SLADE STILL THE GUV'NORS
SLADE / GREENS PLAYHOUSE GLASGOW - 31/5/73
THE CITY newspaper carried a SLADEMANIA banner headline across its front page. There was a noticeably heavy complement of police on the streets. The occasion was Slade's first concert since their tour of the States and what's more, set to take place at Glasgow Green's Playhouse, now known to house the wildest crowd in the whole of the British Isles. Obviously there had to be a riot, it was just inevitable. And, really, it was almost unnecessary to be there to know what would happen.
You may have heard about a certain degree of tame hysteria whipped up by bands like Nazareth and Geordie just lately, but a Slade crowd in full cry makes anything generated by those newcomers pale into insignificance.
Slade are undisputedly still the guv'nors when it comes to rousing the masses.
Neither Slade nor manager Chas Chandler can be blamed for being almost arrogant about their position. On a Thursday lunch time in London, always the almost larger than life Geordie, Chas Chandler had laughed into his Carlsburg Black Label:
"Mick Jagger?" he chuckled again. "He's just a has been inn he?" Later, up in Glasgow, Slade appeared to be in the best of health, despite the traumas of their recent American tour. They're living proof that bands are made of iron up Wolverhampton way. After all, they'd only flown back from the States three days before embarking on this, the first date of the British tour.
"Towards the end I must admit we were knackered," said Don Powell, talking of America. "We were all in a daze y 'know, like a dream. We nearly cancelled the last few dates we were so tired. When we' got back I spent a day in bed and I'm fine now. "I think maybe it was easier for us than a new band going over. I'm sure in that case it toughens them up. But we've been together for six years. We've already been through quite a lot, y 'know."
SO, AN HOUR before they were due to go on stage, Slade were in their dressing room loosening up on wine and beer, while out front the Alex Harvey Band knocked out some of their groin-grabbing. tenement rock. They've improved greatly over the last six months, while Harvey himself has developed further into what one might describe as a character. At one point he tore up a towel, chewed it, and appeared to indulge in various James Cagney impersonations. Backstage, Chas Chandler was taking control, the very model of a good manager, being amiably persuasive in some situations, heavy in others. He's Slade's number one fan and only has words of encouragement for his boys. If anybody in the band or the road crew is heard to murmer a mild complaint, he eventually comes back with the ultimate incentive: "Remember lads, it's all in a good cause - money."
Gradually, as Alex Harvey's set drew to a close, the atmosphere in the dressing room warmed. Noddy Holder and Jim. Lea tuned up in a corner while Dave Hill fingered the frets of his new, extravagantly designed, custom made 'Super Yob' guitar.
Don Powell looked nervous, at a loose end --- "I wish I had something to tune as well" -- and talked quickly, edgily: as if to keep his mind occupied.
"We recorded our new single in Los Angeles. It was strange not to record at Olympic. We walked in and everything seemed too big, too cool, but things turned out really easy. It's called "Squeeze Me, Please Me," he added. matter of factly.
Out in the auditorium, it was interval time and things were strangely quiet. The place was packed, of course, and the crowd was desperately young, few surely no older. than 15 and just momentarily biding their time.
And immediately the capacity crowd are singing the praises of Newcastle. "Right, I want everybody to sing the football national anthem". The crowd goes into "You'll Never Walk Alone".
Slade may be straight back from a European tour but tiredness doesn't show. "We get a buzz off the crowd," says Noddy and, at Newcastle," the audience got more than a buzz off Slade.
SUDDENLY IT all happened. Slade walked out on stage and chaos reigned. With complete disregard for the fittings, the audience gleefully (as one) stood up on the backs of their seats, balancing precariously.
Noddy Holder, in red tails and tartan trousers, glanced quickly down, perhaps just to reassure himself he was back In Britain and led the band into the most appropriate number possible, "Take Me Bak 'Ome", screaming and tugging out the vocals. "Move Over Baby followed, shoved along by the thundering bass of Jim Lea, who is perhaps the most vital cog in the band.
Maybe the atmosphere added to the impression, but Slade were still playing better than on some of the dates before the Stateside tour. They sounded tougher, more raunchier some how and tremendously tight. They came over with demonic impact.
The second number saw the first major confrontation develop between the audience and bouncers ringing the stage. As things progressed, the scene resembled a battle field with pushing bodies, open spaces developing and then being covered again.
"C'mon, we want everybody to have a good time. Don't fight with the stewards and I don't want the stewards to be so rough," appealed Holder from the stage, sweat already streaming down his face.
They moved into John Sebastian's "Darling Be Home Soon ", not exactly a tenderised version but with some heartfelt vocals from Holder. He's not the greatest vocalist ever but his voice is so strong it nearly knocks your head off, and there's a little touch of soul that creeps in now and again.
Dave Hill's guitar keeps things moving without grabbing too much attention while Don Powell is a steady drummer, trying nothing too adventurous but meshing well with the thunderous bass of Lea.
It was the expected formula. "Gudbye T' Jane" was followed by "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the audience, then "Cum On Feel The Noize" and so on. Before the first encore, the audience supplied a neat touch with "Nice One, Noddy".
Altogether it was a spotless, masterful set. Perhaps the only quibble is that, song for song; it's almost the same set they've been playing for two years, which is rather overdoing it.
Nobody in Glasgow seemed to mind but, by the end of this tour, it'll be imperative for the band to introduce some new material. As they're recording a new album in a couple of months time it should happen. Thursday night in Glasgow, though, turned out as just as everybody expected, The scenes of hysteria around Green's must have seemed almost common-place to Slade. The crowd in Glasgow was expected to give them a rousing welcome back 'ome. And so they did.