Today Self Made Man focuses on last Sunday’s triumphant Lynyrd Skynyrd gig at The Sage Gateshead…and support band Red, White And Blues.
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It was a look of contempt I last saw in 1980 and, more than three decades on, it still has the capacity to terrify.
Fortunately, on this occasion, my mate Paul didn’t resort to disco-dancing right in front of the stage alongside twin brother Mike, an act of mockery which almost led to the pair being thrown out of the City Hall by two bouncers who didn’t take too kindly to their p+ss-taking antics.
Paul has grown up (a bit) since then but for Angelwitch 32 years ago, read Red, White And Blues in 2012.
I can’t remember who Angelwitch were supporting back then but I do recall them being bad, very bad and while I headed for the bar, Mike and Paul chose a more demonstrative mode of expressing their dislike of the act on stage..
While others headbanged , our dynamic duo danced John Travolta-style alongside – a bizarre, but hilarious, gesture, which left the startled audience in no doubt what they thought of the music.
Thankfully, only yours truly was aware of Paul’s disdain for Red, White And Blues at The Sage last Sunday.
Being a 40-something professional man, he resisted the temptation to make the hapless performers aware of his innermost thoughts. But that cold, icy stare screamed a thousand obscenities.
Fortunately, a couple of hours later, Paul and I were both in a rock nirvana having watched in awe as Lynryrd Skynrd played a blistering 90 minute set.* It was, quite simply, one of the best live gigs either of us have witnessed in recent years.
Within seconds of the band coming on stage, hands were in the air as the auditorium rocked to the sounds of the American South’s finest.
Paul and I too were happy to indulge in such histrionics. The music demanded it.
Red White And Blues, like Skynryd, had wanted audience participation – singalongs and clapping. A smattering of arms went up, a few distant voices offered tentative support.
The two of us, sat there. Him, unimpressed, me, unmoved.
Now I didn’t find Red White And Blues, an offshoot of 80s bands Skin and Jagged Edge, anywhere near as bad as my pal.
Yes, they were a little bit to Spinal Tap for my liking and their material hardly rewrites music’s Rubik Cube.
But they were tight, technically adept and their songs did not offend.
However, to my mind, they broke the cardinal rule of support bands. Don’t try to get the audience too involved. It will only disappoint.
For a start, the vast majority are not there to see you and secondly, your role is strictly warm-up. Remember your place.
The best support bands I’ve ever seen are Blackfoot (ironically fronted by Rickey Medlocke, now in Lynryrd Skynyrd) and Billy Squires and, in both cases, the artists let their music do the talking for them.
Red White and Blues are an act I’ll be glad to see again but without their inglorious attempts to turn the gig into some sort of fan-fest.
Leave that to bands like Skynyrd, who’ve earned such adulation.
*Regular readers will be aware that I initially failed to get tickets for the gig, which was sold out within hours. I was told by The Sage to ring back nearer the scheduled date because there may be returns. I did and there were. So whoever it was who couldn’t attend and had to hand back tickets N21 and N22, in the main auditorium, my eternal thanks.