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A rare type of success at Morris Civic

 

SLADE / MORRIS CIVIC AUDITORIUM, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA 30/09/1973

 

 

Jim Lea lays down a foundation for SladeLast night's concert at Morris Civic was one of those rare things: a show that succeeded when it had everything against it.

Take the line up for starters: King Crimson and Slade. You can't really get two bands more diametrically opposed in both style and quality. But everyone was satisfied by the end of the show: The tasteful and artistic pieces of King Crimson and the loud masterful boogie music of Slade provided something for every taste.

Typically a half hour late (typical for Morris Civic that is), king Crimson emerged surrounded by some cosmic sounding intro and went right into the title piece of Lark's Tongues In Aspic, their latest LP. David Cross showed considerable talent on violin (oddly enough not an electric variety, but a classic one with a microphone attached) in a tender solo.

After guitarist and band leader Robert Fripp's polite suggestion that the Slade fans go get a radio following some catcalls, the group slid into "Easy Money" also from Larks Tongues. Here, bassist John Wetton shone ( as he would on later songs) on vocals. His is a voice that reminds one of a metallic substance against the papier mache of the general King Crimson sound. The perfect counter to that sound, his voice performs in the same vein as Greg lake's voice used to do for them.

The rest of the songs tended to blend into each other, both through new material and my unfamilarity of all of King Crimson's music. but the musicianship took a back seat to nobody's group. Calmly seated or standing with their instruments, the band members were totally involved with their music. And though hard to pick one outstanding performer, if pressed, I would have to say drummer Bill Bruford. It's easy to see why he left Yes. His blossoming creativity in percussion is nothing short of astounding. Oddly enough, the group, ending with part two of Lark's Tongue' title track, refused an encore. especially disappointing was also the group's refusal to play any pieces from their early albums.

Slade, now, was something entirely different. The audience made apprehensive by the levels the microphones were set before the group's appearance, Slade came on like it had satan waiting backstage. Dressed as the promoter pushes, for a real show; silvery costumes, top hats and 9 inch platform shoes walked out holding guitars, all of which was sprinkled with glitter flecks.

Like an adolescent Ian Anderson in a Fagin type outfit, the youthful guitarist and group leader Noddy Holder had the crowd just where he wanted them from the beginning. Though sitting next to one of the bigger speakers, I began to look for something to plug up my ears by the second song, I have to admit two things: 1) Slade gets along with a surprising lack of real talent; 2) Slade doesn't really need real talent to get along.

To go into individual songs would be self defeating; all are basically the same; hard, thundering bass intertwined with rather simple chord progressions and held together with heavy drum beats. But it was enough. Holder's vocals did the rest, seemingly trying to get over the instruments without amplification, his personality dominated every number.

 

Slade lead guitarist Dave Hill decked out in his finestShowmanship was also a very important part of the performance. beyond the costumes the band members put on a show that was rare in its sincerity. One of the happiest looking guitarists I've seen in a long while, lead guitarist Dave Hill jumped all over the stage, waving a most unusual guitar and the thumbs up sign of the band.

The real fault of the show lay not in a lack of writing talent however, but a lack of actual playing. This becomes evident towards the end of the show, when most songs devolved into a single bass drum beat and Holder screams and exhortions to the crowd to "let your hair down"

But despite it all, Slade proved to be a very "Boogie-able" and enjoyable band, provided you sat far enough back. The very simple, almost primitive tunes were fascinating in their ability to capture the audience and set nearly all feet tapping.

And small things like being able to laugh at itself (as Holder did when he tried to simulate passionate grunts and groans during John Sebastian's " Darlin' Be Home Soon ") made the band that much more human and real.

 

 

 

Joseph Abell , The Observer, October 1st 1973

photo courtesy of Joseph Abell/Maria Gallagher

From the archive of Chris Selby

Transposed by David Graham

Slade in England © 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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