Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel 1974 gigs

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel 1974 Sunderland Locarno, Newcastle Mayfair and the Reading Festival
stevhlp I’m going to spend a few days blogging on Steve Harley, who remains to this day one of my all-time heroes, a great songwriter, a very cheeky guy, and a great performer. Steve in 1974: “I set out to be a winner. I don’t want to lose. I spent four years in a hospital but I never expected favours from anyone. I don’t give sympathy because I don’t expect it. Nice guys don’t make it.” I was a big Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel fan in the 70s and saw them on every tour. I first saw them at Sunderland Locarno, on the Psychomodo tour in April 1974. Support act was Be Bop Deluxe, who I have already blogged about. The place was packed and a lot of people, including me, came along earlier than usual in order to catch Bill Nelson, who was great. Steve had hit the chart with Judy Teen by this point and was dressing extravigantly; his stage gear was very Clockwork Orange. I’d seem him play Hideaway on TV, and had heard the epic Sebastian, which is a favourite of mine to this day. Cockney Rebel were excellent that night; Steve always has great stage presence and those early singles are pure class. A live favourite for me was always the beautiful and haunting Sebastian. I can picture Steve now, standing in a single spot light, framing his face in his hands, singing the open lines: “Radiate simply, the candle is burning, so low for me; Generate me limply, can’t seem to place your name, cherie; To rearrange all these thoughts in a moment is suicide; Come to a strange place, we’ll talk over old times we never smile; Somebody called me Sebastian…..”. Pure Magic. And nothing beats being in a packed concert crowd singing along to the anthem Tumbling Down: “Oh! dear, look what they’ve done to the blues, blues, blues”. A group of us were so impressed by Cockney Rebel that we went along to see them again at Newcastle Mayfair a few weeks later, and lived it all again. And then I saw them at the Reading festival where they played the Sunday night, and the whole Reading crowd sang along to Tumbling Down. Simply awesome; you had to be there to understand. But the best was yet to come in the following year; and I’ll blog about that tomorrow. I think I’ll go upstairs and play Sebastian and Tumbling Down to remind me of those great days.

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