Slade Rock Group, At Schaefer Fete, Proves Puzzling




slades Noddy Holder Hollywood Palladium 1974Slade, the hard-rocking British quartet, was supposed to be the new sensation just a few years ago. But British chartbusters have had trouble with the vast American market in the nineteen-seventies, and the group hasn't performed in this country for two years.

Monday night it was back, at the Shaefer Music Festival in Central Park and the impression was once again puzzling.

A Slade set doesn't build effectively to a climax. Most of the songs are up-tempo rockers, and after a while ( especially with a squealing, distortion-ridden sound system like Monday's) they all began to sound alike.

In addition, there is Noddy Holder and his apparent need to be loved. Mr. Holder is the leader of Slade and he has always been (addicted) to hectoring the audience to clap and sing along. On Monday he restrained himself in comparison with his past efforts here, but he still broke the sets momentum and got on this observer's nerves something fierce. Apart from pacing, there is Slade's music itself. Mr. Holder is a really distinctive rock singer, with his high, hoarse, tenor, and the instrumentals are most proficiently handled. They've made some good records.

But in concert, Mr. Holder is both too smart and not smart enough: he and his band are simultaneously too tricky to sound spontaneous and too (simplistic) to sound clever. Some groups can work within the limiting format of hard rock and make you forget the limits they sell themselves on, a combination of conviction and variation within the predictable patterns. With Slade, the tension between body and brains is not so much dialectically creative as contradictory, and the music ends up constricted and boring.

Brownsville Station, now a quartet, opened the concert with a tough driving set.


JOHN ROCKWELL, New York Times, 23/7/1975