Things to do
Dire Straits are not an easy band to write about. They do not go in for funny haircuts or cheap publicity stunts.
What they do is produce some of the most exciting, interesting and challenging music currently available – as the capacity crowd at the Brighton Centre were delighted to discover last night.
The Band, which first came to light in 1977 with the classic rock single ’Sultans of Swing’, is led by Mark Knopfler, a balding 35 years old, ex-teacher and journalist who doesn’t like giving interviews.
He didn’t say much to the capacity crowd, preferring instead to play them the sort of songs they had come to hear.
Overall, the gig was a triumph over the sort of hype that has become almost indispensable part of recent extravaganzas.
Perhaps with Knopfler around – pop music isn’t in such dire straits, after al
Extract by Simon Calder of the Independent ‘At the start of ’71, I queued all night outside the Big Apple in Brighton and paid 18 shillings (90p) to see The Rolling Stones. And as the year aged, the music blossomed’.
Their first performance set was 75 minutes long, over-running by 15 minutes, to the consternation of the tour manager. But the audience, enjoying the rare treat of a visit of an American act to Brighton, wanted the full Beach Boys’ hit songbook.
They got it and more. The hits came fast, with Carl, Mike and Al alternating on lead vocals, ranging from the now fairly ancient “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” beautifully sung by Carl, to their most recent hit, “I Can Hear Music.”
The sound balance was good, and they had excellent support from an Anglo-American eight-piece band. The old myth that the group was unable to recreate their recorded sound on stage was disproved once and for all-they excelled on a medley of soft, harmony, ballade, an unaccompanied vocal, and their act closing “Good Vibrations.”
Oldies like “California Girls,” soloed by Mike Love, their first British hit, “I Get Around,” was rapturously received.
Dressed almost entirely in white, the Beach Boys still retain something of their original surfing, beach party image. Meditator-in-chief Mike Love looked like a guru in flowing white robe.
For many of the near-capacity audiences-comprising a large cross-section of Brighton’s young adult population – it was probably the first time that they had heard music at the right level of amplification, free from complaints by landladies and neighbours. The main attraction was Jimi Hendrix, the 22-year-old American negro who based himself in England just over a year ago, and he was well worth the billing. Long-limbed in his flash gear, he strolled on the stage playing his guitar with one hand only. He played it with his teeth, on the floor, and behind his back. “Remember you’ve gotta practice every day” he cracked. Meanwhile, bass guitarist Noel Redding filled in the thick, warm backing for the songs which included the original Hendrix hits of “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze”.
He closed the show with “Wild Thing” a hard, tearing version of the Troggs’ hit that sent vibrations clear to the waiting crowd outside.
The Cream who had the sedate Dome erupting as never before. This was surely Eric Clapton’s finest hour. His wild guitar solos were incredible. His aggressive, pungent style puts him way out in front of all his imitators in the Blues guitar field. Clapton really shone on howling Wolfs blues “Spoonful” while Bassist Jack Bruce’s harmonica solo “tossing and tumbling” received just acclaim.
Drummer Ginger Baker brought the house down with his 10-minute solo, The Toad. It’s a rare ability to hold the attention of an audience completely after the first few minutes of a drum solo, but Baker did it and proved beyond a doubt that he deserves his title of the country’s top group drummer.
The Cream making their first appearance in Brighton would have pleased everyone by continuing the rave-up all night.
At the Hippodrome the four mop-haired idols sang, danced and ducked their way through two stormy performances. Nearly 4,000 frenzied teenage fans went wild with predictable hysteria as the shiny-suited Beatles came on stage. Things began to fly. First, there was the usual hall of jelly babies thrown with accuracy by the screaming girls. Then dolls by the score, programmes, toilet-rolls and screwed-up paper messages cascaded into the floodlights. John ducked, Paul cleared stamping room on stage, George looked defiant and drummer Ringo just carried on regardless. But when wild-eyed hysterical girls rushed down the aisles and started hurling themselves at the stage until the police stepped in. They formed a human barrier in front of the orchestra pit to stop souvenir-hungry fans.