Archive for the ‘SNAFU’ Category

Status Quo 1974 QUO and on tour again

Status Quo 1974 QUO and on tour again
quoprog74aQuo-woh-oh-oh-oh….Some time in the mid-70s the Quo rituals started. A few drinks in the City Tavern and then in the City Hall bar, catch some of the support act (always guaranteed to be good, so had to watch them), and then up to our seats, the lights would go down and then our chant would start…”Quo-woh-oh-oh-oh….” The Quo intro drone would play and then they would run on stage, Alan at the front for the first song, which we knew would be “Juniors Wailing”.
“Love me baby, love me when I’m down; I said love me baby, love me when I’m down; Yeah you gotta love me baby; ‘cos there’s no use hanging around” (Junior’s Wailing, cover of a Steamhammer song).
Yes it was the same every time, but that was part of the fun, the ritual. The guys (I was going to call them our heroes, which they were, but that just doesn’t feel right, they were more like our mates) were up on that stage and everything felt good. For a few hours we were removed from our day to day lives, and subjected to loud music, frantic rocking with a sell-out crowd, all of whom understood and felt it in exactly the same way as we did. Oh and we had to wear denim. Levi jacket and jeans and t-shirt (ok maybe Wrangler was also allowed).
quotix74aThe other ritual was “the jig”. Not sure when it started, or exactly which song it featured in (I think it may have been included during “Roadhouse Blues” which was always extended and epic) but it became a regular feature of Quo shows in the ’70s, and we came to look forward to, and enjoy it. It’s going to sound naff now, and pretty uncool, but it was basically an Irish type jig played on guitar, led by Francis, and we all had to jump up and down to it. Picture a completely full, hot, sweaty, City Hall, towards the end of the gig, everyone in denim, hair flying around, jumping up and down in our seats with the three Quo front men on stage jumping up and down in front of us. Pure magic (ok it doesn’t sound cool, but you had to be there).
quotix74bI saw Status Quo twice in 1974, the 9th and 10th times I saw the band. The first time was at Newcastle City Hall on 20th May 1974. The band were so popular that this time they sold out two nights at the City Hall, I went on the second night. I saw them again later that year when they came back to the North East and played at Sunderland Empire on 1st December 1974. I remember going to the Sunderland gig with a load of mates. Looking at the ticket for that gig we were right up in the cheap seats that night (40p! bargain). Note the Empire tickets never named the band in those days.
Support act for the City Hall show was Montrose and at the Empire it was SNAFU. There was a big buzz around Montrose at the time. Montrose were fronted by the late great guitarist Ronnie Montrose and (later of Van Halen) Sammy Hagar on vocals. They had just released their debut album, and the awesome tracks “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Space Station #5” were big dance floor favourites at rock nights in the local Mayfair (Newcastle) and Mecca (Sunerland) ballrooms. It was one of the few times that the City Hall was completely full for the support act.
quoprog74bI’d seen Montrose just two days before, when they appeared on the bill at the Who’s Charlton concert. Montrose were great, very loud, rocking and full of energy. One of the few acts who almost (in my view) managed to upstage the mighty Quo. Hagar was a crazy front man, and Montrose an ace guitarist. From the QUO tour programme: “Montrose have compiled an energy-laden set consisting mostly of original compositions with the bonus of an amazing live version of the Roy Brown classic “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, that’ll keep your feet a dancin’ and your fingers poppin’.” Well I don’t remember my fingers poppin’ 🙂 but I do remember some “Good Rockin'”.
Typical Quo Setlist from this year: Junior’s Wailing, Backwater/Just take me, Claudie, Railroad, Roll over lay down, Big Fat Mama, Don’t waste my Time, Roadhouse Blues, Caroline, Down Down, Bye Bye Johnny.
Status Quo released their seventh studio LP “QUO” 1974. The album included the single “Break the Rules” which reached No 8 in the UK single charts. QUO reached No 2 in the album charts. It is pure classic Quo and one of their heaviest, due to the influence of bass player Alan Lancaster, who wrote six of the eight tracks. “Backwater” and “Just Take Me” were soon to become live favourites; “Backwater” in particular, is one of Status Quo’s best rockers. Quo hit No 1 in November 1974, with “Down Down” another classic, and yet another live favourite. There were truly on a roll.

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.