The Groundhogs play the clubs and pubs mid 80s

The Groundhogs play the clubs and pubs mid 80s
groundhigtopcats From 1985 onward the Groundhogs toured relentlessly, visiting the North East of England many many times. I caught quite a few Hogs gigs during this period, and they played that often that I must admit, there were gigs that I missed out on, simply because I had already seen them so many times that year. The line-up changed several times, and I couldn’t pretend to keep track of it. For some gigs, there would be a second guitarist alongside Tony. The line-up of Alan Fish (bass) and Mick Kirton (drums) played with Tony until 1989, and I saw this line-up several times during that period. Dave Anderson became a regular on bass from 2001 onward, and Mick Jones took the drumstool on a several occasions from 1989. I also definitely remember seeing Eric Chipulina (who had great dreadlocks) on bass and second guitar a few times, and Pete Correa on drums on several occasions. The one constant was of course Tony T S McPhee. The Groundhogs released a couple of albums of new material during this period: Razor’s Edge (1985); and Back Against the Wall (in 1987). And pretty good they were too. I still have a copy of Razor’s Edge (note  to myself, I must get a copy of Back Against the Wall). A live album No Surrender – Razors Edge Tour 1985, was released in the 1990s, and shows the set at the time as being: Razor’s Edge, Baby Have I Done This Wrong; I Want You To Love Me; Light My Light; Superceded; Garden; Split Part One; Groundhog Blues; Cherry Red. I also remember a track One More Chance, from Razor’s Edge, which was a live favourite at the time. Eccentric Man, Soldier, and Ship On The Ocean would also often feature in the set.
The Hogs played some strange venues in the mid to late 80s including a spell playing working men’s clubs. I saw a few of these club gigs, with my mates Dave or Will at South Hetton Club, Wheatley Hill Club, and Blackhall Club. There were other club gigs that I missed including Newbottle Club and Sheildfield Club. These were almost surreal events. They were usually on a weekend, and the audience consisted of club regulars who were there for their Saturday or Sunday night out, and a smattering of rock fans. The club regulars (husband and wife couples in their 50s, 60s and 70s) were used to cabaret type bands playing the hits of the day, and just didn’t know what to make of the Groundhogs. At South Hetton Club the Groundhogs appeared in the upstairs concert room, playing two sets to allow for the regular bingo between the sets (I kid you not). The place was full or regulars who couldn’t understand what was happening. I remember comments such as “Too Loud. I’m going to complain to the committee” and “What is this Rubbish; they should be paid off” from old guys who were totally phased by it. The Groundhogs just played their normal set, and those of us in the audience who were rock fans loved it. Why wouldn’t we. We had an opportunity to sit, having a drink, watching our hero perform in an intimate setting. And we could play bingo in the interval (don’t think we won)! At Blackhall Club the place went wild, I remember it being much more full of rock fans, and everyone standing on tables, clapping and stomping along as Tony played an extended Groundhog Blues. Wheatley Hill Club was also a good gig, on a Sunday night I think, with a sold out hall (which we managed to blag our way into as I knew the promoter).
The ticket above is for a gig at a nightclub called Top Cats, which was somewhere in Newcastle (Benton I think); I remember the Hogs came on very late, after midnight and played until 2am. Around the same period (1985 to mid 90s) I also saw the Groundhogs play at Sunderland Ropery, Sunderland Kasbah (I think this may have been Tony solo), somewhere in Hartlepool (a group of us went to a packed venue which was, I think, an old church and was possibly called The Studio?), a pub in Darlington (a car load of us went on a Friday night and I can’t remember the name of the pub at all). I recall going to a gig a Billingham Swan, but I think the Hogs didn’t play for some reason. There were other gigs I attended around this time at Sunderland Old 29, Washington Arts Centre, and Bowes Wine Cellar in Darlington, which I will blog on separately over the next few days. I am sure that there were other gigs which I have forgotten.

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