June 18th 1972 Callander Park, Falkirk…
…and the weirdest gig I can remember attending and not in the sense of the music played that day either.
First my dignity demands I make it clear that I am not, and was never, a fan of Slade (other than “Merry Xmas Everybody” – but who isn’t) but I, like many others, couldn’t resist the temptation to head along to the gig to see what all the fuss was about. A relatively unknown Dunfermline band was opening for them and I am still cursing to this day that I was late arriving and missed seeing Nazareth play. To my dismay I was only to hear their last number as it blasted out in the distance as I approached the venue.
To give you a flavour of the location here’s a photo I snapped some years ago of where the stage was set up. Imagine no snow and the stage set roughly between the two set of stairs.
I discovered an another eyewitness account here – http://www.falkirkmusicscene.info/acts-famous.html
Slade: At the height of their success, Slade returned to the area, playing at Callendar Park, Falkirk (entry was 25 pence!). John Leishman says of that day:
“During that gig the Estate was packed with hippies all groovin’ (as they say) and lots of families and their kids picnicing. There were quite a few support bands on the bill whose names slip my mind, as I was pretty stoned / tripped out at the time (as were a lot of others!). I do remember it was a beautiful hot sunny day, lots of people swimming in the lake and little groups dressed in kaftans and multi coloured patched Levi`s all over the Estate smoking and rolling joints, dancing, and spreading the “love and peace” philosophy. Some played acoustic guitars, mouth organs and tablas, and sang James Taylor, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash songs. There was a bit of a scuffle at the stage area early on when “Hell`s Angels” arrived. As usual they took it on themselves to be security, causing a bit of trouble between them and the official hired security. My brother Duncan was a member of the official security and after a bit of a fracas they managed to sort it out. Apart from that it was a great day, the music was “far out, man”, and as usual Slade did the business.”
Interestingly what was omitted from this brief account of the proceedings was the chaos that followed Slade wherever they went – their fanatical “bovver boys”. With shaved heads and Doc Martin boots the “bovver boys” were easy to pick out. “Skinheads” was another term for them. These days the look is reserved for far right extremist groups. The “bovver boys” tended to be drawn from the less intellectual (and in general more thuggish) members of the community and were, as my father would have put it “an accident looking for a place to happen”.
What distinguished this concert from any other I have ever attended was the striking self-segregation of the crowd. Around the stage you had the seething precursor to the mosh pit comprising totally out of control (and more importantly – completely out of time) “bovver boys” crashing into each other with mindless enthusiasm regardless of potential
Behind the last of this heaving mass there lay a 20m “no-go” zone. There were no barriers, no security, no (apparent) minefield; the gap just came into being of its own accord. Beyond stood an odd assortment of normal teenagers, hippies, grown-ups, weans and dugs. I say “stood” but that varied a bit. It was the normal teenagers who “stood”, poised, ready for flight should the de-militarised zone be breached. The grown-ups, weans and dugs had their own family crowd control issues to contend with, which left the hippies who were sprawled out on the grass in a totally relaxed and happy haze. The haze, I may add, was a fairly dense cloud of sweet smelling weed which probably accounted for the fact that nobody in the back rows of the crowd seemed particularly bothered about the carnage (or the music) in front of them. They probably reckoned if the “bovver boys” charged the “no-go” zone the smell would incapacitate them instantly.
Surprisingly I can recall no unfortunate incidents nor for that matter do I have anything worthwhile to say about the music – which is a bit sad and a terrible way to end a post – so I won’t. Instead I’ll leave you with an indelible mental image of what never happened that day with “bovver boys”, normal teenagers, grown-ups, weans, dugs and (very reluctantly) the hippies all bouncing about screaming at the tops of their voices…
“Ma…Mama weer all crazee now!”
As a bonus here’s post title track made famous by Slade but covered by a much better band…