A joyous report !!
BARKING AND DAGENHAM POST
20 Mar 2014 by Mark Shales
The late 1960s and early ’70s saw a Dagenham concert hall play host to the UK’s best up-and-coming bands – some of whom went on to rewrite music history. This month marks the 40th anniversary of Queen’s performance at the Roundhouse, or Village Blue Club, in Lodge Avenue – a landmark night for many local rock fans. Labelled as the “next Led Zeppelin” by some, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon performed to a packed crowd on March 12, 1974, 18 months before the release of Bohemian Rhapsody.
The night itself was less-than-classic, the band interrupted mid-set by a power failure, but for many it offered a unique glimpse into the future of British music.
Among those in the audience that evening was former Navy engineer Keith Langridge, 65, of Geneva Gardens, Chadwell Heath. “It was a fantastic concert,” he said. “Everyone really enjoyed themselves. Even then Freddie Mercury was a great front-man, dancing around all over the place. It’s a shame it shut down as it was a real favourite venue for all types of rock and heavy metal and it’s always been missed.”
The night formed part of a 21-date tour of England and Scotland, with Liverpool-based band Nutz providing support for the duration.
Nutz played in Dagenham on numerous occasions and bass player Keith Mulholland, 65, described it a “favourite venue for all rock and heavy metal bands. It was great gig for both bands, although there were a few guitar mishaps,” he revealed. “My guitar neck broke in the van and Brian May snapped a string on stage, but luckily we both had spares. We got on really well with them back then but lost touch when they went ballistic – it was crazy how big they became “Freddie was a bit of a character but a nice guy to be around. We always had a few drinks afterwards at the hotel. They were a great band but offstage just ordinary guys. Brian was a great guy too, and such an amazing guitar player. He played what Queen wanted, but he was exceptional in his own right – on a different planet.”
A far cry from the expenses of 21st century gigs, a ticket for the night cost about £1.20, but with most acts charging just 80p at the Roundhouse some regular concert-goers were far from impressed.
“I turned up to find the entrance price had gone up to something outrageous,” recalls Gordon Robinson. On principle I stayed in the bar and listened from there all night. The music was great though, their new single Seven Seas of Rhye, was a particular highlight.”
Opening with Procession, the band played tracks from their first two albums, imaginatively named Queen and Queen II, before a cover-filled encore featuring the likes of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock and Shirley Bassey’s Hey Big Spender.
But it wasn’t just the music that brought in the punters. Retired receptionist Jill Bridge, 59, went along after seeing a picture of the “four cute looking guys” in a copy of the Ilford Recorder. “I don’t remember much of the music, but I do remember being captivated by Freddie and the drummer especially,” she said. “It was always nice to see them take on the world and think ‘I saw them back in the day’. My friend and I still talk about that night together even now.”
Paul Govan, now living in Penzance, Cornwall, was a regular at the Roundhouse and said: “The atmosphere inside was always fantastic. “I never saw any trouble there. People were there for the music and to have a good time. A crowd of us went to see Queen when they played on that memorable night. I couldn’t believe that they were actually playing at the hall as well. You could stand feet away from a band onstage who may have been on Top of The Pops the week before.”
The club ran from 1969 to 1975 with other household names like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Status Quo all performing during that time.
Ken Anstead, 60, took two huge cardboard posters back on the bus with him to Redbridge after the concert. He said: “The Village was our Mecca on a Saturday night in those days although the Queen show was an unusual one and held on a Tuesday. There was lino on the floor in the middle of the hall which, by the end of the night’s entertainment, was normally so sticky from spilt beer that you could not lift your feet from it. It was also where the freaky dancing and head-banging took place.”