Looking through back issues of the UK music weeklies for a mention of North East bands, I came across a screaming headline from a Motorhead gig review – Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer – Yep, that be ‘reet for the ‘heed.
Sounds or NME was always knocking about our house, pocket money bought a copy for 25p. We could read exclusive interviews with bands out on tour promoting their latest album, check forthcoming UK gig dates or look at artwork for new albums.
The music weeklies were always something to look forward to – even though half the print rubbed off on your fingers.
Sounds mixed rock and punk interviews with Ozzy/Halen/Upstarts. NME featured alternative and post punk bands Damned/Cramps/Costello. Take your pick of front covers splashed with David Coverdale, Kate Bush or Angus Young.
Album and tour adverts were a big feature for music weeklies, not only for much needed revenue from record companies, but they tracked the cycle of a band. The cycle would feed into each other – release a single – create TV/media coverage – release album – tour to promote. And repeat.
Large tours were the norm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but since the ‘90s when enormodome arenas sprung up around the UK, there has been a massive sell off of smaller venues and subsequently less chance to see bands.
Looking through tour adverts I noticed the Overkill UK tour of Spring ’79 that Motorhead completed, by their standards, a short run of 19 dates. A visit to Newcastle City Hall was on March 26 and a review of the gig in Sounds by Paul Sutcliffe went like this….
‘It was very loud. The crowd roared and some yelled ‘It’s not loud enough’. Lemmy said ‘I can’t get it no louder. Shut your trap’. Then they played ‘Iron Horse’ which was as loud as the First World War if they crammed the whole thing together and held it in a phone booth’.
During Autumn 1980 Motorhead ground out another 35 dates around the UK on their Ace Up Your Sleeve tour with two dates scheduled at Newcastle Mayfair in October. Support came from NWOBHM band Weapon. In May 2017 I interviewed Weapon vocalist Danny Hynes who remembers an incident from the tour…
‘We were at Edinburgh Odeon and had just finished our sound check. Jeff and Baz went to the side of the stage to tune their guitars when the cables on one side of the Bomber lighting rig snapped, sending it crashing through the flight case that the tuners were mounted on. An inch or two closer and we would have lost two members of the band’.
In Sounds October ’81, Thin Lizzy are on the 28 date Renegade UK tour with two dates each at Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and three nights at the Hammersmith Odeon. They hit Newcastle on 10 December and didn’t close the tour until a week later in Derby. On the Vintage Rock website the author remembers the Newcastle date….
‘The Renegade tour was scheduled to call at Newcastle City Hall on 27th October 1981. The concert was postponed and Thin Lizzy actually played the gig on 10th December 1981, supported by Sweet Savage, a metal band from Belfast, who included Dio and Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell’.
In the 22 May 1982 issue, is advertised a So What tour which included 18 dates around the UK for headliners The Anti-Nowhere League, with guests Chelsea, Chron Gen and The Defects.
The first date was at a place called Manchester Rotters who held a special matinee for under 18’s. Next date was May 20 at Newcastle Mayfair and the tour ended with two dates at the London Lyceum.
The past year has seen live events destroyed by the covid 19 pandemic and everybody who works in that industry has had their working life put on hold, but hopefully they can return soon – however many dates and whatever the venue.
Sellers on EBay are flogging pre-owned copies of music weeklies. They go for anything from £2.99 to £35 depending on who is on the front cover and featured inside. What you waiting for, get yer bids in and take a step back in time.
Gary Alikivi January 2021.