The Stranglers Newcastle Polytechnic Green bar 23 February 1977

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My Ticket

This is an update of an earlier post, thanks to Mark the promoter, who sent me more details of the first three punk gigs in Newcastle. This was the second gig of the three, the first being the Vibrators and the last being Penetration; both of which I have already written about.

I first saw the Stranglers in the Green bar of Newcastle Poly in February 1977, and have a natty little ticket from the event (pictured here) which shows a victim of (I think) the Boston Strangler. The bar was completely packed. The audience was a mix of students, and locals with a smattering of people starting to wear punk gear. A group of fashion students were into the punk scene and would dress in Vivienne Westwood gear which they must have bought from Seditionaries in London. The Stranglers played a blistering performance featuring early songs, many of which were to appear on their soon to be released first album, “Rattus Norvegicus”. Their only release at the time of the Poly gig was the first single “Grip”/”London Lady”. “London Lady” was probably my favourite song of theirs at the time.

I found a bootleg listed for a performance at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, also on 23rd February 1977. The Rock Garden gig was in fact the night after, on 24th February 1977. The recording shows the set as being: Get A Grip On Yourself; Sometimes; Bitching; School Mam; Peasant In The Big Shitty; Straighten Out; Hanging Around; Ugly; London Lady; Down In The Sewer; Something Better Change; Go Buddy Go. If that set list is correct it seems that the band had already written, and were playing, tracks such as “Bitching” and “School Mam” that would end up on their second album “No More Heroes”.

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Picture courtesy of Mark from a later gig at The City Hall

Mark says: “The Stranglers originally asked for more money than we had in the bank. But they made us an offer… if we put them up for the night, they would reduce their fee by £50, which made the gig possible. They were a great bunch of guys, very interesting to talk to. And they gave my and my bother a lift in their old rover car to the gig at the Rock Garden in Middlesbrough which was the next day. I recorded the Middlesbrough gig and is available amongst collectors (Aha, so that is where the aforementioned bootleg came from; it was courtesy of you Mark!) I also recorded the Newcastle Poly gig, but the sound on the recording was no good, so I didn’t keep it (the sound at the gig itself was great). All the posters had the same design, except different colours. The Stranglers sent publicity stuff, which I used for the tickets. But I designed my own poster, because I didn’t want people copying the poster to forge tickets. At that time, the Stranglers were the best known punk band after the Pistols.”

“RIP Dave Greenfield. His keyboards defined The Stranglers sound.” Well said Bryan.

14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Caroline on June 14, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    The ‘locals’ included two 15 year olds, one of whom had blagged herself a job at HMV Records in Northumberland Street and thus had access to tickets. And gave one to a grateful mate. RIP Helen.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Bryan on June 14, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    RIP Dave Greenfield. His keyboards defined The Stranglers sound.

    Reply

  3. Saw them at about the same time at Huddersfield poly. An excellent band – one of the more memorable gigs I’ve seen. 1st album out just after that – bought it first day out!

    Reply

  4. Posted by david howarth on June 15, 2020 at 9:11 am

    I have fond memories of this gig as I was already in the building early on. The Green Bar had a line of pinball machines along the back wall and the ‘stage’ was to the right of them. I had Jean Jacques Burnell playing on a machine next to me on the left, and Hugh Cornwell playing next to me on my right. I am also pretty sure that this wasn’t the first Stranglers gig at the Poly. Just before Christmas they had been booked as a support band in the main hall. The main band cried off so they ended up headlining and I remember them playing stuff then that appeared on their second album, so much of their material must have been written long before they were signed up to a label. The Entertainments Officer at the time told me that most punk was shit but the Stranglers were different because they could play and were reminiscent of the Doors. I have never been able to track down the date and have never read anything about the gig. If anyone else can remember it would bring my gig list further up to date.

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on June 15, 2020 at 11:54 am

      Yes I remember the great pinball machines David. I think they had a KISS machine which was very impressive and probably very rare, and worth a lot now. I’m afraid I can’t shed any light on the gig you mention. I used to go quite often on a Friday and don’t recall the Stranglers playing; but then my memory is terrible these days Cheers Peter

      Reply

    • Hi David… I don’t like contradicting you… but if the Stranglers had played Newcastle Poly in late 1976, I’m sure I would have been there. I had seen them 3 times earlier in the year, and knew what a great band they were, and was desperate to see them at every opportunity! So I think your memory might be playing tricks on you.
      Are you maybe remembering the first gig in Jan 77 which was originally the Buzzcocks, who cancelled and were replaced by the Vibrators?
      regards, Mark.

      Reply

      • Posted by david howarth on June 17, 2020 at 9:49 am

        Hi Mark. I remember you in the Fine Art department having copies of the Ramones and Patti Smith albums long before anyone else, so I bow to your knowledge! Memories do become fuzzy over time but Ian has posted on the City Hall July thread that he remembers it too. I don’t think it was advertised, they just ended up playing to a pretty much empty hall.

  5. Posted by Nick Beddoe on June 20, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Actually I am pretty sure they played in the main Ballroom, because it was sold out immediately, so moved downstairs and extra tickets made available- I was on the lighting crew, I know the social secretary Pete Brannigan (?) gave them extra cash because they hired a PA which cost £60, think their fee was only £50. Vibrators were in the Green Room, but I don’t remember a second gig upstairs for the Stranglers.

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on June 20, 2020 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Nick I am pretty sure it was upstairs. I remember standing right in front of Hugh Cornwall. But then again my memory plays tricks these days! Cheers Peter

      Reply

      • Posted by Caroline on November 11, 2020 at 10:00 pm

        Sorry just seen this thread again – as one of the 15 year olds, all I can remember about the room was that it seemed fairly cosy and to have a ‘sprung’ floor (which was actually fantastic).

      • Posted by vintagerock on November 12, 2020 at 1:33 pm

        Hi Caroline I don’t remember the sprung floor but I do remember lots of Pogo dancing; which the sprung floor would have helped with! Happy days Peter

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