Archive for the ‘Persuasions’ Category

Lou Reed Newcastle City Hall 30th September 1973

Lou Reed Newcastle City Hall 30th September 1973
loureedtixIn December 1972, having left the Velvet Underground a year or so earlier, Lou Reed released “Transformer”, his seminal album, which was co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. The record, partly through Bowie’s success, introduced Reed to a wider audience, especially in the UK. The hit single “Walk on the Wild Side” came off the album. Bowie said of Lou Reed’s music” “I had never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me.” Reed released his next album: “Berlin” in 1973 and toured the UK on what is sometimes called “The Rock And Roll Animal Tour” to promote it. I remember that Lou was dressed all in black leather, his face covered in make up. The concert was a mix of highs and lows; at times I recall thinking Reed’s performance excellent, at other times in the same show it seemed that he didn’t care at all about the songs he was singing, or the audience. The moment that sticks in my mind most of all came during his performance of the Velvet Underground classic “Heroin”. During the song, Reed wrapped a belt around his arm, and simulated injecting his vein with heroin. Pretty shocking and heavy stuff, but it underlined the lyrics and the scary message of the song. Looking at the songs he played during that tour, it includes songs which were quite new to me at the time, and are now recognised as classics: “Vicous”, “Sweet Jane”, “Waiting for the Man” (always my favourite), “Satellite of Love” and of course “Walk on the Wild Side”. According to records from the time the support act was the Persuasions, an a cappella group from Brooklyn, New York, formed in the mid-1960s. Now I remember seeing the Persuasions at Lincoln Festival in 1972, and being very impressed by them, but I have absolutely no recollection of seeing them at this gig; but hey ho that’s the way my memory is now. Maybe they did play, maybe I was in the bar during their set (quite likely for the time 🙂 ). Lou Reed’s band for the tour: Lou Reed – vocals, guitar; Steve Hunter – guitar; Dick Wagner -guitar; Ray Colcord – organ; Prakash John – bass; Pentti Glan – drums
Based on setlists from the tour, Reed is likely to have played a selection something like this: Vicious (or Sweet Jane); How Do You Think It Feels?; Caroline Says I; I’m Waiting for the Man; Satellite of Love; Walk on the Wild Side; Oh, Jim; Heroin; White Light/White Heat; Rock & Roll (possibly Sister Ray)
I also saw Lou perform at The Who’s Chartlon concert in 1974. By this point he was sporting bright white bleached hair. He again played a mix of his solo stuff and Velvet Underground classics. I deeply regret that I never got to see the Velvet Underground. I did go and see a version of the band when they were due to play at Sunderland Locarno in 1972. I am pretty sure that they didn’t turn up that night. The next time I saw Lou Reed was some 30 years later. I’ll write more about Lou Reed and about that gig in particular tomorrow.
“Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side, And the colored girls go, Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo” (Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed, 1972). Pure magic.

Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Festival Lincoln 1972

Joe Cocker and many others Great Western Express Festival Lincoln May Bank holiday weekend 1972
I was 15 at the time and so excited about going to a real pop festival. My dad drove me and a couple of mates down on the Friday night, after we’d been to the local Mecca ballroom. We arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning, having missed the Friday night bands, and slept in a big crash tent for a few hours. We soon ran into a group of other lads who had also come down from Sunderland, and between us we built a cabin out of bails of hay and planks of wood which were lying around in the fields. I swear there were around 20 of us sleeping in there. We were quite close to the stage, and I pretty much stayed in that cabin all weekend. We could also stand on the roof and watch the bands. There was a massive (and very empty) press enclosure which divided the crowd from the stage, so no-one could get that close, which was bad planning. The weather was wet, with rain for most of the weekend. But I didn’t care; this was a real pop festival, and I was determined to enjoy every minute. The line-up for the remaining three days of the event was really strong. I’ll try and recall as much as I can.
Saturday. Nazareth opened the day around noon. I remember them playing Morning Dew, and thinking that they were ok. They were followed by Locomotive GT, Roxy Music who were playing their first major gig and Heads, Hands and Feet, featuring the great Albert Lee, who I remember playing “Warming up the band”. The first band I have strong memories of was Wishbone Ash. They hd just released “Argus” and their set consisted of all the classic Ash songs: Time Was, Blowin’ Free, Jailbait, The King Will Come, Phoenix etc. They were just wonderful at that time. Helen Reddy did not perform, and was replaced by Rory Gallagher, who had stayed on from the Friday to play again, as I understand his Friday set was cut short because of the weather. The Strawbs featured the classic Cousins/Hudson/Ford line-up at the time. This was before any of the hits. Pretty sure they played “The Hangman and the Papist” and “The Man who called himself Jesus”. Stone The Crows were next up. This was their first performance after Les Harvey’s death, and Steve Howe from Yes stood in on guitar. Maggie Bell’s performance was highly emotional and the crowd gave her the strongest reception of the day, sensing how real the blues was to her that night, coming only a few weeks after she had lost her boyfriend. Rod Stewart and The Faces closed Saturday night. I remember Rod wearing a silver lame jacket and that they were pretty ramshackle, but good.
Sunday. The Natural Acoustic Band started the day, followed by Focus who warmed the crowd up with Sylvia, and Brewers Droop who were a raunchy boogie band who popped up at a few festivals in those days. Spencer Davis played with his new band, which was heavy on steel guitar and country oriented, followed by The Incredible String Band. Lindisfarne were the first band to get the crowd going and were a big hit of the weekend. We were all on the roof of our cabin, singing along to Fog on the Tyne. Average White Band were followed by The Persuasions who were an a cappella soul band, and were impressive. The next big hit of the day were Slade, who just tore the place apart. They started this performance with a lot to prove to a “Hippy” crowd, who viewed slade as a pop act. By the end of the performance everyone was singing along and converted. They were just great. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, with the entire cast, did all their great sketches: Dead Parrot, Lumberjack Song, Argument; great fun. The Beach Boys closed the evening and were wonderful singing all the hits. Great end to a great day.
Monday. The morning featured some folk acts, who had been moved to the main stage because the folk tent had been damaged by the weather. I remember Jonathan Kelly performing and singing “Ballad of Cursed Anna” which is a favourite of mine to this day. Jackson Heights, featuring Lee Jackson from the Nice started the main part of the day off, followed by Atomic Rooster, Vincent Crane collapsing (as he normally did) during Gershatzer. Vinegar Joe with Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer were next up, followed by the Sutherland Brothers. The next two bands were both up and coming at the time: Genesis and Status Quo. They were both festival favourites, Peter Gabriel with his shaved forehead, telling those great stories to introduce beautiful songs such as Musical Box, and Quo were still trying to establish themselves as a proper rock band and shake off the pop image, which they were doing very well with tracks such as Someones Learning and Is It Really Me? Don McLean sang American Pie and the rain stopped for him. Humble Pie were something else. Steve Marriott was at the top of his game and was fully into his “My skin is white but my soul is black” routine. I Don’t Need No Doctor!! Just great. Sha Na Na, still featuring in all our minds from the Woodstock movie, had us all singing along. Joe Cocker closed the festival. He came on very late as I recall. There was a long wait and he took to the stage in the early hours of the morning. I remember him singing The Letter and Cry Me a River. He was good, but I was tired and cold by that time. All my mates had gone to sleep.
Other memories of the weekend. A large black and white screen above the stage, which worked some of the time. They showed movies on it throughout the night. I watched Marlon Brando in The Wild One, which was banned in the UK (!) at the time. Lots of chants of Wally. People openly selling dope with price lists on their tents. Hari Krishna’s giving out free food. A straw fight during (I think) Lindisfarne’s set. Everyone around me had also been to the Bickershaw festival a couple of weeks before, and were taking about how great The Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart were. I was dead jealous.
I caught the train back on Tuesday. My mates variously hitched and scored lifts. I arrived home tired, unwashed, and determined to go to as many festivals as I could in the future, which I sort of stuck to for the remainder of the 70s.