By Dean Pedley
Welcome to a new regular column here at The Midlands Rocks.
Unlike our other regular updates Sleep When I’m Dead is not genre specific but instead focuses on the classic, the vintage and the heritage bands and artists that are all still strutting their stuff as we move through the second decade of the twenty first century. There are no hard and fast rules for inclusion but by and large the emphasis will be on the acts that have at the very least celebrated their silver anniversary and with a definite leaning towards home grown names.
With this in mind what better place to start than with the recent Saxon tour. Biff and the boys visited the region three times, Leamington, Nottingham and Wolverhampton, and with a carer spanning two hour show this was a glorious celebration of all things Saxon. Very much a vintage band that is flourishing as opposed to merely surviving, new album ‘Sacrifice’ was well featured in the set list and continues the strong run of form that they have been in over recent years.
Other visitors to the region so far in 2013 have included UFO, who played a blinding show at Digbeth’s Institute venue back in March, and Status Quo. In the case of the latter then this was a tour very much about celebrating nostalgia with the two gigs at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall from their 1970’s ‘Frantic Four’ line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, John Coghlan and Alan Lancaster. With nothing in the set list post-1976 this was Quo getting back to basics and reminding us all of the forceful hard rocking boogie quartet they once were.
It was way back in November 1967 that Quo enjoyed their first hit single with ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ and, released in the very same month, was the chart topping ‘Nights In White Satin’ by The Moody Blues. These days the Moodies comprise the trio of Justin Hayward, John Lodge and still behind the drum kit is the evergreen founding member Graeme Edge. Graeme, of course, was born and bred in Small Heath and recently celebrated his 69th birthday. The first of the 1960’s Brum Beat bands to really make it big on a global scale, you can catch The Moody Blues at the LG Arena on 8 June.
Also appearing at the LG Arena soon is an appealing double header from Journey and Whitesnake, with Thunder also coming along for the ride as the tour arrives in Birmingham on 28 May. But those with a yearning for Whitesnake pre-1987 need not despair as Snakecharmer will be in the region with a show at KidderminsterTown Hall on 22 June. The band include former Snakes Micky Moody and Neil Murray amongst their ranks and you can expect to hear such classics as ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’ and ‘Ready n Willing’ alongside cuts from their eponymous debut album that was released on the Frontiers label at the turn of the year.
Old proggers have much to look forward to in the coming weeks. Firstly, Steve Hackett brings his much acclaimed ‘Genesis Revisited’ tour to Symphony Hall on 16 May after what has been a hugely successful run of dates across North America. The show spans all of the guitarists’ tenure with the band so you can expect to hear ‘Supper’s Ready’ and ‘The Musical Box’ alongside post-Gabriel gems such as ‘Los Endos’ and ‘Blood on the Rooftops’. Sunday 26 May look set to be an incredibly busy evening in the region and will leave many wishing for the invention of TARDIS like technology. Recent inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Rush lead the way at the LG Arena, former Supertramp singer-songwriter Roger Hodgson enjoys ‘Breakfast In America’ at Symphony Hall and finally Fish will be previewing material from his upcoming new album ‘Feast of Consequences’ at The Robin 2 in Bilston. Rounding out a busy time for prog fans, onetime Reading festival favourites The Enid will be at Institute on 30 May. Anyone with fond memories of the Friday Rock Show will surely remember that the late Tommy Vance was a huge champion of Robert John Godfrey’s band; in 2013 this is The Enid – The Next Generation with Godfrey and drummer Dave Storey now surrounded by considerably younger band mates. The Enid played a truly unforgettable show at Symphony Hall a couple of years ago backed by the full pomp and ceremony of the CBSO so it will be interesting to see them in what is a much more intimate venue.
Aside from previewing upcoming attractions this column will also take a look back at some of the regions much missed venues. Last month Sandwell council hinted at plans to create a new music venue in West Bromwich, possibly by redeveloping the Town Hall, to attract bands and artists back to the area. It has been some time since West Bromwich was a regular tour stop but back in the 1960’s the Adelphi Ballroom played host to The Beatles (1962), The Who (1966), Pink Floyd (1967) and Genesis (1970) amongst many others. The gig by the Fab Four, on 19 November 1962, was one of three they played on the same day. Starting with an afternoon show at the Cavern they headed south from Merseyside to the Midlands for an appearance at Smethwick Baths before finishing up at the Adelphi. Three shows in a day must have been hard work but with set times of around 25 minutes each the total time on stage was still well short of the two hours we got from Saxon last week; just one example of how much times have changed. One band that had a weekly residence at the Adelphi in the 60’s was Denny Laine & The Diplomats who’s drummer was Bev Bevan later of The Move, ELO and Black Sabbath. Laine would go on to join the Moody Blues in 1964 and eventually joined up with Paul and Linda McCartney in Wings.
The Adelphi also played host to boxing and wrestling nights but, with music most nights of the week, it was THE venue of choice for the regions music lovers for much of the 1960’s and early into the next decade until it sadly burnt to the ground in the early hours of 23 May 1971.
Moving away from one of our oldest establishments to one of our newest, Lucy’s Bar in Hednesford. The 300 capacity venue has certainly proven popular with the Melodic Rock crowd here at Midlands Rocks but on 18 May plays host to none other than 70’s glam favourite Alvin Stardust. Alvin will be headlining an all day charity event in aid of the National Autistic Society. Finally we can’t finish without mentioning the recently announced gig by Mott The Hoople at Symphony Hall on 11 November. Tickets are already flying for this one so make certain you don’t leave it long before booking for what promises to be a superb night that takes you back to the Golden Age of Rock and Roll. Mott The Hoople remain the only band that Queen ever supported, back in 1973, on a tour that stopped off in Worcester, Wolverhampton and at the old Town Hall in Birmingham.
This column is intended to be interactive so please do chip in with your comments below. In particular this month we would love to hear from anyone who maybe has a family member who remembers attending a show at the Adelphi Ballroom or, in preparation for next months column, anyone with recollections of Mother’s club in Erdington.
Until next time, keep enjoying the music. Dean P