Emerson, Lake and Bowie
2016 has been a tough year for those of us who love our music, with so many true superstars shuffling off this mortal coil: Leonard Cohen, Prince, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, and Dave Swarbrick to name just a few
In this post I want to remember three other legends who passed on, particularly because I saw them live while here in the seventies
The first of these is David Bowie, who died of liver cancer on January 10th in New York aged 69. I saw him during the Ziggy Stardust tour. He came to play Victoria Hall, in Hanley, on May 29, 1973. Zeb, Hamish and I all had tickets and, accompanied by Denis Keating who wasn’t going to the gig, we set off early so that a few beers could be had before the concert. Soon enough we were comfortably settled in a hostelry near the venue and Dennis, in his own inimitable way, began holding forth on a number of subjects, probably involving Burnley FC, Trevor Brooking and Millstone Grit
I can’t remember what time the concert was due to start, but let’s say it was 8. As the time approached, Hamish began to get fidgety and wanted us to go. Dennis, who didn’t even have a ticket, remember, got another round in, assuring all and sundry that the show would never start on time, that musicians had no regard for their paying public etc.etc.
Finally we couldn’t put Hamish off any longer, so leaving Dennis with his pint and the Evening Sentinel, we crossed the road. To our horror, and to Hamish’s “I told you so, you f*****s”, we heard the unmistakable sounds of Hang on to Yourself. The concert had started!
We tore in and got to our seats just as Ziggy Stardust began. It was a brilliant concert. Here’s the setlist and the man himself playing Ziggy Stardust
The other concert was held at Trentham Gardens on April 23, 1974 and starred Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Keith Emerson and, today, Greg Lake, have left us in 2016. There were no dramas this time. We got there early again and had a few pints at the venue. It was standing only, and at the appointed time (or something fairly close), all the lights in the huge hall went off and the crowd were left in darkness
All muttering ceased as the opening notes of Hoedown came over the PA, clearly a tape. Then suddenly we could hear live synthesizer on stage. Next up was guitar and finally Palmer’s brilliant drumming. It was still dark. As Palmer bashed away at his kit, the letters E, then L and lastly P flashed up one after the other on either side of the stage, the house lights came up and there they were, giving it everything. The crowd went berserk. It’s still the best start to a concert that I can remember
Here’s the setlist from that memorable night and ELP playing Hoedown, a little more conventionally