Archive for the ‘Mad Dog’ Category

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Sunderland Empire 1969. Supported by Roy Harper and Yes

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Roy Harper, Yes, Mad Dog
Sunderland Empire Theatre March 8th 1969
(Semi) memories of my first gig
The first concert I ever attended was the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band at Sunderland Empire in March 1969. I was 12 years old at the time and had been getting into pop and rock music for a year or two. I’d started to buy the New Musical Express and was beginning to collect records. I managed to persuade my parents to let me attend the concert on the basis that there were two shows at 6pm and 9pm, and that if I went to the earlier show, I could safely get the bus home. None of my friends at the time were interested so I bought myself a ticket, reserving myself a seat in the front row of the stalls. First gigs are important in my view. They can shape musical taste and set allegiances for life. For me this gig set me on an unavoidable path to becoming obsessed with seeing bands, with rock music in general, and gave me a life long interest in Yes and Roy Harper, who both formed part of the supporting bill. I can still remember aspects of this gig some 43 years later as I write this. I sat fascinated at the performers on stage, and entranced by the loud music. In fact the volume was something that did it for me. The bands (I probably called them groups at the time) seemed very, very loud to me; I was almost frightened that my hearing would be damaged (in fact, it is starting to go slightly now, but it has taken a long time, and I can’t be sure that it is a result of going to rock concerts, but I suspect it is). And the power, passion and energy of the performers also struck me. First up was a band called Mad Dog. I’m not sure what happened to them, and the only song I can recall was a great version of Moby Grape’s Can’t Be So Bad, which appears on one of the Rock Machine albums. Next up was Yes who were a revelation, and fascinated me with their jazzy mix of rock and pop. And they played some songs that I knew: Something’s Coming from West Side Story and The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. They also played No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, which is a Richie Havens song and appears on Yes’ second album, and opens with the theme from the film The Big Country. Yes had yet to release their first album, and the line up at that time was Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford, Peter Banks and Tony Kaye. I was impressed by how Jon and Chris were dressed; Chris in particular was sporting a natty hat and impressive flares and boots. I recall that a compere introduced each band and chatted to the audience while the stage set up was being changed around, in the way that I imagine it worked on 60s package tours. Next up was Roy Harper who sat to the right of the stage on a high stool, directly in front of me. He had incredibly long hair (something else which impressed me) and was wearing a pair of beat up old jeans and big work boots. I think he sang Hells Angels, Nobodies Got Any Money in the Summer, and I Hate The White Man. I was surprised at the way he interacted with the audience; it was as if people knew him and were having conversations with him from the stalls. Finally the bill toppers took to the stage, accompanied by some amazing machines and props which were always an important part of the Bonzos show. The Bonzo Dog Band (they had shortened their name at this time) performed tracks from their first two albums Gorilla and The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse, including such great (and fun) songs as: Cool Britannia, The Equestrian Statue, Jollity Farm, Look Out There’s a Monster Coming, Death Cab for Cutie (which I has seen them perform on TV in the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour show), Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?, Trouser Press (featuring some natty on stage trouser pressing), and of course I’m The Urban Spaceman, during which Viv Stanshall blew through a long plastic tube while swinging it around his head. And so the die was cast, I set out on my life long concert journey which has given me great joy over the years, and also caused me some trouble at times when I become obsessive and attend too many! Sadly I don’t have a ticket stub for this concert. I hadn’t got into the habit of saving them at that stage, and the tickets for shows at the Empire at the time simply listed the date, and not the artist, so didn’t seem worth keeping.