SLADE / LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY 7/12/1983
THE LIGHTS dim and over a deep rumbling noise from the PA a familiar voice intones an ominous introduction: "Welcome brethren, for what you are about to receive ....may the Lord help you."
Thunderflashes explode, the fallout singeing the hair of the foremost punters crammed into a sweating mass against the front of the stage, and Slade are back in town, thumping and a stomping, preaching their terrace gospel to the converted legions.
Noddy Holder castigates and exhorts his audience like some demented dirty old man. A scarecrow version of Ian Anderson, Joe Cocker and wicked uncle Ernie rolled into one, he belts it out.
"Hallelujah" he hollers --- and the audience yells it right back --- "HALLE-LUL-EEYA!"
Strictly speaking, the audience should all have had Musicians Union cards for this gig, considering the amount of singing they did; they certainly did a better job than the inaudible backing vocals provided by guitarist Dave Hill and Bassist Jimmy Lea. The hit single 'My Oh My' was a notable audience showcase, as was the crowd's solo rendering of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the end of the gig.
Hearing a football chant at a gig was never more appropriate than at a Slade show. The original bootboys of rock, their anthemic chants, 'Cum On Feel The Noize', 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now,' and the archetypal 'We'll Bring The House Down,' are soccer set to music, rousing, clumping crowd pleasers marching through the annals of rock. One thing you can't accuse Slade of is having pretensions.
But their down to earth, all boys together bonhomie can become a mite tedious. What with the interminable call and response routine of 'Get Down And Get With It,' Holder tipping beer over the people at the front ("Do you wanna drink?"), and the constantly bombastic endings, they weren't in any danger of coming across subtlely.
Which is a shame. Dave Hill, in particular, is a tremendous guitarist - a lyrical feel and a wicked vibrato - but he rarely gets a chance to shine; instead we get Jim Lea, a competent enough bassist, doing weird impressions of 'Purple Haze' and 'Hot Love' and even a jig with his green fiddle round his back. Eye catching for sure, but what about the songs chaps?
Some of the other 'effects' were just plain tawdry. A dozen or so bog rolls were chucked out into the audience towards the end....and were promptly hurled back. they were supposed to open in a streamer effect (like on the terraces) but inevitably some of them didn't, notably one that caught Noddy Holder smack on the gob during 'mama Weer All Crazee Now'. And for 'Merry Xmas Everybody'. Holder emerged in a rather tacky Santa Claus outfit. The song is a classic and this was a strong rendition but the stage by this time looked like the Leicester Square public conveniences after a hectic saturday night.
The crowd went crazee and there's no doubt that Slade delivered the goods. The energy level onstage was incredible considering how long they they've been at it, particularly the lithe , stripped to the waist Lea. I just wish they'd played more of the tunes. And please lads --- leave the bog rolls where they belong next time.
DAVID SINCLAIR / KERRANG / 15th DECEMBER 1983
Images courtesy of David Graham