It’s Friday so it must be Self Made Man day!

And this week our resident rock blogger recalls the time he was blown away by a band he never knew he loved so much.

Check out SMM’s views every week right here. 

It’s a sentence which at the time, ultimately took on mythical proportions for yours truly.

“They blew them off stage.”

The first time I actually heard it was in 1978 during Black Sabbath’s ill-fated Never Say Die tour, their last before a drug-riddled Ozzy Osbourne was sacked by his fellow band members.

And it referred to the fact that Sabbath were totally eclipsed by their support act, Van Halen, then a little-known but fast-rising American group, destined to become one of the biggest bands in the world.

I can’t recall whether it was mates of mine who actually came up with the words “they blew them off stage” or that was the verdict of the music journalist who penned his gig review in the following week’s Sounds.

But ever since I heard that phrase, read it or even dreamt it, in my mind, “to blow them off stage” meant a concert when the support act have spectacularly and emphatically stolen the thunder of the band the vast majority of the audience have paid to see.

If that Sabbath/Van Halen tour was perhaps the most famous example of the warm-up proving so hot, they left singe marks all over their more prominent peers, it is not unique.

In hindsight, there was perhaps something inevitable about those two bands effectively swapping roles.

VH were on the up, Sabbath, sliding towards self-destruction before being rescued by Tony Iommi’s inspired choice to replace Ozzy with Ronnie James Dio.

In the late 60s, when Led Zeppelin first toured the United States, there are stories of Iron Butterfly, a respected rock band in their own right, begging Zep’s manager Peter Grant to alter the running order of the night because no-one could compete with Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham, despite their scheduled support slot.

UFO’s “Strangers In The Night” was recorded at a time when the band were still making the grade in the States and the Chicago concert which featured heavily on the album, was one in which they actually preceded Blue Oyster Cult on stage.

Halfway through that tour, audience reaction to UFO was so euphoric, BOC agreed that they would take turns to headline.

AC/DC, in their infancy, were invariably and inaccurately cast as a punk band and found themselves playing some unlikely venues supporting fast-cobbled-together acts whose own lifespan proved to be a fraction of the Aussie rockers.

Like Van Halen before them, when they did eventually sign up to supporting established rock bands, their impact was such that it wouldn’t prove too long before the tables were turned and they found themselves headlining.

It was the same with bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard who, having served an apprenticeship which saw them warming up for the likes of Rainbow, The Scorpions, Kansas and indeed AC/DC themselves, soon joined them at rock’s top table.

Sadly, I can’t recall ever attending a gig when the support band has “blown” the headline act off stage. Billy Squire was so good when warming up for Whitesnake back in 1982 that the following day, I went out and bought his album but then back then, David Coverdale’s band always delivered an A plus performance.

Angelwitch were so bad, my mates and I almost got kicked out of the City Hall for what bouncers said was “taking the piss”!

Just a few months ago Styx, Foreigner and Journey played at the Newcastle Arena – in that order. And Journey, supposedly the main draw, were comfortably outshone by their predecessors.

Thirty years on and I still harbour hopes of seeing some unknown band kick ass to such an extent that overnight, they’re transformed from anonymous support act to headline superstars. Even if it never happens, just spare me another Angelwitch.

Ian Murtagh