Slade. Salisbury City Hall. 8.12.19
My gig 73 of 2019 and it’s a wet Sunday evening in Salisbury, to see what’s left of 70s pub rockers turned hard rockers turned glam rockers, Slade.
Salisbury has only been about an hour’s drive from the area have lived for 16 years, but I’ve hardly seen any bands play here. It’s not that they don’t have some. It just seems off my mental map. I saw The Stranglers with The Alarm here a few years ago and Elvis Costello, both City Hall gigs, and The Ramonas in the tiny Winchester Gate pub earlier this year. That’s it.
First some food at Zizzi’s in Castle Street, which became infamous for its unfortunate involvement in the 2018 ‘Russian spy’ novichok poisoning’ incident. I didn’t give my name. I didn’t want to alarm anyone.
Salisbury City Hall
The venue is tucked away a bit off the main roads, next to the theatre with an enormous open air car park behind and covered car park nearby. Built in 1937, it holds around 950 people seated, set out with close rows of temporary seats on a level floor with a temporary steep banked section at the rear. It must hold a couple of thousand when all standing, as it was when I was here for The Stranglers – good size. I don’t really like seating at all but I get it when the band are this mature. I managed to make a good nuisance of myself popping out before the support band finished, clambering over a large woman.
The entrance area is quite small with a few bars so it’s pretty choka on arrival before people go in.
Since I knew I was coming tonight I have been dipping into the Slade back catalogue. Yes I remember Slade on Top of the Pops, the pull-out posters in my Look-In magazine (well more a comic) and 4 decades of that Christmas song, but there is so much more. Some great songs, and beyond the singles. You can see why Oasis were attracted to cover a few of theirs.
A snearing beauty of a performance – Oasis do Slade at Maine Road, Manchester: https://youtu.be/K_NYXE5tl9w
Slade have re-released a large collection of singles in picture covers recently, the original picture covers having been pretty rare.
‘Goodbye to Jane’ from 1973: https://youtu.be/CFAd-zpqWiU
Alas no original lead singer Noddy Holder with Slade these days. Original guitarist Dave Hill is the focus of the band, with original drummer Don Powell. Both of them are 73 now and they are spring chickens compared to some of the audience. This gives me hope for a few more decades of gig going. 😎 (Maybe not at my current pace.)
On the day of writing this, and a tip off – cheers (Al Mc) – I find that Don was ruled out of this particular tour due to some problem with his knee, explained on his website: http://www.donpowellofficial.com/
Noddy Holder is Walsall born, an area I covered when I had my first full-time job. I’d find myself hearing these mysterious rolling accents of The Black Country in places like (loike) Bloxwich and Brownhills markets. Noddy Holder’s accent can be heard at it’s best in Banks’s beer adverts (below) – “save yer thanks’s, oil ‘ave a point o Banks’s”, a strap line that sticks I’m my mind (moind).
The band was based in the neighbouring Black Country area of Wolverhampton. Dave Hill was born in Devon, I was surprised to find, and he moved to Wolverhampton when he was young – he actually lived in Penn, where my Grandad was from, and indeed my step-Gran. They never mentioned Slade.
With original guitarist Dave Hill tonight are Russell Keefe on lead vocals and John Berry on bass and keyboards. It works. God knows who the drummer was. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.
The support band hit the right note for a full crowd. Sons of the 70s do what you’d expect and very well. A bit of Led Zeppelin and other 70s rock classics – My Sharona by the Knack gets an outing.
When Slade come on Dave Hill is unmistakable, despite it being four decades since the last image I’d seen of him and the baggage he carries of those decades. Much shorter than I thought which he helpfully compensates for by standing on top of carefully placed stage gear boxes for guitar riffs from time to time.
The replacement Noddy (I know you can’t) Russell Keefe does as good a job as anyone could without resorting to any mimickery or costume.
The fourth member and other ‘new boy’s is John Berry on bass and keyboards.
The full set list, which was peeled off the stage at the end for me by the authoritative stage manager is below. It’s greatest hits (if you work out the abbreviations). Can’t go wrong. Everyone’s happy.
Before the encores ‘Goodbye to Jane’ wins it for me – nothing to do with an ex-wife of the same name… I don’t think…maybe it is 🤔. ‘Far Far Away’, ‘My Friend Stan’ and ‘Coz I luv you’ are other high points. This is a surprisingly privileged feeling, seeing Dave Hill stomping through these old hits.
Don Powell was in a terrible car crash back in the Slade heyday, 1973. His girlfriend killed and he broke both ankles and was unconscious for six days. He’s has had short-term memory loss problems ever since. There are stories of him being helped onto the drum kit to perform after the accident and having to be reminded how songs go – this was back in the day. He is temporarily out of drumming action, so I discover five days after the gig.
Encores – ‘My oh my’ and the fabulous anthem of 70s Slade at their most ‘yobbish’ (as they were regularly Christened with Dave as King Yob): ‘Cum on feel the Noize’. No wonder Oasis liked that one. Noel Gallagher is recorded as saying without Slade there would have been no Oasis.
Just one to go and it has to be ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. I know we’ve all heard it enough now but at least it only comes out in December and it is a belter. I wonder if we will ever see Noddy perform it again….this will do. Bangin’ Dave, bangin’. Cheers boys. Respect. 👊