Ronnie Lane Passing Show Newcastle Town Moor July 1974

Ronnie Lane Passing Show Newcastle Town Moor July 1974
ronnietix It was the summer of ’74 and Ronnie Lane set out on one of the most ambitious tours of the decade. “A merry troupe of minstrels, travelling the country in caravans, accompanied by clowns, animals and a big top. Ronnie Lane, the beloved entertainer, was taking his music back to the people….. while the likes of Deep Purple cruised from hotels to concert halls in limousines, Lane and his band Slim Chance snailed around Britain in a raggle-taggle convoy. Wearing spotted neckerchiefs and scarves, they almost begged to be flagged down by a patrol car and asked what century they’d come from” (Uncut, 2010).
The tour concept was based on the travelling shows of the past, the circus, and the days of the troubadour. Ronnie assembled a collection of folk singers, dancing girls, and clowns to accompany himself and his band Slim Chance, and promised us “all the fun of the circus and a carnival atmosphere”. Support acts were (according to my programme, which I still have) Lucas and McCulloch, Bill Barlcay, Nicol and Marsh, and Billy Livsey. The line-up of Slim Chance was quite fluid and featured Gallagher and Lyle at one point, although I don’t recall if there were part of the band when I saw the Passing Show. My programme lists the members as Bruce Rowland, Jimmy Jewel (not the comedian) and Kevin Westlake. ronnieposter Ronnie’s lovely wife, Katie, entertained us with dance and much swirling of her long flowing skirts. Viv Stanshall, from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, was a short-lived ringmaster, but wasn’t at the Newcastle gig.
The show took up residency on Newcastle Town Moor for 5 nights from July 10th to July 14th 1974 (according to my poster). I went along, much out of curiosity, with my mate Norm. I have a feeling that these dates may have been put back by a week, as I recall that I had been to see the Allman Brothers at Knebworth the day before, and the date of that gig was Sat 20th July, which would mean we saw the Passing Show on Sunday 21st July. I still have my ticket stub, but it doesn’t help as there is no date on it. It does show that the gig cost us all of £1.10 :).
ronnieprog I remember the show as being very different, good fun, quite long, and that it was pretty cold in the circus marquee. Sadly it was very poorly attended. “How Come” had been a hit for Ronnie the year before, and I remember that song was played, but don’t recall the rest of the set; I think the material was unfamiliar to us. I don’t think any Faces or Small Faces tunes were played, but I could be wrong.
Sadly, the tour was not a success and…. ‘eventually ran out of luck. It was abandoned in Newcastle, where, over three nights, Slim Chance played to a total of 30 people. Ronnie had spent thousands keeping it afloat, as had Bruce Rowland “I lost about four-and-a-half grand, a lot of money in those days,” Rowland says. “Everything was broken and we had to bring it home. I took a 40-foot caravan down the M1 with a Land Rover, then went back to Newcastle on the train and drove the Pantechnicon down. It had two gears, no reverse, back brakes only, and no starter. I drove between 5mph and 10mph most of the way. It took me three days.”’ (Uncut, 2010).
David Cavanagh’s article, ‘ONE FOR THE ROAD’, on Ronnie Lane, was published in UNCUT, July 2010.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rup on June 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

    nice article, was wondering if you’ve seen my documentary (also called the Passing Show)


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks Rupert I haven’t seen your documentary
      I will be sure to check it out
      Best wishes Peter


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