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Slademania . . . high-decibel theatrics

and also some music





LEAD GUITARIST DAVE HILL outfitted in his golg glitter tights Noddy Holder wears a top hat covered with mirrors while he sings, lead guitarist Dave Hill is spangled with gold glitter ~ " I wore it before Jagger. " he boasts ~ and the "noize" vibrates the roof of the memorial Auditorium.

The curious crowd of 1,200 soaks it all in. The theatrics, after all, count at least as much as the music. And Slademenia has a tiny foothold in another part of America.

Slade is England's No. 1 rock act now, already being compared with the Beatles because of a similar string of smash single records and $70,000-a-night concerts in ball parks.



But the group is little known in the United States. So when they stopped off in Louisville last night there was a lot more going on than just the concert.

The record company sponsored a cocktail party for the press and arranged "courtesy" tickets for local deejays. the promoter picked a small hall on purpose so the high decibel droogs could literally feel the audience. There's also been national exposure: articles in Rolling Stone, Circus and Cream rock magazines and the taping of late night TV rock spectaculars. All part of the formula of selling Slade to America.

"We want to be the No. 1 group in the world," drummer Don Powell said matter of factly, as he sipped wine at the pre concert cocktail party. "we've worked hard at it."

Indeed after conquering England, Europe and Australia, this high energy band of working class young men, all 22 or younger, from the mid-England city of Wolverhampton is just completeing a nonstop, 5 1/2 week tour of the United States, its first as a headline attraction.

They were here last year as a backup to Humble Pie, and now the promoters have started a rush for the top. "We figure it should take about three tours." said Graham Swinnerton, Slade's road manager. "First, this time around, we play the small halls, try to whet people's appetites, get the word around."

"Then we'll be back in August, hopefully to play the medium sized places. And then one more time for the big halls. "America has broken a lot of good bands." Swinnerton said philosophically. "The pressure is so great on the road, if you're out there too long there might be a falling out among the band. It's got to be done just right."

So Slade is listening to discoverer Chas Chandler, former Animal and manager of Jimi Hendrix, and accepting small change - $1,500 to $2,000 a night - now in the hope that the carefully orchestrated schedules of concerts here will lead to Slademania with a new generation.

"We're after the 12 to 18 group really," Swinnerton said. "We want to start a whole new generation of music."


Good time for the audience


All that of course takes the salesmanship and the all powerful radio air plan - "the new single 'Cum On Feel The Noize' is just starting to bubble ," Swinnerton said. And in Slade's case, anyway, it depends most of all on stage presence.

They had it last night. bassist Jimmy Lea leaping from amplifiers, Holder crooning Joplin like, and Hill, outrageous in his space hero outfit with "Super Hob" emblazoned across the front ( A hob in England is a "working class bloke," according to Hill.)

"It's not our policy to go on stage in blue jeans and just play," drummer Don Powell said. "You might as well just stay behind the curtain and play then. We want people to have a good time."

Slade urges, even demands, that its audience have a good time. Holder tells people to get up and stamp their feet and sing. And the ever smiling Dave Hill struts around the stage in his knee high silver wedged boots and points his arms at everyone and tosses glitter at the crowd. The music is ear ringing LOUD, good ole rock 'n' roll. From the '50s favourite, "Let the Good Times Roll," through their list of hit singles to a surprising mix of first lyricism, then power on John Sebastian's "Darlin' Be Home Soon," Slade displayed the vitality - though not particularly the music sense - that made them tops overseas.

They did some selling last night.


Charles R. Babcock , Louisville Courier-Journal, May 24 1973

photo courtesy of Charles R Babcock

From the archive of Chris Selby

Transposed by David Graham

Slade in England © 2015















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