The Stiff Tours 1977 and 1978: Be Stiff 1978

The Stiff Tours 1977 and 1978
The Stiff tours were a highlight of the late 70s rock calendar. These events featured a selection of artists from Stiff records, travelling around the UK dropping into concert halls and university student unions. The first tour was known as the Live Stiffs Tour or 5 Live Stiffs, and took place in late 1977. It boasted a great line-up with Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe (featuring Dave Edmunds) and Larry Wallis. A bunch of mates and I caught the tour at Middlesbrough Town Hall. At the time punk was really taking off around the UK, and the old town hall was packed. I remember seeing Elvis Costello outside talking to a group of kids; my mate Norm recalls him giving them a penny for the guy. We witnessed some great music with wonderful performances from Elvis and Ian Dury that night. Ian stole the show; he was at his height at the time, performing material from New Boots and Panties!!: “Sweet Gene Vincent”, “Billericay Dickie”, and “Clevor Trever”. The gig ended with everyone on stage performing Dury’s “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”. The tour called at Newcastle Polytechnic a couple of weeks later. I enjoyed the show so much, I went along again, this time with Marie. Marie has a better memory than me on this gig, and can recall us chatting to Elvis Costello in the union bar. She swears that Captain Sensible was with him, holding court to a few of us, in a typical mad mood, and ate an entire packet of crisps, including the bag, all in one go. I do have a vague memory of meeting the Captain, but couldn’t be certain that it was the same night as the Stiffs tour. I wish I had kept a diary… The second tour, the Be Stiff 78 tour, again comprised five acts: Wreckless Eric, Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie, Mickey Jupp and Rachel Sweet. Norm and I caught that gig at Newcastle University. The line up wasn’t as strong as 1977, however, it saw Lene Lovich break through to chart stardom, and Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” is still a favourite of mine.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Great story.


  2. I saw the StiffLivesStiff tour at Newcastle Poly – one of the great Newcastle nights and there were many. There was a film made of either that night or other nights of the tour (or both) that someone showed in the University a couple of months later. All I remember is that the film show was a real “word of mouth” thing and there were only a couple of dozen of us to watch it. I regularly search to see if it’s on DVD and either it isn’t – or my searching isn’t great.


  3. Posted by Robert Coates on August 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

    40 years on from the event, I have some great although slightly fuzzy memories of the Newcastle poly gig from August 1977. The first feature was that myself and about another 10 ‘punk’ mates from Newcastle went along without tickets & were refused entry on the grounds that we were not students. No fear, one of the guys said he would get us in. We then proceeded to go round the Poly building banging on the window catches until one of them magically popped open! So this gang of Geordie punks all clambered through the window to be confronted by Ian Durie in his dressing room!! The man himself then walked us through security into the auditorium for the show. Brilliant result.
    The second memory was from the end of the show. I was filtering out of the show with hundreds of others when up ahead I could see Elvis Costello walking out amidst the crowd with his guitar slung nonchalantly over his shoulder. This happened to be the night after the confirmed death of Elvis Presley. I shouted at the top of my voice ‘there’s only one Elvis now!’ and raised a fisted power salute. Mr C looked back and reciprocated my power salute and ambled off into the night! Surreal but all true.


  4. Posted by Dr Matt on June 19, 2022 at 9:16 am

    I saw them at Leeds Uni in 77. For me, Elvis Costello was the stand-out performer. I remember all the bands played ‘Sex and drugs and rock and roll’ as an encore [including all the drummers!], which went on and on [thanks to the lead guitarists, I think][ so in the end the drummers threw their sticks into the audience and walked off as it was the onoy way it would ever end – great stuff!!


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 19, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      Hi Dr. Matt yes a magic tour. The likes of which we may never see again. Thanks for sharing. Happy days Peter


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