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Friday, 25 March 2016

Martin Brooks celebrating 50 years of Slade

BGS old boy, Martin Brooks remembers being taken as part of a group by teacher Richard Anderson to see Slade at Dunstable Civic Hall in October 1979 and again, after the band's success at Reading Festival, at West Runton Pavilion in October 1980.

Now Martin plays the guitar with Pouk Hill Prophetz, a rock group heavily influenced by glam rock legends Slade as well as bands such as The Sweet, T Rex and UFO. The band were asked to perform as Special Guests at S50 - the Slade 50th Anniversary Convention at the Slade Rooms in Walsall on Saturday 19th March.

Here's Martin's report of the event.

"We came, we saw, we sang a song about an 'oss!"

Friday 18th March

Back from work. Load the car - 3 guitars, 2 electric and the new Yamaha electro-acoustic and keyboards. Stage gear - M'Hat, M'Coat. Let's go! Check in at the hotel then off to the pub with Evil Ed and Maria, Nomis Simon Baurley and Liz, Martin Bundy and Sian Evans, Jan Visscher and Astrid Visscher and the four German guys including Uwe Friedrich and Rudolf Schubert. Chilled pre-gig drinks and much mutual love and reminiscing between me and Nomis.

Saturday 19th March

Into town for a walkabout and breakfast with Ed and Maria. Back to the hotel by midday where I am met by my fellow Pouk Hill Prophetz mate, the one and only Nigel Hart who has come up with Geoff, who is doubling up as photographer and roadie. A motley crew assembles in the bar including the legendary David Kemp, his son Jack, De Daley and Gwen Dale and Glenn. I am introduced to Richard Cox, the journalist who was involved with the "Slade Alive!" recordings and who had already posted comments about wanting to hear our band (our reputation precedes us...got to deliver!), James Hannington and Susan Wilson and her son from Scotland and the lady who used to work at the Astra Agency. Then Mark Smith rolls up with his mate. Some top boys (and girls) are here today.

2pm-ish and we decide to start making a move to the venue. 5 minutes' walk so we (I) decide not to get a taxi. Me and Rudolf with my guitars and keyboard and Nigel and Geoff carrying the monster strobe light for Trevor West's t-shirt! Haha! Kinda cool walking through Wolverhampton with our gear.

Arrive at the Slade Rooms. Awesome. The place is already pretty full. Various old skool faces including the one and only Mr Mark Richards (what a guy!), Paul Lythe and my Canadian mate Andre St-Amand, Ken Campbell, Kenny Bell, Craigie Storey, Colin Launder, Dave Jewell, James Craig, John and Jane Sales and the promoter Andreas Andy Blodwyn. Eventually we locate our drummer, Mr West, accompanied by his own personal fan club of his wife, Denise West and his daughters Rebekah and Bethany. Everyone is telling us we are gonna be great and how much they are looking forward to hearing us play! Magic! No pressure there then! I find out that Paul Heywood is doing the sound for the afternoon, so I know we are in good hands. My old mate, the bard of Nottingham, Paul Cookson, is there and so I grab a copy of his latest book of poetry "Touched by the band of Nod" (go out and buy it, 'cos it's great!) and then decide to get a copy for my oldest girl, Louise, as well so she can read about her Dad's musical heroes!

4.00pm and we're on! One acoustic guitar, one voice, one drummer. An A minor chord and then as it changes to D minor and Nigel sings the first line of "Coz I Luv You" the place erupts! Brilliant! The crowd were totally behind us from the start and it was an absolute privilege to play for these guys! I had specifically wanted this set to have some obscure songs in for the real hard core fans, so we then launched into "Summer Song" from "Flame". Were the hard core fans there? You'd better believe it as they sang this little gem word perfect! "Far Far Away" followed before switching to keyboards for 5 songs - again a mixture of classics and obscure tunes. What better way to close the set than an acoustic version of "Cum On Feel The Noize"? Then again the crowd basically sang that for us! Thank you so much! We loved it!

(The Montreal Expos' baseball cap was a tribute to my great Canadian buddy, Daniel Bloomfield, who unfortunately, could not join us on the day.)

Pouk Hill Prophetz
outside the Slade Rooms
No rest for the wicked, and as Kenny Bell launches into a great solo set, we are required firstly outside for a photoshoot (how rock 'n' roll, does that sound?!) and then in the main hall for our soundcheck as Special Guests opening the evening for the brilliant Slade UK. Things sound great playing through the big PA. Huge respect to Andrew Gill for allowing me to use his setup and helping with the sound. Top man!

A short break in the bar area and I am required to tune Paul Cookson's Superyob ukulele (yes! really! I want one!) as he finishes his poetry readings!

...with Bethany on tambourine
7.00pm. Showtime! We are changed and ready to go, but no crowd! The doors are still closed. Eventually the audience is let in. The rockin' DJ Claire Gibbons plays "Pouk Hill" and we take the stage to a thunderous reception. This has to be good! What a privilege to be here! Now, it's time to deliver. From the very first chord the crowd were with us, willing us to succeed. That meant so much. Two songs in and then we play our first Slade song "Darling Be Home Soon" - everyone knows every word and there is a feeling of great love in the air. A bit of T Rex and then it is time for Know Who You Are (video below on timeline). Trevor's daughter, Bethany joins us as a guest and so the Prophetz' version now has *tambourine by known member of the audience, as opposed to the original credit on "Slade Alive!"

A little bit of ZZ Top and then it's time to play, in the words of Andy Blodwyn, "that song about an 'oss"! By now, our old mates, Daren Bishop and Tracey Palmer had arrived and we know that this song always brings tough guy Daren to tears! We had planned for Trevor's other daughter, Rebekah to come on stage and play Jim Lea's violin part with us. We introduced her by saying "We are passing the baton to the next generation" and the place went nuts!
Pouk Hill Prophetz with Rebekah
after her violin performance

What a star! She was note perfect and the applause at the end was immense... I am told the full length version is going to be on YouTube soon. Check it out! It is great! You can tell from the reaction of me, Nigel and Trevor how we felt and how proud Trevor was of both his daughters on the night.
Martin playing
the Superyob guitar

So, last song - we gotta close our set with something noisy and I have been given the opportunity of playing Michael's Superyob guitar. No way am I going to miss out on this! We close with "I'm A Rocker" which goes into "My Baby Left Me/ That's All Right Mama" and as we finish the reaction is amazing. We leave the stage with the crowd shouting for more! We came, we saw, we played a song about an 'oss!

Slade UK took the stage at 8.00pm for two sets of blistering rock. If you have not seen 'em - go and see 'em! They are great and Nidge Hillam is absolutely amazing! How can someone sing like this?! Unless, of course, he is called Noddy Holder!

11.00pm curfew and back to the hotel with the gear - this time loaded into a taxi. There's a load of guys going to continue the rockin' at the pub until the early hours. We decide to have a cup of tea in Nigel's room! Eat your hearts out, Saxon!

Sunday 20th March

Everyone is up and knocking about in the reception area of the hotel by 10.00am. Various people start to make their way home, but eight of us are off into town for a visit to the Willard Wigan exhibition featuring the miniature Noddy Holder in a pin! Amazing artwork.

Breakfast in what used to be Beatties and then off to Bilston to say adios to various amigos in The Trumpet. Got to be done!

What a weekend!

It was a pleasure to be invited to play at this event. This group has meant so much to me. I love their music and it has been a privilege not only to have learnt their songs over the years, but to be in a band with two guys who have the same love and passion for their music as I do! Noddy, Jim, Dave and Don (Hanne Svalgaard Lundby) - Thank you!

Peace and Love,

Martin x
Pouk Hill Prophetz
playing Slade's Coz I Luv You
Pouk Hill Prophetz with Rebekah on violin,
playing Slade's Dapple Rose

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