Archive for the ‘Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Category

Elvis Costello Newcastle City Hall 1979

Elvis Costello Newcastle City Hall 1979
Support Acts: Richard Hell; John Cooper Clarke
Elvis Costello was back at the City Hall in early 1979 fronting a great triple bill, with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and John Cooper Clarke as support acts. I’d seen Richard Hell as support for the Clash at Newcastle Poly, and John Cooper Clarke popped up quite often as a support act in those days. Both acts were well worth watching, of course. Richard had been a member of Television and, briefly, the Heartbreakers, and was known at the time for his signature tune “Blank Generation” and for “inventing’ ripped, safety-pinned shirts. John Cooper Clarke was a revelation in those early punk days. His rapid, caustic humour delivered in that greater Mancunian drawl always went down well with the Geordie crowd. Songs (are they songs?) such as “I Don’t Wanna Be Nice”; “Psycle Sluts 1&2” and “(I Married a) Monster from Outer Space” stick in my mind even to this day. Elvis Costello had kept on turning out those classic hit singles in the year since his last City Hall performance. “Oliver’s Army”; “Accidents Will Happen” and “Radio Radio” were all new to the set this time around. The set was much longer with two extended encores. I’ve just played last song “part Girl” on Youtube to remind myself how great Elvis was in those days. I must also mention Elvis’ band The Attractions, who were a very important part of his sound. Local guy Bruce Thomas played with Paul Rodgers in the 60s, and I saw him several times in the very under-rated band Quiver. The other members were Steve Nieve on piano and Bruce Thomas (whoo I’d previously seen with Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers) on drums. Setlist: Goon Squad; Hand In Hand; Oliver’s Army; (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?; Green Shirt; The Beat; Accidents Will Happen; Lip Service; This Year’s Girl; Lipstick Vogue; Watching The Detectives; Big Boys; You Belong To Me – including a line from The Last Time; Pump It Up. Encore 1: (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea; Mystery Dance; Radio, Radio. Encore 2: No Dancing; Party Girl

The Clash Newcastle Polytechnic Oct 28 1977 and Dec 2 1978

The Clash Newcastle Polytechnic Oct 28th 1977 and Dec 2nd 1978
Support acts: Richard Hell and the Voidoids (1977); The Slits (1978)
The Clash came back to Newcastle later in 1977, and again in 1978. I only have vague _DSC3340 [CROP2][LR]memories of the 1977 gig, and can’t be certain that I attended, although I think I did. I remember there was trouble and some fights at one, and maybe both, of the gigs. I read somewhere that Richard Hell had a firework thrown in his face. I have very vivid memories of the 1978 gig. By 1978 The Clash were massive, and the gig sold out almost immediately. I also bought tickets for their gig at Middlesbrough Town Hall, but sold them to a couple of mates so that I could go and see The Jam at the Mayfair that night. That night at Newcastle Polytechnic I saw something different in The Clash. It was as if they had moved up couple of levels, and were now a confident, and great rock band, rather than another punk act. The place was packed, with everyone standing on chairs and tables. I think they started with Safe European Home; I do remember that they were just stupendous. I also remember being particularly impressed by Mick Jones guitar work, and when he took the lead for Stay Free, which remains one of my favourite songs to this day. This was the best time that I saw The Clash, and the night I realised that there were a major rock band. I remember saying to Marie that, on that night, for me they were up there with The Who and Zeppelin as one of our best live rock acts.

Blog entry updated on 23rd of June 2020. I recently wrote a chapter for a book about The Clash (Smith, 2017). I have enclosed a short extract below which relates to these gigs. I have also taken the opportunity to include some great photographs which Mark kindly send me of both The Clash and Richard Hell.

_DSC3349 [CROP2][LR]“The Clash returned to Newcastle later in 1977, and again in 1978. There was violence and fighting at both gigs. Both gigs took place at the Students’ Union of Newcastle Polytechnic. Both were weekend gigs, party nights for the students. Admission was once again “students only,” which was a source of anger and violence, and in direct contravention of the tour policy which “guaranteed access to non-college students” (Gray 2003). Richard Hell had a firework thrown in his face at the 1977 gig, which took place a few days before bonfire night. These were crazy nights of excitement, violence, clashes between rival gangs and excellent rock music. “The gigs were mayhem,” recalls Johnny Green: “never seen anything like it in my life” (Gray 2003). A member of The Slits urged the crowd to “wreck the place” (Newcastle Journal, 2011).

I have very vivid memories of the 1978 gig. By 1978 The Clash were established, popular and the darlings of the music press, and as a result the gig sold out almost immediately. There was much anticipation for the concert. The students had come to see what punk rock was all about, and fans to experience their new rock heroes. The local people, those who managed to gain entry, were there to spit at the band and (for some) to fight with the students. The group of people outside were trying to force their way in, getting angrier and angrier, and ended up waiting outside to attack students as they left. At the 1977 gig a fan tried to pull Mick Jones off stage, damaging his Les Paul Junior (Gray 2003)._DSC3343 [CROP][LR]

Although I enjoyed the gigs, I was scared on both occasions. I had very long hair and looked out of place at a punk gig. The fact that the gigs took place in a students’ union building added a level of safety. I could blend in with the students, although I was also the subject of taunts from local punks. It was leaving the venue which was the most frightening aspect of the evening. We had to run the gauntlet of a large group of punks and skinheads who, having been denied access to the gig, were determined to vent their anger and frustrations on students, many worse the wear from alcohol, leaving the hall. Some people were seriously hurt. A heavy police presence minimised the violence and the danger and we survived both gigs unscathed.

_DSC3376 [CROP][LR]The Newcastle Journal (2011) reported the 1978 gig as an example of the “harum-scarum days of punk rock” where “hundreds of drunken youngsters” had “fierce scuffles” and “specially trained security guards with dogs and walkie-talkies” tried to keep order inside and outside the venue.”

Gray, Marcus (2003), The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town, London: Helter Skelter.

Journal, The. (2011). Reuniting the wild women of punk rock, The Journal, Newcastle 23rd February 2011.

Smith, P. (2017). An Analysis of The Clash in Concert: 1977 to 1982, in Cohen, S and Peacock, J (eds.), The Clash Takes on the World: Transnational Perspectives on The Only Band that Matters, Bloomsbury, pp 27 – 44.

Many thanks once again Mark for your great photographs, and for allowing me to use them to update my blog posts.