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SLADE / MANCHESTER FREE TRADE HALL 7/5/1977
I WAS ASLEEP when Liar came on. As the shrill thrusting boogie raked my eardrums and the vocalist sincerely grunted "I've been up and I've been down/I've been lost and I've been found," I was paralysed by the type of fear usually associated with dark alleys and filed teeth.
Not, I shivered, trying to rip my eyes open, the goddam Steve Gibbons band again.
"We are Liar, said the ever so butch frontman at the conclusion of their five minute bullying, and my eyes popped open in relief....
Believe this --Liar are a pale imitation of the Steve Gibbons Band, and actually played a song called "Born To Rock 'n' Roll".
A couple of coughs and a jump to the interval to scan the crowd: obviously predominantly male, a definite case of Whatever happened To The Bootboys?, all eager to welcome the lads back into the fold. Slade had no one to impress.
But I reckon impartial onlookers would have been impressed, if not won over, by Slade's efficiantly choreographed heavy metal -- as slick as Bruce Forsyth and often equally irrepressable. The kind of streamlined powerhouse muzak Kiss strain for to accompany their visuals, not an ounce of flab.
On reflection, the bandwho gave us the definitive version of " Born To Be Wild" would probably be bound to return from a couple of years in the States so decisively disciplined.
Their set opened with three flawless, expertly constructed punches to the throat -- all the right ingredients, the pauses, riffs,repetition, relentless dynamics, flase endings......
The crowd loved it, and were away and up.
It took a lot of the throng about this long to recover from the sight of a hairless Dave Hill who, with his Dumbo ears and Bugs Bunny teeth, looks less the Grasshopper he'd been nicknamed by Noddy Holder than a cousin of Paulus the Woodgnome.
Only when Slade tried for finesse and pretended that they were a third rate Beatles, playing trash like "How Does It Feel" and "Far Far Away", instead of consolidating their position as a second rate Sweet, did things sag. Sophistication was never really Slade's forte.
Ah, the gross overstatement of "Burning In The Heat Of Love", the deranged indulgent guitar from Hill during "The Soul, The Roll And The Motion", the flashy bass licks from Jim Lea, and the formal pandemonium of Don Powell's drumming. Everything rehearsed to a T. Loved it.
Even "Gudbuy T'Jane" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" were transformed into gloriously anonymous, agreeably primitive heavy metal bursts, with Holder's mighty voice fitting (to understate) nicely into the controlled wall of noise.
Everyone had a solo spot three times over, the sound was perfect, lightshow spot on, the crowd felt wanted and responded with glee. It was the kind of rock as showbiz outing that I'd pay money to see for years to come. You can't beat professionalism and precision when it's executed with such fervour.
PAUL MORLEY / MELODY MAKER 14/5/1977