Another '40 years ago tonight' thread

Started by Slim, February 14, 2018, 20:32:16 pm

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February 14, 2018, 20:32:16 pm Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 20:37:46 pm by Slim
.. and this time, 40 years ago exactly, I was on my way to Newcastle City Hall to see Rush for the second time. I'd seen them there once before, on the first tour eight months earlier. Once again I was going with two friends from school, Arthur and Barry. I was 17 years old.

I had quite a difficult night ahead of me, because my mum, who normally very kindly drove 30 miles to pick us up after gigs at the City Hall, flatly refused to do this time because the roads were icy. It was absolutely freezing, and we planned to spend the night on the station.

The gig was actually a bit disappointing. They'd gained quite a few new fans since the first time I'd seen them and this time I was only able to get a seat in the balcony. I didn't particularly like the AFTK material which understandably featured prominently in the set. And more importantly, the performance seemed a bit perfunctory - a bit flat. I thought they were going through the motions, a bit. My expectations were probably a little too high, on top of all that.

After the gig my friends and I strolled round to the side of the venue to see if we could get autographs on our tour books. We didn't have anything else to do, the pubs were closed by that time. And after we'd waited half an hour or so, with about 20 other hopeful fans, the stage door opened and out came Alex, Geddy and Neil.

My abiding my memory of this moment when I met my three heroes was - crikey, Geddy is short. I mean - really short. All three were friendly and smiling. Geddy signed my tour book first. I recall that Alex was wearing a Kaftan. I asked Alex to use my pen (it was to be a sacred treasure that I would keep forever) and he said "sure". I lost that pen somehow a couple of years later. It was a steel Parker ball point.

Neil was in the waiting car before I had a chance to ask him for his own signature. But my friend Arthur asked all three of them for a "verbal autograph" into the mic of the portable cassette recorder he'd brought to record the gig.  Only Geddy managed this. Alex just said "hello". Geddy said "Geddy Lee, hi". Neil said "Mickey Mouse". I still have a copy of that recording.

Anyway - there being nothing else to do once they'd been whisked off in the waiting limo, we strolled through the city centre and down to the railway station.

Newcastle Central Station is a modern railway station these days, with shiny floor tiles, modern shops, bars, restaurants and other amenities. Back then it was a typical dusty old Victorian railway station, run down by decades of nationalisation, with grimy brick walls, worn concrete floors, crude wooden benches and the pervasive smell of diesel. There was a wooden shed under one of the footbridges, where railway workers would take a break.

We stood around there, shivering and suffering for the remaining six or seven hours until we could get the first train back to Hartlepool. A local vagrant whom we named "Carlton" after the doorman in Rhoda - I forget the logic there - paced past us intermittently.  At one point I remember that he spoke to us. "It's wicky cold, isn't it?" he asked in a broad Geordie accent. We could only agree.

We were very grateful to see the first train to Hartlepool. I went to bed as soon as I got home and slept for a few hours. Then I got up, ate, got the train to Newcastle and did it all again. My friends had only bought tickets for the first night, so I went alone.

The second concert was an improvement on the previous night, I thought. I had a better seat this time, down in the stalls. The band seemed to have a bit more energy and there was more of an atmosphere. I enjoyed it. But my dear old mum had once again adamantly refused to drive through 30 miles of ice and snow to collect me so once again I was in for a night on the railway station, on my own this time. That was hard. It was unbearably cold. I must have glanced up at the station clock about 100 times.

I remember visiting the gents' toilets, a few yards behind the bench where I was sitting. As I took a wee, I noticed that my urine was steaming. It must have been warm. It was really difficult to watch warm stuff leaving my body. I think the second night was actually a little colder than the first.

One of the British Rail workers on the station who'd started work at about 4AM shouted over to me at about 05:30 to tell me that the Hartlepool train had come in. He must have recognised me from the previous morning. I've never been so relieved to get on a train and yet the warmth of the train was actually painful at first - it made my fingers and toes throb.

Happy days, eh! I didn't regret going for a minute.


Great to read your memories slim , and some lovely momentos of the gig .

I'll try and behave . Promise


On this night, 40 years ago, I would have been tucked up in my Mum's bed, about 7 miles away from the City Hall, dreaming of being in your shoes.

Although, I wouldn't have wanted you in my Mother's bed, obviously.
Anger is a gift.

The Letter R

Nice recollections James - particularly like the way you remember exactly what type of pen you had  :)


Thanks Slim, I enjoyed reading that. I remember me and my late friend, Ian roughing it in Kidderminster one night after seeing Marillion in Birmingham. We managed to get on a bus parked outside the depot for a few hours before scampering for breakfast when a local cafe opened.


February 15, 2018, 15:13:10 pm #5 Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 17:14:50 pm by Matt2112
Nice story,  James.

Now the stories from 30 years ago - which will include my first Rush gig - I'm really looking forward to... :)
The keys to happiness

Stuart B

Great read James - happy memories for you


The new songs are an abomination

Signals get crossed

Yeah great read, really enjoyed that!

Started me thinking and made me realise this year will mark 30 years since my own first Rush gig in Glasgow - Hold Your Fire UK tour 1988. Honestly never really thought about it 'til now. I remember as well hanging out in vain backstage with a few other determined souls at Sheffield & Birmingham in '92 and then also in Toronto in '94 hoping for a quick word or autograph. Neil Peart swept past us in a car at (i think) Sheffield but that was as good as it got!
Somebody recounted a story that night about some late 70s gig somewhere in England where the few hardy fans who had waited patiently were taken back thro' the stage door where the band were happy to spend a few minutes signing things.

10-15 years further down the line the fans were obviously kept a bit more at arms length! Strangers...not long awaited friends indeed.
Glasgow '88 Sheffield '92 Birmingham '92 (2X nights) Glasgow '92 Toronto '94 Glasgow '04 Glasgow '07 Newcastle '07 Glasgow '11 London '11 London '13 Glasgow '13


Quote from: captainkurtz on February 14, 2018, 22:50:12 pm
On this night, 40 years ago, I would have been tucked up in my Mum's bed, about 7 miles away from the City Hall, dreaming of being in your shoes.

Although, I wouldn't have wanted you in my Mother's bed, obviously.

Possibly a fair swap, though.

Thailand Express

Bizarrely I came on here for the first time in a while tonight and saw this thread, as it then occurred to me that 40 years ago tonight I attended my first Scotland international at Hampden. A big deal for an 8 year old. I'd missed Rush at the Apollo by a couple of days though, my dad clearly thought that'd be too much excitement for one week...

Ian Harris

I really enjoyed reading that! The things we endure in our youth that our middle-aged selves think faintly deranged. Thanks Mr Slim.
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