This week #MondayMemories hears from journalist Cliff Moore who has been documenting our shows for 41 (count ‘em!) years. In that time, he’s seen it all and gone back for the encore, reporting the sights and sounds, but never more succinctly than in his terse account of a particularly shabby show from Chaka Khan... “Chaka can’t,” was all he needed to say.
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have seen a great many spectacular, and some not so spectacular, gigs at Lighthouse/Poole Arts Centre, many in my capacity as entertainments editor for The Advertiser and latterly a reviewer for the Echo. These have included everything from The Who and Kiss to Van Morrison and Oasis – with much in between.
The week I first arrived in Poole, in September 1980, Eric Clapton’s name was being advertised on the outside of the building in that stick-on letters style so beloved of entertainment venues in the pre-digital age. At that point, however, I wouldn’t have crossed the road to see the washed-up old hippy Clapton – it was the last knockings of the post-punk height of new wave and a guitar supremo was certainly not on my agenda. How times change.
Some random, and often fuzzy, memories from the last 41 years of bouncing floors:
Page and Plant in the mid-1990s – two Led Zeppelin legends at the top of their game, a rare chance to hear Zep classics Gallows Pole, Kashmir, In The Evening, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog and The Song Remains The Same in the hands of the masters. Lots of Indian influences, I recall, and a beautifully dressed stage.
Joan Baez, 2012 – the queen of folk and human rights performed from a front room setting, complete with sofa, rug and table lamp.
Van Morrison and Brian Kennedy, circa 1994 – I’ve seen the impenetrable and unpredictable Van on plenty of occasions and luckily only one truly one bad show (a memorable on-stage meltdown in Bournemouth), but this show was the finest. The sublime Kennedy, then pretty much unknown, complimented Van perfectly. The atmosphere was great and the grooves seemed to go on forever. Maybe Georgie Fame was on keyboards.
Kid Creole & the Coconuts – the only one I had to walk away from. It was ear-splittingly loud and poorly mixed, to make aural matters worse.
Kiss – the American cartoon rockers were certainly loud too and the only place to take it in properly and save one’s hearing was right at the back by the doors, under the balcony overhang.
The Who, 1981 – queued all night for tickets in that quaint system we used to have to make it as uncomfortable as possible for punters. Gig was a hits-laden festival and it was remarkable at the time to witness such stars in Poole.
Oasis, 1994 – a warm-up gig for Glastonbury, I believe. Security was pretty heavy with crash barriers everywhere and the scent of testosterone pervaded the mostly male audience. I took my daughter Poppy, no fan of the band, but she certainly learned to use her elbows that night. It was the band’s first gig with drummer Zak Starkey and they encored with The Who’s My Generation.
Tenpole Tudor, early ‘80s – so sparse was the flat floor crowd that it was possible to lie down and appreciate the Swords of a Thousand Men from a different angle.
Motorhead, different occasions, early to mid-80s – most notable for the amount of beer consumed, the crush at the bar and the heat generated in the moshpit. On a cold night it wasn’t much fun walking home drenched with sweat, but Lemmy and Co were the kings.
Ozzy Osbourne, 1980 – the Blizzard of Oz tour with Randy Rhodes, and yes, they did encore with Paranoid.
The Stranglers, different occasions 1980s – the classic line-up with Hugh Cornwell. Uncompromising, they played, we listened, they didn’t talk, they encored only if they wanted to. Stirring stuff.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, various, 1980s. Ditto with the uncompromising.
The Clash, July 1982 – the Combat Rock tour, the last hurrah for this splendid band before it all started to disintegrate.
U2, 1983 – my memory is that it was earlier than this, but you can’t argue with the evidence. Anyhow, the seats were, strangely, down and the audience invited to sit. My overriding recollection is of Bono climbing a speaker stack stage right to wave a flag or something and being unable to get back down again.
Show of Hands, various times – it was with some trepidation that a show by this folk roots duo was approached back in the day, especially when the support act turned out to be some north American clog dancers, but nothing to worry about and they’ve become firm favourites with gigs seen now well into the twenties.
Madness, 1981 – when the Nutty Boys were still young and hadn’t evolved into national treasures. Notable for me reviewing it for Record Mirror, if I could only find the cutting now I could see how bad the writing was.
Hawkwind, 1994 – to witness the latter day Hawks at their trippy dippy trancy best, was one thing, but without even a token performance of Silver Machine it became a bore.
The Yardbirds, 2014 – part of one of those Silver Sixties things also with The Animals, the magnificent Zombies, Maggie Bell and Mike Berry, was a quality evening, notable for Chris Dreja’s appearance in the band (alongside stalwart Jim McCarty). The Animals consisted of drummer John Steel and also Mickey Gallagher, an Animal back in the mists of time before the Blockheads beckoned.
Midge Ure/Blind Boys of Alabama, noughties – most notable for Ure’s refusal to pick up my (admittedly silent) exhortations to perform the Slik classic Forever And Ever. Too serious for that. And also notable for a first sight (ahem) of the wonderful Blind Boys.
Joan Armatrading, 2012 – talking of notable occasions, as well as being one of the few chaps in the audience (as ever for Joan), it was an introduction to the wonders of gruff, sentimental and ultimately life-affirming folkie Chris Wood.
King Crimson, 1982 – always keen to support local talent so trundled along to see Robert Fripp & Co in action despite prog being pretty much anathema to me. This was the Discipline tour with Adrian Belew on vocals. It was a racket, undoubtedly, but a nice racket.
10cc, early 80s and noughties – never got to see the classic line-up which split when I was 15, but the Graham Gouldman/Eric Stewart incarnation in the ‘80s was marvellous, as is the current Gouldman-helmed line-up which still features 10cc live stalwarts Paul Burgess and Rick Fenn. I recall that on the latter occasion they provided their own support, perched on stools doing acoustic versions of the songs Gouldman wrote as a teenager in the 1960s – Bus Stop, No Milk Today, For Your Love….
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