Secret Affair March of the Mods Newcastle 1979 and 1980

secretaffairtox“We are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are, we are, we are the Mods.” So went the chants, reverberating around the Mayfair ballroom, coming from the mouths of young guys in parkas festooned with patches proclaiming their support for The Who, The Jam and our new mod heroes Secret Affair. This was Friday 31st August 1979 and the March of the Mods Tour was stopping off at Newcastle Mayfair. The tour was headlined by new mod faces Secret Affair, supported by The Purple Hearts and Back To Zero. The Mayfair was packed with a mix of new mods, a few rock fans who were becoming increasingly frustrated at “losing” their Friday night out to gigs by punk and new wave acts, and groups of mean looking skinheads, who had come to taunt the mods, and “sort them out”. The skins had their own, far more sinister chant: “We hate the Mods. We hate the Mods. We hate, we hate, we hate the Mods.”
There was an air of edginess around the place all evening. You could feel it as soon as you entered the venue.
From early on there were skirmishes between the mods and the skins, with small tussles and fights breaking out on the dance floor. The support acts were greeted by showers of beer, complete with glasses. As the evening progressed the fights became more frequent and nastier. Marie and I thought of leaving, but hey I don’t give up easy, and I wanted to see how this new mod band Secret Affair would shape up. By the time they took to the stage, things were starting to turn really nasty. The mods were shouting loudly now “We are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are, we are, we are the Mods”. The skins responded equally as loudly “We hate the Mods. We hate the Mods. We hate, we hate, we hate the Mods.” The band were onstage playing while the ballroom was turning into something out of a Wild West film. The dance floor was becoming one mass brawl. Some guys started throwing tables and chairs from the balcony down onto the crowd on the dance floor below. The chairs hit the massive chandeliers which hung from the ceiling and one of them fell down onto the fighting crowds. Scary stuff. Marie and I were wandering around the balcony being careful who we looked at, smiling sheepishly at any other rock fans we saw. I felt quite out of place and vulnerable, being one of a small number of people with long hair. The bouncers came into the crowd complete with Alsatian dogs, and eventually managed to stop the fights. Secret Affair played on and were pretty good, although the gig was marred by the evening’s events.
I saw Secret Affair on two further occasions.
The first was at Newcastle City Hall on 17th April 1980.secret affirtx1980 The place was packed and me and my mate Norm were right down the front, surrounded by the Glory Boys. “We are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are, we are, we are the Mods.” That chant again. But this time no skins, no fights and a joyous evening. Secret Affair were at the height of their success, and at the time were a hot live act, with some great songs: Time for Action, My World, Glory Boys. The music was a mix of power pop and soul with Ian Page the coolest front man, wearing the sharpest of suits, neat shirt and skinny tie, and Dave Cairns on guitar and sporting a smart regency style jacket. “We are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are, we are, we are the Mods.”…the chant continued as we left the venue.
Saw Secret Affair once more at Newcastle City Hall a few months later on 30th September 1980. The venue was nowhere near as full. Perhaps the gig was just too close to their previous visit, or maybe the mod scene was already passing. The band played ok, but the power, passion and craziness of the first two gigs I attended was missing.
Secret Affair have recently reformed, with original members Ian Page and Dave Cairns. The Glory Boys return.
“We are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are, we are, we are the Mods.”
Secret Affair were Ian Page – vocals and super sharp suits, Dave Cairns – guitars, Dave Winthrop – saxophone, Dennis Smith – bass, and Seb Shelton – drums.
Mod. It’s a way of life.
“Cause we’re the Glory Boys
So scared of getting old
We’re the Glory Boys
We may look cold but our hearts are gold.
You look at me boy you tryin’ to match my stare
Dont you know Im a Glory Boy?
I can cut you down by combing my hair
Nothing touches a Glory Boy
We look too good for you
If you wanna know about us
You gotta be one too”
(Glory Boys, Cairns & Page, 1979)

6 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Peter

    This certainly was a scary night at the Mayfair and your description of it as ‘something out of a wild west film’ is perfect. My memories of gigs aren’t as good as yours and I always thought I’d maybe imagined this night or exaggerated it a bit but apparently not!

    Keep up the good work.


  2. Posted by vintagerock on July 2, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Hi Kieran Many thanks. Yep it was a pretty scary night. At times I feared I might not get out in one piece 🙂 Peter


  3. Posted by Mitch on July 2, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I was at the 1980 City Hall show, the support act was The V.I.P.’s.
    Secret Affair had some great songs – My World in particular was a great single.

    The 1980 City Hall set list included the entire Glory Boys album (apart from the track Don’t Look Down) –
    Days Of Change, Glory Boys, Soho Strut, Shake And Shout, Lifes A Movie Too, My World, When The Show Is Over, Looking Through My Eyes, Let Your Heart Dance, Going To A Go Go, One Way World, I’m Not Free But I’m Cheap, New Dance, Time For Action.
    Encores: My World, Let Your Heart Dance, Road Runner/Get Ready.

    I’m pleased I missed the Mayfair gig!


  4. Posted by mark watson on December 29, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I was at the Mayfair gig and the first city hall show. I remember the trouble at the Mayfair and windows being smashed on the way to the city hall. Scary is an understatement. The band were brilliant on both occasions. I saw them a couple of years ago at the Concord in Brighton, still good.


  5. Posted by Janet Morrison on June 16, 2018 at 12:18 am

    I was 16 and absolutely loved Secret Affair. The atmosphere was unbelievable in Newcastle and I have never felt the ‘tingle’ I felt that night since. My Dad was distraught having arranged to collect me from outside the City Hall, I had got backstage with a friend and emerged ecstatic 30 minutes after everyone else had dispersed, having met the band and been given a guitar pick off Dave and a drumstick. 38 years on and they are still the only band that create that tingle in me when I see them in concert. I have seen them all over the UK and they remain my favourite band of all time.


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