Friday 28th May 1999
Plinston Hall, Letchworth - the world's first Garden City|
Today is a very special day. The fact of the matter is - it's true! Welsh
rock power trio Budgie will make their first live UK appearance for some 11
years here tonight! Can you really believe it?
Its mid-afternoon and I'm standing in the centre of Plinston Hall amid scenes
of frenetic activity! The stage, resplendent with its backline of Marshall
amplifiers, is being prepared for this special event. Towards the back of the
hall, an impromptu sound desk has been created. We're talking serious push
button controls, rapid-fire light displays and excessively complicated
looking gadgets. There are cables everywhere.
Ray Cordell, lead singer of local rock band Pulse, is orchestrating
preparations. Believe me, he is the Budge incarnate! Without doubt, their
biggest fan not only in the Garden City but the entire county of
Hertfordshire. He is also the reason we are all here now, standing in a
circle discussing the latest antics of Mark and Lard on BBC Radio One's Mark
Radcliffe Show. (Production staff on the show, led by the incomparable Mr Rob
Fawcett, have led a relentless crusade to promote tonight's gig over the air
waves in the weeks leading up to the gig).
Carole from the Box Office dashes into the Dressing Room where we are putting
the final touches to our VIP visitor space - the Budge dressing room.
'They're here!' she announces. We walk into the main hall and its John
Thomas! 'We've come here from Birmingham' reports JT 'I spoke to Paul (Cox)
about 11.30am. They were just leaving Cardiff'.
John is clearly fired up for tonight's show. In last few weeks, travelling
back and forward to rehearsals in Cardiff hasn't exactly been easy. However,
the return of Steve Williams has been an incredibly uplifting thing as far as
JT is concerned. 'It's like he never left!'
One of the guy's who has arrived with John doesn't share his broad Brummie
tones. Indeed, the accent is decidedly non-European. Can this be Simon from
Oz? We have only communicated via email but I feel I have known this chap for
years. It is him!
Tonight's gig isn't just about the reunion of three great musicians! It is a
'just too good to be true' opportunity for friends and acquaintances to
combine renewed face-to-face contact and revisit and reaffirm the importance
of the sound of the Budge! Members of Sabre Dance, the band's official
supporters club, have travelled the length and breadth of the country to be
here tonight. There are people from Holland and Belgium. Local fans are here
too, not least my own party of eight classmates from '75 (Willian School's
own merry band of bandoliers!)
Local support bands Jenius and Cooper are on good form and receive geniune
applause from the assembled Budge reception committee. The latter, with their
mix of Welleresque compositions, take the opportunity to shine.
People are arriving all the time. Here's another man with whom only digital
communication has been made, a man from my own neck of the woods! UK Budge
websupremo Axel Thomas is here from the posh end of Manchester. Looking cool
in his 'collectors item' white Budge T-shirt, he is busy collecting team
photos, pressing the shutter for another suite of digital delights.
Its after 9pm and time for Burke, Steve and JT to take the stage! They
walk-on and go straight into the first grinding power chord. Yes, folks
they're here! Live and unleashed at last. Loud and direct in Letchworth!
JT's Les Paul guitar exudes the most mellifluous feedback before he breaks
into the opening riff of 'Crime Against The World'. Oh my god! Clearly, we
are in for it! Steve Williams breaks across the kit to take up the attack.
Cue Burke as he, himself, and his bass step up into verse one. Its singalong
night as the crowd joins him right from the first chorus!
The crowd is estatic! They can't believe it. 'Don't Cry', 'She Used Me Up'
and 'Truth Drug' follow in quick succession. For us older fans, there's 'In
For The Kill' which incorporates a cunning medley of early classics. Plinston
rocks! It's all estatically riff-based rock but it still cuts it and sounds
like it was written hours not decades ago.
The penultimate cut is 'Napoleon Bonapart' played with expert precision and
pace followed by 'Wildfire'. There is absolutely no way these boys are going
to get away without coming back for at least one number. Which number? We
can't guess! We can't let you go without hearing 'Breadfan'. The Budge duly
It is the climax of the most fantastic gig we have seen in the Garden City
for years (oh yeah and by the way we've seen more than our fair share of big
names over the years - Stones, Zep, Hawkwind ...). How on earth can we
possibly top the Budge?
Paul Cox and the Budge have asked to stay on to relax and meet some of their
die hard fans before retiring for the night. We're on our way up to
Plinston's Garden Gallery on the first floor. The bar is open and the place
is buzzing. Everyone is delighted with the gig and the fact that it actually
happened. All of us on the organisation / reception committee are over the
moon! We simply can't believe it! This is truly a night to remember! One we
shall never forget!
Alan Howard, Plinston Hall PR & Marketing Manager 21st July 1999
KERRANG REVIEW OF LETCHWORTH
Plinston Hall, Letchworth
Friday, May 28
RADIO 1 listeners will have heard Mark and Lard hyping this gig.
They were taking the piss, of course, but Budgie were not
complaining. It's been a long time since anyone talked about the
eccentric Welsh power trio in the UK, despite the fact that
Metallica and Soundgarden - two of the most important rock bands
of the '90's - have both recorded Budgie songs.
Budgie are billed as ''70's RockLegends' tonight - and it's true.
Budgie might look a right state these days, but anyone who's heard
Metallica cranking out 'Breadfan' will know just how good Budgie
songs can be.
Tonight's set-list is drawn mostly from the early '80's, when this
very incarnation of the band headlined the Reading Festival. 'Crime
Against The World' and 'Forearm Smash' are classic examples of the
trio's nononsense riff-power, while 'I Turned To Stone' is rather
more cultured and melodic. However, it's the super-heavy '70's stuff,
topped off by Burke's squeaky vocals, that made Budgie's reputation,
and tonight they obligingly play 'Breadfan' and other old faves
like 'In For The Kill' and 'Napoleon Bona Parts 1 & 2'.
At the end, the die-hards seem pleased with it all, but the young
lad in the Machine Head shirt just seems bemused. Hardly surprising.
PAUL ELLIOTT, KERRANG 26th June 1999
Many Thanks to Paul Strange for supplying this article!
Many thanks to Alan Howard, Ray Cordell, Nic Cooper & Axel Thomas
for pictures, scans etc.