Power pop legends Flamin' Groovies make sure the show goes on

While the Spice Girls were Zig-a-Zig-Ahhhing across the region at Sunderland's Stadium of Light, something far more historic was taking place over the water.

By Mick Burgess
Friday, 07 June, 2019, 12:00
The Flamin' Groovies gig at The Cluny was their first in Newcastle for many years. Pic: Mick Burgess.

The godfathers of power pop, the Flamin' Groovies, were in the much more intimate surroundings of The Cluny, making their first appearance in Newcastle in what seems like a lifetime.

The fact this tour went ahead is in itself something of a miracle, as lead singer Roy Loney was hospitalised after a fall in San Francisco airport on the way to the UK.

The Flamin' Groovies gig at The Cluny was their first in Newcastle for many years. Pic: Mick Burgess.

But following the tried and tested mantra of “the show must go on”, the remaining Groovies decided to continue as a four-piece, much to the relief of their rabidly enthusiastic cult following.

Shake Some Action, described by many critics as the greatest slice of power pop ever committed to vinyl, was a bold opening statement.

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Imagine the glorious melodies of The Beatles and the shimmering harmonies of the Byrds all wrapped up in gut-punching guitars turned up to 11 and you'll not be far off the mark.

Originally formed in the late '60s, their proto-punk rock 'n' roll of the Roy Loney era morphed into the power pop style of the Chris Wilson years, which went on to influence the likes of Cheap Trick, The Dictators, Blondie - and every other band that sang a pop tune with the guitars turned up super-loud.

The Flamin' Groovies are regarded as the godfathers of power pop. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Original guitarist Cyril Jordan handled the bulk of the lead vocals on the more breezy Don't Put Me On and First Plane Home, while guitarist Chris Von Sneidern took the tougher-edged, slide guitar-fuelled High Flyin' Baby, and drummer Tony Sales the rock 'n' roll romp of Have You Seen My Baby, with the wonderfully-named bassist Atom Ellis providing backing vocals throughout.

The menacing driving groove of Teenage Head and the classic Slow Death brought the show that almost didn't happen - but thank goodness it did - to a riotous end.