MY EARLY LOCAL LIVE MUSIC MEMORIES


MY EARLY LOCAL LIVE MUSIC MEMORIES

I was born in Leamington Spa at the (long closed now) Warneford Hospital in September 1963 and for a little music trivia The Beatles topped the UK charts with ‘She Loves You' while in the US ‘My Boyfriend's Back' by The Angels had top spot.

My very first local live music memories are in fact from Warwick and from another closed building The Warwick Working Mens Club where my family would often take us for the Saturday night club- style band nights in the mid 1970's where I remember countless versions of the likes of ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree', ‘Sweet Caroline' and ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining'.

It must have been there that I developed my later love of collecting autographs as I would join the line after many of the performances for the bands signatures.

I also remember a couple of shop windows at the club, these were usually I think afternoons and consisted of short sets by all manner of entertainers, bands, solo singers, comedy acts etc and the audience would include entertainment managers from other clubs looking for acts.

My live music memories then take a bit of a jump to the early 1980's and mainly concentrated on three venues Kelly's and The Royal Spa Centre in Leamington and The Coventry Theatre.

Monday night at Kelly's (you guessed it also not there anymore!) for me and many others was the go to time and place for live music and of course one of the highlights was catching Steve Walwyn (in pre Dr.Feelgood days) in action performing with Red On Red, The Mosquitos and others, also at Kelly's you could see other notable Leam musicians like Martin Cure and Keith Hancock.

I also had my first ever experience of a flash bomb at Kelly's, I was sitting on the sofa right in front of the stage (one of the prime slots and meant getting there early!) for a performance by Cov rock/punk band Chainsaw when at the start of the set about 4 feet from the sofa said bomb exploded - nearly dropped my Snakebite !!!

I also went to a couple of Kelly's nights with my Dad and remember one fright he gave me, one of the heavier bands were playing and when I returned from the Loo my Dad was chatting up this drop dead gorgeous biker girl (who was definitely flirting back!) for about 10 minutes, when the biggest, meanest looking biker in the place who just happened to be her fella walks up to them, I turned away waiting for the fireworks and on turning back the guy was buying my dad a pint, he sure had charm when he needed it.

Next down my memory lane is a short 10 minute walk to The Royal Spa Centre (and still there- hip hooray) and believe it or not in the early 80's this could be a rocking venue with numerous heavy rock shows coming to town.

The biggest for me was when the mighty Girlschool played the venue in support of their debut album Demolition (for me this album and its follow up Hit and Run are great examples of prime British early 80's rock), they really rocked the place with 3 minute anthems such as ‘Take It All Away' and ‘Demolition Boys', I remember well the bands (dearly missed) lead guitarist Kelly Johnson being dragged off the stage into the front row by a couple of over zealous fans only to climb back on and fly straight back into the solo (what a pro).

I was also really impressed with that shows support band Angel Witch with their Sabbath style (although faster) riffs and lyrics and not managing to find the girls for autographs after the show still have my Demolition tour program (my earliest one) signed by Angel Witch frontman Kevin Heybourne.

Other rock shows I went to at the Spa Centre were Welsh rock trio Budgie, aggressive rockers Tank, an all day event which included my brother in laws band Flame and the 100 miles and hour Vardis, with the latter loved the inexpensive stage effect where frontman Steve Zodiac must have covered his hair in talc so while shaking his head it appeared to be smoking.

Around the same time as these Spa Centre shows also remember my one and only visit to the General Wolfe in Coventry to see Chevy in action.

Next for me was a step up to a larger venue for three shows at The Coventry Theatre (my Dad used to tell me about seeing the likes of Tommy Steele there in the rock and roll days when he was a teddy boy) and my first experience of being on the balcony for gigs by Girlschool and Thin Lizzy.

First up was Girlschool on the Hit and Run tour where they were even better than the Leamington show with just a little more polish but still rocking and opener ‘C'mon Let's Go' remains one of my favourite all time set openers, they had another Sabbath like support band called something like A -Z and loved their Spinal Tap before Spinal Tap episode when you could not see any of the band for the opening number because of far too much dry ice (priceless !).

Where do I start with Thin Lizzy such an important band for me, I am so glad I managed to see them live before we lost the great Phil Lynott even if it was only for their final two album tours and what a back catalogue they have left behind full of wonderful two-part guitar harmonies and thanks to Phil some of the greatest rock lyrics of all time and of course what a showman he was.

The Renegade tour was first up with the red flags from the album cover flying on the stage and the opening intro and ominous strains of the Nostradamus based ‘Angel Of Death' building up the atmosphere and all the mighty Lizzy classics where in place ‘The Boys Are Back in Town', ‘Jailbreak' etc.

The following (and final) Lizzy studio album Thunder and Lightning and accompanying tour meant a return to Cov and being one of the bands heavier albums this show absolutely rocked including a pounding ‘Cold Sweat' and the roaring title track, I also remember the excellent support band Mama's Boys and of course Pat MaCmanus from that band still performs regularly in Leamington at St. Patricks Club.

Well there you have my early memories of the local live music scene and from here it was branching out to the likes of The Birmingham Odeon, The NEC, The Wolverhampton Civic Hall and the hallowed Castle Donnington.

Thanks for coming along on my nostalgic journey.

Andrew Lock

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