions of swashbuckling macho men who rape and pillage at every opportunity. Well, Saxon the band may not rape, but if anybody’s ever been to one of their concerts then they will know that the pillage bit is not that far from the truth. They’re the archetypal getcha rocks off head down no nonsense (mindless?) boogie band, hitting harder than a punch in the gut with a slab of concrete.”
Get the idea? Very much of its time and some of the language certainly wouldn’t seem acceptable these days. But this was the era of the dawn of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) and Saxon came along riding high from deepest Yorkshire (Barnsley to be precise) with their brand of heavy rock.
I first saw Saxon when they were called Son of a Bitch and played regularly in a “before the match” spot at the Boliermakers club. It was obvious then that these guys were a pretty tight rock band and they built up their own following in the North East clubs. Some of my mates were pretty heavily into them at the time. The next thing we knew; they had rebranded themselves as Saxon and were appearing as support for major bands, such as Motorhead. saxonprog80Then they hit the big time, and were appearing on Top of the Pops playing “Wheels of Steel”. This all happened quite quickly. I remember going along to the City Hall gig, which was part of their first major tour, and wondering how many people would be there. It was pretty full, as a I recall, and Saxon delivered a solid set of heavy metal rock’n’roll. There are some damn fine rock tunes on the “Wheels of Steel” album including, as well as the title track, “747 (Strangers in the Night)”, which was a favourite of mine at the time, and “Suzie Hold On”. “Wheels of Steel” was Saxon’s second album and is recognised as their best work. It received positive reviews at the time; Eduardo Rivadavia said: “the album’s songs positively gleam with a bright, metallic sheen similar to that exhibited by the chrome eagle hoisting a motorcycle wheel on its iconic cover.” Support for the City Hall show was heavy rock band Lautrec.
Saxon were, at the time: Biff Byford (vocals, big hair, leather jacket and lycra trousers); Graham Oliver (guitar); Paul Quinn (guitar); Steve Dawson (bass); and Pete Gill (drums). I remember one of the guitarists had his guitar attached to his belt buckle and would spin it around and around, which looked pretty impressive. Biff was the main man, however, and had good rapport with the North East crowds who warmed to his Yorkshire humour.
Setlist: Motorcycle Man; Still Fit to Boogie; Freeway Mad; Backs to the Wall; 747 (Strangers in the Night); Rainbow Theme; Frozen Rainbow; Wheels of Steel; See the Light Shining; Judgement Day; Bap Shoo Ap; Street Fighting Gang; Stallions of the Highway; Suzie Hold On; Stand Up and Be Counted; Machine Gun.
“When my foots on the throttle there’s no looking back, I leave the motor tickin’ over when she’s back on the track, I’ve got a 68 Chevy with pipes on the side, You know she’s my idea of beauty, that’s what I drive. She’s got wheels, wheels of steel!…(Wheels of Steel, Saxon, 1980)

Krokus Newcastle City Hall 1980 and 1981

Krokus Newcastle City Hall 1980 and 1981
krokusprog I saw Krokus al least three times in the early 80s; twice at Newcastle City Hall, and at the Reading festival in 1980. There many be other times that I don’t recall. Krokus were a hard rock/heavy metal band who hailed from Switzerland, and got caught up in the excitement around the resurgence of heavy rock and metal known as the NWOBHM. Their line-up (from the 1981 programme) was Marc Storace on vocals, Fernando Von Arb on lead guitar, Mandy Meyer on second guitar, Chris Von Rohr on bass, and Freddy Steady (great name :)) on drums. Support for the 1981 tour was NWOBHM band More, who were at the time fronted by vocalist Paul Mario Day. Paul had sung in an early incarnation of Iron Maiden, although he was soon to leave More, who then went through several line-up changes.krokux81 The 1980 Krokus tour was in support of their Metal Rendez Vous album, while the 1981 tour came at the time of their Hardware album. Typical set list from the day: Come On; No Way; Burning Bones; Rock City; Winning Man; Bedside Radio; Easy Rocker; Heatstrokes; Bye Bye Baby; Mad Racket. Encore: Mr. 69.
krokus80 The programme tells me:” Krokus – Harder than the Swiss Franc! More than 100,000 copies of Metal Rendezvous were sold as a result of the US tour- How many bands can say that on their first time out?” I recall that Krokus were a pretty loud and solid rock band, but I can’t say that I could hum any of their songs. I also remember that they wore lots of leather gear, but then which band didn’t at the time.
Well thats me finished with the letter K. Tomorrow I’ll make a start on covering bands and artists beginning with the letter L. I guess I’m around the half way mark of my task.

Girlschool Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982

Girlschool Newcastle City Hall 1981 & 1982
girlschool1981 I saw Girlschool at Newcastlte City Hall again in 1981 and 1982. 1982 was a busy year for the band. The band teamed up with Motorhead on the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” EP. The EP contained a cover of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ song “Please Don’t Touch” and two tracks where the bands covered each other, with Motörhead performing Girlschool’s “Emergency”, and Girlschool playing Motörhead’s “Bomber”. The two bands performed together on Top of the Pop as “Headgirl” playing “Please Don’t Touch”. I can remember the performance to this day; it was great pun, and so powerful. If you haven’t seen it go to Youtube, I’ve just played it and it still blows away the cobwebs today. The record reached No.5 in the UK Single Chart during February 1981; the biggest hit for both bands at the time. girlschoolprog81 It was with this performance in my mind that I went along to see Girslschool at the City Hall in April 1981. A setlist from a BBC in Concert show of that year shows the band as playing the following songs: Demolition Boys; Tush (great cover of the ZZ Top song); Midnight Ride; Breakdown; Take it all the Way; The Hunter (not the Free song; pretty punky and a live favourite at the time); Nothing to Lose; Race with the Devil (yes the Gun song; an excellent cover); Emergency. Girlschool live were great, and very much of that time, a blend of punk, NWOBHM, and girl power attitude. The Newcastle metal hords loved them and always gave them a great reception. A girlschool gig consisted of lots of guy in denim jackets covered in the customary questions shaking their heads off and going crazy. girlschool1982 The album Hit and Run was released in 1981, along with the title track being released as a single. Both were big successes with the album reaching No.5 and the single No.33 in the charts. I think support for the 1981 gig was AIIZ. The band also headlined at Reading in 1981. This was the first year I missed Reading for almost 10 years of attending the festival. I went along to the Newcastle Rock on the Tyne festival. I’ve never been to the Reading festival again, which I regret. Girlschool’s third album Screaming Blue Murder was released in 1982. It didn’t do so well as its predescor, and the line-up of the band started to change at this point. The 1982 Newcastle gig was, I think, the last time I saw the band. Time to put that right.

Girlschool Newcastle City Hall 1980

Girlschool Newcastle City Hall 1980
girlschool1980 Girlschool came together in 1978, evolving out of a band called painted lady, and drawing from punk, classic rock, and NWOBHM. Girlschool’s original line-up was Kim McAuliffe, Enid Williams, Kelly Johnson, and Denise Dufort, and they released their first single Take it all away in late 1978. Lemmy of Motorhead took an interest in the band and in 1979 I saw them as support act on the Overkill tour. A year later they were headlining their own tour and I went to see them at Newcastle City Hall. Girlschool live were a raw hard rock band with the energy of punk and some of the speed and volume of Motorhead. girlschoolprog80 I saw them quite a few times in the late 70s and early 80s; supporting Motorhead, and possibly Uriah Heep, then headlining at the Mayfair and three gigs at the City Hall. Girlschool released their debut album, Demolition, in 1980. The album also produced the singles Emergency, Nothing to Lose and a great version of the Gun song Race with the Devil. I think support act for this gig might have been Angel Witch, who were a great NWOBHM band fronted by a guy with long blonde hair who looked a little like Francis Rossi. They had a great song Angel Witch, and are still gigging today, as are Girlshool. The current Girlschool line-up features Kim, Enid and Denise from the original band. Kelly sadly died from cancer a few years ago. Another band who I should make the effort to see again!