Family in concert 1972 and 1973 Newcastle Mayfair and Newcastle City Hall

Family in concert 1972 and 1973 Newcastle Mayfair and Newcastle City Hall
Family were a great favourite with rock fans in the North East of England. They came up here a lot in the late 60s and early 70s, playing Sunderland Bay Hotel, Newcastle Mayfair, Sunderland Locarno and other local venues. As I posted yesterday when writing about Roger Chapman, back in those days, if you asked anyone in the North East their favourite live band, my guess is that they would choose a band like Family who regularly played in local ballrooms and put on a great live show. In Sunderland the answer would have been Free, Family, and possibly Stray or Edgar Broughton. The first time I got to see Family was at Newcastle Mayfair in June 1972. I have very vague memories of them playing a gig at Silksworth Youth club in the late 60s, and standing outside listening, as I was too young to get in. The gig definitely happened, but my standing outside may well be a figment of my imagination. Thanks to Barry for his memories of the Silksworth Youth Club gig: “A couple of vague memories. Roger Chapman was wearing bright red trousers. When the group had a break a girl asked Chapman if they did any “Soul” music. No, was Rogers brusque reply. If I remember correctly the leader of the new youth club was a guy called Clive. He wanted to put Silksworth Youth Club on the map as music venue. Happy days..”. Family played at the City Hall in 1971, with support from America. Some of my mates went to that gig, but I chose (wisely methinks in hindsight) to see Led Zeppelin at Sunderland Locarno that night. Back to that gig in 1973. I queued outside the Mayfair to get in early and get a good spot in front of the stage. Support came from Audience, featuring Howard Werth who, like Roger Chapman, has his own vocal and musical style. Their album, “House on the Hill” is a classic of the period. Listen to the track “You’re Not Smiling” and you’ll see what I mean. Family were great that night. Roger Chapman sang in his usual unique style, with lots of vocal and mike stand gymnastics; but what really struck my was the way that he engaged, and interacted with the audience. It was like he was meeting a group of old mates. Most of the crowd had clearly seen the band before, and there seemed to be some private joke between Roger and some of the crowd, starting with the crowd asking “What about the workers, Roger?”. The other thing, that sticks in my memory is Poli Palmer’s vibraphone; I hadn’t seen or heard anything like it before. By the following year Family had sadly decided to call it a day, and the next time I saw them was during their farewell tour, at Newcastle City Hall. The line up had changed (again) by the time of that gig, and the atmosphere in the City Hall was great, but tinged with sadness. Support came from Phillip Goodhand-Tait. Chapman was once again the focal point of the evening. I recall sensing as we walked out of the hall, that everyone was upset that they would not see this great band again. Family’s music was a strange and unique mix of rock, psychedelia and r&b. Singles such as The Weaver’s Answer, In My Own Time, and Burlesque were great favourites in the ballrooms of the time, the dancefloor always filling with lots of hippy dancers. Unlike many bands of that era, Family have never reformed; however Chappo continues to play (he has just announced a Christmas gig at the Y theatre is his hometown Leicester) and his set often includes several Family songs. Its a few year since I’ve seen Roger in concert (will blog on recent gigs tomorrow), but recent reports suggest that his voice remains as strong as ever.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Trza on July 4, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I hope you don’t think me rude but I’ve been searching for a vintage ticket of family playing Newcastle city hall for ages! That photo at the top of this page is the closest I’ve got. Could you please let me know where the photo came from?! Thanks in advance. A desperate family fan. x


  2. Posted by petergroves on November 26, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    I enjoyed being transported back to the City Hall – I was at the gig (and probably have the ticket somewhere!). A great evening, but not the greatest Family line-up. Linda Lewis was on the bill too (unsurprisingly) but I don’t remember Phillip Goodhand-Tait (so was I actually at the right gig?).


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 26, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      Hi Peter

      Pleased you enjoyed my memories. You may well be right about the support act; my memories are sketchy and I could be going from the programme (which may be wrong) happy days Peter


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