Archive for the ‘Harry Hack and the Big G’ Category

Rock Against Racism Punk gig Newcastle Guildhall 1977

Rock Against Racism Punk gig Newcastle Guildhall 1977
rockagainstracism This Rock Against Racism gig featured The Big G (aka Harry Hack and the Big G), Punishment of Luxury, The Press Studs and Speed. I remember The Big G and Punilux well. Both bands gigged regularly around the north east in the late 1970s, and they have both also recently reformed. I am afraid I don’t recall the Press Studs. The excellent bored teenagers site lists them as: “A very short lived Punk 5-Piece from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne who played fairly regularly at “Gatsby’s”. Speed were one of the first Punk bands to form in the North East, and were around in the early days along with Penetration. They were all very young at the time and used to gatecrash other peoples gigs, jump on stage and play! I am sure I saw this happen at a gig at Newcastle Poly one night. Rock Against Racism was a new concept in 1977, which organised quite a few gigs in the north east, including this one at the Guildhall, which I attended, largely to see Punishment of Luxury who were very impressive at the time.

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Harry Hack and the Big G at the Guildhall

Said Peter Howard of Harry Hack and the Big G “We were one of Newcastle’s first punk bands in 1977,” said Peter, now 54. “We couldn’t afford Vivienne Westwood up here and the whole punk thing was far more of a home-made affair than the London scene. Punk was a bit of a shock to a lot of people in the North. At the Prince of Wales pub, on the West Road, we were all banned for life because one of us was wearing a skeleton earring. There was another gig in the Newton Park Hotel where after the first song the manager marched up and pulled the plug. But some of the students who’d been watching invited us to finish the gig over the road at the Coach Lane Campus union.”

The Big G were: Rob Dixon: Harry Hack. Peter Howard: Walter Hack. Mick Emerson: Red Helmet. Anth Martin: EH Flash. Jane Wade: Kid Mutant. Norman Emerson: Mean Average.

In July 1977, the band were billed third at the Guildhall on Newcastle’s Quayside, supporting County Durham’s Penetration and punk pioneers The Adverts. Sixth on the bill were the little-known band Warsaw, formed the previous year in Salford, Manchester. “They were rubbish,” Peter remembers, but later Warsaw renamed themselves Joy Division and won world-wide fame. (Newcastle Evening Chronicle).

Vocalist Johnny Fusion of Speed moved to London  and went on to form Band of Holy Joy“Formed from the ashes of an unrecorded ’77 punk band, Speed, Band Of Holy Joy’s

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Speed at the Guildhall

initial musical forays were largely in the domain of industrial bricolage and occasional bursts of madness. By the time they began releasing records under their own name in the 1980s, the band’s humanist tendencies came to the fore, with astounding portraits of people on the periphery, resulting in such classics as Rosemary Smith, Mad Dot and Don’t Stick Knives In Babbies Heads. The sharp sensibilities of founder and leader Johny Brown eventually led to a star-making deal with Rough Trade, a few near hits and career momentum shattered when the label collapsed mere days after what might have been the band’s breakthrough album.”

Many thanks to Mark for the pictures of The Big G and Speed.

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle June 1979

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle June 1979
bedrock79 Yesterday I wrote about the 1977 Bedrock festival. The event obviously ran again in 1979, as I have a ticket stub for a show which took place at Newcastle Guildhall. I don’t recall whether or not there was a Bedrock festival in 1978. Once again, the festival showcased local rock talent. The Weights grew out of the ashes of Harry Hack and the Bog G after they split. White Heat were fronted by Bob Smeaton, who went on to be a very successful film director, directing the Grammy-award winning Anthology series on the Beatles, and many other music-related films. At the time, White Heat had quite a following locally, and released a couple of singles, and an album which is quite collectable nowadays. Their music was based in new wave, but more of the power pop or new mod variety. Bob was a great front man. I recall seeing the band at Newcastle Mayfair one night; the place was packed and their was a feeling that we were witnessing the next big thing. Their single “Nervous Breakdown” is great; there is an excellent video on Youtube of them performing it live. Disguise were another band who seemed poised for big success, which alluded them. They came from Hartlepool, and were also of the power pop genre. They had some quite catchy songs. As well as this gig at the Guildhall, I remember going to see them at the Bell in Horden which ran a series of Sunday night gigs at the time.

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle July 1977

The Bedrock Festival Newcastle July 1977
bedrock1 I’m going to jump out of sequence now and then over the next couple of weeks, as I want to cover a few punk and new wave acts that I am writing on for another project. Apologies for that; I’ll return to the letter I soon (lots of Iron Maiden gigs to cover). Today I’m going to blog on The Bedrock Festival which took place over the fist weekend of July in the year that punk broke, 1977. The full line-up was: Friday lunchtime: Penetration; Harry Hack and the Big G; Friday night: Southbound; East Coast; Steve Brown Band; Scratchband; Saturday lunchtime: Sidekick; Harcourt’s Heroes; Saturday night: Pete Scott Band; Arbre; Hot Snax; Sunday lunchtime: Kip; Moonlight Drive; Sunday night: Young Bucks; Michael Ford’s Limousine; Junco Parters. penetration I went along to the Friday lunchtime session and on Sunday evening, although I only have a ticket stub for the Sunday gig. I definitely remember the Friday session because I went especially to see Penetration who I was a great fan of at the time. I can only assume that I paid on the door for that session, and hence didn’t get a ticket. The event was part of broader Newcastle Festival activities, and was a weekend devoted to local rock talent. The venue for all the concert was the University Theatre, which is a small hall sited next to Newcastle University. It is now called the Playhouse Theatre, and is the home of Northern Stage. bedrock77 The venue for the Friday lunchtime gig was changed at the last minute to the dining hall of nearby Newcastle Polytechnic, because the University Theatre took a policy decision to pull out of any punk rock gigs, which just shows the paranoia which surrounded punk at that time. The venue wasn’t full, and the audience was a small grouping of punks, rock fans and students who had gathered on a Friday lunch time to enjoy the music of a couple of local punk bands. Harry Hack and the Big G were up first followed by Penetration, who were starting to build up their own following. newcastle festival1977 Both bands put on a good show, but my memories are of Penetration who had assembled a set of strong, self-penned songs, which became the tracks on their first album, Moving Targets, which was released the following year. I remember my early favourites were Duty Free Technology, Silent Community, Firing Squad (which was to become a single) and Pauline’s great treatment of Patti Smith’s Free Money. Great stuff. The Sunday night was headlined by Michael Ford’s Limousine. Michael Ford was also known as Mick Whittaker, who is a great soul singer in the mould of Joe Cocker and Paul Rodgers. He was great that night, and there was a feeling that this guy was going to go on and make it really big, which never happened, and is a great shame.

The Adverts, Penetration, Warsaw (Joy Division), Harry Hack Newcastle Guildhall 1977

The Adverts, Penetration, Warsaw (Joy Division) New Wave Bop Newcastle 1977
By 1977 I was seriously into punk and new wave, and the new bands were starting to play gigs up in the North East. I still liked classic rock bands, but was also excited by the urgency and immediacy of punk. This gig was held at Newcastle Guildhall, a venue on Newcastle Quayside, which no longer holds concerts and is now a Tourist Information office. Punk was still in its early days. The Adverts had released One Chord Wonders as a single, but had yet to release Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. Penetration were starting to become known locally, but had yet to land a record deal. Penetration were quite a favourite of mine at the time. Marie and I saw them many times, and often ran into Pauline and the rest of the band at local punk gigs. This gig was memorable for another reason however. The first band up was a new combo who had come from Manchester to play. They were called Warsaw and Pauline and Gary from Penetration told us that they had played with them in Manchester a few days before at The Electric Circus. They had been impressed by them and had invited them up to Newcastle to play the Guildhall. Thus, as a late addition to the bill, there are not listed on the flyer. Marie and I arrived early primarily to make sure that we caught Penetration’s set, and as a result we were there for Warsaw. Warsaw were, of course, to become Joy Division some months later. I would love to be able to report that we experienced something momentous that evening. However, my recollections were of a band who were nervous, and obviously still learning to play. I don’t recall Ian Curtis displaying any of the manic dancing way that would become his trademark. Rather, I remember a shy guy who appeared uncomfortable on stage. I saw Joy Division a year or so later supporting the Buzzcocks and Ian was incredible; however what we saw at the Guildhall was a new, young band playing pretty average garage punk songs. Reports of the time suggest that they will have played early songs: Reaction and Leaders of Men. A recording of Warsaw playing Reaction at Middlesbrough Rock Garden exists, and can be found on YouTube. Next up was local band Harry Hack and the Big G; I recall one song about “Brown Dog” (Newcastle Brown Ale). Pentration were, as always, excellent; they had some great songs which I was starting to know, having seen them many times. The Adverts were also a good live act. TV Smith was a dynamic front man, and Gaye Advert stood quietly alongside him playing bass. Great memories. I note that the flyer states “all bands to be recorded”. I wonder if any recording exists. I would love to hear it.