Slade in Bilston, December 12, 2007
While in the Midlands last week to do interviews for Don’s biography I managed to catch the Slade concert at the Robin 2 in Bilston on the 12th of December and as usual I had a brilliant time.
I met up with Don, the band and the crew at their hotel in Wolverhampton in the afternoon and had a quick cup of tea as it was freezing outside. I also got to say hello to Fred, who has taken over from Tim.
I’d interviewed Don’s sister the day before, so of course Don and I got to talk about that. When I told him that I’d actually learned something new about him, he looked surprised if only for a second, before he said, ”I’ll get you drunk later tonight to find out what it is!”
Don and I drove to the venue with the friend and former hairdresser of the band and when we reached the venue a couple of fans were waiting outside. They got Don to sign some of their stuff and afterwards he came over to me, laughing. When Don had signed the things, the fans had actually said, “Thank you, Jim!”
The guys did the sound check while I interviewed their former hairdresser. It was freezingly cold everywhere, but Slade’s manager Abbie Carter was a darling, making tea for everybody. Thank you! Mud was there as well and it was nice to see the guys again and to chat a bit to Mark. Dave came by for the sound check, then left again to be with his family.
When the sound checks were over, Don had a quick shave, then we went to the (former) Green Room for dinner. On the way up there we met Mick Marson, former guitarist of The ‘N Betweens, whom I’d interviewed the day before and he went with us. Robin 2’s former restaurant was catering to a children’s birthday party and when we got to the Green Room a beautiful little girl stole into the room and she thrived on the attention that the guys bestowed on her. She was just so cute!
After dinner Don said the magic words, “Do we get pudding here?” And no, we didn’t. Within 5 minutes the Green Room was cleared of musicians as everybody had hurried to the nearest store to stock up on chocolates! Rock’n’roll!
Then we just had to wait around while Mud was on stage. In the meantime the dressing room was filling up with old friends from Bilston and Wolverhampton as well as Dave and his family. My daughter had asked me to give Dave a small gift from her. A key chain with a red laser light, the light resembling the one that Dave has on his Superyob guitar. The light could change into different symbols such as a smiley, a thumps-up and a dollar-sign. Dave seemed to like it.
At some point a discussion broke out about how to spell “o’clock” and to the guy who’d asked, John dryly remarked, “Just remember to leave in the l.”
Don changed into stage clothes and then the rest of us left for the guys to get ready. Around 10 p.m. they went on stage.
As for the track-list “Look Wot You Dun” had been replaced by “Squeeze Me, Pleeze Me”, so the track-list looked like this:
We’ll Bring The House Down
Take Me Bak ‘Ome
Squeeze Me Pleeze Me
Far Far Away
‘Coz I Luv You
My Oh My
Mama Weer All Crazy Now
Get Down And Get with it
and the encores:
Cum On Feel The Noize
Merry Xmas Everybody
The concert was fantastic and the audience response overwhelming. As Dave said, “There’s no place like home!”
The venue was filled up and the crowd was cheering and clapping and singing along. Everybody had a good time. I noticed that the bass drum had “Slade” printed on it, something I hadn’t seen before, and it was great hearing “Squeeze Me Pleeze Me” which I hadn’t heard live for almost 30 years. Mal did a good job on that. He was sporting a silver and black top, which I hadn’t seen before, either.
Everything came together nicely at this concert, even John was more outgoing than usual and did a pretty decent job on the violin, especially during “’Coz I Luv You”.
The audience was really perfect. Don laughed most of the time behind the drums and Dave gave the crowd a thumps-up and mimicked something to the effect of “you’ve been drinking quite a lot, eh?” to the audience. When Mal got to introduce Mama, he said, “I really shouldn’t have to ask this, I really shouldn’t. But… do you feel like going crazy?” And of course the crowd went berserk.
There really were no place like home and the audience tried to get as close to the band as possible. There were personal letters handed to both Dave and Don and during Get Down somebody kept reaching up to the stage to caress John's lower leg.
Finally the time had come for MXE and Mal introduced it by saying, “It’s pantomime season, you know you want to do it,” and then the guys went on stage dressed in their Christmas gear. Dave was sporting his big Christmas hat, Mal was in his red cowboy hat and John in the red Christmas coat. Don was adorable in his Christmas hat complete with long light plaits with red bows. A real miss Donna Powell behind the drums!
When the show was over I went backstage with the rest of the friends and we sat there talking for about an hour before the guys were off to the next destination on the Xmas Tour. Don gave me some of his new signature sticks and Dave agreed to meet me for an interview in February when Slade is touring Denmark. Then I said my goodbyes to Dave, John and Mal and a see-you to Don and off I went.
Really a great night out, indeed. Merry Christmas, guys and Merry Xmas everybody!