Ian Dury & the Blockheads in concert

Ian Dury & the Blockheads
I first saw Ian Dury in Kilburn and the Highroads when they supported The Who at Newcastle Odeon on their 1973 Quadrophenia tour. I can’t pretend to remember much about them, other than they seemed like an ok pub rock band. Interesting to see that the Kilburns also featured Nick Cash who I was to see a few years later in 999, and who were truly a top punk band. The next time I saw Ian Dury was on the Stiff tour at Middlesbrough Town Hall, where he stole the show which closed with everyone on stage and all of us singing along to Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll. Ian was an enigma on stage. He was, of course, nothing like a traditional rock star. And he was hardy “punk”. But his onstage patter, his humility, the way that he dealt with his disability, and his crazy dress sense, all gave him a charisma and a connection with the audience that no one else had in the day. We were all with him from the word go, and his stage presence, coupled with the tremendous musicianship of the Blockheads made every Dury gig a unique and fun experience. The thing that I remember most about the 1978 gig at Newcastle City Hall was that I had one of my final Maths exams for my degree the next morning. I figured that there was no point in any further revision at that point, so went along to see Ian and the Blockheads. Glad I made that choice! Support at that gig were Matumbi (a reggae band) and Whirlwind (a rockabilly band). For me, the best tracks live were Sweet Gene Vincent, Clever Trevor and Sex and Drugs. To be honest, I was never a great fan of Rhythm Stick or Reasons to be Cheerful, although I have warmed to the latter song recently. A setlist from Hammersmith in 1979 shows the songs played as: Clever Trevor; Inbetweenies; Don’t Ask Me; Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3; Sink My Boats; Waiting For Your Taxi; This Is What We Find; Mischief; What A Waste!; Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick; Sweet Gene Vincent. I guess the Newcastle gig will have featured a similar set. I’m surprised Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll doesn’t feature in the list. It was certainly a high point of the early Blockheads gigs I saw. Great memories of a one-off and a great man; sadly missed. Great gigs. Respect.
Note added 20th July 2014. I found the programme below in my collection. It must have come from the December 1980 concert.ianduryprog

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tony Poolan on September 30, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I was at the 1979 gig and was a bit underwhelmed to be honest. The lighting was as per the Hit Me With Your Rhythm stick video and they played that on the night. The set was from the first two albums – I – think the second had only relatively recently come out and wasn’t a patch on New Boots and Panties.

    The were a decent band just not particularly exciting – in my opinion anyway.


    • Posted by vintagerock on September 30, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Thanks Tony I know what you mean, but I felt there was a certain groove to the Blockheads which set them apart Cheers Peter


  2. Love your blog, it takes me back to some wonderful memories from when I lived in England (now in Canada). I saw Ian and the Blockheads at the Hammersmith Odeon and it might well have been in 1979. I have my copy of New Boots and Panties and the Music for Pleasure 99p Live Stiffs framed and on the wall in the basement. Rock on!


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