METAL CITY – new album from Chief Headbangers, RAVEN

First time I came across Raven was around 1980/81 when I saw them playing live on TV through the window of a Chinese take away. I went in to see if the old woman knew who they were. She popped up from behind the counter and fired back screaming above the music ‘They very loud. They Raven’.

40 year later the Chinese take away isn’t there now but our Chief Head bangers are still hard at it in the mix.

I got in touch with John Gallagher (bass/vocals) and asked him what can we expect from the new album ? The album is a quantum leap forward for us with a brace of killer new songs linking that ‘Wiped Out’ energy and feel to a 21st Century state of the art production. It’s the first studio album that our new drummer Mike Heller has played on and he’s just off the charts on this!

You sound very pleased with the results… Yeah the songs and playing are a definite step up – we really raised our game and are extremely pleased with how it’s turned out. The new album will be released on September 18th. We’ll also have a single out very shortly too.

Have you any live plans going forward ? If all goes well we are looking at Euro dates in February 2021.

No holding back then ? Can’t wait!

Interview Gary Alikivi  July 2020.

Check the official website for details: http://www.ravenlunatics.com/

Follow on twitter : @official_raven

Links to previous interviews:

https://garyalikivi.com/2017/05/03/staring-into-the-fire/

https://garyalikivi.com/2019/10/09/heeds-doon-with-john-gallagher-from-chief-heabangers-raven/

 

Wavis O’Shave the Soccer Legend ? Not quite.

It’s hard to get away from football as the end of season covid infected games have been pumped out every night on the telly. Newcastle United finish mid table after another season of zero ambition under owner Mike Ashley. Times up Mike. He needs to delete any connection with the football team, hopefully, new owners are waiting in the wings.

Last week I received an email from Wavis O’Shave who remembered better times for the club. Back in the 80’s Wavis released singles, an album and appeared on live music show The Tube, but before that he was a regular at St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United…

I used to go to all their home games and I remember at the start of one season about 50 Wolves skinhead supporters made their way around the ground to try and get in the Leazes End where they would have got eaten.

At one game I asked a bloke to zip me up inside my anorak so that my arms were inside. When the game ended I couldn’t move and got carried all over the place by the packed crowd as they made their way out. All good fun.

The first game I went to was the start of the ’68 season where Newcastle beat Man City 1-0 with an early Pop Robson penalty. I’d been deciding whether to support Newcastle or Man United but as Man U lost their opening game 4-1 at home to Southampton that same afternoon, I chose Newcastle. Big mistake!

I wasn’t a great football player but I could play football great, I had been invited to a trial for Newcastle on August 23rd 1973 at their Hunters Moor training ground, as a right winger – not the political type.

Strangely, I wasn’t playing any footy that summer and every week kept saying that I’d better start to get in shape for the big day. I went down to The Dragon playing fields near the South Shields beach to have a bit of a kick about. I wasn’t in great shape!

Day of the 23rd and I’m off to Hunters Moor which I thought was nearer to St James’ than it was, so I had to run like hell on the extremely hot day to get there in time for 1.30pm. I was knackered – great preparation, eh? Then it all went surreal.

I was to play on the right wing but when they called out my name I was down for left back – defence instead of attack and wrong footed! They threw me some shin pads and wouldn’t let me play if I didn’t wear them. I’d chose never to wear pads in my life so I found myself having to stop every 10 yards to readjust them as they kept whizzing to the back of my legs.

According to some mates who came to watch and give me moral support I played a good shift with some crunching tackles. The club said they’d let you know and it was months later I got an expected thanks, but no thanks.

Now, either the buggers made a grave error in playing me out of position or fate stepped in to ensure they never have a soccer legend. Either way, they’ve won nowt since and I don’t think they ever will.

Malcolm ‘Supermac’ McDonald.

When VIZ Comic had their 20th Anniversary bash I was invited but of course didn’t go. There were a few celebs there including my footy hero Malcolm Supermac Macdonald. I’d gave my ticket to a friend who went in my place, and when he was having a piss in the bogs next to Supermac he said to him ‘So you know, Wavis?’

If they hadn’t played me left back maybe I would have played with him!

I followed the Mags until I deleted all interest in them some years back when they lost to Sunderland five times on the trot. Unacceptable behaviour so I was out! I can’t take footy serious now it’s not a sport anymore, just stocks and shares, and you can’t take the thing serious when players earn 100k a week and behave like girls blouse pop stars. They should get themselves a decent job.

Links to previous interviews with Wavis O’Shave:

https://garyalikivi.com/2017/06/06/felt-nowt-the-world-according-to-wavis-oshave/

https://garyalikivi.com/2017/09/05/method-in-the-madness-interview-with-wavis-oshave/

 Gary Alikivi  July 2020.

 

CHECK THAT SOCKET

with David Clasper, former electrician at Newcastle City Hall.

Covid times are keeping interviews to a minimum, with no face to face meetings arranged yet just a few emails, but there has been a story recorded using old school interview techniques – a couple of crackly phone calls and a letter written by David sent from his home in the Northumberland village of Heddon-on-the-Wall.

I am retired now but I used to work for Dougal & Railtons that were  based in New Bridge Street, Newcastle and one of their contracts was supplying standby electricians for Newcastle City Council. We would attend to any electrical problems at schools, community centres and the like. That would entail any re-wiring that needed to be done, replaced sockets, and repaired lights. One of the jobs was for the City Hall where I worked for over 10 year from the late 1970’s onward.

I would start around 8 in the morning attending to any paperwork in the office then about 9.30am get over to the City Hall. There I would check for problems, do any repairs, change lights and make sure the power was on stage. As you may know there were lots of great acts that went on stage there. In fact one of the first standby jobs I done was for the David Bowie concerts in 1978 over three nights. It was the Isolar 2 tour.

(Newcastle, UK dates were 14,15 &16 June. The Isolar 2 World Tour opened in USA, March ’78, finished in Japan, December ‘78).

I was very fortunate as I was asked to take up a position beside the stage and make sure everything went ok. It was a highlight for myself and one I will never forget because not only was it a great show, but before he went on stage he would have a bit of a chat with me.

Another memory from my time there was carrying out the standby job for Leo Sayer. When he was rehearsing his songs and going through his routine on stage I was repairing a flashing light not far away from him. The next thing I was aware of was Leo bursting out in laughter, so much so that the crew came around to see what was going on. When everything calmed down and the laughing stopped it turned out that he was rehearsing one of his songs, strangely enough called Flashing Lights.

Among other standby jobs I was fortunate enough to be involved in were Lindisfarne and Wings with Paul McCartney, all great shows. Yes it was a long day finishing around 11.30pm but looking back on my time at Dougal & Railtons, the Newcastle City Hall was the best job that I had, loved my time there.

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2020.

TOON TUNES – with former Newcastle Dingwalls manager Chris Murtagh

A comprehensive list of gigs at North East venues are being put together, and recently to add to the growing list, pages out of a booking list and diary from gigs at Dingwalls in 1983 turned up on line. Entries included:

26.3.83 – Big Country Fee: £240 – 282 @ £1.50. Excellent band and performance. Perfect timing with release of single. Excellent debut in the North-East.

3.3.83 – Raven & Hellanbach Fee: Raven £300 – Hellanbach £60 – 269 @ £1.50 Terrific stage show. Very good heavy rock band with good repertoire. Good following.

Raven bassist John Gallagher told me about the night… ‘I just remember the place being chilly…at least until we got started! There was a decent turnout and we were promoting the ‘All for One’ album. I don’t remember much more to be honest !’ …well it was nearly 40 years ago. But to find out more I contacted the manager at the time and owner of the book, Chris Murtagh….I don’t have the diary now as I’ve sold it but have a digital copy of the acts who appeared. Like the other Bierkellers around the UK the entertainment promoter Harvey Goldsmith bought all the venues for £1 and re-christened them Dingwalls. Yes only a £1 but Harvey had to service their debts and running costs. They were in the basement of office blocks, mine was in Waterloo Street, Newcastle. It had a capacity of 1200.

I was manager of the venue during 1983, it was Dingwalls from January to June when it went into liquidation and reverted to Vaux Breweries, the biggest creditor. Then from June to December Vaux changed the name to the Bear Pit but I was retained as manager.

How did you get the managers job ? I’d done several promotions there and had threatened to sue Goldsmith for breach of a contract for cancelling one of them. Turned out his General Manager offered me the job instead. I was the only manager who was also a promoter. All the other Bierkeller managers at Sheffield, Hull, Liverpool, Bristol and London were ex-Mecca managers and older than me. They got two for the price of one in me being manager/promoter and Chris Donald from very early Viz comics did all my publicity.

What was the Newcastle venue like ? It was like being buried in a hole in the ground for months without seeing daylight. When we closed and tidied-up well after midnight, we’d go and chill out at Rockshots upstairs till about 3am. Then back at work about 4pm the same day. My bar manager once dragged me to the City baths for a massage which connected me back to my body that I’d totally lost track of.

Martha Reeves was booked for May ’83 and your diary entry reads….Martha chatted me up in the office. Didn’t know where to put myself. She could have eaten me for breakfast. Motown comes to Dingwalls. Brilliant professional show.

What can you remember from that day ? Martha Reeves terrified me as I must have been the youngest manager she’d come across and she was a very experienced older woman.

In the diary for June, Murtagh booked female group Girlschool with support from North East heavy metal band Satan. His notes of the gig included… Girlschool arrived for their first headline tour after supporting Motorhead. They didn’t have any money and asked if I could help them out which I did. Nice girls who put on a good show but treated rubbish by their record company.

Satan a good local heavy metal band with a good following. I’d previously promoted them, famously at the St James & St Basil’s Church in Fenham where the posters read ‘Appearing live on stage, Satan.’ That pulled in a good congregation.

Also that month Dr Feelgood came to Newcastle with support from North East band R & B Spitfires….Full on red-hot rock band with commitment and attitude. Real pros – no messing about with sound checks – Brilliant. Wilko went to college up here so he had his own following.  Local band Spitfires acquitted themselves well in such company.

More entries to the diary with some excellent comments about the bands and gigs….22.4.83 – Gun Club + Sisters of Mercy. Fee: £511.25 – 548 @ £1.50. Sisters, good appreciative following, hypnotic beat with drum machine, bass and guitar. Led by Joey Ramone lookalike. Effective visual presence.

Gun Club, should have been called ‘Gin Club’, Jim Morrison just before he died. Good presence, good songs, terrible sound.

6.5.83 – Miami Steve. Brilliant American band. Shame about Steve and the material. Bruce Springsteen can keep him. Stayed in the tour bus only coming in to play the gig. Oh and don’t touch his bandana. Precious bastard, up his own arse.

10.5.83 – Bad Brains. Turned up 6 hours late so most of the audience left. Refused to pay them which set-up a stand-off between the band and my security. Lots of martial arts posturing until it finally dawned on them they would get severely plastered if they stayed. Bad brains indeed.  

16.5.83 – The Vibrators + Red Alert. Not overly impressed by the reformed Vibrators. Canny lads though. Their guitars were nicked before they went on, then retrieved by Red Alert, who were themselves a very impressive act.  

After you left what happened with the venue ? Harvey Goldsmith owned Dingwalls but his CEO was Peter Gross, an accountant, who’d run a chain of restaurants called The Great American Disaster in London. At each of the venues he’d bring a brewery in as sponsor. In Newcastle’s case it was Vaux Brewery who gave him three quarters of a million pounds. When the receivers Ernst Whinney were brought in because Harvey was going into liquidation for about the seventh time, I talked to him on the phone. ‘You’ll be alright my boy’, were the last words he spoke to me.

The venue reverted to Vaux Breweries with them being the biggest creditor. When Paul Nicholson CEO of Vaux arrived, he asked what Harvey had done with all the money. I said he’d stuck a black plastic crow on the wall and extended the stage. You’ll notice every poster advertising a Goldsmith promotion has a little fat man in the corner. That’s Harvey. He also used a black crow as the logo for Dingwalls. ‘I hope that bloody crow lays golden eggs’ was Paul’s reply.

Basically, Harvey used all the money for running costs. If he’d taken the time to run the venues himself it might have worked, but he was too busy touring the Stones, Dylan, Bowie etc and left the running to Peter Gross, who was clueless about the music industry. Vaux wanted to appoint their own manager of what they now branded ‘The Bear Pit’. My staff refused to work for them so I was retained as manager.

Murtagh came across North East manager and promoter Geoff DochertyMy first encounter with Geoff Docherty was when he was looking after Preacher, a band led by Tony Ions. I needed a rehearsal place for my new band Fan Heater and Tony who I’d played with in Slaughter House, suggested I approach Geoff to see if I could share their rehearsal rooms in the derelict Hydraulic Crane pub on Scotswood Road, Newcastle.

Not only did Geoff give us the pub but he said he’d get us a gig at the Marquee Club and Rock Garden in London supporting The Showbiz Kids who he also managed. ‘Oh yes, of course you will’ I thought being very sceptical. I couldn’t believe it when he was as good as his word. Total respect.

What did you do after Dingwalls ? After leaving there I continued promoting in Newcastle, Leeds and tours around the UK, including with my own band. 1994 I became a director of the pan-European touring organisation the Newcastle Free Festival inaugurating Cities of Culture, including being the first festival to perform under the Berlin Wall when it came down in 1989.

That same year, as part of the festival, I brought over the Peruvian band APU. 30 years later I’m still their manager. This also drew me into World Music which I’ve promoted ever since. As part of being a promoter, I worked as an A Level sponsor for the Home Office for over 25 years issuing visas for non-EEC artists to tour the UK. I still enjoy playing all over the world and organise festivals and events internationally.

Contact Chris on the official website:

www.line-up.co.uk

Interview by Gary Alikivi   June 2020.