Archive for the ‘Dr Feelgood’ Category

Rock on the Tyne Gateshead Stadium 29th/30th August 1981

Rock on the Tyne Gateshead Stadium 29th/30th August 1981
rockontynetixbIn 1981 the north east for its own rock festival in the shape of Rock on the Tyne, a two day event which took place at Gateshead Stadium over the August bank holiday weekend. So we decided to forego our usual annual trek to Reading and sample the delights of this new event. That seemed a big choice, and a bit of a dilemma for me at the time, as I had been going to Reading for 9 consecutive years. As it happened, having made the break from going to Reading I never returned, which in hindsight was a mistake….
The line-up for Rock on the Tyne was (according to my tickets) as below.
Saturday. Huang Chung, Doll by Doll, The Polecats, Pauline Murray, U2, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Elvis Costello. [note the programme doesn’t list Pauline Murray, and does list Beckett. I can’t remember seeing Pauline play, and suspect the programme may be correct.]
Sunday. Fist, Diamond Head, Trimmer & Jenkins, Dr Feelgood, Ginger Baker’s Nutters, Lindisfarne, Rory Gallagher.
rockontynetixaOne of my main reasons for attending was to see up and coming new wave Irish band U2; this was their first appearance in the north east. I remember getting to the festival just in time to see their set late on Saturday afternoon. U2 were amazing at this point in their career. Bono was passionate, full of energy and you could just feel how hungry he and the rest of the band were for the massive success which was soon to follow. Stand-out songs were 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow (which they performed twice, once during the main set and again as part of the encore) and Fire. I remember Bono climbing up the lighting rig during (I think) Fire. Or perhaps that was the following year when they supported the Police at the same venue, or maybe it was on both occasions (actually I think it was both times ?) The memories are fading now, but what I do remember is that U2 were the highlight of the festival, and they were the band that everyone was talking about.
My other memory of the weekend was Rory Gallagher. Rory was never less than excellent, and this performance was no exception. He’d put on a little weight and added a brass section, and played the festival out with all those blues rock classics…Well did out ever get up with them bullfrogs on our mind?! Pure class 🙂
rockontyneprogIan Dury was good, Elvis was moving into his country period, Ginger Baker had a massive drum kit (of course). The festival wasn’t that well attended and wasn’t repeated although Gateshead Stadium has been used for concerts since then, including the aforementioned Police and U2 gig which took place the following year.
U2 setlist: With A Shout; 11 O’Clock Tick Tock; I Will Follow; An Cat Dubh; Into The Heart; Another Time, Another Place; The Cry; The Electric Co.; I Threw A Brick Through A Window; Stories For Boys; Out Of Control.
Encores: I Will Follow; Fire.
Rory Gallagher setlist: The Devil Made Me Do It; Bad Penny; Nadine; I Wonder Who; Moonchild; Double Vision; Wayward Child; Bourbon; Brute Force and Ignorance; Ride on Red, Ride On; Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy); Tattoo’d Lady; Leavin’ Blues; Philby; Shadow Play; Bullfrog Blues
This post takes me up to the letter “U”. I will continue with “U” tomorrow, by writing about U2 in concert.

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
reading75flyerThe Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
readingprog75Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
reading75Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.

Dr Feelgood Newcastle Mayfair 1987

Dr Feelgood Newcastle Mayfair 1987
The last time I saw Dr Feelgood in concert was at a gig at Newcastle Mayfair ballroom in 1987. By then Lee Brilleaux was the only original member remaining and the line-up was: Lee (vocals), Gordon Russell (guitar), Phil Mitchell (bass) and Kevin Morris (drums). My recollection of the gig was that it was ok, but not the best time that I saw the Feelgoods. That line up continued for a few more years, until they suffered an almost career-finishing blow, when Lee sadly died of cancer in 1994. However, the band reunited, recruited another singer, and continue to this day, with local Sunderland lad, Rob Kane, formerly of The Showbiz Kids, as the current (and now long-term) singer. I’ve read some recent reports of the band, and by all accounts they are still a hot live act. Another one to add to my list of bands to see again….

Dr Feelgood Newcastle City Hall 1977 to 1979

Dr Feelgood Newcastle City Hall 1977 to 1979
So Wilko was gone and Gypie Mayo was in. I had big doubts as to whether this could work. Wilko was a class act, and would be very hard to follow. The chemistry between Lee and Wilko was obvious, they worked together so well. It could never be the same again. So we went along to see; and it worked. All credit to Gypie Mayo for taking this on and making it work, but work it did. Apparently Gypie only had a week to learn the set before going out on this tour. He kept his own style, and didn’t try to imitate Wilko, but he and Lee worked together and the Feelgoods continued to rock, just as they had before. Support for the 1977 tour came from the very excellent Mink DeVille, who hit the charts around the same time with “Spanish Stroll”. We went along to the City Hall early to make sure we caught their set; this was one gig where we gave the bar a miss. Will DeVille was a cook guy and warmed the crowd up well for our session in the Dr’s surgery. Dr Feelgood often seemed to choose a strong support act to open for them. The support in 1978 was Squeeze, who are another class act. I think support in 1979 came from Red Beans and Rice. After 1979, the Feelgood’s North East gigs were in smaller venues than the City Hall, such as Durham University and Redcar Coatham Bowl. By 1981 there had been more change and Gypie Mayo had left then band, to be replaced by Johnny Guitar. I saw that line up at the Rock on the Tyne festival which took place over the 1981 August Bank Holiday weekend. This was the start of several more line up changes, which have gone on until this day. I saw Dr Feelgood once more, at Newcastle Mayfair in 1987. I’ll blog on that gig shortly. Its easy to forget just how great Dr Feelgood were in the 70s, particularly as a live act. Without the Feelgoods we may not have had punk, and things just wouldn’t have been the same. I spent some great nights with these guys.

Dr Feelgood Newcastle City Hall 1975 and 1976

Dr Feelgood Newcastle City Hall 1975 and 1976
Dr Feelgood were just plain amazing in their early days. They grew out of pub rock and preceded punk, and were pretty untouchable as a live act. I first saw them as support for Hawkwind on their 1974 tour, and was blown away by them. I couldn’t take my eyes off the two front men Lee Brilleaux and Wilko Johnson. Wilko strutted backwards and forwards across the stage, playing his Fender Telecaster in his characteristic choppy style, while Lee stared menacingly at us all, dressed in a sharp white suit, wringing the mike and pumping his fist. Sparko and The Big Figure silently and relentlessly provided the rhythm. I loved those tunes: “Back In the Night”, “Roxette”, “She does it right”. There was no one like them and no-one to touch them. The Feelgoods visited the City Hall every year from 1976 to 1979 and I went each year. They were always a great live act, and I never saw them put on anything other than a great performance. They also had some pretty cool support acts: GT Moore and the Reggae Guitars on the 1975 tour, and the George Hatcher band in 1976 (although the ticket says Clover, I am pretty sure they were replaced on the tour by George Hatcher). I also saw them at the Reading Festival in 1975, where they were the favourites of the weekend. Went with a group of mates; I can remember all of us coming back from the local pub specially to catcg the Feelgood’s set. And then the unthinkable happened, and Wilko was gone. I was shocked, and couldn’t see how the band would survive the loss of such a charismatic figure. Wilko wrote many of the songs, and was so crucial and integral to their sound, and their live show. But survive they did. I’ll blog tomorrow on the post-Wilko gigs that I saw at the City Hall. The live album “Stupidity” gives an idea of a setlist from those days: Talking About You; 20 Yards Behind; Stupidity; All Through The City; I’m a Man; Walking The Dog; She Does It Right; Going Back Home; I Don’t Mind; Back in the Night; I’m a Hog for You Baby; Checking Up on My Baby; Roxette; Riot in Cell Block No. 9