Posts Tagged ‘concerts’

Ducks Deluxe Marquee club London 20 June 1975

ducks marqueeI am now at the point of adding entries to my blog, when I suddenly remember a concert from many years ago that I have yet to write about. This comes about for two reasons. Firstly, I created the blog by working systematically through my tickets and programmes. Secondly, however, this means that I missed concerts along the way if I did not have a ticket or a programme or a strong memory of the gig. So every now and then one pops into my mind. This gig, is one such example. Some of these are already listed briefly in a post entitled “Other Memories”. But now is the time to write about those other memories!

This gig was the night before a group of us went to see Elton John (with strong support from the Beach Boys and Eagles, among others) at Wembley Stadium. I drove down to London early with a friend in my small red MG Midget sports car and we were staying at a friend’s flat in Acton. He had just moved to London and we were keen to go down and see how he was getting on in the big city. He would regularly go to the Marquee Club, which made us very jealous, as it was a legendary venue from the 1960s onward. The image above, courtesy of Picachord via Wikimedia Commons, shows the site of the original club in Wardour Street. 

“The Marquee Club was a music venue first located at 165 Oxford Street in London, when it opened in 1958 with a range of jazz and skiffle acts. Its most famous period was from 1964 to 1988 at 90 Wardour Street in Soho, and it finally closed when at 105 Charing Cross Road in 1996, though the name has been revived unsuccessfully three times in the 21st century. It was always a small and relatively cheap club, located in the heart of the music industry in London’s West End, and used to launch the careers of generations of rock acts. It was a key venue for early performances by bands who were to achieve worldwide fame in the 1960s and remained a venue for young bands in the following decades. It was the location of the first-ever live performance by the Rolling Stones on 12 July 1962.” (Wikipedia, accessed 28 June 2021)

ducks1And so it was that I, and two friends (who shall remain nameless for reasons which will become obvious); one from Sunderland who had come down to London with me, and another who had recently moved to Acton, went along to savour the delights of the Marquee Club and the pub rock band Ducks Deluxe. I had heard of Ducks Deluxe, although I had never seen them before and I had also heard of the developing pub rock scene, which saw new rock, blues and country based bands playing small clubs and pubs across the capital. This was offering a welcome alternative to seeing our heroes and idols in massive arenas, such as Earls Court (where I had recently seen Led Zeppelin) and Wembley Stadium (where I was about to see Elton John, the following day). The pub rock genre took music back to the basics, back into the pubs and clubs, and back to the people.

I was quite surprised how small the Marquee Club was and how ordinary the entrance appeared. It was a small door and frontage in Wardour Street, Soho. Nevertheless, it was exciting to become part of the London scene, even if only, for one night. I was also surprised that the venue was far from packed. We arrived early to catch the support band and waited for Ducks Deluxe to take the stage. 

“One of the first pub rock bands, the Ducks played basic American-style blues and boogie with remarkable panache and thorough disregard for convention. They were hugely popular but their records sales did not compare with their live success. Nevertheless, they had a heavy influence on the English punk scene that was right around the corner before their members went on to found other far more prominent bands like Graham Parker & the Rumour, the Motors and the Tyla Gang.” (Ducks Deluxe site, accessed 28 June 2021)

I recall Ducks Deluxe performance as being a mix of country rock and rock ‘n’ roll, led by the guitarist Martin Belmont, who had been a roadie for Brinsley Schwarz. This was at the time of their second album Taxi To The Terminal Zone. However, I was not to see the full performance by Ducks Deluxe that evening. As the evening progressed, my friend who had come down to London with me, disappeared into the toilets. He was later to reappear, telling us that he was not feeling well and that he had taken a tablet which later, he admitted, was probably some (presumably bad) acid (that is, LSD). He soon became very unwell to the extent that we were concerned enough to call for an ambulance. The ambulance soon arrived and we were taken to a nearby hospital (I don’t recall which one). The doctors soon recognised the problem, and told us not to worry and that he would soon be okay. However, we spent the whole night in the hospital while he shouted for me, asking for help. By the time the morning came he was okay, discharged from hospital, and we made our way back to Acton for a few hours sleep before leaving for Wembley ducks2Stadium and the Elton John concert (a story which I have already blogged on).

And so, that was my introduction to the Marquee Club, pub rock and London nightlife. Quite fun looking back, although quite worrying at the time. Ducks Deluxe were, from what I saw, excellent. This was, in a way, the start of things to come for me. The following year I would see the Sex Pistols for the first time and my eyes would be opened to a new form of rock music, born out of the likes of Ducks Deluxe and the pub rock scene. “Nostalgia for an age yet to come” (Buzzcocks, 1978). Happy days.

Shining Levels Pop Recs Sunderland 7 June 2019

How could I forget to review this concert? The Shining Levels are a band that features my own daughter, Laura, and who has been performing songs based on the book the Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers. I saw them several times before the lockdown and this concert was very local, in Sunderland, and only a few streets away. The concert took place at Pop Rex, which some of you will remember as The Bunker, a recording studio and, in its previous location, a venue where I saw anarcho-punk bands such as the Poison Girls and Dirt.

Pop Recs Ltd is an independent record shop, which also has an art gallery, shop, and steaming cups of coffee. Pop Recs Ltd, which is owned by local band Frankie & The Heartstrings, is currently located on Stockton Road. In its time at its previous location on Fawcett Street, Pop Recs Ltd played host to some of the most exciting live music gigs in Sunderland, pretty much every week and more often than not for free. Great bands playing gigs at Pop Recs Ltd have included Badly Drawn Boy, Maximo Park, Edwyn Collins and James Bay.

What can people expect from your show at Pop Recs on Friday 7th June? (NARC, June 4th 2019)
An hour or so of complete musical escapism, we will set the tone for meditation, a musical seance which we can all enjoy together.

And that is exactly what we got, the lovely swirling vocals of the three girls, complete with flute and violin and the earthy, grounded vocals of the two boys. Unfortunately, we arrived late, at least in terms of getting a good space, and I was seated at the back in my wheelchair unable to see much over the heads of the people standing in front of me. But such is life nowadays, nonetheless, I could hear the lovely sounds which filled the room and made their way out into the dark street outside.

“Inspired by the real life events of 18th century Yorkshire criminal gang the Cragg Vale Coiners who operate in the Upper Calder Valley in the Pennines, the album’s source material, The Gallows Pole by author Benjamin Myers, has rapidly become a modern cult classic. It is the first novel to be signed to Jack White’s Third Man Books and will be published in the US/Canada in November 2019. It has also been optioned for film adaptation.

Drawing on a shared childhood and background with the author, The Shining Levels’ music explores themes from the book: an England divided, the potency and mystery of remote rural landscapes, industrial progress, the changing seasons, shifting fortunes, self-delusion and self-aggrandizement, poverty vs wealth, societal power structures – and strange visions of mythical creatures….. the bucolic meet the technological, and the rural collides with the digital to thrilling effect. “There’s certainly a nod towards what many may consider English folk, certainly in Laura’s beautiful plaintive voice,” elaborates Davey [of the band]. “But there’s also pounding drums, overdriven electric guitar, loops, and samples all over the place. So I think to call it folk music would actually be doing it a disservice. It’s a set of quite different songs and moods forming a larger soundscape that hopefully takes the listener on a unique journey.” (Piccadilly Records, 2019)

Another lovely evening with a fantastic band who I look forward to seeing again once we are out of the lockdown. I know that the band is working on new material which I look forward to seeing them perform very soon.

John Mayall Sage Gateshead 14 November 2017

mayall tix

The Sage advertised the concert: “Pioneer of blues music John Mayall played at the Sage Gateshead in Sage Hall One (the large hall) with special guest The Buddy Whittington Band on the 14th November 2017. Considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time this was not a show to miss.”

And you can’t get much more of a pioneer than the father of British blues himself, Mr John Mayall. Mayall is a living legend and deserves much respect; particularly for those classic 60s albums by the Blues Breakers featuring Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor and many other legendary guitarists, bass players and drummers. Respect. Respect that the guy is still out there, continuing to play his craft at the age of 84 at the time of this concert, just as his influences, the old blues men continued to play until a ripe old age.

This time round, John Mayall is supported by none other than Buddy Whittington, one of his previous bandmates, and an excellent guitarist in the style of Eric Clapton and Peter Green. The John Mayall band is a stripped down version; a three-piece with Mayall on vocals, harmonica, keyboards and guitar, along with Jay Davenport on drums and Greg Rzab on bass.

mayall progThe set comprises several blues standards, and songs from Mayall’s extensive back catalogue. The sound is somewhat laid-back, in the style of a Chicago blues combo with each excellent instrumentalist being given the chance to highlight their skill in an extended solo; including electric piano and harmonica solos by Mayall himself. That is the strength of Mayall. The man comes over as modest, happy and content to allow his band members to flourish, shine and excel and then move on to further their own successful careers; from Clapton onwards and Buddy Whittington himself being a recent example. There are quite a few songs I recognise and several I don’t; nonetheless I enjoyed the set, as did my carer Jackie, and continue to marvel at the legend that is John Mayall. His tiny guitar, which I have seen many times over the years, never ceases to fascinate me. Mayall finished the set with, what else but, his own standard “Room to Move” with much harmonica excellence on display. Long may he continue. Respect. Until the next time.

Setlist (something like): I’m a Sucker for Love; Talk About That; Checkin’ Up on My Baby; Not at Home; Help Me Baby; Do I Please You; Mother-In-Law Blues; That’s All Right; Movin’ Groovin’ Blues;     Driftin’ Blues; California. Encore: Room to Move

The Rolling Stones, Murrayfield Stadium Edinburgh, June 9, 2018

The Rolling Stones have been an important part of my life for over 50 years. When I was stones tixa kid, maybe 10 or 11, the public house over the road “The Colliery Inn” would sell off the jukebox copies of recent hit singles when they left the charts, or when the locals lost interest in them. My mates and I would regularly go to the side entrance of the bar, where there was a little hatch and ask the barmaid to look at the records. She would bring out a box of 45 rpm singles, each with their centres pushed out for operation in the jukebox. We would, with delight, look through the pile of records including The Rolling Stones, Small Faces, The Who and others. I can still smell the beer that wafted out of the bar; lovely! There were never many Beatles singles; someone must have held on to them. I remember buying copies of “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadow)” and “Paint It Black”. I had to buy plastic centres for the records in order to play them on my old record player. I would stack up the records and play them again and again; particularly “Paint It Black”. My lifelong obsession with the Rolling Stones began then.

jagger 1A few years later, I was a young teenager sitting in awe in Newcastle City Hall in 1971, watching in disbelief at my hero Mick Jagger. I couldn’t believe that I was actually saying the Rolling Stones, in real life, in front of me! From then on, I have seen the Stones many times; joining 200,000 fans at Knebworth Park in 1976, many shows in football stadiums around the country, and more recently, concerts in London’s plush O2 arena and at the Glastonbury Festival.

Tickets for The Rolling Stones have always been relatively expensive, in comparison to other bands. In recent days they have reached exorbitant rates. The Stones charge up to £1000 for prime seats. However, I decided to buy much more reasonably priced (cheapest) tickets for £100 each, in an upper tier of the stadium at the side of the stage.

stones progBefore my accident, buying tickets was very different, and much easier. I would go to my computer; a few clicks and I had my tickets! Ticket buying is very different now I need a wheelchair space. I need to locate the accessible phone line and phone that number, only to be put into a queue, listening to music until I finally got through to an operator. I am then allocated my spot in the stadium and a free ticket for my carer. Sometimes I could be in the queue for over one hour, hoping to get tickets. This is admittedly much easier than queueing for tickets which I did many times in the 1970s. I once queued 28 hours outside Newcastle City Hall to buy tickets for the Rolling Stones! The logistics of travelling to a major gig have changed since being in a wheelchair. I need to plan ahead carefully. I book an accessible taxi to the train station, accessible seats on the train and two hotel rooms (one disabled room for me, one twin room for my carers). I take two carers with me, for different shifts during the night. Booking the train involves phoning the accessible travel line and then another number to book train tickets. I need to arrive at the station early and look for the friendly guys with a ramp who assist me on to the train.stones crowd

I thought my years of seeing my heroes finished with my accident but no, here I was in Scotland, witnessing a Rolling Stones concert again. We arrived just in time to catch support act Richard Ashcroft play the Verve hits, “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Bitter Sweet Symphony”. Soon the Stones exploded onto the stage with “Start Me Up” and didn’t let up for two hours. Jagger and Richards are amazing; the energy they display in their advanced years is unbelievable. Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards perform exciting guitar duels and Charlie Watts sits quietly at the back keeping time. The hits kept flowing: “Paint It Black” (still my favourite after all these years), “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, “Honky Tonk Women” and “Under My Thumb”. One surprise is “She’s a Rainbow” from Their Satanic Majesties Request, which had been requested by fans through the Stones website (a great choice and another one of my favourites). They finish with “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”. The encores were stones ronnie 1“Gimme Shelter “and (of course) “Satisfaction”.

We (myself and my two carers Joanne and Lisa) wandered into the cool Edinburgh streets to hail a taxi. Two hours later, somewhat lost, and panicking as my chair was running out of charge, as were Lisa’s and Joanne’s phone’s! We eventually found a bus which took us back to Princes Street and a short walk to our hotel. A bit of an adventure! But we all enjoyed it.

Setlist: Start Me Up; Let’s Spend the Night Together; It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It); Tumbling Dice; Under My Thumb; Ride ‘Em on Down (Eddie Taylor cover); She’s a Rainbow (by request); You Can’t Always Get What You Want; Paint It Black; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver (Keith on lead vocals); Happy (Keith on lead vocals); Sympathy for the Devil; Miss You; Midnight Rambler; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Brown Sugar. Encore: Gimme Shelter; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Thanks to Lisa for taking the photographs. 

Sadly, this was the last time I saw the Rolling Stones with the great Charlie Watts on the drum stool. Charlie sadly passed away yesterday 24 August 2021. He was one of the world’s greatest rock drummers; providing a steady, solid beat to the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. No big showmanship, no long drum solos; just perfect drumming for the perfect rock band. Things will never be the same again. The remaining three stalwarts Mick, Keith and Charlie are now down to two. Charlie you were one of my all-time heroes. RIP Charlie Watts.

Iron Maiden Newcastle Arena 14 May 2017

maiden tix may 2017Well it has been more than 30 years since The Maiden and I touched base. Too long. I have many happy memories of Iron Maiden and early days at Sunderland Locarno and Newcastle City Hall, Paul Di’Anno and early tracks such as “Running Free”, the entrance of Bruce Dickinson (who I had known as Bruce Bruce from Samson), the hit song “Run to the Hills” and, of course, the ever present giant monster Eddie.

This was one of the first concerts after my accident and I was both looking forward to it and also a little nervous about travelling so far in the back of a taxi and sitting through a rock concert. While I need not have been nervous. There was nothing to fear. As soon as Iron Maiden took to the stage I felt “at home”; a kid again; back in the swirling, magical, loud experience that is heavy rock music. Somewhere along the road Iron Maiden have evolved from pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to a classic, almost vintage, heavy rock band.

The current members of the band are the ever present leader, original member, and super bass guitar player Steve Harris, long time guitar men Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, drummer Nicko McBrain and local hero Janick Gers on guitar. And of course, Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Iron Maiden have a style of their own; soaring, operatic rock vocals, triple guitar rock with lots of OTT solos, and a super energetic front man in Bruce Dickinson. Oh, and of course, the aforementioned Eddie who always makes an appearance, lumbering around the stage striking fear into all who dare come near him.

maiden progThey enter the stage to the music of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (great choice and clearly setting out their influences) and then straight into a set which draws from their entire back catalogue, and heavily from their new album The Book of Souls. There are lots of songs that are new to me, but they all sound great and when they go back to the early days and “Iron Maiden” and the first encore “The Number of the Beast”, I am on familiar territory. I was expecting “Run To the Hills” and they don’t play it, but hey you can’t always have everything. They leave the stage to the music of Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, which about sums the evening and the whole experience for me. My carer, Alan, was a Maiden virgin but really enjoyed the whole thing. A great night with a great band. It was like meeting old friends again. I was back on the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster; in a wheelchair, but still rocking away. Happy days are here again.

Setlist: Doctor Doctor (UFO song as intro); If Eternity Should Fail; Speed of Light; Wrathchild;    Children of the Damned; Death or Glory; The Red and the Black; The Trooper; Powerslave; The Great Unknown; The Book of Souls; Fear of the Dark; Iron Maiden. Encore: The Number of the Beast; Blood Brothers; Wasted Years. (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: Monty Python)

KISS Newcastle Arena 14 July 2019 The End of the Road Tour

kiss tix“James Bond has a license to kill, rockstars have a license to be outrageous. Rock is about grabbing people’s attention.” “I was never interested in being a rock star. I always wanted to be Boris Karloff.” (Gene Simmons).

“A KISS concert experience is like sex or anything else that’s done with more that one person. It’s the give and take that makes it so great. When the audience takes it to the next level, we can kick it up another notch.” (Paul Stanley).

I saw KISS on their first UK tour, so I guess I had to see them on their last! Now I never took them too seriously, but then I guess they never took themselves seriously either. KISS are not, never were and never will be, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world; but they are a great rock ‘n’ roll experience and one of the best nights out you can have. So, some 43 years since I first saw them at Birmingham Odeon, there I was in Newcastle Arena with my carer, Lisa, witnessing what will probably be my last ever KISS experience.

kiss 1 phoSo I went along, no preconceptions, not expecting too much and more out of interest than anything. And what did I get? Probably in terms of a concert, and experience, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza you can imagine. You think of it and KISS do it: loud (and I mean LOUD) rock music, rising drum kit, Gene Simmons spitting blood and breathing fire (and playing some loud, fast bass), Paul Stanley coming round the crowd on a mini stage hoisted on a small crane, explosions, fireworks, rockets: you name it and KISS give you it. A total over the top experience. Wow and double Wow!

Now KISS wear their influences on their sleeves. The intro to the concert is Led kiss 2 phoZeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” (quite fitting). They march on stage and original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley get massive cheers from the crowd. Gene Simmons still has the longest, funniest tongue in the business and Paul Stanley remains the ultimate rock god caricature. “Lick It up” contains a short segment of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (the Who). The songs are not the greatest, nor the most memorable, but they are great rock ‘n’ roll tunes and the spectacle overpowers the music. Of course we all know and sing along to “Crazy Crazy Nights” and (Argent’s) “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” and for the rest of the night we get lost in the loudness, craziness and showmanship. In many ways the best rock ‘n’ roll night out you could have. Even Lisa, new to the band, came away with a big grin on her face.

kiss progSetlist: Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song as intro); Detroit Rock City; Shout It Out Loud; Deuce; Say Yeah; I Love It Loud; Heaven’s on Fire; War Machine (Gene breathes fire); Lick It Up (with short segment of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” ); Calling Dr. Love; 100,000 Years (with drum solo); Cold Gin; God of Thunder (Gene spits blood); Psycho Circus; Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll; Love Gun (Paul on stage in crowd for this song and the next); I Was Made for Lovin’ You; Black Diamond. Encore: Beth; Crazy Crazy Nights; Rock and Roll All Nite; God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You

Many thanks to Lisa for the photographs and Chris for converting them for me.

Blitzkrieg Bop: Various gigs 1977 and 1978

_DSC3253 [LR]Mark recently sent me some great photographs of punk bands playing locally in the late 70s and I have been including these in my posts. One band that I now realise I should have highlighted before is Teesside punk rockers Blitzkrieg Bop, who I saw many times often supporting “name” punk bands. The line-up of Blitzkrieg Bop changed several times but the main character I remember was “Blank Frank” the lead vocalist.

The core line-up of the band started as John Hodgson aka Blank Frank, Alan Cornforth aka Nicky Knoxx & Damian (Dimmer) Blackwell aka Telly Sett. After many line-up changes this trio finally emerged as Blitzkrieg Bop in February 1977, joined by Mick Hylton (aka Mick Sick) and Anne Hodgson (aka Gloria). They recorded their debut single “Let’s Go” / “Bugger Off” / “9 Till 5” and released a limited run of 500 copies in early June 1977. By this time guitarist Dimmer Blackwell had left and the band carried on as a four piece. The single sold out within days and received a good review in the NME. (Adapted from Wikipedia).

I definitely saw Blitzkrieg Bop support Radio Stars at Newcastle Poly (7th October 1977) a_DSC3235 [CROP][LR] gig in which their set was interrupted by young band Speed who would often turn up and play at gigs unannounced. I also saw them supporting Generation X at Newcastle University (11th March 1978), X-Ray Spex at Redcar Coatham Bowl (23rd April 1978) and Penetration at Redcar Coatham Bowl (8th December 1978). I also saw them supporting Penetration at Middlesbrough Rock Garden on at least a couple of occasions (possibly 27th January 1978 and/or 18th March 1978). (Thanks to the great Blitzkrieg Bop site for the dates of the gigs).

Like many of the local punk bands of the time, Blitzkrieg Bop were a breath of fresh air: crazy, kooky, cool (all at the same time!), fast, reckless, exciting and best of all LOUD! Happy, happy days.

Thanks again to Mark for his great photographs of Blitzkrieg Bop, taken at Middlesbrough Rock Garden.

In the next few days I shall return to some more recent gigs and cover concerts I have seen over the last few years including KISS, Rolling Stones, The Who and many more.

The Stranglers Newcastle Polytechnic Green bar 23 February 1977

stranglers1

My Ticket

This is an update of an earlier post, thanks to Mark the promoter, who sent me more details of the first three punk gigs in Newcastle. This was the second gig of the three, the first being the Vibrators and the last being Penetration; both of which I have already written about.

I first saw the Stranglers in the Green bar of Newcastle Poly in February 1977, and have a natty little ticket from the event (pictured here) which shows a victim of (I think) the Boston Strangler. The bar was completely packed. The audience was a mix of students, and locals with a smattering of people starting to wear punk gear. A group of fashion students were into the punk scene and would dress in Vivienne Westwood gear which they must have bought from Seditionaries in London. The Stranglers played a blistering performance featuring early songs, many of which were to appear on their soon to be released first album, “Rattus Norvegicus”. Their only release at the time of the Poly gig was the first single “Grip”/”London Lady”. “London Lady” was probably my favourite song of theirs at the time.

I found a bootleg listed for a performance at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, also on 23rd February 1977. The Rock Garden gig was in fact the night after, on 24th February 1977. The recording shows the set as being: Get A Grip On Yourself; Sometimes; Bitching; School Mam; Peasant In The Big Shitty; Straighten Out; Hanging Around; Ugly; London Lady; Down In The Sewer; Something Better Change; Go Buddy Go. If that set list is correct it seems that the band had already written, and were playing, tracks such as “Bitching” and “School Mam” that would end up on their second album “No More Heroes”.

_DSC3088 [CROP][LR]

Picture courtesy of Mark from a later gig at The City Hall

Mark says: “The Stranglers originally asked for more money than we had in the bank. But they made us an offer… if we put them up for the night, they would reduce their fee by £50, which made the gig possible. They were a great bunch of guys, very interesting to talk to. And they gave my and my bother a lift in their old rover car to the gig at the Rock Garden in Middlesbrough which was the next day. I recorded the Middlesbrough gig and is available amongst collectors (Aha, so that is where the aforementioned bootleg came from; it was courtesy of you Mark!) I also recorded the Newcastle Poly gig, but the sound on the recording was no good, so I didn’t keep it (the sound at the gig itself was great). All the posters had the same design, except different colours. The Stranglers sent publicity stuff, which I used for the tickets. But I designed my own poster, because I didn’t want people copying the poster to forge tickets. At that time, the Stranglers were the best known punk band after the Pistols.”

“RIP Dave Greenfield. His keyboards defined The Stranglers sound.” Well said Bryan.

The Vibrators Newcastle Polytechnic 10 January 1977

vibrators lpThis was another gig promoted by the Alternative Rock Society in collaboration with Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union, and was the first punk rock gig to take place in Newcastle. Mark the promoter says “Jan 77 was originally the Buzzcocks, but they cancelled at very short notice, and the only band we could get to replace them was the Vibrators. There were very few punk bands in existence at the time”.

I was particularly excited about seeing the Vibrators again. Marie and I had seen them a month earlier at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, and had been quite impressed by them. Their single at the time was “We Vibrate” which had quite a catchy riff to it.

“The Vibrators were founded by Ian ‘Knox’ Carnochan, bassist Pat Collier, guitarist John Ellis (who later joined the Stranglers), and drummer John ‘Eddie’ Edwards (who remains in the band to this day). They first came to public notice at the 100 Club when they backed Chris Spedding in 1976. On Spedding’s recommendation, Mickie Most signed them to his label RAK Records. Most produced their first single, “We Vibrate”. “ (Wikipedia)

They were one of the pioneering punk bands that played at London’s Roxy Club. In March 1977 , I was to see them again supporting Iggy Pop on his British tour (with special guest David Bowie on keyboards), when they played at Newcastle City Hall. Later that year, they backed ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter ; Marie and I saw them once again, this time at Newcastle Mayfair.

Buzzcocks cancellation

Letter of cancellation from Buzzcocks

The gig took place in the Green Bar, a small bar upstairs in the Students Union building. Marie and I were right down the front, facing Knox. The music was loud, pounding and exciting. All around us, the crowd were going crazy. Some were starting to do “the Pogo”, the new punk rock dance which involved jumping up and down while standing straight, bolt upright. Soon the crowd would start spitting at the band, although I don’t recall any spitting on this occasion. Sometimes the front man would be covered in spit; which was very unpleasant for the band and anyone close to the front (we soon started standing close to the back!) Happy crazy days! These were incredible times, I felt something new was happening in music, and was becoming converted to punk rock.

I took every opportunity to see punk bands, whenever they came to the North-East. The next gig to take place in the Green bar was the Stranglers, which I shall write about soon.

Many thanks to Mark for allowing me to reproduce the document.

Penetration Newcastle Polytechnic 4 May 1977

I am stepping back in time for my next few blogs. I have recently had some comments by Mark on my blog, reminding me of the first three punk rock gigs to be held in Newcastle, way back in 1977.

I have written quite a long about Penetration, one of the first punkPenetration poster [LR] bands in the north-east, and certainly the first to make any real impact. However, Mark has recently reminded me of these concerts and the fact that he promoted them. Martin, who is writing a book on north-east punk rock, confirms that this along with gigs by the Vibrators and the Stranglers, also promoted by Mark at the same venue, were the first three punk gigs in Newcastle.

Mark says: “There was no contract for Penetration… it was done word-of-mouth because I knew them. We’d met them at a punk gig at the Rock Garden in Middlesbrough. The three gigs were organised by a student society started by me, called the “Aternative Rock Society”. There was some resistence from the official students union entertainments committee to us putting on gigs; but to be fair, they did let us do it, when they could have just totally refused. For legal reasons, the entertainments committee provided security, signed contracts and paid bands. I negotiated contracts, made tickets & posters and did everything else.”

The Penetration gig was the third of these three concerts and, like the others, held in the Green Bar, which was a small bar upstairs in the Students Union of Newcastle Polytechnic. Marie and I went to many gigs at Newcastle Poly, usually on a Friday night; but these gigs, promoted by the Alternative Rock Society, were a bit different and a chance to see punk rock bands close-up. By early 1977 we regularly frequented Middlesbrough Rock Garden on a Friday night, the only venue in the North-East that featured punk bands.

dont dictate

Don’t Dictate

We talked to Pauline and the rest of Penetration at several gigs. I first remember seeing them at the Flamin’ Groovies and The Damned gig at Redcar Coatham Bowl in 1976. I was so jealous that they had seen the Sex Pistols several times and they were clearly well into the punk scene. Musically they were a breath of fresh air and had a great set of early songs, including their anthem and first single “Don’t Dictate“. Many of these songs developed further and were featured on the band’s first album including “Life’s a Gamble”, “Lovers of Outrage”, and “Silent Community”  all written by original guitarist Gary Chaplin and singer Pauline Murray. Another favourite at the time was their excellent version of Patti Smith’s “Free Money”.

Moving_Targets

Moving Targets

This gig gave us another chance to see the band. I remember that we were standing right at the front, as we were for the Vibrators and Stranglers gigs. Punk rock was still new to us, I had swapped my flares for drainpipe jeans and my desert boots for winklepicker shoes with side laces; Densons as I recall. Marie was wearing a black leather jacket, very like a biker’s jacket worn by the Ramones. These were exciting times and we felt we were part of a new movement.

As I recall, Penetration were excellent that night, as always. Happy happy days.

Many thanks to Mark for sending me the image of the poster, and for his memories of organising the gigs. I will report on the Vibrators and Stranglers gigs soon.