City Hall memories

Assorted reviews by Simon Robinson

1971

The Groundhogs
June 21st 1971 – Sheffield City (Oval) Hall

The Groundhogs were promoting their astonishing album Split. This may well have been my first rock concert. A friend at school sorted our tickets out and we were in the front row. It was without doubt the loudest thing I had ever heard (The Groundhogs were always a very loud band live). Brilliant experience.

Groundhogs Sheffield City Hall 1971 ticket

Emerson Lake & Palmer
Dec 9th 1971 – Sheffield City (Oval) Hall

ELP were a huge deal in 1971. Formed from the ashes of The Nice, this tour largely promoted their debut album as well as a live recording released a few months before the tour. Although we had tickets we sneaked down to the City Hall early and were able to sit behind the gear and watch them setting it all up. Emerson has a massive Moog set up which looked like Nasa control. It was a stunning show, with plenty of Hammond mangling to enjoy as well.

ELP Sheffield City Hall 1971 ticket

1972

Hawkwind
December 5th 1972 – Sheffield City (Oval) Hall

Hawkwind’s lengthy Space Ritual tour lasted two months and arrived in Sheffield in the run up to Christmas. I’d got into the band via the Silver Machine tour and the still great In Search Of Space album (I even won an extra copy of that in a competition in Cann’s record shop). The band were in a league of their own really, a very trippy punky atmosphere which worked really well in the City Hall. The tour was later issued as a live double LP but sadly not from this show.

Hawkwind Sheffield City Hall 1972 ticket

1973

Faust Sheffield City HallFaust / Henry Cow
October 8th 1973
Sheffield City (Oval) HallI must confess for a teenager this wasn’t the easiest of music to get to grips with. But it was a cheap ticket and heavily promoted by the Virgin Records label. We were actually on the side of the stage for most of Faust’s set, totally bewildered by it all. They had TVs and pin-ball machines, and it all seemed to lack any sort of cohesion. After a while the band seemed to realise they were getting nowhere, had the house lights brought up and left the stage. People got restless and angry when they realised that was it. We wandered onto the stage and started messing with the pin-ball tables, only be told to clear off. “You should have done that while they were playing…” I assume many of the soon to emerge Sheffield band scene were also in the audience.

Yes Sheffield City Hall 1973Yes
November 27th 1973
Sheffield City (Oval) Hall

This was more like it, the incredible Tales From Topographic Oceans tour – a full set based around their epic album with a short intermission half way through. It was my first Yes concert, but I would still rate it as one of the best rock shows I’ve ever been to. I’d not heard the album at the time but it was still a brilliant performance, and very moving in places. Tickets were at a premium and we were stuck right up in the gods. Not being used to intermissions we almost missed the restart and had to dash down the steeply raked seats to try and switch our cassette recorders back on – and almost went over the edge. Strangely I didn’t see Yes again until their reunion tour at the same venue (which was I have to say one of the best reunions I’ve witnessed).

1977

Steve Hillage / Glenn Phillips
October 26th 1977 – Sheffield City Hall

Steve Hillage Sheffield City Hall 1977

While the punk and new wave bands stuck mostly to the Top Rank, the old guard still ruled at the City Hall. Hillage was going solo after some years with Gong, and riding high with a new album Motivation Radio. Hard to believe he could sell out the City Hall with ease now, but he did. Great show at well, he had a really unique sound and style. It was a tipping point for many older music fans trying to get to grips with the emerging new scene yet still better used to the old wave.

1978

Be Bop Deluxe (support not known)
February 13th 1978 – Sheffield City Hall

Strange, some gig provoke a lot of memories, but I can’t remember much about this one, despite Wakefield born Bill Nelson’s band headlining on the back of successful EMI Harvest albums and singles.

Be Bop Deluxe 78

Rory Gallagher (support not known)
April 12th 1978 – Sheffield City Hall

This show was promoted by Sheffield University Students Union. It was not unusual for the Uni Ents people to use their booking experience to secure quite big acts, and particularly if potential ticket demand was high, schedule it at an outside venue.

Rory Gallagher Sheffield City Hall 1978

UFO (support not known)
June 22nd 1978 – Sheffield City Hall

Although mainly an albums band, the group also had a hit single around this time which made me go along. This was probably the last tour with Michael Schenker, the impressive but trouble-prone German lead guitarist who left in December.

UFO Sheffield City Hall 1978 ticket

 


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