SLADE + THE GRIMMS – WHITE ROCK THEATRE, HASTINGS 05.12.19
This was certainly not an opportunity to be missed, having never seen a concert performed at this 1066 capacity venue before. Yep it has 1066 seats apparently, as in The Battle Of Hastings 1066 and all that!
This evening was date 3 of 12 and I have to report that the White Rock Theatre is a most welcoming place indeed and the staff were very friendly relaxed with the large crowd. There was none of this “you can’t do this, you can’t do that” malarkey. They let Slade do their thing and the punters were allowed to get up out of their seats and move around and go to the front for a boogie. This is a traditional venue that clearly has some fine heritage. I would like to see more performances here given the chance.
Slade are without a doubt one of the most exciting bands to come out of Great Britain in the past 50 years. With their unique blend of perfect pop rock’n’roll, outrageous flamboyance and pure fun, and no less than 23 Top 20 singles of which 6 were No.1 smash hits …plus 6 smash albums, Slade have become a firm favourite in the hearts of pop fans all over the world.
Slade first hit the road in 1966, touring throughout Great Britain and Europe and achieved their first chart hit in May 1971 with the Bobby Marchan song ‘Get Down And Get With It’. Released in October of the same year ‘Coz I Luv You’ was the band’s first No.1 and a huge hit across Europe.
Throughout the seventies, Slade became one of Europe’s biggest bands, touring and recording continually and making regular trips to America and Japan, plus they have a huge following of fans (and regularly play concert dates) in Germany, Russia, Poland, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Czech Republic and have recently returned from gigging in Greenland!. Slade’s catalogue of hits are synonymous with the era:- ‘Take Me Bak ‘Ome’, ‘Mama We’er All Crazee Now’, ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’, ‘Gudbye T’ Jane’, along with the many others provided a soundtrack to the Glam Generation and are still today, heavily featured on any retrospective of the time.
Tonight’s band are led by founder member Dave Hill on lead guitar, with John Berry on lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar and violin. (John has also played bass with The Sweet, Tremeloes, Bay City Rollers). Joining John on lead vocals and keys is Russell Keefe, (who has played in many original bands in his early years and recording albums for Polygram and United Artists, and has toured with The Pretty Little Things and Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers). Original member Don Powell is still listed as the band’s drummer, but has been unwell of late and thus the band have a stand in musician, who was called Alex.
For those of you wondering what the score is with Don, well he had collapsed in Peterborough railway station a few months ago and at the time the band’s statement read “Don Powell, Drummer was admitted to hospital last night with suspected snapped tendons. Don will have surgery today and further details will be released in due course”. Don is fortunate to still be with us, as he was involved in a terrible car accident in the band’s hometown of Wolverhampton in 1973, when his fiancée Angela Morris was sadly killed and Don sustained serious injuries. He broke both of his ankles and five of his ribs. Surgeons had to drill into his skull to ease the internal pressure and he was unconscious for six days. Mind you, Dave Hill had been in the wars too, as had fractured his elbow after he collided with a cyclist near the Grand Hotel whilst out walking in Brighton on 23rd December 2016. This unfortunate occurrence was according to my friend catalogued in Dave’s book – ‘So Here It Is: The Autobiography’, which you can snap up HERE.
Back to tonight and the lights went down and suddenly the ‘Thunderbirds’ theme was blurting out of the speakers. Alex was immediately put to the test with a drum solo to get everyone in the mood, which it most certainly did and the audience were clapping away from the off. They kicked off with ‘Take Me Bak ‘Ome’ with Dave Hill taking centre stage. Whilst plinking away on his Nord keyboard, Russell Keefe kicked off the vocals which thankfully weren’t too far away from sounding like Noddy Holder, so all was well. During the night the vocal duties were actually shared by Keefe and John Berry and weren’t too bad.
The crowd were happily singing along in tandem with the band and there was a good vibe about the place and I was actually enjoying this more than my first Slade encounter a few months back at the Concorde 2. Guess I had got over the shock of no Noddy or something?
One of this evening’s highlights for me was their Celtic belter ‘Run Runaway’, with its long drum solo, which to my ears was more Big Country than Slade. ‘My Friend Stan’ was up next and the keyboards could clearly be heard. ‘Far Far Away’, ‘The Bangin’ Man’ and the rock ‘n’ roll number ‘My Baby Left Me’ were played and then the set got better with ‘Gudbye T’Jane’ and an extended version of the classic ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’, for which Dave introduced us to his really snazzy Glam Rock guitar. Then they were briefly gone only to return to perform a trio of sounds including the great ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and the Christmas hats were dished out to the band, which of course only meant one thing…..“It’s Christmaaaaaaaas” and they launched into ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, which I had waited 46 years to hear performed live!!!
The low point tonight being no ‘Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me’ and the high point being that Dave Hill unknowingly played the whole set with his flies quite possibly open. The ‘Mission Impossible’ outro music starts and the lights come up and that’s the cue for the mixed aged audience to vacate the premises with broad smiles on their faces.
The Slade setlist reads:
‘Take Me Bak ‘Ome’ (found on 1973 ‘Sladest’ compilation album)
‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ (found on 1981 ‘Till Deaf Do Us Part’ album)
‘Look Wot You Dun’ (found on 1973 ‘Sladest’ compilation album)
‘Everyday’ (found on 1974 ‘Old New Borrowed And Blue’ album)
‘Coz I Luv You’ (found on 1973 ‘Sladest’ compilation album)
‘Run Runaway’ (found on 1983 ‘The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome’ album)
‘My Friend Stan’ (found on 1974 ‘Old New Borrowed And Blue’ album)
‘Far Far Away’ (found on 1974 ‘Slade In Flame’ album)
‘The Bangin’ Man’ (eventually found on 1980 ‘Slade Smashes’ compilation album)
‘My Baby Left Me’ (found on 1978 ‘Slade Alive Vol Two’ album)
‘Gudbye T’Jane’ (found on 1972 ‘Slayed?’ album)
‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ (found on 1972 ‘Slayed?’ album)
‘My Oh My’ (found on 1983 ‘The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome’ album)
‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ (found on 1973 ‘Sladest’ compilation album)
‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ (eventually found on 1980 ‘Slade Smashes’ compilation album)
Visit Slade’s official website – www.slade.uk.com
Support this evening came from the shades wearing mature quintet known The Grimms. According to their Facebook page the personnel consists of Gary Miller (vocals), Rufus Ruffell (guitar/vocals), Stevie Smith (harmonica/vocals), Ned Ryder (bass) and Bob Langridge (drums). Although I’m pretty sure that vocalist Gary referred to their terrific harmonica player as Nigel.
These lads dressed mainly in black are proficient R’n’b pub rock musicians, who specialise in their own material and some covers thrown in for good measure. They went down rather well indeed with the punters and set the tone of the evening. Their set was rather long for a support band, coming in at 58 minutes, but if anyone present was a fan of Dr Feelgood and the like, then they must have been in heaven! So attention Dr Feelgood fans, look no further as The Grimms (formerly The Brothers Grimm) are most definitely for you!
Listen to them HERE.
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