Archive for the ‘Stealers Wheel’ Category

Stealers Wheel Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall 1973?

Stealers Wheel Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall 1973?
stealerswheelStealers Wheel are, of course, best remembered as the short lived folk rock act who featured the late, great and sadly missed, Gerry Rafferty and for the song “Stuck in the Middle with You” which hit the charts in 1973, and was featured as part of the soundtrack of the film “Reservoir Dogs”. The film brought the band back into the public eye, and introduced a new set of fans to their music. But there was much more to Stealers Wheel. They released three fine albums, and Rafferty’s fellow front man and old school friend Joe Egan was also an excellent song writer, with a deep soulful voice. Former Spooky Tooth-er, and soon to be Mott the Hoople-er, Luther Grosvenor (aka Ariel Bender) was also a member of the band for a short period during 1972 to 1973.
unioncard1I saw Stealers Wheel live once when they played at Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall. It was around the time that “Stuck in the Middle with You” was in the charts, and the place was completely full, ram packed to the walls. I can’t be sure of the line-up at the time; I think it may have been during the period when Gerry Rafferty had left the band, and Joe Egan took over the role of front man and lead vocalist. I also think that Luther Grosvenor was in the band at the time. Stealers Wheel were nothing like I expected. They were much more a rock band, with very soulful, raucous vocals from Joe Egan, quite funky, and very LOUD. I remember having to leave the hall on a couple of occasions just to talk to mates, and because it was so loud, so packed and so hot. A great, under rated band, who deserve more recognition than they often receive.

Gerry Rafferty Newcastle City Hall 8th June 1978

Gerry Rafferty Newcastle City Hall 8th June 1978
gerryr1978tixThe song “Baker Street” seemed to be playing everywhere I went in early 1978. It certainly propelled Gerry Rafferty from what seemed to be nowhere to massive stardom within the period of a month or so. Now he hadn’t come from nowhere, and I had of course heard of Gerry Rafferty before that. I knew of his collaboration with Billy Connolly in the folk duo Humblembums, and I was familiar with Stealers Wheel through the big hit “Stuck in the Middle with You”. In fact, I once saw Stealers Wheel live. It was around the time that “Stuck in the Middle” was in the charts. This was at a concert at Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall. However, I am pretty sure that it was during the period when Gerry Rafferty was not in the band. He left Stealers Wheel during 1973 and was replaced by Luther Grosvenor, after the guitarist left Spooky Tooth and before he became the crazy glam-king Ariel Bender in Mott the Hoople. The thing I remember most about that concert was just how loud the band were. Its hard to imagine it, given the nature of their music, but it was one of the loudest gigs I have ever been too. So loud that you couldn’t hear the music, and that you had to leave the hall to speak to anyone. The place was packed to the walls and Stealers Wheel were good, but it is the sheer volume of the gig which sticks in my mind to this day. Anyway, as I say, Gerry Rafferty wasn’t in the band that night, so apologies for the ramblings and back to the point of this post.
gerryrprog78At first Rafferty wasn’t keen to tour off the back of the “City to City” album, but as a result of the massive impact of the single “Baker Street” he agreed to do so, and a touring band, based on the musicians who accompanied him on the album, was put together. The UK tour sold out immediately, although most of the people there will only have been familiar with the hit single. Support came from Scottish folk singer Rab Noakes. The set consisted of the “City to City” album, and a few songs from Gerry’s earlier solo albums. I am pretty sure that he didn’t play “Stuck in the Middle”. The music was perfect with a certain groove that all of Rafferty’s songs seem to have; when you hear Gerry’s soft, calm vocals you just know it is him. I recall going along only really knowing “Baker Street” and coming away converted; quite a fan of his music.
Gerry’s band for the tour were Julian Litman (guitar), Tommy Eyre (keyboards), Jeff Bannister (keyboards), Raphael Ravenscroft (sax and famous “Baker Street” solo), Gary Taylor (bass) and Liam Genockey (drums). Musical production and tour direction was provided by Hugh Murphy who had also worked with Rafferty on “City to City”.
Following the “City to City” theme the programme gave us a short quirky snippet about each city that the tour called at. For Newcastle it says: “…juts outside which there is a village with the charming name of Staindrop, and a rare breeed of wild white cattle – which are not albinos but a pure strain dating back to the Ice Age.”
I saw Gerry Rafferty once more in concert, a couple of years later, and I will write about that tomorrow.