I mentioned in last week’s post about, among other things, seeing Paul McCartney and Wings live on stage in 1975. Someone asked me what I remembered about the concert so this week I thought I’d talk a little more about music.
Seeing Paul McCartney and Wings at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester back in 1975 was probably just about the best concert I ever saw. I’d been into the Hall on my lunch break to buy tickets to see Kiki Dee and her band but while I was waiting, a sign went up saying that tickets for McCartney were now on sale so as well as getting tickets to see Kiki Dee, I bought tickets to see Paul as well.
I asked a girl from work to come to the concert with me but she declined. It turned out she was more interested in ballroom dancing than pop music so I dragged my brother along with me. While we were queuing to get into the venue a guy approached my brother and offered him £100 for his ticket. My brother who was and still is a pretty mercenary sort of guy was pretty keen on accepting the deal. I think I even remember him offering to go halves on the deal with me, £50 each. I had the tickets though and I declined. The young lad had told us he was Paul McCartney’s biggest ever fan and I remember thinking, perhaps rather meanly, that he might be McCartney’s big fan but unlike me, he didn’t have tickets to see McCartney in concert.
I hope my brother was glad I turned down the offer because seeing Paul and Wings that night was a fabulous experience. The band had just released Band on The Run and they performed all the hits from that album as well as many other songs. Part way through the evening the band left the stage and Paul sang alone a few of his best Beatle numbers including Yesterday, just him and his guitar and then his bandmates returned and played some more Wings hits. It was a fabulous night.
Back in 1975 I already had the Wings album Band on the Run, on vinyl. It was a great hit at the time and featured a cover with Paul and Linda and their other band member Denny Laine posing with various celebs including talk show host Michael Parkinson, comedian Kenny Lynch, actors James Coburn and Christopher Lee, MP Clement Freud and boxer John Conteh. A few years ago I bought a remastered CD version which in the tradition of film directors producing DVD director’s cut film remixes, was a new version featuring outtakes and highly different versions of some of the songs. My copy has three CDs and there are other versions with even more CDs but to be honest, the original version was actually the best.
A few weeks after the Wings concert I took my friend Steve to see Kiki Dee, also at the Free Trade Hall, a venue that these days has been overshadowed by the MEN Arena. I say MEN Arena although the name of the Arena changes according to which organisation has paid to have its name up there. Originally it was called the Nynex Arena when it opened in 1995 then in 1998 it became the Manchester Evening News Arena. Today, according to the internet it is called the AO Arena, sponsored by God knows who.
Kiki Dee is probably most known for her duet with Elton John on Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, a 1976 hit for her and Elton. Her own musical performances are perhaps less popular and my favourite track of hers is I Got The Music in Me which was a hit in 1974. My copy of the single has ‘play loud’ in large letters on the disc which I used to think was an invitation to blast out the music but actually the single plays at a rather low volume so you have no choice other than to play it loud.
Back in 1976 when I went to see Kiki Dee, we had seats right at the very front and rather disconcertingly, right in front of me was a huge speaker actually about my size and I wondered if Kiki was taking that ‘play loud’ instruction a little too seriously. Just as the concert was about to begin, a guy armed with a huge stack of cameras came over, grimaced at me and returned a few minutes later with some concert staff heavies. It turned out we were in the wrong seats and we were shown to other seats in the section behind, which as much as I loved Kiki Dee, I was actually pretty happy about. Hope that photographer didn’t have hearing issues after the concert.
Another concert I went to was Michael Jackson at Roundhay Park in Leeds. That was back in 1988 when I was a coach driver. Actually, by the power of Google I see it was August 29th, 1988. I was a coach driver for a company called Charterplan. I wasn’t keen on the job but on that trip, I was happy to see that a fellow driver was a guy called Alex that I had known for years. After dropping off our passengers we decided to see if we could blag our way into the concert and eventually the security staff did let us in. The thing I remember most was a long, a very long introduction and Alex turned to me and said when is Michael going to appear? Just at that exact moment, Jackson popped up onto the stage propelled by either a rocket, compressed air or some sort of catapult. Alex wasn’t amused as he had missed Jackson’s spectacular entrance completely.
The other thing about that night was that another driver had estimated there were about 90 coaches in the coach park and there was only one exit so if one coach exited every minute then it would take 90 minutes for us all to get out. I was glad that I had told my passengers to get back to the coach ASAP and they did, all except for one guy. I waited and waited but he didn’t turn up so I pulled into the queue of buses trying to get out. The guy eventually turned up knocking on the door. He wasn’t happy but when he started to complain the entire front section of the coach gave him the slagging off of his life and he wandered shame facedly back to his seat. We were stuck in that queue for ages trying to get out. Alex told me later he had arrived home a full hour before me that night. I wasn’t amused.
That is probably it for my concert memories. I have seen Barbara Dixon at the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham. I’ve also seen Justin Hayward and John Lodge in Manchester when they had just released their BlueJays album. They had three video screens above them and I could never work out which screen to watch or just to watch the stage.
Barbara Dixon came out after her performance and signed CDs and programmes for the audience. On stage she looked like a typical female rocker but when she appeared to sign autographs, she popped on a sort of old lady’s shawl and reading glasses and looked like a little old dear.
Those are my concert memories, what are yours?