Wham! Whitley Bay Ice Rink 11th Dec 1984 The Big Tour

Wham! Whitley Bay Ice Rink 11th Dec 1984 The Big Tour
whamtix84Support act: Pepsi and Shirley; DJ Gary Crowley.
A year later and Wham! were back. This time, for their visit to the North East, they played three sold out shows at the massive cold, and cavernous, Whitley Bay Ice Rink. I attended the second show. The tour was entitled “The Big Tour” in support of their second album “Make it Big”. By now Wham! weren’t just big; they were a massively successful chart act and a hot concert attraction. They had reached the No. 1 spot in the UK singles charts on three occasions (three No. 1s in a row, in fact) with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Careless Whisper” (George Michael solo) and “Freedom”, and they had just released the Christmas single “Last Christmas” which reached No. 2.whamprog84
Whitley Bay Ice Rink is situated near Newcastle and is the home of the Whitley Warriors ice hockey team. In the 1980s it was the North East’s main rock concert venue, and remained so until Newcastle Arena opened in 1995. By the 1980s each city wanted its own arena, so venues which were not ideal were used for large concerts as acts outgrew theatres and civic halls. Whitley Bay Ice Rink started hosting concerts with a show by the Jam in 1982 followed by AC/DC, The Cure, Kylie Minogue, Oasis, Take That and others. Standing on top of an ice rink covered in wooden boards was not the best setting for a gig, and it was always very cold, and the sound wasn’t great.
However the kids who poured into the Ice Rink to see Wham! didn’t care how cold it was; they were getting to see their heroes. The gig was a wild affair with lots of screaming girls, and George and Andrew performing all their hits. By now it was very much about George, and the loudest screams were reserved for him, particularly when he sang “Careless Whisper”. The concert was an all standing affair; and I spent the evening wandering around the hall, surrounded by 8,000 screaming girls. The show was great fun, and it was an experience to witness Wham! at the peak of their sucess.
The next time I saw the duo was at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium on 13th July 1985. George Michael sang “Dont let the sun go down on me” with Elton John while Andrew Ridgeley joined Kiki Dee in the row of backing singers. I saw them one further time, at their Final concert, again at Wembley, a year later in 1986. I’ll write about that concert tomorrow to conclude my Wham! series.

4 responses to this post.

  1. I always thought Wham made terrific pop records but I have to shamefully admit I was at 24 a little too self conscious to get a ticket for this gig, fearing my mates would take the proverbial! Cut to 23 years later and myself and the wife are at Man City’s ground watching George Michael belt out his fabulous back catalogue, me singing along with every word! Thats the great thing about age – one of the only good things – you care less and less what people think. RIP George!


  2. On a separate but related point, it’s interesting what you say about the moment that leisure centres and ice rinks started popping up as de facto arena settings in the 80’s as acts outgrew the Newcastle City Hall’s of this world. I always thought it was a sad moment because a venue the size of NCH is for me the perfect place to see a band. I was always sad I missed out on seeing Zeppelin at the City Hall, but they barely played a gig in this country after 72 for I would imagine the reason that there was just much much bigger venues in the States, and therefore greater revenue. Yeah, anyway, Whitley Bay Ice Rink was awful, terrible cavernous acoustics and like you say freezing cold, but I did see a few bands there over the years, Maiden, AC/DC, Rainbow, Pet Shop Boys, I think the last gig I saw there was Oasis in 96 (remember thinking it was desperately odd they didn’t play Newcastle Arena as that was up and running by then!).


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 7, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Yes Whitley Bay Ice Rink was very cold Craig. I agree about how sad it was when bands like Zeppelin stopped playing City Hall’s and ballrooms. Happy days Peter


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