CONCERT REVIEW: Glam rock Slade at Christmas

Glam rock Slade at Christmas, a yearly event, at Islington Assembly Rooms, standing room and chairs available.

F**k me, never been to a rock concert before, and totally love rock. So how did that happen? Work, family, illness, feeling ashamed about my music tastes, my needs at the bottom of the pile, something like that. You’re a mum, you’ll know.

John Berry of Slade at Christmas gig posing with a group of fans

UK Glam Rock Slade from Wolverhampton still has the vavavoom, with Dave Hill shivering those timbers up front on the guitar and vocals as he has done since 1966. He started in all-over sequins and a great festive Texan. Monica was lucky enough to meet him back stage! They seemed like wholesome ordinary guys who love making music, free from the usual maelstrom of rock band excess and abuse.

John Berry (also on violin) was meeting the fans front of house before the concert started, still bean-stalk-thin, with de rigour rock mullet, now a dignified grey. Wifey was there too, still the perfect rock chic in all-over black and long hair.

The music. They can still sing and still play I’m glad to report. They have a bunch of hits that everyone knows, My Oh My, Run Runaway and Merry Xmas Everyone, which they ended on of course. Happily, the sound quality was good, I’m a bit particular about that, after a disastrous Adamant concert at the Roundhouse where I just felt assaulted. My favourite hits were almost unrecognisable.

The audience. Their fan-base is now in their 50s, mostly white and male, who huddled in the middle, hands in pockets, flexing a knee rhythmically. We were on the wing with some young ones, an exuberant exception, dancing like mad, either solo or with each other.  It’s the bass. It takes control. The Piper in Shrek?

The venue. Perfect.  An open space, just big enough to feel like an event with space to release the inner banshee, but not too big to lose the intimacy or acoustics. I can’t imagine how a rock gig in Wembley or O2 could possibly be satisfying. Concert venues with seating like the London Palladium feel insulting somehow – I DON’T NEED A CHAIR.

The band had a merch stall all glittered up for Christmas with hats, tees and limited editions. A good present for the season. Our friend Nick got tempted. He has a couple of thousand tees and goods from every gig he’s ever been to.


Next day have to admit I felt fragile. But it was worth every back twinge and knee squeak. This is all good training for the marathon: Glasto. I have a golden ticket for next year, invited by my son into his syndicate!

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