When I was a teenager I lived in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in Staffordshire, England. The main places we went to see gigs were The Victoria Hall in Hanley, Trentham Gardens and Keele University.
My friend Andy Winfield and I would take it in turns to buy the NME every Thursday (I think) and scour it for gigs that were in these venues, hoping that some of the slightly more wacky bands we were into would be playing locally. I remember seeing the ad pictured here and being so excited that Kevin Ayers was playing at Keele University on Wednesday 11th May 1977.
I think as it was May, the ticket for it was probably my birthday present in April from my Mum and Dad.
I can’t remember tons about the gig as it was rather a long time ago, but there was three of us there, myself, Andy and I think it was probably my girlfriend Karen. We got my Dad to give us a lift up to Keele so we were well in time for the show. The ticket said 7:30pm so I think we got there at about 6:30pm went into the concert hall and just stared at the roadies setting up all the gear. I think it was on this occasion when some long haired student came up to us and said “Hey guys nothing’s going to happen until about 9, so why don’t you come for a drink in the bar?”. I think we did and were quite amazed at how easy it was for three fifteen year olds to buy three halves of Strongbow. We didn’t hang around too long in the bar as we wanted our prime place for the gig.
When Kevin and the band appeared it was pretty much like seeing God as far as we were concerned. The stage was pretty low and we were standing right in front of Kevin Ayers, my mate Andy was delighted that a bead of sweat rolled from Kevin Ayers’ forehead and onto his arm. He vowed never to wash again, I reckon he did though as it was over 34 years ago.
The songs I remember were an awesome version of ‘May I’ near the start of the set and, my favourite track at the time, ‘Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes’ right at the end. I remember some kind of monumentally heavy song as an encore which I am guessing now was probably ‘Why are we sleeping?’.
An interesting point about this gig was that Police guitarist Andy Summers was playing that night. I remember Kevin saying “I’d like to introduce to you Andy Summers on guitar, he’s a bit miserable tonight because today he lost his shoes.” Andy was indeed barefoot!
Actually thinking about it, Andy Winfield would have only been 14 years old as his birthday wasn’t until August that year. Guess when Andy’s birthday is? Yep, August 16th the same as Kevin’s. More synchronicity drives me to do this site even more.
How wonderful to find your excellent Kevin Ayers site. I am a huge fan of Kevin and saw him many times especially at his London gigs in the 70’s. If you want contact with Starvin’ Marvin from his Belgium band I can pass on the email address. I wrote some stuff about Kevin for WAWS magazine a few times. I assume you have copies of them? I wonder if Martin Wakeling is still alive as his WAWS website has been dormant for a long time now.
Anyway, well done for setting up your site. I have really enjoyed reading it and love the pics of Kevin with little Gaia.
Hi Richard, what an excellent comment to wake up to! We are actually very much in touch with Marvin at the moment who is being very helpful in sourcing information and images for the forthcoming book/s. The wife Susan is a bit more aware of the WAWS mag/site than I am, but we would be very interested to know what you did/contributed. In particular she loves the tributes to Ollie Hallsall and Archie Leggett. Keep in touch 🙂