1979 January to March

1st January – continuing – THE TWO RONNIES

28th January – CLOSED

29th January – ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS

One night only – ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS – an English pop/rock musician, singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, author, television presenter, and occasional actor. He began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement that emerged in the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album My Aim Is True was released in 1977. Shortly after recording it, he formed the Attractions as his backing band. His second album This Year’s Model was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums from 1967 to 1987. His third album Armed Forces was released in 1979, and features his highest-charting single, “Oliver’s Army” (number 2 in the UK). His first three albums all appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

This visit to the Gaumont was part of a UK tour to promote the album “Armed Forces”.

A number from Elvis Costello and The Attractions

30th January – UFO

Live – one night only – UFO – an English rock band that was formed in London in 1968. They became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British heavy metal. Lead singer Phil Mogg, guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way and drummer Andy Parker formed the band in 1968. Originally taking the name Hocus Pocus, the group changed their name in October 1969 to UFO, in honour of the London club where they were spotted by Noel Moore, who signed them to Beacon Records label, which was headed by Antiguan-born Milton Samuel. Their eponymously titled first album debuted in 1970 and was a typical example of early hard rock including a heavy version of the Eddie Cochran classic “C’mon Everybody”. Both their first album UFO 1 and second album UFO 2: Flying were not successful, but the song “Boogie For George,” from the first album, reached No. 30 in German singles chart as well as “Prince Kajuku” from Flying, which reached No. 26. At this point, UFO got little interest in Britain and America. Part of UFO’s early work was strongly influenced by space rock (their second album, including a 26-minute title track and a 19-minute-long opus “Star Storm”, was subtitled One Hour Space Rock) that was modestly popular at the time, but the band soon realised the style was somewhat limited. In January 1972, Mick Bolton left the group and UFO set out to find a guitarist who could provide the band with a more standard rock sound.

The band recruited Michael Schenker from the Scorpions in June 1973. Schenker was only 18 at the time but was already a well-respected guitarist. On a new label, Chrysalis Records, the revamped UFO recorded a non-LP single in 1973, “Give Her The Gun” and “Sweet Little Thing” with producer Derek Lawrence. In 1974, under producer Leo Lyons (formerly of Ten Years After), UFO recorded Phenomenon, which highlighted the band’s harder-edged guitar sound. Phenomenon contains many fan favorites such as “Doctor Doctor” (later a minor hit single as a live track) and “Rock Bottom” (which was extended live to provide a showcase for Schenker). By the time of the Phenomenon tour, ex-Skid Row guitarist Paul “Tonka” Chapman joined the group, but he left in January 1975 to form Lone Star. In July 1976, the band recruited keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond from Savoy Brown to make 1977’s Lights Out. This album was the pinnacle of UFO’s studio career containing songs such as “Too Hot to Handle,” “Lights Out,” and the seven-minute opus “Love to Love.” With Lights Out, the band received substantial critical acclaim. With their new-found success, the band went back into the studio to record Obsession in 1978. Later that year, the band went on tour in the USA and recorded a live album, Strangers In The Night, which was released in January 1979. Strangers was a critical and commercial success, and would reach number 8 in the UK Albums Chart in February 1979. However, in November 1978, Schenker left the band. He made a brief return to the Scorpions before going on to form his own Michael Schenker Group. UFO rehired Paul Chapman on guitar and he completed the line up for this appearance at the Gaumont.

UFO performing in 1979

31st January – PIRANHA

On the screen – for ten days – (not 1st Feb) – PIRANHA – is a 1978 American horror comedy film directed and co-edited by Joe Dante, and starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele and Dick Miller. The film tells the story of a river being infested by lethal, genetically altered piranha fish, threatening the lives of the local inhabitants and the visitors to a nearby summer resort. Produced by Roger Corman, Piranha was one of a series of low-budget B movies inspired by the film Jaws, which had been a major success for Universal Studios and director Steven Spielberg. Initially, Universal Studios had considered obtaining an injunction to prevent Piranha being released, particularly as they had released Jaws 2 the same summer, but the lawsuit was cancelled after Spielberg himself gave the film a positive comment in advance.

The original trailer

Making up this double bill was CARRIE a 1976 American supernatural horror film directed by Brian De Palma from a screenplay written by Lawrence D. Cohen, adapted from Stephen King’s 1974 epistolary novel of the same name. The film stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a 16-year-old diffident teenager who is consistently mocked and bullied at school. Her peers are unaware that she possesses telekinetic powers. The film also featured Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, P. J. Soles, Betty Buckley, and John Travolta in supporting roles.

1st February – NAZARETH

Live – one night only – NAZARETH – a Scottish hard rock band formed in 1968 that had several hits in the United Kingdom, as well as in several other West European countries in the early 1970s. They established an international audience with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog, which featured their hits “Hair of the Dog” and a cover of the ballad “Love Hurts” which was released as a single in the UK and in the US, where it went platinum. The track became the band’s only US Top Ten hit and was also a top 10 hit in nine other countries, reaching number 1 in six of them. The song was on the Norwegian chart for 60 weeks. By the time of this concert the band had added another guitarist, Zal Cleminson, to their line-up of Dan McCafferty. Manny Charlton, Pete Agnew and Darrell Sweet.

A live number from the band

11th February – ONE HUNDRED & ONE DALMATIANS

On the screen – for five days (not 12th or 14th Feb) – ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wolfgang Reitherman, it was Disney’s 17th animated feature film. The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil (“deVille”), who wants to use their fur to make into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, set out to save their children from Cruella, in the process rescuing 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total of Dalmatians to 101.

View the trailer

Making up the double bill was BLACKBEARD’S GHOST a 1968 American fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions, starring Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette and directed by Robert Stevenson. It is based upon the 1965 novel of the same name by Ben Stahl and was shot at the Walt Disney Studios.

12th February – CHRIS DE BURGH

on the stage – one night only – CHRIS DE BURGH – a British-Irish singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. He was born in Venado Tuerto, Argentina, to a British diplomat, and an Irish secretary. He took his mother’s name, “de Burgh”, when he began performing. His father had substantial farming interests, and Chris spent much of his early years in Malta, Nigeria and Zaire, as he, his mother and brother accompanied Colonel Davison on his diplomatic and engineering work. The Davisons finally settled in Bargy Castle, County Wexford, Ireland, which was somewhat dilapidated at the time. It was a twelfth-century castle which Eric de Burgh bought in the 1960s. He converted it into a hotel, and the young Chris sang for the guests there.

Chris de Burgh signed his first contract with A&M Records in 1974, and supported Supertramp on their Crime of the Century tour, building himself a small fan base. His début album, Far Beyond These Castle Walls, was a folk-tinged stab at fantasy in the tradition of the Moody Blues. It failed to chart upon its release in late 1974. A few months later, he released a single called “Turning Round” from the album, released outside the UK and Ireland as “Flying”. It failed to make an impression in the UK, but it stayed on top of the Brazilian charts for 17 weeks. This became a familiar pattern for the singer/songwriter, as every one of his 1970s albums failed to chart in the UK or US while they racked up big sales in continental European and South American countries. In 1975 his second album, Spanish Train and Other Stories, was released. Whilst (again) not a huge commercial success, the album and tour expanded the fan base, with de Burgh starting to attract a cult following. Along with the epic title track, other fan favourite tracks from the album included “Patricia The Stripper” and “A Spaceman Came Travelling” (the latter released the following year as a single). 1977’s third album, At the End of a Perfect Day, whilst well received and featuring both former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks and later Fairport drummer Gerry Conway, failed to push de Burgh’s career significantly, leading to the release of his fourth album Crusader in 1979. Crusader took a more electric direction, including guitar contributions from Ian Bairnson (formerly of Pilot), bass player David Paton (also of Pilot), and drummer Stuart Elliott (formerly of both Cockney Rebel and of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel), all of whom were also working, at the time, with Kate Bush. The album also featured Sky keyboard player Francis Monkman and Mike Moran. Whilst it attracted a significant number of new fans, Crusader still failed to break through in the UK and US.

A performance from around the time of this concert

Support at this concert was provided by CATHERINE HOWE an English singer-songwriter. She went on to be an Ivor Novello Award winner who has earned critical acclaim in dozens of music magazines both in the UK and the US, including Folk Album of the Year from The Sunday Times.

14th February – JOHANN STRAUSS GALA

Live – one night only – JOHANN STRAUSS GALA – The JOHANN STRAUSS GALA recreated the spirit of the Strauss music, its charm and humour, enhanced by the Johann Strauss Dancers, who bring something of the colour and elegance of Strauss’s own era. The musical director and leader of the orchestra was Jack Rosenthein who had been with the company since 1976. Soprano Gillian Humphreys was a principal with D’Oyly Carte Opera and joined the company for this 1979 tour.

An excerpt from a 1979 Joahnn Strauss concert

18th February – CLOSED

19th February – MY FAIR LADY

On the stage – for six days – MY FAIR LADY – Southern Theatre Productions presented their 1979 production of MY FAIR LADY, some seven years since SMS had given the show its amateur debut at the theatre.

25th February – THE FURY

On the screen – for six days (not 28th Feb) – THE FURY – a 1978 American science fiction horror-thriller film, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Amy Irving, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, and Andrew Stevens. The screenplay by John Farris was based on his 1976 novel of the same name. The film was produced by Frank Yablans and released by 20th Century Fox. The music, composed and conducted by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, was highly praised by critic Pauline Kael, who called it “as elegant and delicately varied a score as any horror film has ever had”.

Peter Sandza is a secret government agent whose son has extraordinary psychic gifts, which make the young man the target of a kidnapping plot hatched by Peter’s duplicitous colleague, Ben Childress. Peter spends eleven months in a desperate search for his son, while cleverly evading Childress, who wants him dead. In that time, Childress and team have done their best to harness the psychic teenager’s powers; but giving him luxuries, and even an elegant doctor as a mistress, have only turned him into a mercurial egomaniac with a violent temper. Meanwhile, another teenager with psychic gifts takes part in a two-week study at a psi research center, where she comes to the attention Peter’s lover, who also acts as his mole. Childress learns of this young woman, too, and is eager to take control of a second extraordinary talent.

The American trailer

There was a full supporting programme.

28th February – MARY O’HARA

Live – one night only – MARY O’HARA – an Irish soprano and harpist from County Sligo. She gained attention on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her recordings of that period influenced a generation of Irish female singers who credit O’Hara with influencing their style, among them Carmel Quinn, Mary Black, and Moya Brennan.

She was introduced to American poet Richard Selig by Irish poet Thomas Kinsella who she married Selig and moved twith o the United States. Selig died of Hodgkin’s disease 15 months after their marriage. O’Hara continued to tour and record for four years. In 1962, she became a Benedictine nun at Stanbrook Abbey in England, where she stayed for 12 years. Her wedding band was melted down and made into a ring to celebrate her profession of solemn vows as a member of the Benedictine Order in 1967. O’Hara’s initial rise to a high profile was repeated in 1974 when she left the monastery for the sake of her health, found that her musical reputation had grown during her time in the cloister, and returned to performing. In a matter of months, she became one of the biggest international recording stars to come out of Ireland. This was her second visit to the Gaumont.

Performing one of her songs

6th March – BILL NELSON’S RED NOSE

On the stage – for one day – Yorkshire born Bill Nelson formed Red Noise after dissolving Be-Bop Deluxe, while metamorphosing from blues, progressive and glam rock to more new wave and electronic sounds following the last Be-Bop Deluxe album Drastic Plastic, released early 1978. EMI’s Harvest Records subsidiary, to whom Be-Bop had been contracted, insisted on his name being added – hence Bill Nelson’s Red Noise.

Red Noise released only one album, Sound-on-Sound, plus two singles, “Furniture Music” and “Revolt into Style”, in February and April 1979. After that, Bill Nelson continued as a solo artist. An interview with Bill Nelson in 1979 hints that several of the songs in Sound-on-Sound were written during his Be-Bop Deluxe days. However, Nelson also makes clear that he regarded Red Noise as an escape from Be-Bop Deluxe rather than its continuation. As part of a short tour in 1979 to promote the album, Red Noise performed at the Southampton Gaumont where they included an exclusive set from a BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock Show session of 17 February 1979 which has never been released.

Today at 70, Bill is considered to be one of music’s most underrated guitarists and In 2016, 46 years after recording his debut album, Nelson released a sequel entitled New Northern Dream.

Featured on The Friday Rock Show 17 Feb 1979

10th March – WRESTLING SPECTACULAR

Live – one night only – Wrestling Spectacular – an occasional sporting moment in the life of the Southampton Gaumont. Promotions were managed by Dale Martin who represented in the U.K. an organisation called Joint Promotions, effectively a cartel based on America’s National Wrestling Alliance territory system that was designed to carve up control of the business among a handful of promoters. Dale Martin promotion, involved Les Martin, and Jack, Johnny and Billy Dale, whose real last names were, in fact, Abby not Dale. By the time of this bout in 1979, the stranglehold of Joint Promotions had almost crumbled, with many of its founding members retiring and the company being bought out several times, leading to the wrestling industry being run as a private subsidiary of state-run bookmakers William Hill PLC whose staff had little experience of the unique business. This evening’s event featured the World Lightweight Championship and Belt. It proved a popular attraction at the theatre and for a while it competed successfully with other venues, Guildhall and Royal Pier Pavilion, more used to staging these events, but the costs of staging bouts in the theatre were higher than the alternatives.

11th March – THE LEGACY

On the screen – for FOUR days – (Not showing 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th March) – The Legacy – a 1978 British-American horror film directed by Richard Marquand and starring Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott, and The Who’s Roger Daltrey about a couple who are summoned to a British mansion where they stumble upon its family’s curse. This was a rerun of a September 1978 Universal release.

The trailer for The Legacy

As part of a double bill – it was accompanied by The Informers a 1963 British crime film produced and distributed by The Rank Organisation and directed by Ken Annakin.

13th March – BAD COMPANY

Live – one night only – Bad Company – rock band formed in 1973 by two former Free band members—singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke— as well as Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell. Peter Grant, who managed the rock band Led Zeppelin, also managed Bad Company. Their first three albums, Bad Company (1974), Straight Shooter (1975), and Run With the Pack (1976), reached the top five in the album charts in both the UK and US.[2][3] Many of their singles, such as “Bad Company”, “Can’t Get Enough”, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, “Ready for Love”, “Shooting Star”, and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” remain staples of classic rock radio.

By 1979, the band had grown increasingly disenchanted with playing large stadiums, hence after sell out dates at Wembley Arena they played smaller venues such as the Gaumont. Added to this addition, Peter Grant lost interest in management after Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died and in the words of Simon Kirke, “Peter was definitely the glue which held us all together and in his absence, we came apart”.

Here’s a number from Bad Company in 1979

16th March – LITTLE & LARGE

Live – for two nights – LITTLE AND LARGE – a British comedy double act comprising straight man Syd Little (Born Cyril Mead in 1942) and comic Eddie Large (born Edward McGinnis in Glasgow in 1941). They formed their partnership in 1962, originally appearing as singers in local pubs around north-west England. After deciding to concentrate on comedy, Little and Large’s big break came in 1971 when they appeared on ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks. They won the programme’s vote (though viewer votes were subsequently alleged to have been disregarded in favour of rigged results), which turned them into household names virtually overnight. Their partnership came to an end when Eddie Large was told that he needed a heart transplant.

This two night performance was the only time that the comedy duo brought their act to the Gaumont.

An excerpt from a Little & Large Show

20th March – OKLAHOMA!

On the stage – for 5 days – OKLAHOMA! – Southampton Musical Society returned to the Gaumont with their revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s golden classic. The show opened on the Tuesday and this was the third production of this musical that they staged at the Gaumont following its 1954 professional debut at the theatre with the original Drury Lane production.

Act1 recreated from the original production – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syM0JtapQ4Q

27th March – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA

On the stage – for five days – Welsh National Opera paid their sixth visit to the theatre with a separate programme for each of the five days. The five operas were probably amongst the most popular in their repertoire. Opening the week was Il Trovatore on the Tuesday with The Magic Flute on Wednesday and The Turn Of The Screw on Thursday. Friday they performed Turandot and on the Saturday, Madame Butterfly.

A permanent professional orchestra, called the Welsh Philharmonia, was founded in the early seventies and gave concerts as well as serving the Opera’s needs. As the opera company required more and more of the time of the Welsh Philharmonia it changed its name to the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera just days before this appearance in 1979.

Listen to this recording of Rita Hunter performing in this WNO performance of Turandot
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