Posts Tagged ‘rockabilly’

Stray Cats Newcastle Mayfair 1980 & Sunderland Poly 1981

Stray Cats Newcastle Mayfair 1980 & Sunderland Poly 1981
straycats80tixThe Stray Cats were an American rockabilly band formed in 1979 by ace guitarist and vocalist Brian Setzer, double bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom. The group came through just after punk and new wave and relocated to London, hitting the charts in 1980 with “Runaway Boys” and again in 1981 with “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut”. Marie and I went to see them at the Mayfair on their first UK tour, just after “Runaway Boys” was released. They were just starting to make a name for themselves and the ballroom was pretty empty, as I recall. They pulled out an amazing high energy performance, Brian Setzer being particularly impressive. Stray Cats were a breath of fresh air at the time, a welcome diversion from punk and new wave, and very different from anything else around. straycats81tix You could, of course, see the rock’n’roll and rockabilly influences; Brian Setzer becoming a cross between Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, and Gene Vincent on stage. By the time I saw them again at Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall, less than one year later, the place was packed, and lots of rockin’ and rollin’ went down that night. Great gigs by a great band.
The Stray Cats reunite now and then for live performances, and Brian Setzer is now part of his 1990s swing-revival band The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and a pretty amazing guitarist.

The Cramps Newcastle Mayfair March 1986

The Cramps Newcastle Mayfair March 1986
When I was very young, around 10 years old, I discovered horror movies and a magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland. I loved the classic 30s horror movies: Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, and was fascinated by zombies, ghouls, the creature from the black lagoon. Through my teens I bought Famous Monsters from Filmland regularly, and saw as many 30s, 40s, and 50s horror and scifi films as I could on TV or at the cinema (which was sometimes difficult as many were X rated, which meant that you had to be 16 to see them). Why I am telling you this in a post about The Cramps? Simple. The Cramps blended together several of my favourite things: a love of gothic horror, the bizarre, scifi, surf music, garage, and rockabilly. They came out of the New York punk scene, and are often credited with starting the psychobilly genre. Looking through the pages of the programme from this gig reminds me how great this band were. The programme is crammed with images taken from B movies and features the 1985 movie Return of the Living Dead, for which The Cramps wrote a song “Surfing Dead”. The Cramps were at their peak of popularity on this, their 1986 world tour. The tour took in several nights at Hammersmith Palais and a few nights at Hammersmith Odeon, as well as gigs around the country, including this North East gig at Newcastle Mayfair. They were fronted by singer Lux Interior and guitarist Poison Ivy. I went to the gig with my mate Dave, and it was a load of fun. The show was totally wild and wacky, quite similar in many ways to The B-52s, but much crazier. Lux Interior was totally wild on stage; I can picture him now, crawling all over the top of the speaker cabs, stripping off at the same time. The guy had no fear; think of Iggy Pop at his wildest times 10. The place was packed, and the crowd lapped it up. The Cramps continued throughout the 90s, and split only when Luz Interior passed away in 2009.