AC/DC at Newcastle Mayfair 1977 to 1980

In many ways AC/DC and Newcastle Mayfair were made for each other. Friday nights at the Mayfair in the 1970s was one of the best rock nights I’ve ever experienced, and at that time AC/DC were one of the new breed of upcoming heavy rock bands.  They became a great favourite at the venue in the late 70s; the Newcastle crowd took to AC/DC and the feeling was obviously mutual. I remember their shows at the venue as some of the best I have ever seen there, or anywhere else. I was lucky enough to attend all of their shows at the Mayfair, other than when they played for two nights at the venue, in which case I went along to one of those nights.
AC/DC first played Newcastle Mayfair on March 4th 1977. This was a standard “pay at the door” Friday night, there was no need for advance tickets. This was the third time that I’d seen the band. The support act was Jenny Darren, whose name seems familiar, but I can’t remember watching her. We may have gone into the venue late. The programme (left) has the same outer cover as the 1976 programme; however the inner pages are different. As time moved on, and AC/DC became more and more popular, they were packing the place for two night runs. I look back on all of those shows with some considerable fondess; they were nights of great, loud rock music in a relatively small venue the like of which I may never see again.
AC/DC were back at the Mayfair on October 14th 1977. This time, as well as the Mayfair gig I also went to see them at Middlesbrough Town Hall on this tour (see ticket stub). At that time many bands played both Newcastle and Middlesbrough, which gave me a chance to see them twice at local gigs on the same tour. I can still picture Bon Scott walking through the crowd in the lovely old hall in the Town Hall; Angus on his shoulders, still playing his guitar.

The band were next at the Mayfair on May 5th 1978 (programme to left). The support act for this tour was British Lions, a band formed by members of Mott the Hoople (Buffin, Morgan Fisher and Overend Watts) and Medicine Head (John Fiddler). As a Mott fan I must have gone along early to catch them, but I have no memory of doing so, or what they were like. The Powerage lp was released around this time, and Whole lot of Rosie was establishing itself as a firm favourite with the crowd. Punk was becoming well established at this time, and the Mayfair was also booking many new wave acts, but Friday night remained mostly a heavy rock night, and AC/DC were the perfect band for the venue.

By 1978 they were a very big rock band and they returned to the Mayfair to play for two nights on November 2nd and 3rd 1978. I attended the gig on the first night (ticket to right). Support came from Blazer Blazer.

This time advance tickets were sold for the gigs, which both sold out. The programme for the late 1978 tour is to the left. A typical setlist from 1978 was something like: Riff raff; Problem child; Hell ain’t a bad place to be; Rock and roll damnation; Bad boy boogie; Whole lotta rosie; Down payment blues; The Jack; High voltage; Let there be rock; Encore: The Rocker

The band were due back at The Mayfair for a further two nights in October 1979. The tickets all sold out in advance, by postal application, as I recall. A fire took place in the venue as the band were loading their gear for the first night (Thursday), and as a result the gig was postponed. The fire wasn’t too big, and not much damage was caused, so the Friday night concert went ahead as planned, with new upcoming rockers Def Leppard as support. The Thursday night gig was rescheduled and took place on January 25th 1980.
Sadly this was to be the last time the great Bon Scott played at the Mayfair, and was his penultimate concert. Three weeks later, he was dead, having passed away in his sleep after a heavy nights drinking. I was lucky enough to be at both of those last Mayfair gigs, and recall the band being on top form. Recordings exist of the second gig, and are apparently pretty good quality.
At the time, we all viewed Bon as irreplaceable, and thought we had seen the last of the band. However, another Newcastle was to come (enter Brain Johnson; ex Geordie). Tomorrow I’ll go back to the Back in Black tour and the move from the Mayfair Ballroom to Newcastle City Hall.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jondix on April 15, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Really enjoying lots of these, Thanks


  2. 5th May 1978, British Lions did not play as support to AC/DC at Newcastle Mayfair as John Fiddler was ill.


  3. Posted by vintagerock on September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Aha! Many thanks. Thats why I don’t recall seeing them. Was there a support? Best wishes Peter


  4. Posted by Carlton Wittland on December 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    many thanks for the memory recall at the Mayfair. I first saw AC/DC when the backing group was Def Leppard. I then took my wife to be (still married to the same one ! ) I believe it was October/ November 1980 and I believe this was Brian Johnsons first gig in the UK with the band. Are you able to confirm. Cheers Carl.


    • Posted by vintagerock on December 9, 2012 at 6:36 am

      Hi AC DC played Newcastle Mayfair on October 31 1980. This was their first tour with Brian Johnson, but there were other UK dates in the days leading up to that. Glad you are enjoying the blog Peter


  5. Posted by Carlton Wittland on December 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks, the Mayfair may be long gone but the memories are still sweet. Cheers Carl


  6. Posted by sid s on December 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    i saw them in nov 78 and oct 79 when def lepard supported them (they were on the same record lable) bon scott with angus on is shoulders and dry ice smoking out of his satchel wandering around the crowd, you just dont get intermate gigs like that anymore happy days tickets were £1.50 happy days great venue.


  7. Posted by Kev Moore on June 2, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Jenny Darren still out there performing, new album coming soon! 🙂


  8. Posted by chris robson on June 28, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Hi i still remember angus on bon scotts shoulders nearly knocked me over it was nov 78 i had travelled from hartlepool to see them and they are still the best band in the world
    Too old to go see them now of course i am 71 but still remember that night fondly wenever i hear or play their music, happy days
    Chris Robson now living in S / Wales


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Chris yes AC/DC in the Mayfair were wild, crazy nights. Happy days. Come on young man, you are never too old! If AC/DC come back and play Wales (the Millennium Stadium?) you should be there my friend. Cheers Peter


  9. Posted by Mottman on April 6, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    British Lions cancelled the’78 gig (and 5 others) due to John Fiddler losing his voice. I’d left the Farmers Rest early to catch them 😢🍻


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