Sunday, 27 January 2013

after the show

Saturday night and I'm all alone,
No ring on the doorbell, no ring on the phone
And nobody wants to know
Anyone lonely like me

29th August 1970.

Saturday night. It's probably raining; it usually was. The constant drumming of the rain on the caravan roof was the soundtrack to the family summer holiday. I was reading the Westerns by Louis L'Amour and all of the Bond novels in order. Every so often one of us had to take the dog out for a walk. No little plastic bags in those days - leave it where it falls.  Sometimes white (whatever happened to white d. . .?). I was fourteen.

My sister had recently split up with her boyfriend (who she later married anyway - I said it was a holiday) and had hooked up with an older lad from Newmarket. I think his name was Pete. He was part of the team switching Stevenage to North Sea Gas and obviously caught my sister's eye. Whilst we holidayed down on the East Coast at Felixstowe (being near to Newmarket) Pete came down to see us - well, my sister I guess. Well: small caravan, rain, dog, parents, irritating little brother - how do you get to spend some time with your new beau? A gig! There's a band playing at the Spa. And little brother seems to like this long hair music.

My sister and Pete offered to take me to the said gig. That means mum and dad can relax, walk the dog, go for a drink, have a row or whatever they got up to (which seemed to be that exact list in no particular order). For a short lived affair, Pete and my sister got on very well - I was even invited to meet his parents once - it was a Sunday and I watched Free and Deep Purple on their tv - can't remember where my sister got to for a while but a whole new world was opening up to me. So, Saturday night and off down to the Spa Pavilion Theatre for a gig.

Now, so far the live bands I'd been used to seeing was the three piece sax, bass and drum line-up mentioned here with their risqué humour. But a real live rock band in a club, wow! So off we went. Fourteen and I'm going to see a real live rock band. Except I had been to Hyde Park to see Pink Floyd, Kevin Ayres, Roy Harper and others totally free. Now this has been mentioned before and is probably a future post. So, live music and me weren't total strangers.

29th August 1970. Saturday night at the Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe. The band were called Audience. A month earlier they had appeared on TOTP performing, I think, Indian Summer (great song). But here they were, live on stage in front of me. My first proper paying gig. So, I was starting with A and would, through the years, reach Z (Frank Zappa, Hammersmith 1970-something). 

Audience were a strange band even for the early 1970s. Their line-up was a singer who played classical guitar, an electric sax/flute/clarinet player with bass and drums. Howard Werth, the singer, had a really weird voice (he later replaced Jim Morrison in a short-lived version of The Doors) and, rather obviously, they were a Prog band. I enjoyed the gig and saw them a few times later - most notably on 9th April 1971 at an All-nighter at the Lyceum in London (yes, I DO realise how old young I was) with VDGG, Genesis, Bell & Arc and Patto. I hope you're taking notes, Andy - there's a post about the six bob tour coming up soon. I think I saw Tir Na Nog in some sort of underground bunker beneath the Spa as well either in 1970 or the next year. I definitely saw them but my memory is beginning to play havoc with my real life . . . 

A year later and we're in a similar situation. Rain, caravan, dog grizzling. Only this time an ex member of Jethro Tull is playing. Unfortunately, the heydays of the Tull and Blodwyn Pig were behind Mick Abrahams, for it is he. By now he was playing with a loose group of musicians under the name of Womit (hmm . . ) but I do remember being able to buy beer at the bar. Yes, yes, I know, I was fifteen. They probably weren't the best band I ever saw live but I will never forget the comment Abrahams made. "We're gonna do a long number called Seasons now - there's a long guitar solo in it so you can go off and have a s . . . " well, you get the idea.

All good fun and the sort of stuff one remembers all these years later. I have been to a few other gigs since then at the same theatre - the Blues Band, Al Murray, Joe Brown, Dave Burland and Simon Nicol amongst others.

And now? Well, Mrs Dave and I wandered past it today and it was all boarded up. The picture above is actually as it is today filtered through a '1970s' style and the black and white one probably makes it look a little timeless. The gardens my parents loved to walk through, where we taught our children to ride bikes and all those years ago we wandered through just taking in the ambience have begun to go now. It was a meridian time. I can't imagine that I was the only youth who was caught up in the music of the time. They were part of the 50p circuit just like the New Resurrection Club back home in Hitchin with weekly gigs by bands like Genesis, Trapeze, Black Widow and monthly ones by a down-on-their-luck pre-Rumours Fleetwood Mac, Rory Gallagher et al (those gigs cost about £1.50). 

The reason that the Spa is boarded up is because it can't sustain a profit in these everything-on-the-internet times and, if the place is left alone for two minutes, the kids would break every window asap. Just like they've managed to do with every other building left to rot in this town. Perhaps if the recent owners had managed to put some decent gigs on like those packed houses I was at in the seventies, this place would still be open and supplying great music to them. When I put the gigs on at Stevenage College, I understood advertising was the key to getting an audience. Lessons learnt then don't seem to have filtered through.

I started with Audience and ended with mention of an audience so I guess I've somehow managed to bring things round.

This post was brought to you with an understanding that nostalgia is an acquired taste. 


eeyorn said...

Sorry to hear Felixstowe is down on its uppers, I used to dance there regularly with my local Morris team of the time at the Folk Festival during the 80's. A quick Google seems to suggest that the Folk Festival has also fallen by the wayside :(.

Zouk Delors said...

Nice to hear mention of Tir Na Nog, Dave. Their (eponymous? first? white!) album was the sound track to my first love affair.What a beautiful, haunting sound. They were still going at the roach end of the C20th. I know, because I saw them perform in a basement in Denmark Street.

PS Pejorative? Moi?

Dave Leeke said...


I may have watched you dance there, then! We came down here in '88. The Folk Festival was pretty good - I guess we caught the tail-end of them. With all those Morris teams around it was like an episode of "The Cloggies" at times.


Welcome. I used to love that song about "Our love will not mildew, decay" by Tir Na Nog - I saw them a few times live back in the day. Lots of these bands are still around doing occasional tours. If you spent your life playing in bands why not? Music is a gift (except Abba and Cilla Black). Was there a hot bit at the end of the last century? I thought it seemed to go out with a bit of a whimper.

As I have pointed out, I was in a grumpy frame of mind at the time and may have mistaken a simple comment as a loaded one.

Zouk Delors said...

Well, I've just looked at Tir na nOg's (sic - except the "O" should have an accent my phone doesn't do) website, and it seems they're alive, well, and gigging*!

It WAS their first, eponymous album I knew and all the lyrics (but not the music) are all there. I think Time is Like a Promise is the standout track, but the whole album is timelessly beautiful.

I haven't really been to live gigs much for perhaps decades, and probably couldn't have afforded to for much of that time anyway. Except for Trevor's Sunday night blues session - when the venue wasn't somewhere I'm barred from (don't ask).


Dave Leeke said...

Okay, Zouk, I won't ask.

As an idle perusal of my back pages will show, I still go to a fair few live gigs - I started all those years ago with Pink Floyd free at Hyde Park and still take in the occasional festival. Mrs Dave and I will be going to see RT at Cambridge as a birthday treat (for me, that is!) in February.

I must admit, though as I'm getting older, the less gigs I'm getting to. It is nicer if something worth going to is more local - Ipswich manages the occasional stunner like the rare Bonnie Rait gig a couple of years back. REM at the Town grounds was better than I thought it would be.

I'm glad the acoustic music scene seems to be thriving at the moment. I must check out the Tír na nÓg album - Rob Young mentioned them several times in "Electric Eden" which is well worth reading.

eeyorn said...

Mmmm Tir Na Nog, one of my big faves too. Their second album 'A Tear and a Smile' was also pretty good, then they went electric for 'Strong in the Sun' which also has some good songs - but for me the first 2 were the dog's b******s.

I still try to get to a few gigs but JSA doesn't stretch too far at the best of times.

Watch out for Roy Harper tonight at the BBC Folk awards - Lifetime Achievement for Songwriting. Roy is still going strong with a new album due fairly soon. I was lucky enough to see him for his 70th Birthday gig last year and have a boot of it if you're interested.

His son, Nick is also well worth checking out. Much more upbeat than his Dad, and a phenomenally gifted guitarist. And you'll generally pay 10-15 quid to see him.

Dave Leeke said...

Ah, Roy! Who'd have thought he'd still be around now? A survivor. It's great to see that he's become a sort of National Treasure. Before we left the area to come East, Roy played a few cracking gigs at Hitchin Folk Club.

I'm aware of Nick but, to be honest, it's impossible to keep up with the plethora of great music around.

As for "going electric" there's a blog post there I think! Hmm, I'll have to have a think about that . . .

Andy Wright said...

I well remember the Lyceum 'Allnighter' ,great music,great atmosphere and wonderful memories of 42 years ago.......42 years for Goodness sake! Strange you should mention Audience. My youngest lad (28 in April but still convinced he should have been born in 1955) is an admirer and the strains of House on the Hill can regularly be heard in his house (and indeed mine). Do you remember Phill Collins and Peter Gabriel setting up their own equipment prior to a concert at the New Ressurrection Club circa 1969? This was obviously long before world wide fame and massive concerts at the Rainbow. Happy days, very happy days. Sorry to hear about the Spa. It is always sad when somewhere like that dies.

Dave Leeke said...

Yes, and I still remember Phil Collins sticking a bar billiard cue in my ear because I was sitting next to the billiard table at Bletchley Youth Club. Still, he bought me a pint at the Nellie Dean a few years later to say sorry.

Do you remember Steve from Tottenham? A certain lady friend of yours knew him well - he worked for Charisma and introduced PC and me at the bar of the ND. Ah well, all water under a long since collapsed bridge, methinks!

I think I need to write about the six bob tours at some point because it was a great moment in time - for the sort of music we were interested in, anyway.

Andy Wright said...

I do, very well. Good bloke and he gave me a copy of Nursery Crime for nada as I say Good bloke.

eeyorn said...

Yep enjoyed Roy's spot very much last night and twas good to hear a few other faves amongst the contenders. And great to hear Aly and Phil again, we used to trek over the mountains of Co.Donegal regularly to see them. Lovely guys, both of them and exquisite musicianship.

eeyorn said...

And such amazing talent coming through. Are we having a new folk revival, do you think?

Dave Leeke said...


I missed the first half (Mrs Dave is an SLT member and didn't get back until 7:30) but caught the second half. I will catch up possibly tonight. I've never known how to watch such things on tv as it's a Radio 2 programme so it's a revelation to discover the "Red Button". To see Roy was great but to see Nic Jones nearly made me cry. I used to see him regularly at The Red Lion Folk Club in Woolmer Green. I also saw him at Chorley as guitarist for June Tabor. Honestly, it's a crime that his albums aren't available on cd. Nice bit in the Independent today.

But, to the point you made - we're always going through a "renaissance" in acoustic music (or revival)but the talent around is astonishing. Wonderful stuff.

Oh, and I nearly cried when Aly Bain got an award too - "Hokey Pokey" and "Pour Down Like Silver" feature his playing and, I think I'm right but too lazy to check, that it's him on "Devonside".

I'm working on a post about "going electric" (that's a euphemism for me "thinking about it occasionally").

eeyorn said...

I suppose there are all sorts of factors contributing to the recent resurgence, not least of which Mike Harding's massive hand in its promotion. And of course we now degree courses in Folk Music, Folk Studies etc which can only be for the good.

But its interesting that Folk's resurgence always seems to be coupled with rising civil unrest.

Dave Leeke said...

So, are you saying that the new Tory slogan should be "Vote Tory - it's good for Folk Music"?

Good point, though. Actually, have you ever seen any of the Morris films from the last couple of years? "Way of the Morris", "Here's a Health to the Barley Mow" and, particularly a comedy film (I kid you not) called, "Morris: A Life With Bells On"? I'm about to get them and just wondered what the Professional Cloggie position on them was.

eeyorn said...

I think the general consensus in the Morris world follows the thinking of Ocscar Wilde: 'Any publicity is good' - so the Morris films have generally been welcomed and appreciated. I haven't seen any of them, though I gather that 'Life with Bells On' in particular comes highly recommended, and has gained many fans within the Morris world.

When you dress up in silly costumes with flowers and feathers in your hat, its difficult to take yourself seriously. Hopefully the dancing, music and witty repartee serves to gain a little respect.

Andy Wright said...

Many Happy Returns Dave. Our third Grandson was born at 9pm last night, so he nearly sahred your birthday! Hope he shares your musical tastes...

Dave Leeke said...

Thank you very much - I'm having a "Birthday Blues" at the moment: where did all that time go?

Ah well, congratulations - I guess those in your line of work have similar problems to those in ours: what do you name them? Too many memories with some names!!

Anyway - enjoy (and get some sleep!).

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