Posts Tagged ‘punk’

Elvis Costello Sunderland Empire 3rd of March 2020

Wind back 40 odd years. Marie and I are in the upstairs bar in Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union. With us is Gary Chaplin of Penetration, Captain Sensible of the Damned and a young guy named Elvis Costello The occasion is, I think (my memory is hazy these days), the first Stiff Tour.ELVIS TIX The Captain is holding court, telling tales of the Damned on the road and how his favourite band is ABBA. He demolishes a packet of crisps in one go including the plastic pack itself! Elvis is quiet, drinking his pint. I’m not sure why the Captain was there, as he wasn’t appearing that night; I guess he must just have come along for the ride. This was the second time I had seen Elvis Costello live and I must admit I was very impressed, particularly by his second single “Alison”. I had seen him a few weeks earlier at Middlesbrough Town Hall, again on the Stiff tour. I think it must have been around November 5th and Guy Fawkes night, as I recall we were waiting outside the venue and some young kids had their “guy” against the wall and asked Elvis “Penny for the Guy?” as he passed them on his way into the Town Hall. I think he threw them a few coppers. “That Elvis Costello” I told my mates. At the time I wondered how a young guy dared call himself “Elvis”. I was soon to find out. He was soon to be in the charts with “Watching the Detectives”. A few years later, in 1980, I saw him in my home town of Sunderland, at the Mayfair. I’ve seen him a few times before and after that over the years, but I must admit I still prefer those early, rocking, concert performances by an angry young Elvis who spat out the lyrics.
Wind forward 40 years and Elvis is back in Sunderland, this time at the Empire Theatre; the venue where I saw my very first concert and where I have enjoyed many gigs over the years including those by Rory Gallagher in Taste, the Nice, T Rex, Slade, Chuck Berry, Kate Bush and many others. The support act was Ian Prowse and pretty good he was too, warming up the crowd well before our hero took to the stage.ELVIS 2
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Which Elvis would we get? The angry rocker, the middle-of-the-road crooner, or perhaps a mix? Well what we did get was a show that surpassed anything I could have expected. Elvis was backed by a great band; the Imposters, who included some old faces (Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas from the Attractions) and two excellent girl singers. For the next two hours plus we get a full selection of our favourites from throughout his career: some I am hearing for the first time but the majority I know very well. Elvis wears a silver lame jacket and is very much the rock star. The sound is loud, a little murky at first, but soon becomes clear. Elvis stands at the front, pointing his Fender Jaguar guitar at us and he spits out the lyrics as he always used to. He reminds us of that gig in Sunderland forty years ago, referring to the venue as Tiffany’s, rather than the Mayfair (but he wasn’t wrong, Tiffany’s was the sister club, next door to the Mayfair and a little more middle-of-the-road). Funnily enough I met with my friend Marianne a couple of weeks ago and she served behind the bar in Tiffany’s at the time and told me that Elvis was drinking in the club after the gig. He can’t resist dropping some names of his collaborators such as Bert Bacharach and Carole King (but who can blame him). The hits keep flowing: “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”, “Watching the Detectives”, “A Good Year for the Roses” which has grown on me over the years, “I Can’t Stand up for Falling down”; then we are back to the very start and “Alison” and he finishes with “Pump It up”. He returns (this time the lame jacket is gold and very fetching) ELVIS 1 and sings a beautiful version of “Shipbuilding”, followed by “Oliver’s Army” with everyone standing up and singing along and finishing with an excellent version of “(What’s so Funny about) Please, Love and Understanding”. Excellent. A marathon of professionalism and much, much better than I had expected. A great night. I also ran into some old friends Ian, Pete, Mike, Maureen and John. Happy days can be here again. 🙂

Setlist: Strict Time; Clubland; Green Shirt; Accidents Will Happen; Watch Your Step; Tokyo Storm Warning; Little Triggers; (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea; Unwanted Number; Watching the Detectives; Man Out of Time; A Good Year for the Roses; A Face in the Crowd; I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down; Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter; High Fidelity; From a Whisper to a Scream; Alison; Everyday I Write the Book; Pump It Up. Encore: Shipbuilding; Oliver’s Army; (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015

The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015
tubesRecently I’ve become very bad at keeping my blog up to date. I lost the momentum that I had when I was writing an entry a day. So apologies for the lateness of this entry.
Norm, Mick and I took a trip to Leeds a couple of weeks ago, our purpose being to reconnect with those crazy Tubes guys. For me, it had been many years since I had sampled the mad delights of our heroes; the last time I saw the Tubes was at Newcastle City Hall in the early 1980s. My two companions went to a Tubes gig 10 or so years ago, when they played Newcastle Academy.
The Tubes are a strange mix of classic rock, great musicianship, punk, vaudeville, shock-rock, camp and musical theatre. Their shows worked best as big productions, and I still have great memories of their first UK tour back in 1977, and their OTT Knebworth appearance a year or so later. The venue for this show was the excellent Brudenell Social Club. I wondered how their show would translate to a smaller stage and an intimate club setting.
We arrived in Brudenell in plenty of time to sample a local hostelry just along the road from the Social Club. As we entered the bar, who should we spot but Tubes drummer Prairie Prince. Norm wandered over for a chat, and Prince kindly signed his ticket from the City Hall 1977 concert. Mick and I joined them. Mick, being a drummer himself, holds Prairie Prince in the highest regard, declaring him his favourite drummer.
tubesToday’s Tubes feature four members from the original band: Prince on drums, our hero and manic front man Fee Waybill on vocals, the excellent Roger Steen on guitar, and Rick Anderson on bass. The Brudenell was packed full of fans from all over the North; Norm ran into some mates from work.
The show started with a short instrumental piece. Soon our hero Fee made his usual dramatic entrance in a big raincoat and hat. I wasn’t sure if he was Frank Sinatra or a Chicago gangster. Actually, no he was Gene Pitney, and soon gave us an excellent rendition of “Town without Pity”. The set was classic Tubes, drawn from throughout their early albums. The show was as theatrical as ever. Of course they didn’t have the stage sets like back in the day, but Fee made up for it in terms of costume changes, facial expression and attitude. He soon became a convict in full striped uniform, and at one point sang through the bars of a small prison cell box which covered his head. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tubes show without Fee in full outrageous bondage gear for “Mondo Bondage”. Not for the squeamish or the easily shocked. The show came to it’s crazy full-on mad climax with Fay being reborn as Quay Lewd and we all screamed along to “White Punks on Dope”. Classic stuff. We stayed back and got the band’s autographs. Norm took some pics, I will add one later…travelling at the moment. Happy days here again.
Setlist:Getoverture; This Town; Town Without Pity; Power Tools; Rat Race; Crime Medley; Mr. Hate; Amnesia; No Way Out; Life Is Pain; Mondo Bondage; Up From the Deep; What Do You Want From Life; Sushi Girl; Don’t Want to Wait Anymore; Drum Solo (Prairie Prince); Boy Crazy; White Punks On Dope
Encore: She’s A Beauty; I Saw Her Standing There; Talk to Ya Later; Third Stone From The Sun

Patti Smith Group play Horses Manchester Apollo 8th June 2015

Patti Smith & Band play Horses Manchester Apollo 8th June 2015
PattiSmithHorsesI hate the M62. There are always roadworks, traffic jams or accidents. Well this day was no different. Laura and I left home at 3.30pm; plenty of time (I thought) to drive the 130 miles or so to Manchester to see Patti Smith later that evening. I should have known better. The overhead motorway signs and the radio traffic alerts soon revealed what was in store for us. There had been an accident on the M62; and the westbound carriageway was closed between junctions 24 and 21. I checked, yup, just as I had feared; this would affect us. I started to plan alternative routes; but the traffic alerts warned me that they were all snarled up too. So off down the M62 it was. As we reached junction 24 we joined the queue; which filled every lane. It was around 5.30pm. By 7pm we had reached the junction and we were diverted off the motorway, still nose to tail in a queue of cars which was hardly moving. I decided to leave the queue and try to make my own way to Manchester. We headed into the centre of Huddersfield, then followed signs to Oldham and over Saddleworth moor into Manchester. We arrived in the city around 8pm, just as Patti was due on stage. By 8.10pm we were parked up and in the Apollo. As we took our seats Patti and the band walked onto the stage. “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine ….” “G L O R I A” Woh we were off ….pattiIn an instant the stress of the journey disappeared. The Patti Smith Group was on stage and rocking. I was transported back to the ’70s; and the days when I first heard “Horses”. “Free Money” and “Gloria” were always my favourites; but last Monday every track sounded classic. Patti was on fire, and had some great cheeky Patti banter with the crowd. She recalled playing Manchester in 1978 (I saw you at Reading and Newcastle City Hall that tour Patti), walking into a guitar shop (“it looked like the one Bob Dylan walked into in Don’t Look Now” said Patti) and buying a Rickenbacker (which she told us she still has).
Patti took a break after “Horses” while the band played a Velvet Underground medley (“the greatest band from New York City”). She returned to sing the end of “White Light, White Heat” and then “Dancing Barefoot”. A guy shouted for “Piss Factory”: “I can’t do that now ….OK I’ll try a little”. The anthemic “Because the Night” had the entire hall singing. “People have the Power” closed the show, as it always seems to now; can’t say that it is my favourite Patti song, but it is growing on me.
For the encore we were back to the ’70s again for a crazy, wailing, totally manic, possessed version of the Who’s “My Generation” which ended with Patti trashing her Fender Strat; breaking each string one by one. As she snapped the last string; which was the thick brass sixth string, she flung the guitar to the floor. Patti and the band left the stage to the sound of the feedback ringing out through the hall. Stunning. Hail the new wave.
Setlist: Gloria; Redondo Beach; Birdland; Free Money; Kimberly; Break It Up; Land (including reprise of Gloria); Elegie; Privilege (Set Me Free); Velvet Underground medley (Rock n Roll – I’m Waiting For The Man – White Light, White Heat); Patti returns towards the end of the medley; Dancing Barefoot; Piss Factory; Because the Night; People Have the Power
Encore: My Generation

Nick Cave Sage Gateshead 29th April 2015

Nick Cave Sage Gateshead 29th April 2015
nickcaveNick Cave is a dark moody man. His performances are unique experiences in which devotees lose themselves in an intense communion with the man himself. Part preacher, part demon, part artist; part cowboy; part balladeer; the rich diversity of a Cave performance can only be understood by those who have experienced it. Laura is a fan, and I am becoming one. There is so much to take in, so difficult to categorise. The solution is to give up trying to figure out whether the music is rock, country, soul, punk or pop. Does it matter? The influences are many; I can see and hear Elvis, Iggy, Johnny Cash, Screaming Lord Sutch, P J Proby, the Pistols, Tom Waits. He commands the stage, beckoning audience members to come close, touch him. He sings directly to them, so close to some that his face is almost touching theirs. Captivating, spell-binding, crazy, frightening, the guy has no fear, there are few boundaries. Another astounding performance complete with a series of extended encores.
Setlist: Water’s Edge; The Weeping Song; Red Right Hand; Brompton Oratory; Higgs Boson Blues; Mermaids; The Ship Song; Babe, You Turn Me On; From Her to Eternity; I Let Love In; Love Letter; Into My Arms; Up Jumped the Devil; Black Hair; The Mercy Seat; Jubilee Street
Encore 1: We No Who U R; Wide Lovely Eyes; Breathless; God is in the House; And No More Shall We Part; Jack the Ripper; the Lyre of Orpheus
Encore 2: Push the Sky Away.

Pink Fairies The Cluny Newcastle 26th April 2015

Pink Fairies The Cluny Newcastle 26th April 2015
pinkfairiesbadgeThe Pink Fairies were the ultimate late ’60s and early ’70s anarcho, underground, left-wing hippy revolutionaries. Alongside the Edgar Broughton Band and Hawkwind they forged an uncompromising anti-establishment path and made some beautiful noisy rock’n’roll which paved the way for punk, new wave and (maybe) grunge. I was a big fan in the ’70s and was lucky enough to see them live on a number of occasions. My favourite songs were “When’s the Fun Begin?” and their version of “Walk Don’t Run” which twisted the surf guitar of the Ventures through 180 degrees to produce a freak-out psych classic. Well the Pink Fairies are back. Or at least some of them are. The 2015 line-up consists of original Fairies Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass) along with Andy Colquhoun (who fronted an ’80s incarnation of the band) on guitar, Jacki Windmill on wild red hair and crazy vocals and second drummer George Butler. There may be no Twink, no Paul Rudolph, no Larry Wallis; but the new Fairies maintain the spirit of the original band and, as I witnessed last week, remain true to the loud noisy musical ethos, complete with extended psych freak-out guitar solos courtesy of Andy and loud drums courtesy of Russell and George.
So 100 or so old-timers and a few modern hippy hipsters congregated in the Cluny on a Sunday to see what joyful noise the Pink Fairies 2015 could produce, and whether they could still corrupt our youth and try to overthrow our government. Laura accompanied me to this fun event. We were not disappointed. This wasn’t musical perfection by any means (and it wouldn’t be the Fairies if it was) but it was great raw, loud, rock’n’roll with rambling psych guitar straight from early ’70s Ladbroke Grove courtesy of the West Coast of the USA. I recognised most of the songs ;although I wasn’t sure what the opener was. The second song was “Do It” which was the B side of their (non) hit single “The Snake. This was followed by “War Girl” with manic vocals by Jacki. Then Russell took the mike and came forward to the front of the stage while the rambling discords of “When’s the Fun Begin” built to a crescendo. Wonderful. The Fairies then took us to the Larry Wallis era for the punky “Police Car”, followed by “Waiting for the Ice Cream to Melt”. Then it was right back to the start and the Velvet’s “Waiting for the Man”; a song the Fairies have been covering since their early days, followed by another old Fairies favourite; their cover of the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” which was a pretty extreme discordant cacophony; by now Laura was confused. Then followed a couple of new songs; “Naked Radio” and “Skeleton Army”. The last number was Pink Fairies classic “Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out”; Duncan told us the story of the drug bust in Ladbroke Grove which led to the song. “Last Freakout” descended into a lengthy jam, as it always used to. And then they were gone. We lingered a little hoping for an encore (I wanted to see them play “Walk Don’t Run”) but left after it began to look like they weren’t coming back. The ’70s underground lives on. Peace man.

Futurama 2 Festival Queens Hall Leeds 14th September 1980

Futurama 2 Festival Queens Hall Leeds 14th September 1980
futuramatixThis was the second Futurama festival and it took place at Queens Hall, which was in the centre of Leeds. The Saturday line-up featured U2 (low down on the bill), Echo & The Bunnymen, Soft Cell and Siouxsie & The Banshees (who headlined). I attended the Sunday with my mate Dave and it featured The Psychedelic Furs, Gary Glitter, The Durutti Colum, Classix Nouveaux, Young Marble Giants, Hazel O’Connor, The Soft Boys, Flowers, Naked Lunch, Blurt, Artery, Notsensibles, Vice Versa, Desperate Bicycles, Frantic Elevators, Athletico Spizz 80, Brian Brain, Tribesmen, Boots for Dancing and Household Name. We arrived during the afternoon and missed some of the bands. Queens Hall was a cavernous building, which was originally a tram and bus depot. It was used as a concert venue during the 1980s. It has since been demolished and is now a car park.
When we arrived it looked like a war zone. Punk fans from all over the north, and further afield, had decamped there for the weekend, and had been in the venue all night, sleeping on the floors; there was trash everywhere. We saw faces that we recognised from Middlesbrough Rock Garden, which had closed for the weekend as everyone was going to the festival. We chatted to a few people; everyone was talking about how great Siouxsie (who had headlined the Saturday night) had been. There were stalls around the place and pop-up art performances in dark corners of the hall. I recall one performance which involved a guy having a crap in a bucket; we moved on. The bands were playing on a stage at the end of the massive hall. futuramaflyer
This was an opportunity to see bands who went on to stardom: The Frantic Elevators became Simply Red, and Vice Versa became ABC. There was a great mix of bands at the event and the atmosphere was wonderful, really friendly. Although on the surface this festival appeared messy and shambolic, it is actually one of the best I have every attended for the musical range and the feeling in the crowd. Highlights of the day were Hazel O-Connor, who was in the charts with “Eighth Day” and became the robot from “Breaking Glass”, Durutti Column featuring Vini Reilly’s meadering guitar, and the 4″ by 2″s who were a proto-Oi! band featuring Jimmy Lydon (John Lydon’s brother) and also at one point featured Youth of Killing Joke. But the highlight was an incredible performance by Notsensibles, a punk band from Burnley who had some success with their single “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher”. Their set included a lot of tongue-in-cheek songs, all performed in their strong Northern accent. They’d brought a large contingent of fans, who all sang along with every daft song. Notsensibles motto was “all we want to do is make silly records and play silly gigs”. There is a video on YouTube of them performing “Death To Disco” at the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIGrhea75qU
The festival ran very late into the night (inevitable given the incredible number of bands who were performing) and we left around midnight during Psychedelic Furs set to drive back up North and home, thus missing the headliner who was (also incredibly) the now shamed star Gary Glitter. The Futurama festival had a history of choosing off-the-wall headliners; on another occasion the closing acts was a reformed Bay City Rollers (now that must have been something to experience). A crazy, mad, fun event with some great bands. Happy happy days 🙂

The UK Subs Middlesbrough Rock Garden 20th October 1979

The UK Subs Middlesbrough Rock Garden 20th October 1979
image“The U The U The UK Subs! The U The U The UK Subs!” The chant got louder and louder. The Rock Garden was packed. Completely. You couldn’t move and the crowd were hungry to see their heroes again. The UK Subs were big favourites as the Rock Garden and played there on several occasions. They were almost the house band there and big favourites with the Boro punk crowd. Charlie Harper bounded on to the stage and the Subs crashed straight into the set; fast, frantic, manic, loud. The punks went totally crazy, pushing, shoving, moshing, pogoing, and spitting. My mate Dave and I were lurking at the back of the dancefloor, trying to avoid the scuffles and stopping ourselves from being dragged into the moshpit. The Subs had just released their debut album Another Kind of Blues which reached No. 21 in the UK album charts and had been in the singles charts (and on Top of the Pops) with “Stranglehold” (reached No. 26) and “Tomorrow’s Girls” (No. 28). You could easily find reasons to knock the UK Subs. Their music was pretty basic punk thrash with a hint of pub rock, their songs had no particularly deep or political message, and (shock horror) singer and front man Charlie Harper was 35 years old! But there was a worth ethic and honesty to the Subs, that made them working class heroes to punks like the Rock Garden mob, and those in clubs up and down the country. And on a good night (and they we both good nights on the two occasions I saw them) the UK Subs were great fun.
The UK Subs returned to the Rock Garden again on 5th April 1980. This time they played two shows, we went to the late show, as the early gig was aimed at under 14s.
The Subs line-up at the time was Charlie Harper (vocals), Nicky Garratt (guitar), Paul Slack (bass), and Pete Davies (drums). The UK Subs continue to this day, still fronted by a 70 years young Charlie Harper. Respect!