Thanks to being on radio I’ve been able to host some incredible gigs with The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Santana, AC/DC, Motorhead, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Bob Dylan, Uriah Heep, Gary Moore, Aerosmith, Santana, Queen, Tina Turner (3 times), Bryan Adams(4 times), The Police, U2, Status Quo, David Bowie, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart(twice), Guns ‘n’ Roses, Simply Red and many, many more.
 The gigs were all awesome, yet I have been thinking about the ones I enjoyed most as a fan, rather than working at them. Here is my top ten live gigs (as a fan)
One of the earliest slots into the ten, I was going to see Atomic Rooster, who were very good, but the support band was Lindisfarne who brought the City Hall, Newcastle to their feet. They were a revelation to me, as that strand of poetic folk rock, traditional overtones and great musicianship I had never even considered to listen to. They blew me away, and did to the North for decades. Songs like ‘Winter Song’, ‘Clear White Light’, ‘We Can Swing Together’, ‘Meet Me On The Corner’, ‘Lady Eleanor’, ‘Warm Feeling’ and all the other great tunes are part of music history. Alan Hull was a genius, and I met him only a week or so before he passed, and still love him as much today as I ever did.
Rammstein at the Arena was a stupendous gig. Industrial rock delivered loudly and effectively like only the Germans could. The language barrier didn’t exist, we FELT what they were singing and the crowd went berserk. the entire building was shaking and we all went home with that kind of tinnitus that everyone gets after a major volume assault.
Deep Purple at Newcastle Odeon have to go level with them. Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale had just joined the band and they performed all of the songs from ‘Burn’ including a knock ’em dead version of ‘Mistreated’
T.Rex at the Odeon, Newcastle. As a teenager I had stumbled into Newcastle Playhouse of a lunchtime to find two weirdo’s playing guitar and congas in the foyer. Those weirdo’s were Tyrannosaurus Rex. Yet after their initial success I fell in love with them, and along with thousands of girls all with corkscrew hair swathed in glitter I got tickets. Wearing my black velvet jacket and washed out grey flared jeans I sang and danced to their hits. The album ‘Electric Warrior’ had just come out and they played all of it. Marc Bolan’s cheeky fun persona was contagious and we all went crazy. The lads there were outnumbered about 14 to 1 by girls, yet none of us hooked up. Other than that it was a killer gig.
Newcastle City Hall again, on Iron Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’ tour. Bruce Dickinson taking the reins of all those great songs, inspired by the vocals of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, screaming and prancing across the stage in his boxing boots. Their mascot Eddie making a massive monster appearance, with dancing girls in Devil and demon suits. I knew the second I saw this line up that they would become one of the greatest rock bands of all time!
The anthem that I used on the award winning rock show ‘The Hot’n’Heavy Express’ was that of Y & T’s ‘Rescue Me’. So I persuaded the band to come to the UK and a gig at Newcastle’s iconic Mayfair venue. The band in interview with me days before the event said “No one will know who we are?”. I told them how I played them every week, and I was sure it would be a great crowd. The Mayfair sold out and with the strut that a sell out gives a band they killed it. When they played ‘Rescue Me’ every single person sang it almost lifting the roof. I spoke to singer and guitarist Dave Meniketti after the show and he said that it had been the best gig they had ever done. I was so proud of them. It is tough for new bands to break anywhere, if I could help, that gave me huge satisfaction.
Another band I played before they had ever played or released anything in Britain was Bon Jovi. So I caught up with them when they gigged at the City Hall, just after the album ‘Slippery When Wet’ when they had just really made it. They were sensational, well crafted songs and great players right across the board. Another band that I knew would become rock’n’roll royalty. After they had become international superstars Jon sent me a postcard from every country they visited, the last one coming from Tokyo, Japan, as a thank you for being one of the first to believe in them, even before they had a label.
Paul McCartney and Wings at Wembley Arena. Before the legend came on, there was a dry ice and laser show that I thought utterly captivating. They spread lasers across the crowd, then poured dry ice on top of it. Everyone looking up could see clouds above them, then seconds before the band appeared the lasers were switched off and all the dry ice fell down around us, as the first song kicked in. Wings songs, mixed with Beatles numbers it was a fabulous show, and Paul’s voice was immaculate, especially on ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. I was too young to see the band I have loved all my life, The Beatles, so this would be as near as I ever got. Managed to interview Paul and George, but this was my first chance to catch one of them live. STUPENDOUS!
I love the voice of Van Halen’s ‘Diamond’ David Lee Roth, I love the incredible ego and personality of the guy. So when I was working in Los Angeles I got the chance to see him and the incredible Steve Vai on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass, what a line up. They did mainly their amazing stuff ‘Hot Dog and a Shake’, ‘Yankee Rose’ and ‘Damn Good’ totally underrated classic rock. Dave entered above the crowd on a flying surfboard, then leaped off from about seven feet, touching both his toes in the splits on the way down. Hell’s teeth that man could fly. His banter was sensational and he did the odd Van Halen tune too. Great gig.
This has to be Thin Lizzy at the City Hall, Newcastle. Phil and I had a chat before the show, and he simply was a genius and a damn special human being. Live Lizzy sounded even better than they did on their albums, an incredible feat. They did not miss a single beat and the audience was hit with a band at the very top of their game. Strutting and posing, grinning and joking, and the entire crowd became their best mate. Very few bands ever had the class and style of Lizzy, who should have become an international household name. Love this band.
This without doubt was Whitesnake live at three working mens clubs in Ashington, a mining community in Northumberland. David Coverdale had just left Deep Purple and wanted to do his own thing. I heard that they had created a new band that they would ‘test-drive’ up in Ashington. What I saw was a thirsty, starving hungry for success line up with a raft of fabulous songs like ‘Lie Down I Think I Love You’ and a soul cover version ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart of The City’. They were incredible and class just oozed out of them, you knew they would rock the world and back again. I saw them at their height too, and they were as good if not better, just with a huge catalogue of dynamite tunes. David nicknamed me ‘Why ye Bugger Man Robson’. Like so many rockers he is such an underrated singer and songwriter, he is a genius.
I will share another top ten of the bands I have worked with somewhere along the road.