Talking Heads Newcastle Poly 27th Jan 1978 and Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979

Talking Heads Newcastle Poly 27th Jan 1978 and Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979
takingheadstixI first saw Talking Heads at a concert at Newcastle Poly in January 1978. They were touring with Dire Straits as support at the time. Dire Straits were starting to become known as a result of their single “Sultans of Swing” and Talking Heads were the darlings of the US new wave, with rave reports of their concerts in the States coming through the UK music press. I watched Taking Heads on TV performing “Psycho Killer” on the Old Grey Whistle Test and was hooked. The quirky jabbing rhythms and the strange lyrics (who would write a song about a psycho killer?) intrigued me. By the time they came to play at Newcastle Poly they were performing songs from their first album and the yet-to-be-released “More Songs About Buildings and Food”. Live Talking Heads were excellent. There was a feel of an art school band about them; very different to the punk of the Ramones or to any of the UK new wave. David Byrne was the eccentric school teacher, whose manic stage manner held us all transfixed, and Tina Weymouth bobbed away playing a bass that looked bigger than she did. I remember there being mutters that Dire Straits would outshine them; not so, Talking Heads were great and the crowd loved them.
Roll on a year or so and Talking Heads were back in Newcastle playing to a packed City Hall. By now they had released their third album “Fear of Music” and were massively successful, their popularity transcending the new wave tag. Human League were billed as support but I think they were pulled from the tour because they wanted to play a recorded set? I think A Certain Ratio were support in the end. It was another great performance by Talking Heads, with the packed hall giving the band a great reception.
Talking Heads Newcastle City Hall 27th Nov 1979
Setlist for the Newcastle Poly show: Love-> Building on Fire; Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town; Don’t Worry About the Government; Take Me to the River; The Book I Read; New Feeling; The Big Country; Artists Only; Tentative Decisions; Stay Hungry; Thank You for Sending Me an Angel; Who Is It?; Psycho Killer
Encore: No Compassion; Pulled Up; I’m Not in Love; 1, 2, 3 Red Light
Setlist for the City Hall show: Artists Only; Stay Hungry; Cities; Paper; Mind; Heaven; Electric Guitar; Air; Animals; Love-> Building on Fire; Found a Job; Memories Can’t Wait; Psycho Killer
Encore: Life During Wartime; Take Me to the River

13 responses to this post.

  1. Of all the great gigs you’ve written about, I think I envy you these the most (with the exception of Led Zeppelin at the Sunderland Mecca). I’d have loved to have seen Talking Heads live at their peak. But Dire Straits as support?! Who decided that was going to be a good idea?


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 3, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Hi Jeff
      I thought Dire Straits were pretty good in those days. I loved “Sultans of Swing” at the time, but you are right it was a strange pairing. I lost faith in them as the years went on. Talking Heads were great during that period.
      Many thanks and thanks for your support Best wishes Peter


      • Dire Straits were awesome back in the day if I check out the bootlegs… it is weird to look back though! I’m so jealous that you got to be there. It’s great that you’re chronicling all this for the unfortunate teenier tykes like myself that missed these greats!

      • Posted by vintagerock on October 6, 2014 at 6:10 am

        Many thanks Peter

  2. Posted by Ian Johnson. on February 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I saw Talking Heads as support to the Ramones at the Electric Circus in Manchester in 1977. Hadn’t heard of Talking Heads. They were very good.


  3. Posted by briangart on November 22, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    As always one of the best blog resources out there. I managed to blag an interview with Tina and Chris after the gig , cant remember what we asked or what was said as we no notes or recorder I did manage to get a few photos which i could forward to you .


  4. Posted by Simon Sanders on March 1, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Just reading some of the older entries on the blog. Great archive! I noted you’d queried the fact that The Human League were pulled from the bill (i.e not of their own choice) because of wanting to play (in your words) a “recorded set”. Of course, they used backing tapes – not hidden away – in the form of reel-to-reel Revox (I imagine) machines and it would have been a well-known fact at the time. I wonder who objected to this? Would Talking Heads have decided it wasn’t what they wanted? Incidentally, in case not seen – or in case nice to spark some memories (I saw in other posts that you saw the original Human League line-up on earlier occasions, here is a link to them playing live on TV on OGWT in Oct 1979, the month before they were due to play at your Newcastle gig. Separate thought? Maybe they pulled out of the Newcastle gig themselves for another TV commitment or another headline gig of their own? Seems doubtful, but can’t fathom why the objection to backing tapes either. Or who from!


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 2, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Hi Simon not sure who objected; I’m afraid my memory is not good these days; but I think that was the case. Yes I saw the Human League in the early days supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees and there were very interesting and quite strange! Happy days Peter


  5. Posted by Simon Sanders on March 1, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Oops – forgot to add the link


  6. Talking Heads at Newcastle City Hall, wow, I had no idea this ever happened, I’ll bet that was amazing, any particular memories? I’ve heard bootlegs from this tour, Fear of Music is one of my fav albums of all time, and they sounded pretty astonishing around this time, used to have Stop Making Sense on VHS, one of the greatest concert movies ever, and always thought they’d have been incredible to have seen. I want Heaven played at my funeral!


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 17, 2022 at 12:49 pm

      Yes it was as pretty special evening Connor. I think it was their first UK tour when they were still up and coming. Happy days Peter


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