THE ORIGINAL JOHN ROSSALL GLITTER BAND + LEE PRYOR – THE CON CLUB, LEWES 22.02.20
I must admit that I had very mixed feelings about attending this concert. There were various concert opportunities on offer like Midge Ure at the Theatre Royal, Kosheen at CHALK, The James Taylor Quartet at Patterns, Fat Tuesday’s music festival in Hastings and James Blunt at the Brighton Centre. Thankfully my colleague was covering James Blunt as none other than Ed Sheeran wandered on stage for a bit!
But back in the day I was at that age where glam rock was king and I loved it. I was too young to have seen the bands first time around and so I’m now working my way through the list of those that are still on the case so to speak. I was fortunate enough to have recently caught Sweet and Slade live in Sussex, although both acts now only have one founder member left. This is also obviously the case with The Original John Rossall Glitter Band, which is today’s representation for the Glitter Band. A band who came out of the shadows from behind their frontman Gary.
You see there lies the problem, back in the day I with many millions used to love Gary Glitter’s (aka Paul Gadd) singles and I did eventually catch him live at Brighton Top Rank in 1980. That’s before the swathes of folks were to learn of the man’s serious and sickening crimes. When I found out, it was like I had been robbed of part of my childhood. But after discussions with several people on the subject, the conclusion was that the songs were made and arguably could still be enjoyed in their own right. I have played his material over the past decade but have felt very uncomfortable in doing so. Therefore would I feel the same this evening should this ‘Glitter Band’ perform any of Gadd’s numbers at The Con Club in Lewes, which has been running since circa 1926. They did! So what happened?
We arrived at the venue and it was packed! There were people from all walks of life there, from punks to sequined glam rockers and disco types. Clearly folks had voted with their feet on this one!
Drinks purchased and we had many interesting discussions with various punters. The support act came on stage, who was Buffalo Bill/Billy Connolly lookalike Lee Pryor, who performed acoustic versions of glam rock hits. Can’t remember any acoustic glam rock ditties back in the day though, but he was a nice chap and those that he pulled away from the bar area appeared to enjoy his trip down memory lane.
The Original John Rossall Glitter Band features founder member John Rossall on lead vocals, Bob Bradbury on guitar, Dave Glover on bass, Corrie Shiells on sax and Jake Bradbury on drums. I had not twigged prior to tonight that guitarist Bob Bradbury (who now is a Brian Setzer of The Stray Cats lookalike) was in fact one and the same Bob Bradbury of glam rockers ‘Hello’, as in the brilliant UK hit singles ‘Tell Him’ (1974) (which got an airing tonight) and ‘New York Groove’ (1975). Now this was a bonus!
Turns out that bandmate saxophonist Corrie Shiells is Bob’s other half. The Glitter Band and Hello had the same manager back in the day, so clearly John and Bob have been mates for decades and so when you think of it, it is not really that surprising that Bob is assisting John’s Glitter Band. Hello are still going today, but with all these glam rock bands, Bob is the only founding member left.
Bassist Dave Glover was also a member of latter day Slade from 2000 to 2003 and has been in Sweet too but not in the early days. Tonight’s Glitter Band drummer was referred to as Kyle, so probably wasn’t Jake Bradbury then. Who is the son of Bob, although he was a lot younger than most of the band.
Historically speaking The Glitter Band were without doubt one of the most popular and influential exponents of the 1970’s Glam Rock phenomena. Formed by John Rossall in 1972 from the embers of the highly successful Boston International, The Glitter Band released their debut single ‘Angel Face’ on Bell Records in April 1974, reaching number 4 in the UK Charts. Further singles followed with ‘Just For You’ (No.10) and ‘Let’s Get Together Again’ (No.8) the same year, leading to the release of ‘Hey!’, the definitive Glitter Band and Glam Rock album. The band’s biggest hit, ‘Goodbye My Love’ made the UK number 2 position early in 1975. All of these huge Glitter Band hits are John Rossall compositions.
Leaving the band for a solo career in 1975, John Rossall released a number of solo singles before relocating to Sweden, where he enjoyed considerable success. Returning to the UK in the early 90’s with a new band line up, John quickly established himself on the European revival circuit and has toured continually ever since, performing alongside some of the biggest names of the Glam Rock era. 2019 marked the 45th Anniversary of ‘Angel Face’, ‘Just For You’ and ‘Let’s Get Together Again’.
Bang on 9pm and this Glitter Band take to The Con Club stage. The audience is packed and give the band a warm welcome. There was only one way to start and that was with ‘Rock And Roll Part 2’ (No.2 1970). This was released as Gadd’s first single, but is almost an instrumental, with the b-side carrying the part one vocal. The Human League did a decent cover of part two. I felt a tiny bit guilty in enjoying this, but everyone around me was well up for it!
This was followed by The Glitter Bands ‘Let’s Get Together Again’ (No.8 1974) and on walked John Rossall with his glam jacket, which was sadly not done up. It was great to actually see him in the flesh, but he didn’t actually look in the best of health.
‘Rock On’ was next and I realised that the red laser type beam I had kept noticing waving around the ceiling and distracting me was actually on the end of Dave’s bass and he had blue lights on the fret too – very glam rock! Gadd’s 1972 No 4 single ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll)’ followed. Then came The Glitter Band ‘Just For You’ (No.10 1974) and the hits kept on coming.
John went off stage for a couple of numbers for a sit down backstage whilst Bob took the lead vocals for ‘Shout It Out’ and thankfully ‘Tell Him’ (No.6 1974), but no ‘New York Groove’ (No.9 1975).
John returned to the stage wearing a different sparky glam jacket, but that too was not done up and so we still had views of his low neck-lined black t-shirt. ‘Angel Face’ (No.4 1974) was played and enjoyed. It was very successfully covered by electronic dance troupe Shock in 1980. The original sold two million copies worldwide!
Looking down at the setlist (as I was down the front) I noted that they omitted ‘Oh Yes!, You’re Beautiful’ (No.2 1974) , but at that stage the tempo was quite boppy and this would have slowed up the pace. So we were into the now awkward ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me’ (No.2 1973) which obviously now comes with very dark overtones these days. But having said that, the Lewes crowd was well up for it “yeah oh yeah”.
The final three numbers were ‘Rock And Roll Part One’ (No. 2 1972), ‘I Love You Love Me Love’ (No.1 1973) and ‘I’m The Leader Of The Gang (I Am)’ (No.1 1973). The crowd loved these and were as one with the band. Unfortunately one or two psychobilly types took it upon themselves to overindulge in their dancing and sent at least one person flying to the floor. There was no need for this and the individual concerned does tend to turn up at The Con Club from time to time to do this. Menace!
In summary, the crowd loved it and I was glad to have been there. I did feel awkward at times, but I was there solely to enjoy the music I had listened to whilst growing up.
I do ask myself whether or not they still count as the real thing or whether this is now a glorified tribute act best left on a Butlins stage or a cruise liner. Nonetheless an enjoyable night of glam rock nostalgia.
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