The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (May 22, 1976)
I’d seen SAHB the year before (May 20, 1975), and was just blown away. Alex was mesmerizing onstage, playing different roles–a school teacher reading from Treasure Island for “Tomahawk Kid,” a crazed philosopher and comic-book character in “Vambo,” a street thug in “Framed”–just the coolest person you could imagine. As if that wasn’t enough, he was joined stage left by Zal Cleminson, dressed as a whiteface clown and blasting crunching riffs from his Gibson SG, while stage right was Chris Glen on bass, pouting and preening in a royal blue jumpsuit and codpiece, every inch the seventies rock star. Why they never became enormous, I’ll never know.
I don’t recall if we were broke or if the show sold out before we got paid from our paper rounds, but for some reason, when they came back the following year, we didn’t have tickets. But we were bound and determined to get into the De Mont that night.
Steve Hill: I went to the Wyggeston School just down the road, and you’d walk past the De Montfort Hall and you’d see the equipment trucks in the morning when you’d go to school and you’d think, “Oh crickey, what’s going on there? That’s really interesting!” And what we’d used to do is go to school, sign in, then bunk off, run back to the gig and go to the roadies and say “‘Scuse me, mate. Can we help set the equipment up?” So you’d dump your school uniform, dump your blazer off behind a bush in the corner. Sometimes you’d get a free T-shirt, a backstage pass or a free ticket to the gig.
The SAHB show was on a Saturday, so we didn’t have to worry about skiving off school that day. But we still had to negotiate with the road crew. The first person we happened across was Tam, the band’s road manager. We asked him if we could help out so we could see the show, and he looked us up and down and, in a Glaswegian accent you could cut with a knife, asked us if we had jammy fingers. Being totally naive, Steve and I extended our hands and looked at them. He laughed at us and hired us on the spot.
I think we humped some gear onto the stage for a while, and then I remember one of the road crew asked me if I knew where the Centre Hotel was and if I knew where there was a DIY store. I said I did, so he and I jumped in a van and I directed him to Wilko’s on Charles Street where he bought some black paint and some brushes. Then we went off to the Hotel, and he went up to Alex’s room. Sadly, I was not deemed important enough to bring along.
Then it was back to the De Mont, and Steve and I were put to work with the paint.
Steve Hill: At the end of the show, Alex would come through a brick wall–it was actually polystyrene–and do his Adolph Hitler impression. I painted that–painted all the brickwork pieces.
While we were painting, the band minus Alex soundchecked with “Tomahawk Kid,” and I will never forget the shock of seeing Zal for the first time without his makeup and thinking, “So THAT’S why he wears greasepaint!”
Our reward for our labors was being allowed to sit on the side of the stage for the show. I will never forget how cool I felt looking out at the crowd and seeing our friends out there looking at us puzzled, wondering how the hell we were allowed on the stage. Later, when the band broke into the double-time section of “Give My Compliments to the Chef,” I looked out at the crowd again and they were bouncing up and down with such force that I thought the floor was going to give way. But the best moment of all was when Alex burst through the polystyrene wall during “Framed,” destroying our handiwork to the delight of the audience.
Want to add your memories of concerts at the De Mont? Fill out the form below!