Slade in Bilston, December 10th
As always I was in Birmingham earlier this month and as it is only a short way away from Wolverhampton and thereby also Bilston I went to see Slade in concert at the Robin 2 on December 10th.
At 4.30 I met up with Don at the venue where he was doing the sound-check with sound engineer Robin and Tim - ”the guy who does the guitars and all the yelling” – as he put it!
Don came down to say hi and ask about how things went in Birmingham (don’t ask!). Shortly after somebody sneaked up on me from behind and gave me a scare and a hug; Dave Hill had entered the building. John and Mal came in a little later and like everybody else (except Don) they both had a massive cold. I think Robin, Tim and Mal were the most affected, Tim and Mal with their voices almost gone. Robin told me that they’d caught it from T. Rextacy who’d had to cancel their concert the day before.
The guys did their sound check, then we all went back to their hotel in Wolverhampton, Don and Tim in the front, Mal and Robin in the middle and John and me in the back with John’s curry! Fun ride with Don pointing out all the old Slade-related sights to the rest of the band – I knew them in advance!
Don and I had dinner together in the hotel restaurant while the rest of the guys attended to their colds. It was nice catching up with Don as we hadn’t seen each other for three weeks. We talked a lot about the guys I have been interviewing lately for Don’s biography, among others Francis Rossi from Status Quo and Andy Scott from Sweet. We also talked about the very nice Sutton Coldfield-area of Birmingham where I had just spent the past couple of days, Don saying that Slade’s old tour manager Swinn once had a house there.
When Tim and Robin came down to eat, Don went to his room to wash up and I hung out with the guys until it was time to leave for the Robin 2 at 8.30 p.m. At the venue we met up with Mick Marson, the former ‘N Betweens guitarist, as well as Carole Williams, the guys’ first fan club secretary, and her cousin Vicky Pearson. It was so nice to see them all again. Then Don and I went into the audience to look for Don’s nephew, but it took a while before Don found him and instead we bumped into my friend Chris whom I had arranged to meet at the venue. He went backstage with us, as he knows Mick and the rest as well.
When the guys started to change into their stage clothes, Chris and I went down the venue again and I ran into Dave’s son Sam at the bar. Nice haircut, Sam! Then people started to march by and I met up with Lee, Keith, Mark, John (JC), Doug, Fran, Claire, Gaz and the rest, very nice seeing you all again!!
Slade were on at 10.05 p.m., nobody knew what that 05 was all about, the band finding it positively weird. But despite colds, runs and no voices the guys delivered a fantastic show! The set list was (we know it by heart now, don’t we:)
We’ll Bring The House Down
Take Me Bak ‘Ome
Far Far Away
‘Coz I Luv You
My Oh My
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Get Down And Get With It
and for the encores:
Cum On Feel The Noize
Merry Xmas Everybody
It’s always a bit special seeing Slade in Bilston, as it is their home grounds, the audience very loud, very drunk and in a total party-mood. It’s really a lot of fun and the guys seemed to have fun on stage as well despite their health-problems! The songs needed no introduction, so when introducing a song like Far Far Away, Mal would go, “I say, you know what to do next!” As usual the guys took the mickey out of each other on stage, Mal looking in disbelieve at Dave during his solos, Don yelling his usual lines behind the drums, John making fun of Dave’s height etc. etc. It was a really great show. In the midst of it all I met my good friend Dee who gave me canine crooner, a toy dog singing Merry Xmas Everybody with Noddy’s voice and a quivering lower jaw like Whitney Houston!
After the show I talked a bit with Marc Michalski, the bass player of Mud II (I usually do when in Bilston), then Dee went backstage with me to say hello to the guys. At that point I was actually a bit worried that I had caught the flu from the guys and Mal jokingly called it “The Slade Fever” and started to imagine me bringing it to Denmark! In the end I turned out to be fine. The guys had a good laugh about the canine crooner, by the way!
After midnight I went back to the hotel with the guys for a night cap, but I had to leave pretty soon, as I was to make my way back to Birmingham – and the airport – at 7 a.m. the next morning!
Anyway, as usual it had been a brilliant night out in Bilston and I hope to see you all again next year. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you all!!!