Archive for the ‘Steamhammer’ Category

Slade Alive! 1971 and 1972

Slade Alive! 1971 and 1972
sladealiveSlade were, no question, one of the best live acts out on the road in the early 1970s. I saw them twice, maybe three times at Sunderland Locarno in October/November 1971 and January 1972. The first time I saw them was just as they released their No 1 smash hit “Coz I Luv You”. The ballroom was packed for these guys. They had played Sunderland Top Rank for the Sunderland Poly students union freshers ball a few weeks earlier, at the time “Get Down and Get with It” was in the charts; a few of my mates had gone to that gig and were raving about how great this band was. Support was Steamhammer, who are perhaps best known for their track “Junior’s Wailing” which was covered by Status Quo. We all sat crossed legged on the floor (as you did, back in the day) watching Steamhammer; I think they reminded me of Man. But when Slade came on stage, Noddy wasn’t haven’t any of this sitting on the dance floor. Slade were a loud rock band. “Come on, up on your feet, everybody”. The crowd jumped up and crushed to the front of the stage. The opening number was their cover of Ten Years After’s “Hear Me Callin'” (it always was in those early days) and it was amazing. It started quietly and slowly with Noddy singing in (for him) quite a low voice, then after a few bars the pace picked up, and Dave Hill’s guitar, Jim Lea’s bass and Don Powell’s drums came crashing in at an amazingly loud volume, so loud that I thought my ears would go. BY then Noddy’s voice was his normal raucous scream. And the crowd went crazy; completely bananas. Slade were a force to be reckoned with. sladecoziluvyouThey played wild, fast and very very LOUD. The set was short, probably around an hour, but furious and by the end we were all ringing in sweat and totally whacked. Slade were juts coming out of their skinhead phase; their hair was starting to grow, but you could still see signs of crew cuts. Except for Dave, whose hair was already growing right the way down his back. Nod was wearing a cap, a checky shirt, braces and jeans. The set included all of the tracks form “Slade Alive!” and quite a few covers; favourites of mine were “In Like a Shot from My Gun”, their excellent cover of John Sebastian’s “Darling Be Home Soon” which took the mood and the pace down a notch, the rocking “Get Down and Get With It” during which we all had to follow Nod’s instructions and “stamp our feet” (as long as we had our boots on 🙂 ), their new single “Coz I Luv You, with Jim soloing on his violin, their cover of Janis’ “Move Over”, and they closed with “Born to Be Wild”, an ear-piercingly loud cover of Steppenwolf’s classic. It was all over too soon, but it was amazing.
I saw them again a few months later. By that time they had released “Look Wot You Done” and were becoming chart heroes. But the live set remained as wild, raucous and loud as before. After one of the gigs, I think it was in early 1972, The Groundhogs were playing the Rink (Top Rank) on the same night as Slade at the Mecca (Locarno). We went to see Slade (who were excellent as usual) at the Mecca earlier that night, and came into the Rink just as The Groundhogs took to the stage, having missed the support act Ashton, Gardner and Dyke. I managed to make my way right to the front, and stood right in front of Tony McPhee as he soloed on Amazing Grace and Split II. Seeing Slade and The Groundhogs in the same night, when both acts were on top form 🙂 Happy Days.
The next time I saw Slade was at the Lincoln Festival in 1972. Slade managed to change a difficult situation into a major success. Chris Charlesworth writes of the event in his book “Feel The Noize!” (1984): “They were terrified of that audience…..completely overawed by it all … it was an underground audience and Slade had become a pop band…
sladeTheir fears were justified. When John Peel announced Slade’s imminent appearance there was an outbreak of booing from the large crowd….” Jim Lea :”Chas did everything he could to delay us going on stage…He was waiting for the sun to set so we could benefit from the stage lights and the big screen projection they had. When John Peel announced us he was very unenthusiastic. We just did a fifty minute set … bang, bang, bang … all rockers. We had the crowd in the palm of our hand after ten minutes and in the end we walked away with it.”

Noddy, from his book Who’s Crazee Now? (1999): “….we got a big break. We were invited to play the Lincoln Festival, which was being put on…by the actor Stanley Baker…The other acts were all much hipper than us….Joe Cocker, The Beach Boys, The Faces, Status Quo…we were only asked to be on the bill because Stanley Baker was a Slade fan…It had been pissing down with rain…the audience was drenched and the ground was all muddy…..We got booed when we walked on stage…the first time that had ever happened to us….. We carried on regardless…two minutes into our set, the rain went off. Then all the lights came on. Suddenly, the whole audience stood up. They had been sitting down all day…..people began going berserk. The place just exploded. We took everyone by surprise……My mind was racing about what we should do for a second encore. We had nothing planned. lincolnThen I saw Stanley Baker standing with Chas at the side of the stage….Suddenly, a mad idea popped into my head. I went up to the microphone and thanked Stanley for putting on the festival and invited him to come on and take a bow. As he was walking on, I started doing the Zulu chant, from the film Zulu that he had starred in. The rest of the band joined in, then the entire audience. Stanley absolutely loved it. It was the perfect end to our set…..The next week, we were on the cover of every music paper in the country….The impact of that gig was amazing.”
Slade were, indeed, simply epic that day, and the buzz after the Lincoln set helped cement their position as a top rock and pop band. They surprised a lot of people at Lincoln; but then those who had already seen them “Alive!” knew just how great they were.
I saw Slade several more times and will reflect on those crazy nights over the next few days.

The Reading Festival 11th – 13th August 1972

The Reading Festival 1972
readingprog I first went to the Reading Festival in 1972 (is it really over 41 years ago 🙂 ?), and continued to go every year until 1980. I missed 1981 as it clashed with a local “Rock on the Tyne” Festival, and have never returned, although I did think of doing so on several occasions. I’m aiming to reflect on one year each week for the next few weeks, starting today with my first Reading experience.
I’d already been to the Lincoln Festival in May 1972 so I felt, as a 15 year old, I was already a hardened festival goer. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go to Reading, so decided to go along myself. My parents weren’t keen on my idea of hitching so I agreed to go by train. The festival took place over the weekend of August 11th to 13th, 1972 starting on Friday afternoon. For some reason I decided to get the train down to London early on the Thursday night, arriving around midnight. Having nowhere to spend the night I took a tube to Piccadilly Circus and found an all-night cinema. It was showing Elvis films all night; I paid my money and sat close to the front. The cinema was quite empty, the audience was a few couples, some Elvis fans and several people alone like me, and just looking for somewhere to spend the night. I don’t recall which films were shown, I think there were six, and I’m pretty sure one was “Kid Galahad” (which, by the way, is a good movie), and I think another may have been “Fun in Acapulco” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” (not so good). I emerged, very tired, from the cinema in the early hours of the morning, and went across London to get the train to Reading. I didn’t have a ticket for the festival, so when I arrived I joined the queue and bought a weekend ticket. In those days it was all about seeing the bands, so I stayed in the queue to get a good spot in front of the stage. All I had taken was a sleeping bag; no tent; no change of clothes (I told you that I thought myself a hardened festival goer).
reaidnglistThe Friday line-up was: Good Habit, Nazareth, Cottonwood, Steamhammer, Jackson Heights, Genesis, Mungo Jerry, Curved Air. The music started at 4pm and there were two stages set alongside each other to make for quick changeovers. I positioned myself close to the front somewhere between the two stages so I had a good view of both. There was a press enclosure right down front, and an area where the Hells Angels would encamp, so you couldn’t get that close to the stage. I got talking to a guy next to me; he was also alone, still at school and a similar age. We stuck together throughout the weekend, keeping each others place in the crowd, and sleeping there on a night in our sleeping bags. This seems crazy now, but hey I was young and just so excited about seeing the bands. You could sleep in the main enclosure in those days; you had to leave in the early morning so that they could clear up and get ready for the next day. Some clearing happened during the night; this didn’t make for a good night sleep as there was a danger that someone stood on you (this happened to me several times). The organisers stopped letting people sleep in the main enclosure a few years later; a punter was run over by a vehicle that was driving around collecting litter….The bands I recall on Friday were: Good Habit (saw them a few times, they used to were monks habits on stage), Nazareth (this was before “Broken Down Angel”; they played a great version of “Morning Dew”); Genesis (Simply amazing. I was a big fan at the time and have written separately about their set which included The Knife, Twilight Alehouse, Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical box, and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. Classic); Mungo Jerry (got the crowd rocking), and Curved Air (also amazing; It happened today, Backstreet Luv, Sonja Kristina).
readingtix The Saturday line-up was: Jonathan Kelly, Solid Gold Cadillac, Man, Linda Lewis, Focus, Edgar Broughton, Jericho, If, Johnny Otis Show, Electric Light Orchestra, The Faces. I watched all of the bands, and also took some time to have a look around the stalls in the arena. I didn’t see any need to venture into town (that would come in later years) and spent the entire weekend within the confines of the festival. The weather was quite warm, sunny with a little drizzle now and then but nothing major, and certainly nothing compared to the rain I experienced at the Lincoln festival earlier in the year. Highlights I can dimly recall now are: Jonathan Kelly (Ballad of Cursed Anna simply wonderful), Solid Gold Cadillac (very jazzy), Man (very long guitar solos; Spunk Rock; great!), Linda Lewis (she looked so tiny on that stage and admitted to being scared), Focus (went down well with the crowd and were one of the successes of the weekend), Edgar Broughton (amazing, I was already a fan. Edgar very unspoken as always. Out Demons Out!!), If (jazzy, great guitarist), Johnny Otis Show (just blogged on them), Electric Light Orchestra (this was a very early performance and one of their first since Roy Wood’s departure. Wasn’t sure what to expect; they were good), The Faces (Rod and the guys on great form, lots of footballs kicked into the crowd, Twisting the Night Away and I’m Losing You were big live favourites of mine at the time).
readingposterThe Sunday line-up was: Sutherland Brothers, Gillian McPherson, String Driven Thing, Matching Mole, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Status Quo, Stray, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Ten Years After, Quintessence. John Peel and Jerry Floyd were comperes for the weekend. Jerry was the regular DJ at the Marquee Club, who organised the festival at the time. I spend much of the weekend chatting about music to the guy that I met on the first day and we struck up quite a friendship. I made a few friend at festivals in those days and would see some people every year but I never ran into this guy again. Wonder where he is now. Highlights of the day were: Matching Mole (featuring Robert Wyatt), Stackridge (“Slark” was a favourite of mine at the time), Vinegar Joe (Elkie just stunning), Status Quo (this was one of the shows that helped them break back. Peel was a big champion of theirs at the time; I think he introduced them as the “Finest rock’n’roll band in the world”, or something like that. They were playing amazing boogie at the time, with Francis giving it some cheeky banter. Someones Learning was a favourite), Stray (excellent, Del in mirror suit), Roy Wood’s Wizzard (pretty good, very retro rock’n’roll. Ballpark Incident had just been released), and Ten Years After (Alvin’s guitar playing was stunning, I’d just seen “Woodstock” and was a big fan). I left as Quintessence’s took to the stage as did many others (TYA were official headliners) to catch the last train to London. The tubes had stopped so I walked across London. I’d missed the midnight train so I spent the night in Kings Cross station.
Monday morning: I was stiff, tired, and scruffy. I got the first train home and went straight to bed 🙂
Wow! that took longer than I thought it would! The scans come from the newspaper style programme which was produced by the Reading Evening Post. The poster (it looks like a cartoon of Leo Lyons from TYA to me?) is from the middle of the programme. Oh and I forgot to mention the “Wally!” chants, which seemed to go on all night.