35 Years Ago Tonight..

Started by Slim, June 11, 2012, 20:16:32 pm

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June 11, 2012, 20:16:32 pm Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 09:44:30 am by Slim Reason: restored broken images
.. I had arrived in Newcastle, roughly a 45 minute journey from Hartlepool, and was about to attend my first rock concert. We arrived about an hour before the concert as I recall, and decamped to the City Tavern, a pub along the road from the venue.

I have actually told this story before. I would have bumped it, but I couldn't find it. But I'll only do this every five years or so.

I sipped my beer slightly apprehensively with my two chums, in a dark corner. I think this may actually have been the first time I'd drunk alcohol in a pub, and I was a bit nervous about being caught, a few weeks before my 17th birthday. But soon enough we wandered along to the venue, and into the foyer. People were milling around there, queuing for badges and programmes - I still have mine, of course - and it all seemed very exciting.

Then when we entered through the big door into the hall, I could barely believe my eyes. The stage seemed so close .. it was all a lot smaller than I'd expected. I'd somehow formed an impression of concert venues being huge, cavernous places. Which they usually are, now, of course. But this seemed smaller than a cinema.

I took my seat and read my concert programme. You've probably seen it online if you don't have one yourself. It's the one in which Geoff Barton writes an entertaining little story about the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, managing to work the band themselves into the plot.

But I kept glancing up at the stage. I couldn't believe my heroes were going to be right there .. here in the same room as me! They must already be in the building somewhere! It seemed unreal. Neil's drums were already on the stage, with a little Starman logo on each of those two big ones that sit on the floor!

I'd managed to cultivate a quite unhealthy obsession with Rush by this time. I had nearly worn out my pirate copy of All The World's A Stage. I had closed my eyes and immersed myself into that concert in Toronto, recorded exactly one year earlier, dozens of times.

The support band - Stray - were really good. I was impressed by the light show. And they were LOUD! A lot louder than my parents' HiFi. Wow.

By the time the lights went down, I was almost sick with excitement. My heart was pounding. The crowd was roaring.

Then suddenly, my life changed, forever. The stage burst into light, and Alex was standing there. He was leaning over a Gibson guitar, his blond locks tumbling forward, cranking out Bastille Day, louder than I'd ever imagined it. The crowd was going wild around me; everyone was on their feet. Geddy was strutting along the front of the stage, grinning widely, wearing what appeared to be a bed sheet as a cape. And Neil was hitting those drums hard! And already twirling his sticks, something I hadn't expected at all.

My jaw dropped. It was sensory overload. I probably went into shock, slightly.

The show seemed to pass so quickly. A rip-roaring By-Tor gave way to The Necromancer, a tune I confess I'd never heard but was very intrigued by. And "side one from our latest studio album"  was jaw-dropping; emotional and powerful. They played Discovery, which was puzzling. I hadn't known that the version I knew from the live album was abridged. There was a new song called Xanadu. With double-neck guitars! Wow.

It was over all too soon, but even after a rowdy and rousing second encore, What You're Doing, the crowd hasn't had enough. We shout, stomp and beg very loudly for what seems like about half an hour, to be rewarded by Alex walking back on stage, grinning from ear to ear and looking incredulous at the reception he and the band have received. The other two join him and after a very loud, highly energetic and frankly joyous performance of Best I Can, it really is all over this time.

As we spill out of the City Hall into the cool of a Newcastle summer evening, my ears are ringing and I feel oddly intoxicated. Elated, even.

Four weeks later I hand over a tenner or so at Boots, and become the proud owner of Fly By Night, Caress Of Steel and 2112. And if you'd told me that I'd be looking forward to getting my hands on a new Rush album in 35 years' time, I think I'd have been quite surprised.

Here's an odd thought that occurred to me earlier today. I can remember the events of that night 35 years ago quite clearly. 35 years before that, World War Two was just getting into its stride.
Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.


Great post Slim. I was there - row C, Geddy's side. I was 16. God I feel old - but great memories. Cheers - you've made my night!!

Spirit of Rich

Lovely read, James  :)
You know how that rabbit feels........


Very good to see you in high spirits and re-energised Slim.

I went thru the same experience at City Hall in 1980 with Gary Numan and subsequently enjoyed his gig at O2 Academy the other week.

Of all the venues there'll never be better than City Hall round here though... if only they would play there again... man o man!!!
'A modern day warrior mean mean stride'


....and people think you don't like Rush.

Really nice read.

Strangely, I was chatting to a friend the other day and we were saying that, as youngsters, we always felt like the City Hall was really big.  Going back there now, it does seem very small.  I suppose that's because Arena gigs are so commonplace now.

I think it was around 1977 that I first started to like Rush - never managed any of those city hall gigs though - thats being 5 years old and having Muslim parents for you.

Nice read.
Anger is a gift.

Fred Barchetta

Ahhhh, the memories....  ;D

Great post Slim. My first was at Deeside in late '81. My life too changed forever that night.  8)
Seems like only yesterday
We would sit and talk of dreams all night


Quote from: Fred Barchetta on June 11, 2012, 22:40:08 pm
Ahhhh, the memories....  ;D

Great post Slim. My first was at Deeside in late '81. My life too changed forever that night.  8)

I was at that one, as well! :D
Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.

Tom Garrett

Don't argue with the ignorant and stupid; they'll take you down to their level and beat you with experience!


Good read and memories of my first tour in 77 -thanks for sharing


As we say here in Canada, beauty eh?

Nice one Slim!  ;)


When the truth offends we lie and lie until we can longer remember it is even there. But it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is repaid

Gary L. Grape


Wow... on 11th June 1977 it was two days before my 6th birthday, and I was probably listening to my Wombles LP (never saw them live though).

Great read James :)
17/04/92 - Wembley Arena, London
08/09/04 - Wembley Arena, London
09/09/04 - Wembley Arena, London
11/09/04 - NEC, Birmingham
24/05/13 - O2 Arena, London

- 'Decreasing Circles' - Geist (Decreasing Circles, 2006)


yes great read..i'd have been 12 so probably going thru a Yes phase at the time as GFTO was due for release i think.. ah great days...
From the Land of Honest Men.

Nulli Secundus

I enjoyed that. Thanks Slim.  ;)
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