The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 6th November 1977

The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 6th November 1977
tubestix77This was a gig like no other. The Tubes were virtually unknown in the UK, but stories of their crazy OTT stage show were gradually creeping over from the USA. This was the band to out-shock, out-punk, and out-do everyone else, and outrage the general population at the same time. So when “The Toobs” came over for a tour of UK theatres and concert halls we just had to see them. We had tickets for Yes, with Donovan support, at Glasgow Apollo on the same night, but we sold them to friends, as we couldn’t pass on the chance to see this.
Video screens all over the place, dancers, 50ft stacks, lots of props and each song a new concept and the chance for the band to play new roles. So many highlights. You couldn’t take it all in. And just when you thought the Tubes had been as outrageous as they could possibly be, the next song is even crazier, wilder, and more obnoxious.
Alpha male Fee Waybill and the gorgeous Re Styles dueted on’Don’t Touch Me There’ from a motorbike. Fee Way strapped Styles between two video monitors to perform some ‘MondoBondage’. The band become the punk parody “Johnny Bugger and the Dirtboxes”. Waybill threatens us all with a chain saw while singing “I Saw Her Standing There”. For the end of the show Waybill became Quay Lewd, the ultimate glam rock star complete with three feet high platform shoes, and led us all through a crazy rendition of “White Punks on Dope”.
Totally amazing. We were all blown away. 🙂 🙂
Support came from Wire (Dot Dash 🙂 )
Reviews of the time were ecstatic. “The Tubes are a spectacle unlike any other. They present a relentless onslaught of humour, outrage, parody, idiocy, music and costume – a feast for the senses.” (Paul Rambali, NME)
“It’s nothing short of magnificent. The only words you can use are ones like sensory overkill. The act doesn’t leave you alone. One moment it’s the band in white intern coats playing straight techno-rock. Then it’s a dance troupe on the lam from Star Wars, and then there’s the punk pastiche. Except, pastiche or not, The Tubes can cut harder and deeper than 90%s of the new wave.” (Mick Farren, NME).
Set list (based on the live lp recorded during the 1977 London concert run at Hammersmith): Overture; Got Yourself a Deal; Show Me a Reason; What Do You Want from Life; God-Bird-Change; Special Ballet; Don’t Touch Me There; Mondo Bondage; Smoke (La vie en Fumér); Crime Medley (starting with a siren and including themes from Dragnet, Peter Gunn, Perry Mason & Untouchables); I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk; I Saw Her Standing There; Boy Crazy; You’re No Fun; Stand Up and Shout; White Punks on Dope.
The Tubes were Fee Waybill (front man extraordinaire, crazy guy & vocals), Bill Spooner (guitar), Michael Cotten (synth), Mingo Lewis (percussion), Prairie Prince (massive drum riser and kit), Roger Steen (guitar), Vince Welnick (keyboards), Rick Anderson (bass) and Re Styles (vocals, dance and many unspeakable things with Fee).
I saw the Tubes again in 1978, at the Knebworth Festival sharing a bill with Frank Zappa and Peter Gabriel. I’ll save that one for when I come to write about Zappa. The Tubes were back at the City Hall again in 1979 for the ‘Remote Control’ tour, with support from Squeeze. I’ll write about that gig tomorrow.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on November 6, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I was at this concert. If I had to list the worst headline acts that I had ever seen then I’m afraid The Tubes would be near the top. I just didn’t get it. I thought they were dreadful – the songs, humour(?), costumes…..infact I disliked everything about their performance.

    But my £2 admission wasn’t a complete waste of money as support band Wire were excellent.

    Also Peter, did you realise that this concert happened 37 years ago to the day ?


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks Mitch I thought they were great fun and saw them three further times, but the next times were nowhere near as good. I hadn’t noticed that it was the same day! Where did the years go? 🙂 Cheers Peter


  2. Posted by Norm on November 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Totally disagree with Mitch !Loved the show and the music .Remember getting a bar of Country Life [or style ] chocolate and a couple of fags from Fee when he was singing ‘What Do You Want From Life ‘ Have seen them loads of times since .


  3. Posted by Tony Poolan on August 15, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I saw them this last week on their 40th Anniversary tour in Leeds. They were brilliant and it was a set drawn fron their greatest and tracks from Completion Backwards. 4 original members on stage, Waybill – still a fantastic front man, Roger Steen, Prairie Prince and Rick Anderson – all utterly brilliant musicians. Prince in particular was amazing.

    Great songs great band – the real pros always deliver!


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Hi Tony I was there! I agree. Great gig. We met Prairie in the pub along the road before the gig, and all of the band after the show. I will add a review to my blog very soon Cheers Peter


  4. Posted by Tony Poolan on August 15, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Hi Peter

    I was in a wheelchair near the mixing desk at the Brudenell – I’ve suffered muscle wastage following my operations so am relearning walking!

    I recall they once held a signing session in the Eldon Square Virgin Records store when Remote Control had just come out. Re Styles was still with them and Fee was probably even more manic during it. Of course Bill Spooner was there too – he appears to have distanced himself from them now.

    I didn’t stay for the Meet and Greet in Leeds a) because it was my first time in a wheelchair and I was knackered (understatement) and b) I was dependent on my brother who wanted to get away as I only had a limited pass out of the ward for the gig!


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 15, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Hi Tony I don’t recall the signing at Virgin. Wish I’d gone to it.
      Much respect for making the gig! Pleased you enjoyed it.
      To my shame I am behind in my blogging. I have seen Jimmy Cliff and the Tubes in the last week and have yet to write about them. Will do so in the next few days and then I will be caught up! Cheers Peter


  5. Posted by Michael Rutherford on May 30, 2022 at 10:46 am

    Was there. Was a great night. Already had the album What do you want from live so knew all the words. I was 17 and my mate Phil went with me. We had a few pints( underaged). We were up for it and they delivered a great set. I remember them doing I saw her standing there as my mate screamed that’s the Beatles song. Some steamy antics on the motorbike and giant cigarettes. Alot of theatrics but musically they delivered big style. One of my favourite giga. Loved it


    • Posted by vintagerock on May 30, 2022 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing your memories of a great concert Michael. I agree it is one of my favourite gigs ever as well. Happy days Peter


  6. Posted by Crispin on December 10, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    I was at the gig, and the oddest thing I recall was the presence of men in suits at the back of the stalls. They were council officials from all over the UK, who were considering banning The Tubes for reason of indecency. Or perhaps they just wanted a night out. Anyhow, The Tubes were simply amazing.


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