Ten Years After Newcastle Mayfair 5th Oct 1973 & Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1974

Ten Years After Newcastle Mayfair 5th Oct 1973 & Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1974
tyatix74Friday night at the Mayfair, 1973, and Ten Years After were playing! There was a special buzz about this gig. It wasn’t that often that we got the chance to see Alvin Lee and Co. in a ballroom setting. We went through early and joined the queue which curled right down the length of Newgate Street. Once inside we wandered around the balcony, visited the many bars and then tried to get a good spot on the dance floor, ready for when TYA came on stage. To say the place was packed was an understatement. You could hardly move. The band rocked that night, and the Mayfair crowd gave them a hero’s welcome. A great gig. Support came from a band called Ruby (?) We emerged hot and sweaty into the cold night air sometime after midnight and walked the 15 miles home. We got home in the early hours, exhausted. Well worth it; those were the days.
Come 1974 and TYA released their eighth album Positive Vibrations. It wasn’t their best and reviews weren’t very positive. Rolling Stone said of the lp: “TYA have changed musical directions so often in the past that they’ve never been able to develop a comfortable sound within any field, so now they sound as though they’re merely dabbling in various styles. …. Alvin Lee & Co. have stuck their fingers into so many musical pies that they’re now as confused as anyone attempting to follow their music. ”
tyaalvinThings weren’t so good in the TYA camp. Alvin was launching a solo career, and live reviews of TYA were not so hot. Reviewing a London Rainbow gig in the NME, Tony Stewart wrote: : “Competent musicians TYA may be, entertainers they certainly are not. Their stage presence was as flat as a Woolworth’s portrait reproduction. Alvin Lee’s delivery of notes at an immense speed resembled a production line worker knocking rivets into a car body: precise motions, but without any other purpose than holding something together until it’s time to go home (I’m Going Home that is). Sorry, but it was a relief when it was.”
I think Alvin was just tired of playing Going Home and of an audience who just wanted to relive Woodstock. “The stopping point came when I felt I’d written every song I could think of with Ten Years After and played every solo…all I was doing was pinching bits from this and that and putting them together differently and it was starting to get repetitive….Ten Years After aren’t functioning at the moment.” (Alvin Lee speaking to Lorna Read, Beat Instrumental Magazine, 1974).
I saw Ten Years After once more at the City Hall in April 1974. In my eyes they were still great. But it was almost over. The following night, Ten Years After played their last UK gig in Manchester. Officially the band was resting, mothballed, but there were no more TYA appearances for 10 years or so when the band reunited for some shows. Alvin focused on his solo career from then on.
Ten Years After setlist at the time was something like: Rock & Roll Music To The World, Nowhere To Run, Good Morning Little School Girl, It’s Getting Harder, Hobbit, Love Like A Man, Slow Blues In C, Look Me Straight Into The Eyes, Classical Thing, Scat Thing, I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes, I’m Going Home, Sweet Little Sixteen, Choo Choo Mama
Thanks to John for the poster image.
I saw Alvin Lee several times over the years. He remained an amazing guitarist, powerful performer, and I always enjoyed seeing him play. But there was a magic about Ten Years After in the early 70s that could never be recreated. Never the most fashionable band, and often the victim of some unfair press, on a good night (and they mostly were good nights) Alvin Lee was incredible, and Ten Years After were one of the best rock’n’roll and blues bands in the world.
RIP Alvin Lee.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Neil Thompson on October 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Ruby were signed to the same label as Ten Years After (Chrysalis) and released a self titled album in 1974. I have an old Island catalogue somewhere under the bed and there’s a picture of the sleeve which i don’t recognize at all so I don’t think there were many copies knocking about in the North East at the time. A mate of mine, Stevie Aycutt, was with them on bass guitar for a while but he wasn’t on the album.


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks Neil Friad I don’t recall anything about Ruby, but I noticed that they supported TYA at quite a few of their gigs in 74 Cheers Peter


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