Monday, 24 October 2011

Ian Gillan Band Edinburgh 1977

Ian Gillan Band Edinburgh 1977
19th of May 1977

Edinburgh Playhouse

By mid 1977, I was starting to get into this concert-going stuff and would eagerly scout the weekly Gig Guide in the NME to ascertain who was next coming to Glasgow or Edinburgh.  And the next gig I plumped for was the Ian Gillan Band.  Gillan had been, as we all know, the voice of the classic Deep Purple MkII line-up, but had quit in 1973 partly to concentrate on (financially disastrous, as it transpired) business dealings, but also as a consequence of a deteriorating relationship with Ritchie Blackmore.

In 1975 he had formed the Ian Gillan Band, and had released the dreadfully disappointing Child in Time album; but early 1977 saw him and his band out and about once more, promoting a new collection: Clear Air Turbulence.  Also pushing the album heavily around this time was Radio Forth DJ Jay Crawford on his evening radio program Edinburgh Rock: essential listening for immature spotty oiks of a certain musical persuasion – of which I was indubitably one 

So Self and two folks from school (P&M) bussed it through to Edinburgh to the concert at the Playhouse Theatre at the top of Leith Walk.  P, I recall, deciding to save a few pennies had bought a cheaper seat at the back somewhere, leaving M and I to take up our impressively close-to-the-stage ones. 

Two student nurses from Queen Margaret College had the seats next to us and we soon got to chatting.  Or at least M did.  Cripplingly shy and terrified of girls, I could not for the life of me come up with a single syllable which I thought could be of the remotest interest to these alien creatures.  Consequently I sat grinning like an imbecile, whilst M engaged the ladies in all manner of earnest, if slightly nerdy conversation.  Not that the girls seemed to mind and, with hindsight, they pretty much did everything but pin us to the floor and scrawl their phone numbers on our foreheads, but we were both too na├»ve to read any sort of signs, far less recognise them when they came along.  And so an opportunity passed (sigh).

The support for the evening was a band called Strapps, whose drummer Mick Underwood had played with Gillan in the past and would do so again.  They seemed to peddling some sort of mild S&M image I recall, but I have no recollection of any of their actual music.

IGB began their set with a gentle synthesiser intro, before heading into the song Clear Air Turbulence – and within seconds it became clear whatever else this band was, it wasn’t some sort of Deep Purple clone.  All manner of complex and frankly overly-busy tunes followed, with lengthy jazz-tinged solos from guitarist Ray Fenwick and keyboard player Colin Towns. 


A number of the denim-bedecked hairies around us tried to do the head-banging thing, but soon gave up; a bewildered and slightly disappointed look spreading across their faces, as if they had just been stood-up on a date.  But I liked the unusual juxtaposition of jazz-rock and a strong voice, and there was enough twiddly synthesiser going on to feed my Prog-Rock sensibilities.  I subsequently bought the Clear Air Turbulence album, and still enjoy it from time to time.

Smoke on the Water (inevitably) closed the set, with M able to note Fenwick was playing the song in key of F instead of G minor or somesuch, which impressed me no small amount.


Equally impressive afterwards, was the fact M assured us his Dad would be happy to drive through from Bathgate to pick us up, which indeed he was.  Unexpectedly affluent with bus-fares saved, we persuaded our driver to drop into a Chinese takeaway up Lothian Road where, to her acute embarrassment, we discovered our PE teacher moonlighting as a waitress.  This very clearly in the days before McCrone had inexplicably decided the best way to improve standards in Scotland’s schools was to shovel vast sums of cash in the direction of the country’s schoolteachers.


Set List 
(from memory – so may be songs missing/out of order)

Clear Air Turbulence
Money Lender
Child in Time
Over The Hill
Whats your Game
My Baby Loves Me
Smoke on the Water

Encore
Woman From Tokyo

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