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FEELIN' GOOD
EARLY GIG REVIEWS


 


 
DR FEELGOOD - October 11, 1975 - University
Leeds/UK

The article by John Alderdice in Issue 10 (of the Feelin' Good newsletter) brought back memories stored way back in the old brain so I thought I'd share my reminiscing with you. "They say you never forget the first time" - well, by coincidence, my first Feelgood concert was also at Leeds University on Saturday 11th October 1975. I lived at Thirsk at the time and travelled by train to arrive at the University in the afternoon. Having bought my ticket for £1 found I had time to kill so sought out the Concert Hall and was pleasantly surprised to find the Feelgood entourage arriving and unloading the gear. I offered to help the Merchandiser set up the stall, not even thinking that in years to come I would be helping out. on some Feelgood tours doing the merchandise myself. The kind chap (aren't all Feelgood Merchandisers kind?) gave me a Tee Shirt as a reward for my assistance. That was in the days before Tee Shirts became abbreviated to T-shirts. This meant that I was in the Hall so my first memory of Feelgood live is the soundcheck "I can Tell" (one of my faves). When the gig was over I made my way back to the Railway Station where I settled down for the night having missed the last train. The next time I visited Leeds I was working with the Feelgoods and it was one of my favourite venues The Irish Centre. I think we played 3 or 4 years running and it was the days of Gordon, Lee, Phil and Kevin. Steve Walwyn joined at some point and the gig just got better and better each year. After the break and as part of a series of "warm up" gigs with Pete Gage we found ourselves back at Leeds in a pub called "The Cockpit" in 1995. We should have known there was problems when we never saw ONE poster advertising the show - a useful tip for on the road when visiting new venues is to look for posters as in 9 cases out of 10 there will be posters directly outside the venue. Not in this case. Apparently there had been a change of promoter and the venue thought Dr Feelgood were advertising the show so they did nothing other than write the details on a blackboard INSIDE the pub - almost like "Todays Specials". I remember it being Nick Finnegans (roadie) birthday and the band doing two sets of encores so it can't have been too bad. In 1996 it was a visit to the "Duchess of York" a more established venue and over a hundred people saw the band - things were looking up!! In 1997 the band were booked to appear at the Irish Centre on 17th December with Steve Gibbons supporting. Despite the appalling weather (snow etc) over 400 turned up and it was a great night - all thanks to Dennis who does a great job promoting the bands taking care of everything such as excellent PA, lights, backstage hospitality and doing such a great job. Dr Feelgood will be back at the Irish Centre on December 3rd 1998 with Nine Below Zero. It goes without saying I will be there.

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DR FEELGOOD - June 14, 1976 - Free Trade Hall
Manchester/UK

The start of a long hot summer, this is Pre-Punk Manchester (it's just around the corner). Flares and long hair were still in and the Wurzels were Number 1 in the charts. The Feelgoods had released two albums so far and I'd already worn them out. Concerts, of other bands, I'd witnessed before had been sedate affairs (peace signs etc.) the Feelgoods were totally different. Being of a tender age I'd never experienced a gig atmosphere of such excitement yet at the same time a tension, which the band certainly generated.

The band was freshly back from their first tour of America. All the stage favourites were here, "Back in the night", "Roxette" and "Going back home". Sparko and the Big Figure pump out the rock solid rhythm. Lee works tirelessly covered in sweat, fist pumping, staring unbelievers in the face, his harp playing seems to fill the hall. Wilko, as ever, is indeed the guitar hero, the crowd erupts everytime he scoots across the stage. In "You shouldn't call the Doctor" he bounds to and fro round the stage, wild chords shooting out from his Telecaster.

By the end of the encore "Great balls of fire" the place is screaming and all too soon the lights are up and I'm back on the street. I'll hurry back to the sticks already eagerly awaiting the next gig and to play those two LPs even more - the Feelgoods are truly special!

Ian Fawkes (Buxton/UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 2/January 1996

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DR FEELGOOD - May 21, 1977 - University
Salford/UK

1976 had been a massive year for Dr.Feelgood. A No1 album, a tour of America and a sell out tour of the UK, not to mention extensive coverage in the music press, journalists had fallen over themselves to describethe bands different style and approach. The future looked bright then...... shock, I opened my copy of Sounds on April 7th to read "Wilko leaves Feelgoods". Wilko, chief songwriter and probably most talked about and photographed member of the band to leave? I read on, "whilst recording the new album at Rockfield Studios the band fell out and Wilko is leaving, but the album "Sneakin' Suspicion" is coming out, and a tour with a new guitarist is starting on May 10th". A new guitarist? It was all too much to take in. The new man is an unknown by the name of John Mayo. I travel to Salford with a nervousness a feeling of going to see the unknown. Will this work? Will it fall flat? No such worries.

The first thing apparent at the gig was how Lee Brilleaux took charge of things. He seemed to grow in stature, he's a man possessed, roaming the stage rabid style bathed in sweat. John Mayo looked surprised at the "Wilko" style roar that greeted his first solo during "Lookin' Back". During "You upset me baby" Brilleaux grabs him by the arm and puts him centre stage for what is a "screecher" of a solo. My doubts are swept away the future suddenly looking calm.

The gig though is not without incident. Early in the set, between the songs, a girl kept shouting "Wilko, Wilko". Lee bides his time and picks his moment like a matador. During "Hey mama, keep your big mouth shut" he stares the girl in the face singing the title, replacing the word "mama" with "bitch". A true professional, nothing more is said from the girl.

During the crescendo of the show I catch sight of manager Chris Fenwick looking on whilst Lee is humping the drums and Mayo is down on his knees. Chris had a smile on his face, maybe he was thinking "My boys are going to be fine". I leave the gig with both voice and earlier doubts gone.

n.b. John Mayo was later christened "Gypie" by Lee apparently because he always seemed to suffering "Gyp" i.e. Backache, Headache etc.

Ian Fawkes (Buxton/UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 5/October 1996

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DR FEELGOOD - 13.September 1980
Cedar Ballrooms - Birmingham/UK

On The Job (Revisited)

Saturday night in the city and it's business as usual for the Feelgoods. Almost 10 years of being in the spotlight but their flame still burns bright. The band hit the stage and the crowd crunches towards it. Lee Brilleaux looks splendid in two tone jacket, jeans and brogues. He just oozes style. Gypie Mayo, sporting a crew cut and Doc Martens looks all the part a bovver boy. The engine room of the Figure and Sparko could be mistaken for 2 bouncers of a strictly back street drinking den.

The band go straight into "Best in the world" quickly followed by "Who's winning", both songs culled from the excellent new "Case of the Shakes" album, an uncompromising set of songs produced by Nick Lowe. In fact the set is sprinkled with tracks from the album, "No mo do Yakomo", "Love hound", and "Drives me wild" being ones that stand out. The high point of the night is "You upset me baby", the club by this time is red hot while Gypie plays a blinding solo, Lee takes a swig from a beer bottle. Unfortunately, the beer froths up in his face, for a moment you think he may look silly. No chance, he stares at the bottle, sniffs it and then sprays it under each arm. The crowd go crazy.

It doesn't do to start analysing the Feelgoods too much. They go in the front door, do the business and leave for another town but, as I said at the top "business as usual" for the Feelgoods is somewhere way above many others.

By Ian Fawkes - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Newsletter Issue 38/Jan. 2005

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DR FEELGOOD - June 2, 1983 - Dingwalls
Sheffield/UK

The early 1980's were a barren time for rhythm and blues. New romantics, drum machines, synthesizers were in. Meanwhile the Feelgoods had first lost Gypie Mayo and The Big Figure and Sparko decided to call it a day. Lee stumbled on alone with different line-ups with differing success but as he said in his own words, "it was like a bus going down hill without a driver" and the band stopped gigging. Dr.Feelgood was at its lowest ebb.

Then out of the blue a "Tour" of six new "Dingwall's" venues are announced one at Sheffield of which I dutifully attend. The band is full of new faces, Buzz Barwell (ex-Lew Lewis) on drums, Blues guitar from Gordon Russell and bass guitar is Phil Mitchell. Lee is at the helm. We're treated to "Full Feelgood-Fayre", and in this "New-Romantic" world I can tell you what a treat it was. All the classics are here "Back In The Night", "Baby Jane", "No Mo Do" along with new ones "She's In The Middle" and Lewis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry". Lee wails The Harp, he sweats his eyes bulge and the band, although new, play in that Feelgood fashion. I realise how much I've missed them. Plenty of jeans and long hair in the audience certainly not any new-romantic's and definitely not a synthesizer. My faith in human nature is restored!

Ian Fawkes (Buxton/UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 7/April 1997

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DR FEELGOOD - October 11, 1984 - Hofbrauhaus
Leeds/UK

So the three of us were walking up to the since-defunct Hofbrauhaus and I, for one, was feeling a bit apprehensive. We had seen this line-up last year at the notorious Fforde Grene pub in Leeds and the group looked (and played) as if they had just been introduced to each other next door. I suppose the low ticket price should have alerted me that I was not to see the 'old' group, so a £2.50 price tag tonight did not bode well. There was what looked like a 12 year old kid on the door selling 'Doctor's Orders' LPs, when he should have been at home doing his homework. However, I recognised him as the 'new' guitarist so bought one if he promised to get it signed for me. Done!

On to the show and my reservations were thankfully blasted into embarrassed oblivion as the boys strolled onto the stage and tore through an opening four-pack of 'My Babe', 'Lookin' Back', 'No Mo Do Yakamo' and 'Monkey'. The transformation was startling, showing the difference a year of gigging, rehearsing and recording had made. A quick few words from Brilleaux then another quick-fire quartet of 'Ninety-nine and a half', 'My Way', 'Baby Jane' and 'You don't love me' before Lee introduced the new single 'Dangerous'. Young Mr. Russell immediately broke a string so a brief bass/drums/harmonica interlude surfaced while Gordon sorted things out. Then back to business, with a drum solo heralding in 'Living on the Highway'.

Still no let up in the tempo as they fired off 'Don't stop me talking' and 'Close but no cigar' before Lee strapped on his slide guitar for the 'Hit, Git and Split'/'Back in the Night' segue. This performance was 10 times better than last time and the packed venue was well up for it. 'Milk and Alcohol' was next and it was 40- odd minutes before Lee allowed himself a breather during the obligatory blues 'Shotgun'. A big hand for Gordon Russell was subsequently and justifiably called for before he started up the intro to one of his great Feelgood originals 'She's in the Middle'. A nod back to Wilko-era with 'Cell Block No.9', which hardly seems to sound any different whichever line-up plays it. Then 'Down at the Doctor's', complete with '16 bars' on piano… and that annoying false ending! (Sorry, lads!).'She's a Wind-up' brought things to a close, cue huge applause and chanting.

A few minutes rest, then the Brilleaux-less group came out for the familiar instrumental before Lee joined them for 'I can tell' and 'Blues had a Baby'. The crowd, fuelled by buckets of German beer, bayed for more and our men returned to sign off with 'Route 66' and 'Great Balls of Fire'. A great show, with the set featuring lots of recently-recorded stuff, seeming to indicate how confident Brilleaux was with his new men. Indeed, this line-up was, over the next few years, to reposition Dr Feelgood firmly back on top of that R&B pedestal that for so long had been their undisputed spot.

And true to his word, Gordon came out with my fully signed LP!!

John Alderdice (UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 45/Jan. 2007

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DR FEELGOOD - July 1992 - Old Frog Inn
Newcastle upon Lyne/UK

I've seen the Feelgoods probably somewhere in the region of 60 times over the years. I've seen them in theatres, universities, clubs, festivals, in fact in every kind of venue you can think of. Whatever the venue, I've never left feeling short changed. But my most favourite of venues has to be the "pub" gig where band and audience are almost as one. The "Old Frog Inn" is one of those such haunts - bar at one end and small stage at the other with no more than 12 paces between the two. The low ceiling giving it a confined atmosphere. To emphasise the intimacy of the joint, manager Chris Fenwick had pitched his merchandise stall next to the bar - one hand on Guinness and the other on the latest Feelgood release.

9pm with the support band retired the "Frog" now full of punters, starts to heighten with excitement, we move forward to be closer to the action. The Feelgoods leave the dressing room above the bar and down the stairs, the audience part, three band members first then at the back, Lee Brilleaux, black suit, towel over arm and drink in hand. The man oozes style. Straight on stage, no fuss, no mess, into "If my baby quits me"; second up "She does it right" then "You upset me baby" hardly a pause for breath. The set these days has a building quality, each song lifting the pace pulling a punch. Great slide from Steve Walwyn on "Rolling and tumblin", likewise from Lee on "Back in the night". A slow blues "Rock me baby" with even a slice of "The Lemon song" in the middle. "Mad man blues" with a bottleneck bass (I think) from bassman Dave Bronze. As ever on drums faithful Feelgood man Kevin Morris now well established, tried and tested. It's difficult to describe this Feelgood line-up but they have to be one of the tightest I've ever seen, stylish is probably the best word to use. And talking of style of course, as ever, Lee Brilleaux, lighting fags on the beat, Quality Controller, never letting a bad song slip into the set. His voice truly British R'n'B. He has to be one of the best, if not the best, we've ever produced. "Don't worry baby", "Milk & Alcohol", "Doctors", "Route 66" and all too soon it's over bar a quick encore of "Heart of the city". I realise my voice has gone. The audience part again - there is much patting of backs.

Probably not the most prestigious of gigs the band has played but one of the most memorable for me for many reasons. Great gig.

Ian Fawkes (Buxton/UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 12/July 1998

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DR FEELGOOD - Late 1992 - Leas Cliff Hall
Folkestone/UK

INCIDENT.....
The Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone, late '92. The boyz are on stage, The Man Brilleaux has just finished working up a tidy sweat and goes to introduce the next item, the leery drunk right down on the floor in front of the stage thinks he should be given more attention. Thinks Lee would benefit from a drink of his pint that's otherwise being slopped over all and sundry. Ever the gent, Brilleaux indicates "No thanks, pal, watching the weight" but that's not good enough for the Drunk, who persists, then throws the contents of beer glass at The Man. Lee just brushes down the old whistle and flute and carries on as though nothing had happened. And the band played on. Brilleaux was, of course, the coolest of all dudes ever to rock'n'roll in this sceptred isle.

When it was announced that the Feelgoods would ride again with a new singer, I must admit to having been a bit sceptical - who the hell could fill Lee's shoes? Happy to say, Pete Gage has done a great job, in his own way, and with his own distinctive voice, as well as maintaining that good old Feelgood image. First saw the new line up at Shepherds Bush Empire in '96, enjoyed the "On the Road Again" CD and had the pleasure of meeting Pete at Wembley recently - thoroughly nice geezer and another good show. Gotta go, tickets for the Saarfend show take us to the Hometown this weekend (And That's Cheap, At Half The Price...)

Paul Hugget, Hastings (P.S. not the one, Pete Frame Family Tree students (consult the Feelgood
Book), who used tobe in a band with Mr Gage. Honest, guv) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 12/July 1998

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DR FEELGOOD - November 1992 - The Wherehouse
Derby/UK

"WELCOME BACK TO THE FOLD"

Oh I'd loved the original band, and had seen them several times including an absolutely incendiary performance at the old Kings Hall in Derby in 1975, when Wilko and Lee mesmerised a tough audience and the whole band put on a fantastic show. We loved the band with Gypie as well, and many great nights were spent watching them throughout the Midlands.

Sadly, though, I lost touch rather through the eighties, and did not get to see the band again until they played the Wherehouse at the back end of 1992. Old memories stirred, and I curious to see them again and see what Lee was up to. It was a freezing coldnight in Derby, but the evening got off to a great start when Lee walked in the boozer next to the gig and we got to have a chat with him before the action. The gig itself was a revelation for me....I hadn't seen the Feelgoods for years, and they were brilliant as I fondly remembered. The Wherehouse was quite a small club, with a low ceiling but the sound was brilliant. Lee worked the stage like a man possessed, as the band built up tremendous excitement and tension in a packed venue that really got behind them, One great number followed another, particularly a volcanic "Mad Man Blues"......... oh, R&B heaven!

We walked out into a freezing night, clothes soaked in sweat but was so good to see them again. I gradually caught up on all the material I'd missed, and a year later the "Feelgood Factor" was released... perhaps the best studio album the band made. And then the awful news, and a few months later Lee was gone. God Bless him, for so long he had seemed indestructable. I was so gIad I'd seen him again after all those years, at that wonderful gig in Derby. He absoutely ignited that club and none of the old magic was gone. Now, the legend moves on, with a great band and a superb frontman... all power to Pete and the lads, and to John in Middlesbrough for keeping the faith. Here's to many more great night from undiminished spirit.

Steve Dean (Derby/UK) - Source: FEELIN' GOOD Issue 10/January 1998

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