Rock of Ages…
As a sixth former in the mid-70s, I was lucky enough to attend a few rock concerts at Lancaster University, just 20 miles from where I lived. That was down to Barry Lucas, the university’s Ents Manager of the early 70s, who kick-started and maintained a quite astonishing 15-year-run of booking major groups for a small provincial venue; the university’s Great Hall.
The whole episode was so remarkable that a book about it – When Rock Went To College – first published in 2017, not only sold out, but has since been published in a 2nd edition. You can read about it here.
Of the acts that I saw, I recall Wishbone Ash being technically excellent, but dull as dishwater and blown off stage by their support band, Supercharge, fronted by Albie Donnelly. Supercharge was rightly credited as one of the best live bands of the era, but you’ve probably never heard of them, hence the link above. I also saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers open for a Nils Lofgren concert. You could tell then that Petty was destined for the kind of super stardom that passed Lofgren by. And then there was Lynyrd Skynyrd in the band’s most authentic line-up (ie, before the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines). Amazing!
So why this reminiscing? Well, it’s simple really. None of the concerts that I saw back then or since – however good – bettered a small intimate gig that I went to at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree in 2019, and I’m just so looking forward to Albert Lee’s return in October. His previous performance there was perfect. Backed by a youthful-but-accomplished band, Lee’s playing, singing and storytelling that night was masterful and I’m hoping for a repeat performance!
In a show at the town’s Lemon Tree
The audience just had to agree
That the best gig in town
Was that man of renown
The gifted and great Albert Lee!