Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

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bisonrav
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Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby bisonrav » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:20 am

This is a very very very long shot, but I'm looking for anyone who a) went to any of the Hammersmith Odeon Gigs in late Dec 1984, b) went in for the support band, and c) remembers any of it. The support band being Prefab Sprout. I think they also played a Birmingham gig with EC too, that is also of interest.

The reason being I'm working on research for a book project on Prefab Sprout - not myself writing it but helping the guy who is - and this being a pivotal career moment I'm interested in knowing anything at all about how they were received. Also of interest would be mentions in reviews of the concert in clippings files or scrapbooks or whatever. I do know about EC playing Cruel btw.

I am guessing it's too much to hope that anyone at all - ex bootlegger fan - taped any of it, but would be delighted to know if that happened. Or indeed if anyone has any recordings of the band - I also run a PS gig list site and audio archive and can help anyone interested to find material from all periods in the band's career.

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:37 am

Christmas 1983, as per your post title, not 1984 as above. Now the funny thing is I was at the Birmingham gig, but had no idea Sprout were supporting until now! I don't think I saw them, if I did, I remember nothing. I think it might have been a rush to get to the show on time and we just made Costello (which is a superb show). Dates and confirmation of the shows all here:

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... 1983-12-19

I have a good recording of the Costello Birmingham show, maybe Sprout got taped too? (Sulky Lad?)

A bit of googling revealed this lengthy document (maybe written by your contact!):

http://www.prefabsprout.net/Myths__Melo ... hysics.pdf

It contains this on Costello:

"Playing out 1983, the Sprouts kicked off their New Way of Life tour. At the Christmas Costello support slots, the McAloon brothers were humbled by Elvis' presence; after the gig at Birmingham Odeon on 11 December, they left after popping in to say, "Goodbye, Mr. Costello, we'll see you at London at the next gig." A great compliment to Paddy McAloon, Costello suggested he may cover Cruel, a McAloon composition, during his 1984 solo tour of America but sadly this never happened."

As the wiki shows, Birmingham was actually 19 December. The writer should also have looked up the US solo setlists because he did indeed cover the magnificent 'Cruel' in Boston:

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... 1984-04-18

I have a recording of this cover (which I imagine is from the radio broadcast of the show). Costello gives a nice plug to Paddy on it, something like 'Here's a song from a very talented new songwriter called PAddy MacAloon.'

Despite missing PS in Dec 1983, I did see them at the same venue in May 1984:

http://www.songkick.com/concerts/364744 ... birmingham

A friend had alerted me to the magnificence of Swoon, indicating that Paddy was the great new songwriter we'd been waiting for. After listening to it a fair bit during Easter that year, I thought I'd give the concert a go. In my memory they had released 'When Love Breaks Down' and were expecting it to be a hit, and boldly booked the Odeon, buut the above doc confirms they didn't record it till August that year, and so I guess this is just me remembering the fact that it was re-released in 1985 as they were so sure it would be a hit, and it did at least reach 25 then. So Birmingham was just on the back of Swoon. They totally misjudged it and must have made a loss as there were only a few hundred in there, and I remember well the bass drum echoing off the totally exposed back wall. Oddly, the extensive article above gives a typical setlist for the tour but absolutely no other details about anything between Dublin April 2 and leaving 'for Europe' in June. Happy to share further hazy recollections of that gig if your writer is interested, though there's not a huge amount more than the above. One little detail is Wendy Smith leaving the stage to get a jacket, and Paddy improvising a little number 'The girl is cold'. It adds to the memory of emptiness and forlornness, but I enjoyed them a lot. The only time I ever saw them. Shame it wasn't touring the magnificent Steve MacQueen the next year.
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limeyfan
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby limeyfan » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:59 am

I was there at the Hammersmith Odeon and I think got some sort of promotional material on Prefab Sprout which I think I still have. I never threw anything out!

bisonrav
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby bisonrav » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:36 pm

Thanks for that on the Birmingham gig, which I'll post on my gigs wiki in due course. Yes, it is the same guy writing the book, John Birch, though he's doing a far less rushed job this time and there is a lot of research going on. There's a newsletter at the top of http://psgigs.wikispaces.com which is the gigs wiki site if anyone's interested in following progress. Back to the Christmas 83 gigs, I think they were a late replacement support band which is probably why they came as a surprise.

The 84 tour was the best one in my book, they were more driven as a live band than later on when they toured basically if they had to. Paddy wasn't all that complimentary about EC early on, oddly enough and I'm guessing there was a lot of word eating around the time of the support slots. I'd be amazed if anyone had bothered to tape any of them, but never hurts to ask I reckon. Conversely if you want a recording of that tour round about the same period - as far as I know Birmingham wasn't taped - PM me and I'll sort you something out.

I knew about the EC Cruel, and have a copy of it. It's interesting to me because I've had EC and PS as "favourites" at different times in my life (I'm on PS at the moment mostly because I fancied a completism project and it is just about feasible when there are that few albums). You don't expect them to mix together. I reckon that EC is a far better songwriter, but he's a bit pyrotechnic, and even with Swoon Paddy was a little more subtle.

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:51 pm

I guess even if I saw their name advertised I wasn't likely to hurry along there - I grew fond of it cos it was theirs, but boy did it sound awful at first.

Thanks for the link, and for quoting me there! Fair enough though I hope no-one takes umbrage at me commenting on them making a loss. It's interesting looking at where else they were playing in 1984, and it was mostly clubs (Hacienda, Nite Club Edinburgh) or Unis. Birm Odeon was clearly a bit out of their league. Ah well. I think I was pretty addicted to Swoon, had been playing it loads. I guess it was the first time I heard 'Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)' and I think he told the story of having a girlfriend in Limoges which led to the acrostic. I bought the vinyl soon after. I also liked the 12" of 'When Love Breaks Down' with its b-side of the two female figures 'Diana' and 'Donna Summer'. Steve McQueen blew me away in terms of the songs and the lovely sound of it all, but then I kind of lost touch, though enjoyed the hits. I have a Best of, but the thing of theirs I treasure overall now is the acoustic re-recording of most of SMcQ from a few years back. The songs come across beautifully and with an added maturity and sincerity that was somewhat lacking in his earlier smarty-pants years.

Of course overall EC has a body of work and stature as a songwriter that Paddy couldn't compete against, but in classics like 'Cruel', 'Desire As' or 'Goodbye Lucille' I think they created something of true, lasting quality. And yes, a rare gift of subtlety and lightness of touch that not many share. I think I'll have to get a a hold of Swoon to remind myself. My tape is in a box somewhere.

Jackson Monk was a big fan, and of the later years too.

Two final comments: I'd highly recommend a chronological as well as (or in preference to) an alphabetical one, also, the scroll and clicking more on the current list is rather hard work. Great wiki, though, and I loved seeing a ticket from the show I was at (I may have mine somewhere, but doubt it).

And sites like this always make me mourn the gigs I could have been at. The first was Birmingham's Triangle in Jan '85 - I would have devoured a SMcQ tour gig. And the photos look very cool. Second was Madrid November 1990. I used to look out for all the good UK bands in the years I lived there and went several times to that venue, but don't recall this being on. I used to travel a lot, so maybe saw it listed and dismissed it. And then, gosh, my hometown of Cambridge in 2000. With the huge beard. I'd be down there in a flash if that was on now. Was going to far fewer gigs in my 30s than my 40s.

Many thanks, have enjoyed remembering and re-exploring this.
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sulky lad
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby sulky lad » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:54 pm

Sorry to say, only have the recording of EC and no Prefab audios at all, though I remember seeing loads if their cassettes at record fairs in the mid to late 80s.

bisonrav
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby bisonrav » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:03 am

Thanks for the notes and the help.

The contrast I'd make between EC and Paddy is that where a lot of Paddy was about front and presentation - he can sell you something on amiable charm and charisma which when you poke into a bit hasn't got all that much substance, where EC is about the confidence that comes from utter ability: not only a great tunesmith, he's spot on with the words, fantastic guitarist, brilliant performer. I can still gasp at the machine gun inventiveness of something like Lipstick Vogue even when I've heard it a million times. The other exasperating issue with Paddy is that you'd spend ages persuading your cool indie mates they were worth a listen, and then they'd turn up on a Saturday evening variety show being introduced by a glove puppet.

I personally managed to skirt around getting to any PS gigs at all, though I wore the grooves off Swoon back in the day and still absolutely love it (more than Steve McQueen in fact). The best album though may well be "I Trawl the Megahertz", it's an astonishing piece of work throughout. The Birmingham Triangle gig would have been with Kevin Armstrong, Bowie's guitarist, which was an odd choice - as guests go, you're moving from Virginia Astley's subtle keyboard colouring on the Swoon tour to pretty heavy-on-the-reverb rock guitar for a few gigs and than back to a steady but slightly boring band for the McQueen tour proper, it's a peculiar series of reinventions. There is an excellent Peel session with Kevin Armstrong, great unreleased song called Rebel Land which is on youtube I think and worth a look, and also the Faron Young from Ch4's Bliss (definitely on youtube) is amazing.

The Wiki's a bit of a folly really: I did it to build a profile as someone people might contact if they had live material (and no-one ever has via that route, most of the contacts have been outside it), and really it's mostly now for me to keep track of what there is and what I'm looking for. But it is interesting gathering together the small accounts, it builds towards a fascinating oral history, and all the more so because no-one else is really doing it for PS. Actually I was influenced a large degree by the EC wiki when setting it up in the first place.

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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:34 am

I wore the grooves off Swoon back in the day and still absolutely love it (more than Steve McQueen in fact). The best album though may well be "I Trawl the Megahertz",


Agreed! Is there any sign of a re-master of Swoon?

bisonrav
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby bisonrav » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:18 am

You'll wait a long time for a new remaster of Swoon in the UK, but all the albums up to Andromeda Heights were issued in the Japanese Minilp format and remastered. They're expensive but the remastering is very worthwhile. Incidentally (and at the risk of drifting absolutely miles off topic), there are substantiated rumours of a new album in the pipeline which has gone a bit further than the long list of imaginary ones.

I think on the original question, the answer is essentially that the support slots didn't leave much of an impression! Which is interesting in itself. So thanks for that.

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:39 pm

Good tip, hadn't heard 'Rebel Land'. Sounds good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq28_VgMscs

And here's the Bliss 'Faron Young' (with some very out of sync music against image):



I see where you're coming from with your EC/PS comparison, but for me their best stuff was anything but superficial. There may have always have been a bit too much of the smart alec, but many of those songs are such gems, and with something deeply heartfelt behind them, they're very affecting. Like this from the above-mentioned SMcQ acoustic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve35czzYi6g

'Cruel' is a classic example with it's 'I's a jealous boy root' stuff, but how many people could put out a verse as good as this and to such a good tune. Very of its time, post-feminist loverboy angst:

If I'm troubled by every folding of your skirt,
Am I guilty of every male inflicted hurt?
But I don't know how to describe the Modern Rose,
When I can't refer to her shape against her clothes.
With the fever of purple prose.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T_GU1rwkYQ

And with youtube user purple prose to follow:

"One has to choose the correct vocabulary when praising this song. Masterpiece, awesome and genius have lost their worth here at U tube. We need a new word for something this precious"

"I decided in 1984 that this was the Best Song Ever. Still haven't heard anything since to challenge that hypothesis."

"A superb song, which seems to have gone unnoticed by many"

"The soundtrack to my melancholy 9th grade year. Love is a word too cheap for how I feel about this masterpiece."

noeasywaydown 5 months ago
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

johnfoyle
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:12 am

A new book about Prefab Sprout quotes Otis Westinghouse from a post above -

http://www.theprefabsproutproject.com/john-birch.html

Image

Image

chickendinna
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Re: Christmas gigs 1983 - Hammersmith Odeon

Postby chickendinna » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:27 am

Nice one Otis :D :D :D


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