1973

February 1973

The band undertook a lengthy British tour, the final one by Mk 2, but the only track off their new album was Mary Long. Roger Glover was producing the support band Nazareth at the time.

February 27 • Newcastle City Hall • Support Nazareth

Deep Purple Newcastle 1973 ticket

 

February 28. 1973 • Liverpool Stadium • support Nazareth

Liverpool Empire ban.jpg

In 1973 Deep Purple found themselves banned from Liverpool Empire Theatre. What had they done wrong? Nothing!  But the manager decided they could not appear “because of the nature of their act”.  I’m not sure what he’d been told but protests from the booking agency were in vain. Tour promoter at the time Pete Bowyer felt it was part of a wider attempt to ban rock music, as the Liverpool Philharmonic had also stopped taking rock bookings. “This gives a very depressing view of Liverpool, a city which has previously contributed so much to the music scene,” he wrote in a press release at the time.
Undaunted Bowyer turned instead to Liverpool Boxing Stadium and was thus able to reschedule the cancelled date from the 18th to here on the 28th. Other concert promoters had already done the same and for a few years Liverpool Stadium hosted quite a few rock bands. By all accounts it was not an ideal gig. The stadium was built in 1932 as a boxing venue, with seating on all four sides and a ring in the middle. For concerts they simply added extra staging to the side of the ring. There was no curtaining, but they only sold tickets for half the venue assuming most people would sit at the front (capacity was around 2,000). The venue was not great acoustically due to a thin tin roof, which you can see in the photo (below) of the place set up for a boxing match, but was in an industrial area so any excess noise didn’t upset too many people.

Liverpool Stadium.jpg

Remarkably the stadium was owned by Best Enterprises, and the owner’s son was the Pete Best of Beatles fame. But there had only been a handful of one-off music events held here until 1970 when the Stadium began to diversify and start hosting regular rock shows for bands who could fill the larger venue.

The support for this tour was Nazareth, who were being produced by Roger Glover at this time. It looks as if the original support band were to be Maldoon, the Purple Records outfit, and their name is still on the ticket for one of the concerts.
DTB reader Mark Chatterton was in the audience at Liverpool for his first rock show. He first got into Deep Purple in 1971 at the age of 13 when a friend lent him a copy of In Rock. As there was no set seating at the venue, fans would queue for hours to get the best seats. Mark remembers outside many kids drinking cheap cider as they waited, throwing the bottles to smash against the wall of Liverpool Exchange station which was next to the Stadium.
Once he got inside, Mark had a great view of the stage as the seating was tiered and he was only 20 feet away from the front.
He was impressed by Nazareth but when the announcement came at 9:20pm that Deep Purple were coming on Mark recalls the whole place went ballistic. The set list was basically the same as Made In Japan but did include Mary Long off the newly released Who Do You Think We Are album. Mark had only heard the band through records before, one thing he noticed seeing Purple play live was how little Ritchie seemed to play, as most of the rhythm sections in the songs were played by Jon Lord. As he was only 15 and there were no late trains running that night, Mark had to leave before the end of the set, so he missed Ritchie smashing his Strat (although he has seen Ritchie many times since, so has seen him smash a Strat or two over the years!)
David Crilly was also at the Deep Purple show: “I think it was the first gig at the Stadium I was allowed to go to on my own. I was 13 and had gone with my older brother before that. It was one of the first gigs I’d been to which used ‘new money’. I’d gone to see Black Sabbath about 18 months earlier and the tickets were 12 shillings. I seem to remember the Deep Purple tickets were just over a pound – which was scandalous!! We always went very early in the morning as it was unreserved seating – I was in the second row. Nazareth were the support band (nobody knew them at that stage) and I remember the stencil on Pete Agnew’s (bassist) bass cab, which read “No news is Agnew’s”.”
Alan Loughran also got a ticket: “Deep Purple started with Highway Star… but we knew they would! Made in Japan was already out and this was essentially the same tour, which had been going on for over a year. The highlight of the show (which was utterly brilliant throughout) was a section of Space Truckin’ – the bit where the Strat gets wrecked – which was lit only by a strobe light which gave a ‘stuttering’ visual effect and Blackmore looked like he was moving in slow motion. Only Charlie Chaplin has used that visual effect more profitably!”
Music paper Sounds did file a report which was 50/50 for and against, their reviewer Jerry Gilbert reckoning some of Deep Purple’s show, particularly Blackmore, was “clinical, almost cabaret” but then confusingly said he was not knocking it, and that the show was “sensational”. It was a bit unusual for Sounds to send someone all this way when the band had a London show on the list, but useful for us. The full review is below.
With hindsight of course we know that this line-up was on borrowed time, and you can understand how this affected the musicians. Simon saw the show in Sheffield on the same tour and recalls being very impressed but feeling something was not right with the chemistry compared to previous shows.
Local historians confirm that the Stadium generated a real buzz on gig days due to the ‘first in best seat’ policy, leading to crowds building up for open doors. As for the ticket price, Deep Purple did often charge a bit more than other groups but then they could command it. As you can see from the advert below, it was totally sold out. The average ticket price on this tour was £1.25p but many venues offered cheaper tickets for the less prime seats. So for example at the Free Trade Hall the best seats were £1.25p but you could sit further back in the stalls for 75p. And in London prices were higher all round. Some tickets still carried the pre-decimal currency prices as well in case anyone was still confused! (£1.25 = 25/-)

deep-deep-purple-1973-british-tour-advert.jpg

But while the Stadium shows had atmosphere, the venue was poorly maintained and very run-down by this time, having had little done to it since it was built. Many of the rock shows were promoted by Roger Eagle, a local North West legend thanks to his pioneering blues concerts in Manchester in the early Sixties, particularly early all-nighters at the Twisted Wheel club there which developed into the Northern Soul scene. Roger later went on to found Liverpool’s famous New Wave club Erics in 1977 and without his input, the Stadium stopped hosting rock shows. By this time it was in need of serious investment but the returns on boxing alone were not there. It shut in 1985 and was pulled down in 1987, nobody thought to keep the great Art Deco entrance.
The Deep Purple concert would turn out to be Mk 2’s final British gig, as they had to cancel the show in Cardiff to get over to Italy. The Empire ban lasted a couple more year so Liverpool missed out on the 1974 tour, but Deep Purple were allowed back in the Empire for the Mk 4 tour in 1976 (the management having done an about turn) which turned out to be the band’s last show. Ritchie of course was famously banned for life after a Rainbow show at The Empire in 1977.

Liverpool-Stadium-review-1973.jpg
As for reminders of the show, apparently there was a very strict no camera policy at the venue, so not many photographs of any rock shows there have survived, and we have none of Deep Purple. Likewise a ticket has yet to surface, and the whereabouts of Blackmore’s guitar, which is though to be still in the city somewhere, has yet to be confirmed. Simon recalls hearing from a fan who took some silent 8mm clips at the show somehow, but this was many years ago and was unable to get copies. Maybe it is also still around.
Thanks to Stephen Clare, Alan Loughran, David Crilly, Mark Catterton, Mark Maddock. Needless to say get in touch if you can add any more to the story. And Pete Bowyer, if you’re out there, do get in touch! I had your phone number but mislaid it.

There is a good history on the Stadium building by Richard Lewis online

http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/archive/issues/misc/articles/liverpool_stadium.php

The building has it’s own website but I cannot get this to open on my machine, you may have more luck! The Facebook site is still active:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StadiumDaze/?ref=share

http://www.liverpoolstadium-rockyears.com/

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3 Responses to “1973”

  1. Craig Mcintosh Says:

    Great article. However the Exchange Station was not next door it was down the street so it would have been the old granary wall the bottles hit, however Roger Eagle did not like this behaviour and gave my mate a brush and shovel to clear the mess after he dropped a bottle, rather than throwing it, he also threatened to ban him from the Stadium.
    My website “Rock Years ” won’t open as it has since been moved to a blog site which can be found simply by searching on Google.

  2. Joerg Planer Says:

    Some newspaper stuff with announcements for the Empire Show and the change to the Stadium….

    • simon robinson Says:

      Sorry Joerg, didn’t spot this link until it had expired (got a lot on my plate at present). Do send me it to my personal email address so I will see it next time, and I can go and look. Thanks. Simon

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