1985: As usual, this page, as with a great part of the rest of the site, would not have been possible without the help of ex-BOC roadie, Sam Judd, and it's his notes which inform many of the facts contained herein...
Have you got anything to contribute to this page? Reviews, missing info, ticket stubs, posters etc etc - if so, let me .
January 8th of 1985, Rick had a phone call from the band, asking him how he would feel if he were not playing on the next record, but he'd still be playing the live shows. After a short but silent pause, Rick said, "I'll Quit." They asked him to think it over, and held a meeting about a week later, on January 15th. His decision stood firm, though, and he left Blue Oyster Cult.
Source: Morning Final
Some of gigs in this short run were designated "BOC" and some "SWU", so what I'll do initially is to label them as "Soft White Underbelly" until I know differently...
Redding was definitely the first one in the run of gigs with Albert... remember programing rented synths all day... even though they were the same ones I had rented in Dec 84 for the Cali section of that swing...
Allen Lanier also did those shows alright but departed immediately afterward...
The Bolle list has only four of those shows listed (it's actually spelled Redding... it was the same hall as the track from Live in the West) and I remember there definitely was one in Salinas CA (with Montrose opening) and I believe one in Reno NV and San Jose...
That was such a terrible time that I believe my mind has blocked it out... I can remember some of the shows, but can't place them to a city or club... that Fresno show was in the same old theatre we played in in 75 but in a smaller upstairs room... not in the main hall... and it definitely was not the first show of the tour...
I vividly remember the first show where Albert went into the Disco version of Astronomy in the middle of the song and farted around for a good 30 minutes doing his Zilla "solo"... the whole time Bloom is over to the side screaming at me: "WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING!!... WHO THE HELL DOES HE THINK HE IS??... THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE!!!"
I ended up telling him that I wasn't the one who hired him... bad vibes the whole week... somehow Albert had gotten into his head that he was back in the band on a permanent basis...
Redding California Setlist:
The first of the Last Shows the original BOC ever played together!!!
I attended the SWU show in 1985 in Redding, California when Albert arrived to fill in for the short Calif. stint after Downey quit. As an "add on" roadie at a previous Sacramento show, the roadies let me watch from backstage. Albert just showed up. Nobody was talking to him, so he talked to me. He said he'd just flew in, went to Supercuts for a haircut, and a jog, and was excited to be playing again.
He put a Walkman under his kit to record himself. Afterwards, he invited me back to his Holiday Inn room to listen and chat.
He also gave me his short explanation of his firing and autographed an acetate single of his latest Helen Wheels project.
Great memories documented.
Since there are records showing a March 19, 1986 gig in Santa Cruz, and Renegade opened for B.O.C in Santa Monica right after, it seems that the 3/19/1986 show is the one that had opening bands STRANGER and RENEGADE.
I was there and got a hat and t-shirt of those bands, as well as worked the show as crew). And it was a Nelson Productions show as well.
This means that there was no Feb. 1985 show at Santa Cruz Civic Aud.
I was at the Feb. 5, 1985 show at the El Rancho Tropicana in Santa Rosa, California. Although not currently noted on your website, this was a SOFT WHITE UNDERBELLY gig, and Albert Bouchard played drums.
Incidentally, the El Rancho Tropicana is a hotel, and the gig was played in a multipurpose meeting room on the hotel grounds.
I was there at this concert, with a boat load of other sailors from the USS Enterprise CVN-65.
Many years later, my kids each took turns wearing my Soft White Underbelly tee shirt. SWU/BOC rocked that place!
Ray Cunningham, USN retired.
I found a preview for this gig in the 1 Feb 1985 edition of the "The Press Democrat":
It's Underbelly Again at El Ranchoby George Hower
Blue Oyster Cult, the rock'n'roll cabal which started out known as Soft White Underbelly, stops in Santa Rosa on Tuesday at El Rancho Tropicana Convention Center - but the group has resurrected its old name, Soft White Underbelly and is touring under that name, Southern California Columbia recording company officials confirmed this week.
Billed as Soft White Underbelly, the band, plus a special guest, will perform at 8 p.m.
Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $12 in advance and $14 on the door. Tickets are available at El Rancho Tropicana's Gift Shop, Rainbow Records, Record Factory and BASS and Ticketron outlets.
Discographers will note that, as Blue Oyster Cult, the five-musician group now has 10 albums out. "Fire of Unknown Origin" was the latest.
The latest recorded adventure takes its name from the poem-lyric which is the first song on the record.
"Fire of Unknown Origin" was produced on Blue Oyster Cult's ancestral Long Island soil by Martin Birch. Birch's credits include the previous album, "Cultosaurus Erectus". He has worked also with Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath is managed by Sandy Pearlman, who also guided Blue Oyster Cult's career for 10 years.
Pearlman produced Blue Oyster Cult's first seven albums and is a frequent song contributor. He has again taken up with his pen to explore such phenomena as black holes and the origins of time and space in "Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver."
Columbia record company publicists say the group - call them Blue Oyster Cult or Soft White Underbelly as you wish - rose up in the late 1960s as its own answer to the era's success rock."
An even dustier name that discographers will find associated with the Blue Oyster Cult is "Stalk-Forrest Group."
Interestingly, the group has changed names but not performers, Columbia publicity department people said.
The band still is comprised of Eric Bloom on vocals and guitar, Albert Bouchard on drums and vocals, brother Joe Bouchard on bass, vocals; Allen Lanier on keyboard, guitar, vocals; and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser on lead guitar and vocals.
So, "the group has changed names but not performers", eh...? This is weirdly both true and bollocks, all at the same time...
I found a listing for this gig in the 6 Feb 1985 edition of the "Reno Gazette-Journal":
GRAND BALLROOM - Soft White Underbelly, otherwise known as Blue Oyster Cult, will perform at 9 p.m. today at 50 E. Grove St. Tickets at the door are $14, and persons must be 21 or older to be admitted. Details, 827-4888.
Yes, this was a Soft White Underbelly show. I had tickets to this show, but ended up having to work, so I gave the tickets to my friends.
I remember this show so well because KOZZ, the local rock station at the time, was playing this super cheesy radio spot for this show. They tried to make this spot sound all mysterious, and every time they'd say Soft White Underbelly, Don't Fear The Reaper would massively crescendo in the background. They played this spot so much, it really fucking irritated me.
I realize they gotta sell tickets, but for those of us who understood who Soft White Underbelly was, this was hopefully gonna be a nice, intimate show that wasn't packed to the gills. That cheesy ass radio spot was driving me fucking crazy too. Seems like they played that spot after every fucking song.
After a couple of days of hearing that, I wanted to go to the station and smash that tape so I wouldn't have to hear it anymore. I can still hear that spot in its entirety, my blood is starting to boil just thinking about it! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Fuck you, KOZZ! 30+ years of trying to burn your awful sounds from my mind with many sorts of and different chemicals/naturals and you're still plaguing me with that fucking horrible advert for Soft White Underbelly! Good thing I don't remember the DJ's name that did that did that spot, I might have to hunt him down and make him suffer as I am right now, that evil commercial playing in the Swiss cheese spaces of my mind. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wish I could have gone though. My friends said it was fuckin awesome.
I'm stuck with the bad radio playing in this head of mine. Totally unfair.
Kids, if you're reading this, never ever miss a show because of work. There's always another job out there to be had. You might miss out on something historic, or at least unbelievably cool. Don't risk it. Fuck work, go to the show.
This was one of the most hellish venues I've ever tried to do a show in... and I've toured both Italy and Spain !!!
It was cold, dark and damp... there was a BIG waterfall all the way across the back of the stage... fuckers even turned it on during the show after assuring us it would stay dry... got all our road cases soaking wet before it got cut off...
The stage was about 10 ft high and VERY small... no stagehands... show didn't start till almost midnight... everything about it just sucked....
I hope the ground opened up and swallowed it before another band ever had to come in there...
Another lucky BOC show for me. This show took place at the Waters Club in San Pedro, CA., a venue I would play myself with different bands a couple of years later. Pretty big club at the time.
I would get an unexpected suprise at this show. I expected to see the line-up with Rick Downey on drums as I did 3 months earlier at the Country Club show. The house lights went down and here comes the announcement... "from New York City... BLUE OYSTER CULT!! The lights come on and there they are, my heroes. But, who is that on drums??? It's not Rick... could it be???? OH MY GOD; IT'S ALBERT BOUCHARD!! I couldn't believe my fucking eyes!
The original BOC, REUNITED and yes it felt so good. I almost passed out with excitement. This was something I thought I would never see after 1981. They sounded KICK ASS with Albert, by the way. With all due respect to Rick Downey, Albert's feel on drums just cannot be duplicated, period. It was great to have you back Al, even if it was only temporary.
Opened with "R.U. Ready To Rock". Albert played those drum fills great, as if he'd never left the band. "Stairway To The Stars" followed and it sounded like the BOC of old as we've always loved them were back. "Buck's Boogie" was next and I'll never forget what happened after they played that song.
Buck was ripping it up on guitar, as usual, and when they finished the song Buck turned his head toward Albert nodding up and down as if to say "great job, man". And Al did do a great job. I will never forget that! "E.T.I. " was next and Eric was in good form that night. Allen too. I wouldn't have believed he would leave the band about a week later. Next, they played those 2 songs by Bob Halligan, Jr. "Make Rock Not War" and "Beat "Em Up".
I have no doubt that Albert probably hated these songs, but he played them pretty good, nevertheless. "Take Me Away" was just killer. It was ironic that Albert didn't record that song, but he played it better than Rick!! The killer set rocked on with "Unknown Tounge" and "Joan Crawford", sort of a mini-tribute to Al Bouchard & David Roter. "Hot Rails To Hell" was good, and I'm sure Joe felt good having his older brother backing him up again. "Godzilla" featured Albert's killer drum solo and a declaration that AL IS BACK!!! Electronic toms and all. No Godzilla head, however. I guess they wanted him on a short leash for this tour. "The Reaper" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" were the encore songs and it was 7th heaven. What a glorious show, man!
It's a shame this reunion didn't last long. I guess the old differences came back to haunt them and Al was out again. Shame, really. You would never have thought that after seeing this show.
They really looked and sounded like the original BOC; because IT WAS! They looked like they were having a blast on stage. This was one of the most satisfying BOC shows I ever attended, and I feel so LUCKY. This is the Blue Oyster Cult I prefer to remember. All the other line-ups just don't match up, period. BRING BACK AL & JOE...
It's funny that Sam Judd stated there were no stagehands for the San Pedro, CA show. WE (3 of us) were the hired stagehands who had to drive our own car, following the band from gig to gig.
We had to do the complete set-up, tear-down, lights, side-stage, and anything else put before us.
By the way - the opening band for this gig was Vanilla Fudge.
Years later when I was playing with Mike Watt on his solo album, Ball Hog and Tugboat, He told me that he saw BOC in Pedro in '85 with some disco drummer with a light-up bow tie (given to me by Helen Wheels).
I said, "That was me." and he said, "No it wasn't." Of course, he was right. I wasn't me.
I wasn't allowed to sing or talk onstage so I changed all my parts into disco beats. What the heck! I wouldn't sign any autographs because I felt I wasn't really there.
I'd do it different if I could do it over.
Despite Philip's comment above that the Fudge opened this gig, all the contemporaneous listings and adverts in the LA Weekly on the day of the gig say otherwise, eg:
Thurs Feb 7 - The shellfish-like blues sounds of those non-Reaper-fearing Cultists, The Soft White Underbelly, plus BMK, who feature Tim Bogart, Chet McKracken and Paul Kingery.
If the "Tim Bogart" mentioned above was actually "Tim Bogert", then maybe that was the Fudge connection...? I have to add, though, that I've never heard of Tim Bogert ever being in a band called "BMK"...
The opening band for this gig was Billy Satellite.
Febuary 8, 1985 at Modesto Junior College. Blue Oyster Cult with opening band Billy Satellite.
BOC was the shit! Great live show and I've seen 'em many times since. Think this was the first big concert I ever saw in Modesto.
They opened up with 'Are You Ready To Rock' and proceeded to blow the roof off the place.
Note the intesting fact that on Albert Bouchard's hand-written setlist above (kindly supplied by Bolle Gregmar), he puts the tenth song down as "Race from Mercury" - indicating a very limited acquaintance with that particular song...
This was 2 shows, as Soft White Underbelly, with no opening band, I think...
I went to both shows that night! My ticket stubs say "special guest" but I have no idea who they were, or if there even was one! Kinda foggy back in those days!
I see the setlist for the 2nd show; I'm sure the setlist for the 1st show was almost identical, give or take maybe 2 songs. Wish I could find out what it was.
This is the most in-depth page I could find regarding this particular show (2/9/85) so I appreciate everyone who came up with the info that they did!
The opening band for Visalia Convention Center was May West.
Although this show was reported to have been a Soft White Underbelly gig, the Pollstar data above designated the band as "Blue Oyster Cult" so in the absence of any other evidence, I'm going with that for now...
The opening bands were Billy Satellite / May West with Ronnie Montrose.
This was the final date of the "Albert Returns" dates, if I'm not mistaken...
Although all these shows were reported to have been Soft White Underbelly gigs, the ticket stub above identifies the band as "Blue Oyster Cult" so in the absence of any other printed evidence, I've stuck with that...
Although I previously thought March had largely been taken up with BOC auditioning and rehearsing for new keyboardists and drummers, it seems there may have been at least one gig planned for that month...
I believe it was March 12 or 13 - they were supposed to play in D.C. at the Bayou, except it snowed, thundersnowed. It would have been my first show. The snow really came down hard and on the radio the DJ said that Joe had been stuck in Norfolk, Va and couldn't make it up, so they canceled it.
BOC had been my favorite band since BFY in '81 so of course I was psyched that:
I already had tickets for 2 (went with a friend) and it took well over a month to get a refund -- I had to go into D.C. with a letter from my dad, a government lawyer at the time.
Anyway, we were driving down Annandale Road to get into D.C. when my mom said she wasn't sure the show would go on, so we put the radio on and the DJ said the show had been canceled. The Joe part could be false, but that's what he said.
I believe it was March 12 or 13 because it was a weekday and I just recall it being during the first half of March. For years afterwards, I would bemoan it as: "it never snows that hard in March in D.C.".
I found a listing for this gig in the Sunday 14 April 1985 edition of the "Detroit Free Press" which helpfully left potential audiences in no doubt as to who was really playing:
Soft White Underbelly, known as Blue Oyster Cult, 9 p.m., Harpo's. 823-6400 anytime.
I found a listing for this gig in the Thursday 18 April 1985 (p14) edition of the "Ohio State Lantern":
Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St, 291-8829. Soft White Underbelly. 8 p.m.
Apr-21-85 Newport Music Hall, Columbus Ohio as Soft White Underbelly. The club was near the Ohio State University campus. I remember the flyers around campus with a picture of BOC and the header: Soft White Underbelly (but you may know them by another name...) I had already purchased my tickets as i was familiar with their history and immediately recognised the name.
A real treat to see them in a small club. I knew immediately that SWU was really BOC. They brought back Last Days of May for this one.
I remember being a little disapointed they didnt play Shooting Shark, which i still think is one of their stronger songs (and certainly the strongest off of Revolution by Night.
I was at this show. The show was actually delayed an hour because of electrical problems - I think they had a problem finding enough power in that old building for all of the equipment.
Don't remember the exact set list, but they opened with R.U. Ready 2 Rock, did Beat 'em Up, Joan Crawford, Astronomy, Buck's Boogie, (Don't Fear) The Reaper,and Burnin' For You. If I remember correctly, Burnin' For You was actually and encore.
I'm pretty sure they did Hot Rails to Hell, Cities on Flame, and Take Me Away, too.
They also did Godzilla; I caught a drum stick in the chest during the conclusion of the solo, which I still have.
I was at the Six Flags show in St. Louis. This was the first time I had seen BOC, who was one of my favorites, and I was bummed out that I had to see them there.
I was also bummed out that my car was wrecked on the frontage road leading in to Six Flags, however, it was still drivable and I wasn't about to miss the show.
I'm sorry I don't remember much about the set list. What I do remember is that, when they were ready to play "Godzilla", Eric went into his rap similar to that on "Extra Terrestrial Live" and said, "Oh no, it's Godzilla!!!!"... only, nothing happened. Everyone kind of looked at each other and he said it again, exactly the same way. Still nothing. Finally, after a third time, the Godzilla sound effects could be heard and the band started into the song.
Despite the concert being at The Old Glory Amphitheater (which isn't the best of venues for concerts), the band put on a great show.
Buck and Eric attended the recording of the Dio charity single "Stars" to raise money for famine relief in Africa. Recorded at A&M Records Studio, Hollywood, California, the single was done in the style of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and USA for Africa's "We Are the World", it featured a whole host of stars from the rock world - each contributing a line or short solo which was subsequently mixed together into one coherent song.
Here's a video clip:
I was one of the last guitarists to solo on that cut. After listening to everyone else ripping and shredding and blithering, I made a conscious decision to just play like myself. It worked well to wrap up the section, I was happy with how it came out.
You have a missing gig - BOC played two sets on the same night at the North Pole Rollerrink, North Pole near Fairbanks, Alaska on June 2, 1985.
It was a really long time ago so I haven't got much memory of the gig. I was on a college field trip that took me to Alaska so you can imagine the surprise to find BOC were coming to town. A colleague and I hitched the short distance from the University of Fairbanks where we were staying on campus to the town called North Pole.
Not a big crowd, maybe 200-300 people and very standard set (Roadhouse Blues? Born To Be Wild?, I think, but these don't seem to match with the other sets during the same summer) - this was really the period when the Cult seemed to go through the motions and those two songs + Godzilla/Guitars took about 25-35 minutes of the set.
Being Summer in Alaska, the sun never set, so the second gig finished with full daylight outside. I saw BOC a few months later in the Hammersmith Odeon which was a really good show but somehow without the energy they had in the earlier years, and not matching the high level performances in the 90's and more recently, where the old songs dominate the set-list.
I only know of this gig as a result of the following mention in the Sunday 23 June 1985 edition of the "Logansport Pharos-Tribune" [Logansport IN]:
52 Are Arrested At Rock Concert
Fort Wayne, Ind. (UPI) - Police arrested 52 persons on drug, alcohol and smoking charges at a rock concert Monday night, but followed new guidelines and did not arbitrarily search anyone without cause.
The arrests brought a protest from a promoter who vowed never to stage a rock concert in Fort Wayne again.
"I'll tell you something." Ron Stern of Jam Productions told the Allen County Memorial Coliseum audience over the public address system. "I'm never coming back here and you shouldn't either."
Only about 1,200 persons attended the concert by Blue Oyster Cult rock group and police made arrests before and during the performance.
Police said they arrested 10 persons on drug charges, 17 on alcohol charges and 15 for smoking inside the coliseum arena. Some of the drug and alcohol arrests were made in a parking lot as fans arrived.
Officials said 25 adults and 12 juveniles were arrested on the drug and liquor charges.
Another 50 persons were asked to leave for smoking. Police said the 15 arrested were given a choice of leaving or being arrested.
The arrests came after the city and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union reached an agreement Monday afternoon by which persons attending rock music concerts at the coliseum no longer will be subject to arbitrary searches.
I attended this show with three friends and we witnessed another great boc show.
It was another strong set by the guys. These guys amaze me - I've never seen a bad BOC concert.
There was another band that opened called Block Yard and they were awful.
Saw this show... My seats were on the floor maybe 20 rows back... I remember loving that I was able to see BOC on a smaller stage, but there was no real stage show of any kind, and I noticed new band members that I wasn't familiar with. The show was the lightest attended I'd seen there, maybe about 300-400 people in a theater that held about 2200. I have no memory of the opening band, unfortunately.
I had previously seen Blue Oyster Cult live at the Providence Civic Center in 1981, Worcester Centrum in 1982, and saw them twice in 1984...
The first couple BOC shows were the most amazing rock concerts I'd ever seen... In '84 I saw them at the Centrum again, with a much smaller audience and no real stage set other than lights.
Then again at Rocky Point in Warwick, RI... I could see the writing on the wall, this band has downsized big time. It would be a long time before I see them again (Aug 2000 Poconos PA)...
The Leroy Tht. was an old place that had been closed for about 6 years, it had just started a re-birth as a concert venue, and I'm pretty sure I made it to all the shows at the recently re-opened theater, in 1985.
Other concerts that year were: JOAN JETT, X, R.E.M., & GEORGE THOROGOOD... I know a few years later they had major electrical flaws with the stage power and stopped shows forever by 1989... It's since been torn down.
Find out more about the Leroy on the Rhode Island Rocks website:
In 1985 I saw BOC at Kingston Fairgrounds, Kingston, N.H., with The Outlaws and Molly Hatchet
I was at this show.
There was a fourth band, I can't remember what they were called, but it was made up of a few guys from the band Boston.
The show was heavy, lots of brawls in the parking lot and the fairgrounds. I was working staff for the promoter, can't remember his name either. I was sixteen at the time.
The Staff shirt looked just like the Security shirt and this made me a target with some seriously scary biker dudes. I learn quick and dumped the shirt in favor of keeping my head on my body.
I was at this show. The opening band was simply called the "Jam Band" and definitely had Barry Goodreau and Fran Sheehan from the band Boston, maybe even the drummer Sib.
That's all I've got, I was 14 years old at the time.
I was at this show. The band lineup as follows:
I remember I went to the show to see BOC, Mountain and Molly Hatchet. I remember the guitar player for Molly Hatchet, Dave Hubek getting pissed off at his guitar tech for some reason... but the music sounded fine to me... that was a damn good show.
It was very hot and I stood all day with nothing to drink or eat but a single snow cone. That was my first BOC show and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
That's what I remember.
I found a review of this gig in the Friday 5 July 1985 edition of the "Journal-News":
At Manhattan, a fine band by whatever name
by Eric Shepard
It was confusing for the uninitiated.
Advertised as Blue Oyster Cult, announced as Soft White Underbelly and delayed for a patience-stretching hour, a well-known band did perform at Manhattan in Spring Valley last Friday night. Whatever the name, no one in the audience mistook the group for any other than that famous for the likes of "Don't Fear the Reaper," "Debbie Denise" or its successful blend of various hard rock strategies.
With at least two of the original forces behind the band still active - guitarist Buck Dharma and lead singer/guitarist Eric Bloom - Cult fans got what they had come for, in general and particular: a polished combination of heavy metal, hard rock and spacey pop plus a dose of the band's well-known songs.
Blue Oyster Cult built a reputation from its 1972 debut as a critics' band into a career of over a dozen albums and popular success. Adjectives applied to he group ranged from, "sinister" and "maniac metalism" to "musical hard rock," "technocratic psychedelic" and even "closet intellectuals." The band was seen as somehow among, but not really of its heavy metal following. The question is, if they are/were all these different things, and then some, are/were they anything at all?
Such matters did not seem to concern the wildly enthusiastic audience at Manhattan last Friday. It enjoyed everything the band put forth: the crunch chords and fast-fingered solos courtesy of Dharma, the anthemic "R.U. Ready to Rock," the weird excursion of "Then Came the Last Days of May" from the band's first record and a more middle of the road rocker called "Spy in the House" from their forthcoming (13th?, 15th?) album. Even the Dharma-Bloom vocal harmonies that softened the edge of several tunes went over well.
Bloom seemed more dispassionate than most rock'n'roll frontmen, exhortations of "on your feet or on your knees" notwithstanding. Dharma was similarly more measured than his guitar competition, using more pacing than flash to whip up the guitar fans in the audience. With keyboard washes and pounding bass and drums, all the pieces fit and fit tightly. Through a combination of professionalism, attitude and energy, the band managed to avoid simple niche on the one hand and bland lack of direction on the other. And the audience was with them every step of the way.
Hellion, a more single-minded heavy metal/hard rock crew opened with a combination of unfamiliar rockers (originals?) and old rock standards including "Mississippi Queen" and "All Day and All of the Night." They warmed up, but did not prepare, the full house for the long wait before the feature act. Manhattan reportedly turned away hundreds from the show, as it has from previous shows.
For the sake of the folks who shelled out $13, they might have turned away a few more. Taking a cue from too many rock clubs, Manhattan packed the room to the point of discomfort and left it that way without a band for too long. Keeping in mind the difficult economics of big names in small venues, there has to be a better balance.
A guy on Facebook says he was there and Savoy Brown were the support that night. However, this seems unlikely.
Savoy Brown were/are a major touring act - would they agree to play an unadvertised support slot for an "undercover" Soft White Underbelly club gig in Brooklyn...?
There wouldn't be enough money to pay their fee on top of that of BOC's...
Also - why aren't Savoy Brown mentioned on the ticket...?
Anyone got any info on this, please get in touch...
I was there. I taped it. No Savoy Brown...
I was looking at your site and I have another show for your giglopaedia!
Back then I used to keep my concert ticket stubs in a book in running order. I wish I'd kept up on this, but I quit by about 1988.
I knew I'd seen BOC as Soft White Underbelly back in the 80's. Unfortunately they didn't do tickets for this show. You just paid at the door.
I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and put it in my book where a ticket stub would go.
Blue Oyster Cult as Soft White Underbelly
Lost Horizon, Syracuse New York
How's that rhyme go? "Thirty days hath September, April, June and November..."
Well, with that in mind, obviously this gig couldn't have taken place on 31st of June - anyone got any more info?
I went back and checked out my book and sure enough it says the impossible date of June 31, 1985.
I'm quite sure it happened but obviously I got the date wrong.
Honestly it was over the summer and I was on break from high school so I have no recollection of what day of the week it may have happened on.
I know you're trying to be correct :(
Oh well, thanks for looking again, anyway - either it was July 31 and you just wrote June by mistake, or else you knew the previous day had been the 30th June, so you just assumed that the day of the gig was the 31st June without remembering the 30-day thing and it SHOULD really have been the 1st of July...?
Or maybe it really WAS on the 31st June - a Brigadoon-like extra magical day, granted only to you and your fellow concert attendees...? :-)
If anybody has any info on this show, please let me know...
The opening band in Syracuse in June of 1985 was the Romeos; a Syracuse based band made up of local members. Lou Anthony - bass and vocals; Chris Jackowski - rhythm guitar and vocals; John Centrone - Lead Guitar and some keyboards; Bill Barry - keyboards and vocals; Joe Simao - drums; and Joe Pozzi - lead vocals.
The Romeos played a mix of original and cover songs. Anthony, Pozzi and Centrone were the most active in song writing.
Having the opportunity to open for SWU was nothing short of amazing. The venue was at the Lost Horizon and attendance was unbelievable. The place was absolutely packed, with barely room for people to move.
While it was incredible to play before such a crowd, the truly remarkable experience was to see SWU perform and to view them stage side. SWU's performance was outstanding and flawless. Their live performance of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" brought chills to my spine. Truly one of the best songs of the late seventies! BOC had a huge impact on of all of us in the band, and opening for SWU was a highlight in our little known, but fondly remembered, musical careers.
Thanks to SWU for giving us a memory we will never forget.
OK, thanks to the above newspaper clipping, I now have a date of 30 June for this show.
I was on leave from the Navy during that week back in 1985. In fact, I had just driven up from Jacksonville, FL to Columbia, MD to see 2 Grateful Dead shows on their 20th Anniversary tour before heading home up to MA.
In a U-Haul truck no less, helping a fellow sailor move back home after being discharged. The things you did when you were 21 years old!
I can say that I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that BOC was playing at the Casino during my time home. And they were going by the old name of "Soft White Underbelly" made it just that much sweeter.
I was set to fly back to Florida two days after this show.
I can't recall any of the set list with any certainty or really anything from the show itself.
But I do remember that it was super hot inside the show and one nice thing about the Club Casino is that it is right beside the ocean. You cool down very quickly with the cool breeze coming off the water!
There is nothing like walking the beach after seeing a great show there. And I have seen many at that venue over the years!
This gig was confirmed by a series of box ads that appeared in "The Times Leader" [Wilkes-Barre PA] in July and during the lead-up to the gig they grew increasingly less cryptic...
They started off saying that the Soft White Underbelly would appear at the venue on 11 July. Maybe lower ticket sales than expected led to them dropping hints as to who the SWU really was, saying "you'll be Blue if you miss it", and that they were a "Cult" band...Then finally, perhaps in desperation they went with:
Blue Oyster Cult
Soft White Underbelly
See them in Concert
Thurs 11 July
Other newspapers were similarly "helpful" - here's the Friday 05 July 1985 edition of the "Citizens' Voice":
Cult at the Station
In the newspaper ads they're being billed as Soft White Underbelly, but in reality they're Blue Oyster Cult.
But whatever they're going by these days, the band will be in concert Thursday, July 11, at The Station.
Buck Dharma, lead vocalist and lead guitarist for Blue Oyster Cult, will handle the same duties with Soft White Underbelly.
On the day of the actual gig, Scranton's "Times-Tribune" reported this:
At the Station, it figures to be a game of hide-and-go-seek, as an ensemble that's billing itself as the Soft White Underbelly takes center stage.
However,it won't take any fan of heavy metal long to recognize the fact the the unit is, in fact, the legendary Blue Oyster Cult, the Long Island-based aggregation that has developed a, er... strong cult following since its formation in 1967.
Representatives of the Station have started that the group has long used the Soft White Underbelly name in performances in smaller clubs. And, in fact, that was the name under which it played at Serge's Cabaret on East Mountain a number of years back, before BOC had become a household word.
Long a critical success, the group didn't enjoy broad popularity until it hit with the album "Agents of Fortune," which featured the smash single "Don't Fear the Reaper" in 1976.
I should just mention that I've never come across any SWU gigs at Serge's Cabaret in my researches - only SFG, but when they played there (between July and November 1971), it was simply called "Cabaret" as it had changed owners the previous year...
BTW: check out the entry for the October SWU gig at West Hartford which includes information on the concert rider requirements for these 1985 SWU gigs, and specifically this under "Additional Clauses":
"Under no circumstances is this act to be billed as BLUE OYSTER CULT".
Here's the setlist:
During 1985, I saw the lads perform as Soft White Underbelly in Norfolk, VA at the Boat House.
This show was the Friday before Live Aid (which of course was Saturday). I decided that seeing BOC as SWU was more historic that nonsense in Philadelphia. Great show with no regrets. I have the ticket stub too!
This gig was confirmed in the Friday 12 July 1985 edition of the "Daily Press" [Newport News VA]:
Soft White Underbelly. Concert (formerly Blue Oyster Cult), Boathouse, Bessie's Place, Norfolk, 9 tonight. Tickets $10.50; available at Ticketron outlets. Call 622-2925.
I found a listing for the Wolfgang's gigs in the Friday 19 July 1985 edition of the "The Sacramento Bee":
Wolfgang's - 901 Columbus Ave., San Francisco. Tonight: Freaky Executives/Polkacide, 9 p.m., $6/$7; Saturday: Dance Dance with DJ Bonnie Simmons, 9 p.m., $5; Sunday-Monday: Soft White Underbelly, 8 p.m., $15; Thursday: Suzanne Vega, 8 p.m., $8/$9. (415) 441-4333.
First of all, love your site. I've been coming for years for setlists and other great BOC info.
However, in perusing it today to attempt to ascertain the correct release date for Club Ninja, I was scrolling through 1985 and saw that you have no setlist for the July 21 Soft White Underbelly show at Wolfgang's in San Francisco.
So here's the setlist, and I guarantee you it's 100% correct, as I was 16 and this was my very first BOC (SWU) show.
Having been a big fan for a bit more than a year, I was so excited, totally sober (not usually the case for the 30 or so subsequent shows I've seen over the years since ;), right on the rail in front of Eric, who was wearing a "Boogie Hotel" t-shirt.
I remember making eye contact with Buck a few times, which I interpreted as being totally cosmic when in fact he probably wondered who the freak was, staring wide-eyed while singing loudly along with every single song. (Well, aside from the previously unreleased songs in the setlist).
So, without further ado:
I found a listing for this gig in the Friday 19 July 1985 edition of the "The Sacramento Bee":
Oasis Ballroom: - 2000 I St. Tonight-Saturday: Ian Shelter; Sunday: White Raven: Monday: Leo Swift; Tuesday: Soft White Underbelly and Northrup; Wednesday: Battle of the Bands; Thursday: Beach Party. 447-5711.
I originally had this listed as a "problematical" gig for the simple reason that I initially came across two different Florida papers listed two different BOC gigs for Tuesday 3rd Sept 1985.
The first one was from "The Palm Beach Post" on 30 Aug 1985:
Soft White Underbelly Tuesday at Button South, call for details...
I did some research, and Button South, Hallandale Beach FL hosted some fairly big acts around 1985, so it was a realistic venue for BOC to be playing at that time.
The other report was from the "Fort Lauderdale News", also dated 30 Aug 1985:
Believe it or not, there are other concerts scheduled for the next few weeks. Soft White Underbelly is scheduled to play Tuesday at Summers on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Show time is 11 p.m. Tickets are $11. Fans familiar with Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" will realize this band actually has another more prominent name.
Summers was also a kosher venue that BOC have subsequently played a number of times since then.
So that left me scratching my head over which one was actually correct, and for a while I listed both venues under this date.
But then I came across several 30 Aug 1985 editions of The Miami Herald which listed upcoming schedules for both of these venues for the coming week:
Summer's: Johnny Van Zant, 9 p.m. Sunday, tickets $7 ($8 at door) (BASS*); Soft White Underbelly, Tuesday, tickets $10 at door (BASS*); Gandolf, tonight-Sunday; bands 9 p.m.- 2 a.m. nightly, until 3 a.m. Saturday; cover varies; doors open at 7 p.m.; 219 S Atlantic Blvd.
Button South: Viktim and Gypsy Queen, tonight and Saturday; Gypsy Queen and Pete Harris. Sunday; Gandolf and Viktim, Monday; Gandolf and Slyder Tuesday through Sept 7; shows 9:30 p.m. - 5 a.m. nightly; cover varies; doors open at 8; 100 Ansin Blvd., Hallandale; 454-4880.
This Rosetta Stone-style revelation was useful not just because it answered the question as to which venue hosted the SWU gig in question on 30 Aug 1985, but because it also helped answer a secondary question which arose from that initial "Palm Beach Post" listing:
If we accept that SWU did play Summer's on the Tuesday, then could the Palm Beach Post's mention of them playing Hallandale be a simple dating error...? Could SWU have played there also...? Maybe on the day before or the day after, for example...?
Well, thanks to The Miami Herald, we now know that Gandolf played there the whole week, (on Monday with Viktim, and with Slyder for the rest of the week)...
A longer term prospective schedule for the Button South also appeared in the 30 Aug 1985 edition of the "Fort Lauderdale News":
The Button South in Hallandale has booked the following groups: Weird Al Yankovic on Sept 15; John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band on Sept 22; Lone Justice on Oct. 13 and Robin Trower on Oct. 17.
So... no SWU in sight, either in the short term, nor in the slightly longer term... but see this entry, which tends to suggest that SWU did in fact play The Button South at some point...
Saw BOC in '85 (billed as Soft White Underbelly) at the Channel, a very cool (now gone) rock club in Boston. It was only a few months before both Club Ninja came out, and Joe Bouchard left the band.
Got to hear 2 CN tunes (Rock Not War, Dancin' in the Ruins) and the fabled "Wings of Mercury", plus when they did "Joan Crawford", Joe sang the first verse (although he seemed to have trouble with the lyrics).
Also, between songs, Eric said, "Hey, how 'bout the Red Sox and the Mets in the World Series next year?" Sure enough, those 2 teams played in the '86 World Series.
Here's the 1985 setlist at the Channel in Boston:
B L U E O Y S T E R C U L T
October 17, 1985
Note: Not sure about the exact ordering of some of the songs in the middle of the set:
Oct 18, 1985; J.B.'s Theater; Albany, NY is not in the listing. Kix opened.
JB's Theater? The stub above says "PJ's"...
Can anyone help?
Yes, the ticket says "PJ'S" for some reason. Mine is the same.
There was a club in Albany, New York called J.B. Scott's. It was in downtown Albany and I saw many shows there. The place burned down one night and that was that until the owners opened another large club several miles up the same street some time in 1985 and called it J.B.'s Theater. The Saturday 26 July 1986 post here has a few more details...
I went to this gig during my senior year in high school and actually wrote a review of it for my high school paper (South Colonie Central), the one thing I ever wrote for the school paper!
To clarify what the others wrote about this gig: Kix did open, I thought they were awful. The venue was called "JB's Theater", as you have listed. "PJ's" must be a typo on the ticket. JB's Theater was a short-lived venue which was open in 1985-86 in Albany, opened by the same folks who ran a legendary Albany nightclub, JB Scott's, that burned down in 1982 or 1983 I think.
Anyway, JB's Theater hosted a few good shows during its short history, including Stevie Ray Vaughn, Saxon (in 2/86), and in 10/85, Blue Oyster Cult, playing as Soft White Underbelly. Before opening as a theater it had been a roller-skating rink, I think. It closed sometime before Summer '86.
Anyway, the show: they had really cool SWU tees for sale with a dinosaur impaled by a BOC symbol, one of my friends bought one and wore it for years, I always regretted not getting one at the show. The gig was great - it was really cool seeing them on a smaller stage, as I'd previously only seen them at the (much larger) Palace Theater in Albany. Little did I know that in later years I'd be seeing them on a lot of smaller stages, but in '85 it seemed like a novelty!
I previously only knew of this gig as a result of the following listing in the 17 Oct 1985 edition of the "Hartford Courant":
Agora Ballroom - 165 Dexter Ave., West Hartford (246-2602).
Tonight, Joined Forces, Run 21;
Fri, Avalanche, Mad House;
Sat, Soft White Underbelly, Kix;
Mon, Fountainhead, Tirebiter;
Wed, X, The Del Fuegos.
Cover charge: varies, No dress code.
However, in January 2019, a copy of the contract/rider for this gig went up on ebay and as well as confirming the gig, had a couple of interesting features.
First, it acknowledged that the promoter for the gig was "Northeast Concerts/Keith Beccia" and revealed that BOC were to be paid $5,000 "PLUS 75% of the gross box office receipts, after taxes, over $16,362.00" (expenses attached).
The capacity was given as 1,800, and the ticket prices cited were "$9.50 Advance/$11.00 Day of Show", giving a "GROSS POTENTIAL: $17,100.00/$19,800".Later on in the contract, under "Percentage Payments", it says that "The Promoter shall present to the tour manager a notarised and signed ticket manifest listing the number of tickets printed at each price."
The names of the musicians were listed - however, the list included "Alan Lanier", which was wrong on two levels... the list also gave their local Union numbers - they were all "802" apart from Joe, who was "132". Dunno why - maybe Joe was living much further away than the rest of the band, and so came under a different Union...?
I did notice the following, under "Additional Clauses": "Under no circumstances is this act to be billed as BLUE OYSTER CULT". Checkout the SWU gig at the Station in Wilkes Barre for an indication as to how tightly-policed that stipulation might be...
The cost breakdown sheet revealed that the basic costs added up to 8853, then on top of that there was $500 for the support (not named, but was in fact Kix), $5000 to BOC. That came to $14353. Then for some reason that was multiplied by 0.14 (amounting to an extra $2009.42) which gave a final total cost of $16,362.
One nasty bit said:
"In the event of the promoter, his representatives, contractors, audience, etc, reproducing or causing to be reproduced Soft White Underbelly's performance in the form of film, videotape, audiotape, or any other means of audio or visual reproduction, the Promoter shall pay Soft White Underbelly the sum of $50,000 as liquidated damages in addition to all other legal remedies to which Soft White Underbelly may have recourse."
So the next time a bouncer jumps on you for recording a gig, it mightn't be because they're just being Nazis about it, it could well be that the band you're trying to record has a similar clause in their contract...
I was at this gig at L'Amour in Brooklyn. I ran tape of this show on my then trusty Sony WM-D6C and ECM-909 microphone.
L'Amour was actually the bar used for the movie "Saturday Night Fever" was filmed and it was known as "Odyssey 2000" during that time period, in the movie there are scenes where Travolta and his buddies are sitting at a table. That table area was at the opposite end from the stage, I set up there for recording as I was not going to try and make my way into a Brooklyn '80's type mosh pit.
In addition, BOC/Soft White Underbelly did not come onto stage until fairly late in the evening.
They played a decent gig, I do recall leaving L'Amour and it was after 2:00 AM and cold outside. It was street parking and I was hoping that my car was not broken into. This section of Brooklyn was not "crime free".
Here are some pics I took at this show:
Here's a tidbit for ya... the pictures for the Club Ninja UK tour book were shot at the gig at Hammerjacks on 10 November 1985... mostly shot in the afternoon before doors opened, then a few shot with the crowd...
I went to the restroom before the show started. There was a really big guy standing outside the restroom door. I enter the restroom and immediately noticed another really big guy standing against the wall. I proceeded to go to the available urinal.
Then it hit me. Eric Bloom was using the other urinal. My brain scrambled for something to say that would demonstrate to him that I was a veteran fan. Then I thought, the guy is "taking a piss." Leave the guy take a piss in peace. So I did. My friends have verbally abused me about this for the past 25 years. I still think I did the right thing by not hassling him in a restroom.
I was going to ask him if he still had "the whip." Remember - "The Red and the Black" from On Your Feet or On Your Knees when Bloom said "I want to thank you for the whip. I will keep it and cherish it forever."
Being an SWU show, I hoped to hear more of the older stuff. But as I recall they played a lot from Club Ninja.
Asked the sound man (George G?) after the show if I could have his stage pass as a souvenir. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. Lol.
Personally, I attended a BOC show not mentioned on your site: November 15, 1985 at Sundance in Bay Shore, New York (as Soft White Underbelly).
I've got to admit that I have only a dim recollection of the 1985 Club Ninja gig at the Queensway Hall. The hall was once the Civic Hall and changed its name in the 60's/70's.
The Queensway Hall was a fantastic venue for gigs with great acoustics. The ceiling had special mouldings to reflect the sound - the guitarist Steve Hillage once referred to the interior design of the hall as a "space age egg box" which pretty much described it to a tee. Many great bands played there like Judas Priest, Motorhead, AC/DC (with Bon Scott).
As I say, I can't recall too much of the gig. Looking at the set list for the following evening did stir my memory though. I'm fairly certain they opened with ME 262 rather than RU Ready 2 Rock. I do remember them playing Hot Rails to Hell as an encore (that was one of the few times I saw them perform my favourite BOC track).
I'm also fairly certain they didn't do Buck's Boogie either. I'm pretty sure they played all the Club Ninja tracks as per the other shows - Shadow Warrior, Perfect Water, White Flags. They also played Reaper, ETI, Cities on Flame, I thought they also played Shooting Shark but that may just be my memory failing.
I thought the whole Ninja thing which Eric had going was a little unusual but then Donald Roeser has worn the occaisional Gold Lamé jumpsuit... However, Eric had this fantastic looking black, kronos-shaped guitar - if only that came up on Ebay! No-one else in the band wore anything remotely-Ninja, as far as I can recall. (The drummer might have been wearing a bandana as well).
The only thing I recall about Jimmy Wilcox and the drummer (Zvonchek?) was how disappointing that it wasn't Allen Lanier and Albert Bouchard. Still at least they played Dunstable, hardly the centre of Rock'n'Roll.
Hi, I am Grif (Steve Griffiths), and I was BOC's engineer for this show (tour). I'd been warned about the acoustics at that gig, but was still unprepared for just how weird it really was. With the console of one side of the house, I was hearing the PA direct from that side, and then about half a second later I was hearing the PA from the other side from behind me!
Torturous night for a sound guy. Out from Tasco to start the tour was a chap by the name of Nick Blythe, known for a particularly dry sense of humour. After the gig, an unconscious person was found in one of the subbass bins. Turns out he had just got out of hospital with kidney problems, crawl into a bass bin (Why?) and got pummeled by some low end.
So Nick leans over to me while I was bitching about the hellish acoustics and said (and I quote as far as memory allows) "Cheer up Grif you did great. See - you killed a punter!"
Next gig was Sheffield. Got the console onto the table, and off comes the lid. Nick has left me a parting gift after Dunstable. On the meter bridge is taped a string of paper dolls with a cross through the first one and a note that said "keep up the good work".
Living in Luton (just down the road from Dunstable), I can clearly remember being at a BOC gig at the Queensway Hall.
It stood out in my mind as the attendance was extremely small, and the only track anybody seemed to have heard was "Don't Fear the Reaper" (the encore).
I can recall from the stage that the band announced that this was the last date of their tour and I felt sorry for them for the low turnout. Perhaps I misheard and it was the first show of the tour!
Was this the only time they played at the Queensway?
No, they also (in)famously played there on 20 August 1981, their last ever gig with Albert Bouchard before his firing...
having first heard boc in 81 when i was given the fire of unknown origin album i was hooked. so after checking out the inner sleeve of fouo which showed all the then boc albums i started my album collection. after each one i bought i could not help but be impressed by the fact that each one had a unique sound yet was still so definitely the same band.
after a couple of years the next stage was to see the band live. flicking through the pages of kerrang imagine my disbelief at seeing the band had played sheffield only days earlier, on the revolution tour. so another dissapointment and how long would i have to wait to finally see them. for a 16 year old lad it seemed an eternity.
finally the chance came. i can't quite remember how but i was going to see boc live at last. the first gig always has an air of great expectation and i must have arrived about four hours before the gig started.
the thing i remember most about this gig was that having to wait to see the guys play because of there being two support acts - it was like waiting for three years all over again.
then the moment finally arrived the sheer volume when boc came on was awesome. my ears were ringing for weeks after.
i just remember think how different the band looked from all the other lps. eric in his ninja suit and playing his kronos guitar; buck with no tash and what seemed rather straight jacket and cords; no allan; and a dodgy looking punk type (jimmy wilcox) on drums.
i know that this tour in many eyes was not one of the bands' best but it will always be a good first impression for me and i went away with a smile on my face that night.
i only saw them once more in 89 supporting imaginos thinking that these would be the only times i would see the band live. having missed last years tour, it was great to see them again at leeds irish centre recently. with thanks to lesley who made me feel part of the scene again and being so friendly and taking an interest in my home-made tshirt.
Hey... not the best BOC gig. Felt like decline was set in, and the strange Billy Idol looking drummer was not a typical Cult member.
Bucks Boogie was the highlight of the night, crowd really up for it, but the new songs left everyone cold.
Girlschool were great, basic NWOBHM, Statetrooper awful....
The actual rooms that were designated for the crew @ that Portsmouth gig were in fact toilets...
Yeah,the tall bass player in Girlschool (Gilly?) was always referred to as Miss Lemmy... she even had adapted his stage posture with mike pointing down from above and head thrown back to sing...
They used to get snot flyin drunk and warm up with rousing versions of "Never Walk Alone" and "Knees Up Mother Brown" before they went onstage...
Never a dull moment @ the big rock show eh?
I was working at Sutton Valence School, and I persuaded a bunch of teachers to travel to the gig. The driver was a great guy name Jeremy.
My main memory of that evening was an absolutely stunning version of "Veteran of the Psychic Wars". There was a very appreciative crowd. Its a venue I have never returned to, but it was a memorable night.
This was the second Club Ninja show I saw, after Portsmouth the night before. I arrived early in the afternoon and sneaked down the stairs and watched the soundcheck. They played 'Perfect Water' and a handful of older songs including ETI and Dominance.
Was a bit disappointed 'Perfect Water' was missing from the set on the night - and indeed for the whole UK Tour, but they did open with 'R U Ready 2 Rock', pushing the opener from Portsmouth 'Dominance' into 2nd song.
Remember it was a really good show and a pretty full and lively crowd. I sat front row balcony right in front of Joe's bass rig which was a fantastic way to enjoy the show...
Weird thing - Statetrooper and Girlschool were the designated other acts on this tour, but on the Hanley tickets it says "Tokyo Blade" and "Shy"...?
OK this was a long time ago - only my second ever BOC show,the first being the disastrous Monsters of Rock appearance at Donnington in 81.
I'd been living in London for just over a year, and couldn't believe my luck when I saw the show advertised. I must have been amongst the first to buy tickets - but unfortunately during my time in London I had not made the acquaintance of any other BOC fans in the capital (where were you Jack & Simon). There had been a thriving group of us at School and Poly. Was the show going to be full or were there just a handfull of fellow Cultoholics in the capital?
As you might expect I was not disapponted, a long lasting memory is that the place was absolutely heaving. I distinctly remember Girlschool performing a good set as 2nd openers, and that the crowd and band enjoyed themselves.
Then came BOC!. Two things stick in my mind about the show, Eric's black and red Ninja suit and his "Kung Fu" gestures (this was the Club Ninja tour) and secondly my overwhelming concern throughout the show that they might NOT perform Reaper (ahh memories of those days when I was "green" in terms of BOC shows).
Looking at the set list here on Ralph's site, I remember the heavy Club Ninja influence, White Flags and Dancin' in the Ruins coming immediately to mind. The highlight in my mind howerver was Veteran, a stonking version if I remember rightly through the mists of time.
And oh yeah, the other thing I remember is we all stayed seated (at least where I was) until the second verse of Reaper when we finally overcame that British reserve.
A normal afternoon in 1985 and a spotty teenager (that's me) is looking disinterestedly though the local newspaper when he sees something that makes him sit up, well slouch a little less. I can't believe it, my favourite band will be playing Ipswich just before Xmas... Hang on a sec, go back to slouching, Ipswich is 25 miles away. Not far you might think but in rural East Anglia, public transport is not exactly good and not having any money, staying in a hotel overnight isn't an option.
Never fear, big sister's here. She asks what I'm looking at and then offers to take me, in fact she's looking forward to it. She says that it'll be a good night out for her and her boyfriend. "But you don't know their stuff!" I reply a little surprised. She then starts singing bits of Stairway To The Stars, Flaming Telepaths and Career Of Evil to prove me wrong (although amusingly mistakenly singing the words "Free The People" to the tune of the last one).
Anyway it proved a point, I was always playing them and she (and the rest of my family and probably the neighbours too) knew them whether she/they liked it or not, along with all the Venom, Manowar, Rush, Witchfinder General, Celtic Frost et al that could be heard pumping from my stereo when I was at home. At the time I was living on a constant diet of heavy metal almost to the musical exclusion of everything else. That was when I wasn't messing about on my beloved Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer.
Of course my sister knew (Don't Fear) The Reaper, apparently they had played it a lot at the local disco, somewhere I stayed well clear of because mid eighties pop music was possibly even worse than today's and that's saying something (probably more down to the naff plastic production style of the times as opposed to the lack of innovation we have today).
I still recall looking in wonder at the words Blue Oyster Cult, simply printed in small type in a list of upcoming shows, in the completely foreign setting of the local paper. It seemed so incredibly strange, incongruous, almost wrong. I was used to seeing their name emblazoned on record and cassette covers but this band (pre Internet days) got so little exposure, well in Britain at least.
The only place they'd pop up would be in the occasional issue of Kerrang! back in the days when it was more of a specialist metal magazine and not so mainstream as it is these days. Tommy Vance would play them on BBC Radio One now and again on his late night Friday Rock Show and that was about it in terms of their public profile in the UK of the mid eighties. Actually I do recall a guitar magazine notifying its readers of the upcoming tour and describing them as America's finest.
Anyway, fast forward to the day of the show. We'd driven south down to Ipswich and parked the car in a little back street near the Gaumont (AKA Regent) Theatre. There seemed to be people converging on the place from all sides. Back then I used to feel a bit strange, you know in a fish out of water type way, going to somewhere big like Ipswich, it seems so funny now. The thing is I'd spent my whole life growing up in the middle of nowhere in the depths of Suffolk. I could walk out of my house, turn right and within seconds be in open fields.
Not to belabour a point here but to give an indication of my mindset, there was heathland, marshland, woodland, farmland (arable and livestock) and a beach all just a short walk away. Being somewhere with big buildings and long roads filled with lines of hundreds of houses was all very alien to me. I have absolutely no shame and more than a bit of pride in saying that I was, what some people may call, it bit of a yokel back then. A dying breed it seems sadly.
So we go into the theatre and I check out the merchandise stall in the foyer. They've got some nice looking Tour Programs so I buy one. The T-shirts can wait till after the show. I'm not going to spend the next couple of hours hanging on to them, no way. We go through and find our seats. Whoa this place is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. The place is filling up with a respectable sized crowd.
I have a look at my Tour Program. It's got a historical write up on the band that's obviously been done at the time of Cultosaurus Erectus. This is followed by a diary of events up to the present. Lots of photos including Buck in a VERY baggy white suit that managed to look both trendy and reasonably cool for the time. What no moustache! Shock!!!
It quickly becomes apparent that a large proportion of the audience here tonight is made up of Americans. I guess that was kind of an obvious likelihood really. Remember this was still in the days of the Cold War and there was a considerable American military presence in East Anglia back then. Just north of Ipswich you had the twin bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge where the USAF based several squadrons of A-10 attack aircraft, a very common sight over my house as it was on their return flightpath. In the west of Suffolk you had the USAF flying F-111 fighter-bombers from Lakenheath and they also had a large transport and refuelling aircraft base at Mildenhall where the SR-71 high speed reconnaissance aircraft operated from as well.
I think it's fair to say that BOC had a larger profile in America than Britain so it's no surprise that the American servicemen turned up in numbers to see them play. Relations between the American military personnel and the locals was very good by the way and many were sad to see a lot of them leave after the Cold War ended (taking away their bowling alleys and excellent pizzas, ha!).
The first band come on, they're called Statetrooper. I've never heard of them before. They proceed to play a type of music that's not to my taste. From what I recall it was a bit too much on the soft-rock, commercial side of metal for me. I look over at my sister's boyfriend and give the thumbs down sign. He smiles and nods in agreement. It's an interesting experience only in the sense that I have never seen a band play live before, this being the very first gig I've ever been to. It's fairly loud, well I expected that. They weren't particularly awful, just 'not my scene man' and I don't recall the crowd being unpleasant to them.
Next up were Girlschool, a very well known band in Britain, I don't know how popular they were abroad. Now these ladies went down a treat and had the place rocking with their brash, straight forward approach. A nice raw and heavy set proceeded which was enjoyed I think by most people there. Not being familiar with their records I couldn't tell you what they played. I do remember they performed a track I recognized called Emergency because I had a version of it on that excellent EP they'd done with Motorhead called St Valentine's Day Massacre.
An all over denim clad bloke standing in front of me had really long hair. Now I had long hair at the time but his was like several feet long. All through their set he kept up a constant headbanging, creating a flying V effect with his hair going left then right. It kept me well amused and rather impressed that he could keep it up. The band leaves the stage to loud and appreciative applause and we wait for BOC.
After not too long, the lights dim and the intro music starts. Someone hits the lights and then WHOMPH!!! I can best describe it as feeling like two people holding a blanket at opposite ends have just run fast past me on either side. Less the sound of a guitar riff, more the effect of an explosive shock wave. Trust me, I've been to many shows over the past couple of decades but for sheer volume level this one, my first as well, is still the loudest I've experienced and it wasn't just because I wasn't used to it.
Opening track Me262 is thundering out at enormous volume levels. Actually this is a bit too loud and I like loud music. Eric Bloom's vocals are coming out completely distorted and he ends up sounding like Ogre from Skinny Puppy during their most extreme industrial noise ferocity period. Not a bad thing when it's meant to be like that but a bit disappointing if the vocals for the whole of this show are going to sound like they're being yelled through a megaphone set on full power.
Joe Bouchard does something at the crescendo of the song that I'd not seen anyone do before. It appeared he was slapping his bass neck, going rapidly up and down the fretboard. Having a hatred of the pop music of the day, I hardly ever watched music shows on TV so I'd not seen anyone slap a bass before. Took me by surprise it did. You know the thing that struck me the most however was simply seeing them as real live moving people. I'd only seen the pictures of them on some of their albums and the photos that accompanied the occasional magazine article. It was weird seeing Eric smiling out at us when the lights first came on.
Next up is Dominance & Submission and thankfully the volume level becomes more sensible and everything is now coming through clearly in the mix. That's a relief. It was still very loud but I can enjoy this. Buck Dharma's guitar could've done with being a little higher in the mix but now I'm quibbling, the sound is good and it's not like he wasn't audible, far from it. Joe Bouchard does some good deep gravelly backing vocals on this for the 'It will be time' type parts of the song. I'm amused to see my sister yelling out "Dominance!" at the appropriate parts.
The familiar riff of ETI comes up next. I didn't realize it at the time but this was unusual in that Eric played rhythm guitar and not the keyboards as he normally does on this one. This was of course because, as the tour guide put it, Allen Lanier had taken a hike. Tommy Zvoncheck was playing all the keyboards for this tour and the usual back and forth swapping of guitar and keyboard duties between Eric and Allen was not relevant until Allen came back a couple of years later. I recall Eric being spotlighted by the lighting rig as he did the majestic 'Dum, Dum, Derrrrr... Dum, Dum, Derrrrr' chords on his guitar, you know the dramatic moment in the closing instrumental passage, before Buck takes the final solo.
At some point in the show, I can't remember when, it's a long time ago now, there's some shouting from someone in the audience to the band in an unmistakable American accent. Eric responds "Have we got some Americans in the audience here tonight?" which is answered by a mass roar of assent.
We get some new material tonight and the band play the current single, both A and B sides in order. I'd only just bought this as it had been rush released ahead of the tour. White Flags was a decent enough song, musically very strong but I wasn't overly keen on the lyrics, in short a reasonable attempt at the band trying to be more commercial. Actually Eric sings this very well. It's just right for his voice. A shame they didn't rewrite the lyrics though and make them a bit weirder and more suited to the band. Far too many love songs are written but very few people can write a decent one I fear. I seem to recall that the ending of this track live had Buck's lead guitar taking a more prominent position than on the record, which worked really nicely.
The B side Make Rock Not War follows. Um, what can I say? Well they perform it with style and panache. I dare say BOC could play the worst song in the world and do a good job of it. It sounded very contemporary at the time but really this was a huge mistake. Wrong song for the wrong band. A desperate attempt by somebody to turn them into a pop group. Let's leave it at that. I think the applause after this song was a touch on the polite side.
I think it was at this point that Tommy Zvoncheck let rip with a long keyboard solo which was pretty good from what I remember. Lots of fat dirty sounds and whooshing noises accompanying lush atmospheric sweeps. All very space age. Which appropriately leads us to the next track, both in the subject sense and musically, as this spacey solo segued into a long spoken intro by Eric for the song Take Me Away. Once the actual song kicks in, with Eric giving it some on his whammy bar, it closely follows the album version. All in all, with the solo, intro and song, this was one of the highpoints of the show for me. It all just seemed to work perfectly together.
Astronomy follows complete with a long end solo by Buck. A spotlight is projected at a mirror ball at the front of the lighting rig during the solo to very good effect, making the whole hall light up appropriately like a swirling star field. I guess that was the point!
Another new song, Dancin' In The Ruins, follows this and one I'd not heard beforehand as I didn't get the Club Ninja album until shortly after the gig. I assumed at the time that this one was written by Buck as it sounded in his style, kind of like Burnin' For You or some of his solo stuff. I was quite shocked when I actually bought the album to find four of the tracks weren't even written by them, including this one. Anyway, like White Flags, this was obviously another attempt to be more commercial by them and again, like that track, it's a decent enough attempt. Quite catchy really but in truth not what I'd really like to see them doing.
Joan Crawford next. Now this is more like it! A great song with all its sudden changes and somehow managing to be both creepy and funny at the same time. Always works well.
The fourth and final new song of the night, Shadow Warrior, follows and the first one of the four to actually be written by them. Not that I knew that at the time. Again this one was new to me and to my ears it sounded really good. This seemed to be many other people's opinion of it as well because it received rapturous applause at its ferocious conclusion. Some very good synthesizer and organ work by Tommy fitted well with the heavy guitar riff and Buck shot off some blistering solos. It left me really looking forward to hearing the new album. This one easily went down better with tonight's audience than the previous three new songs and considering that, as I've previously stated, this one was actually written by them, really makes an obvious point, I think.
The Big Three follow starting with Burnin' For You. A very clever and catchy song but I really don't know why they always feel the need to play this one in concert. It may have been a hit single over in America but it wasn't one on this side of the pond. I'm not knocking the track, it's a very successful and enjoyable slab of radio friendly AOR and sits well on the Fire Of Unknown Origin album. I'd just like to hear some other tracks off that album played live instead of always being this one.
Godzilla complete with Eric's over the top spoken intro comes along next. Now, was it at this concert where the giant footstep sound effects weren't cued on time, so the drummer starts doing them until the tape kicks in? I'm not sure, I've seen them several times over the years and they always play this track but I'm fairly sure it was at this show that it happened. Eric was saying something along the lines of "Is that giant footsteps I can hear... I said is that giant footsteps I can hear... I'm sure I can hear footsteps..." you get the idea. The strobe lights during the drum solo work brilliantly. I remember my sister thought drummer Jimmy Wilcox's brightly coloured, dyed hair looked cool. Joe does a sort of Chuck Berry-ish styled walk across the stage as he plays the cool funky passage on his monster bass.
I've always thought that (Don't Fear) The Reaper sounds so incredibly much better live than the original studio version. The classic arpeggio riff cuts through far more effectively with Buck's live sound and then there's the superb end instrumental which just builds until the spectacular ending. Live, this track is simply amazing and it certainly does the business tonight. Eric played his BOC symbol shaped guitar on this one and I recall watching with interest as he used an Ebow to hold the long note on the last verse. The song concludes to enormous applause and the band leave the stage.
After not too long the band return for an encore and Buck launches into the unmistakable riff of old Doors song Roadhouse Blues. The previously mentioned denim clad bloke in front of me obviously recognizes this one (I guess he came to see Girlschool) as he looks at his girlfriend with delight written all over his face and then proceeds to headbang with commitment and determination.
Some bloke behind me tries to interrupt this by hooking him with the handle end of a walking stick. I think he only brought it with him to the concert to be a nuisance, which for some reason he seemed to think was funny. Well the said walking stick gets grabbed by Mr Denim's girlfriend and given a damn good shake and Mr Walking Stick gets told in no uncertain terms exactly where to go. Through all this Mr Denim doesn't lose his stride, he's having a whale of a time and good on him. Mr Walking Stick had been shouting for Cities On Flame between all the songs so I was glad that he didn't get his wish, not that I've got anything against the song.
The encore finishes and the band say goodbye. Eric says that he looks forward to seeing the Americans in the audience back home soon. We all file out and I go to the merchandise stall in the foyer to get a T-shirt. Oh, they've sold out. Ah well, they didn't look so great anyway, just the throwing-star in the shape of the BOC symbol which adorned the cover of the White Flags single and also features on the back of the album. Still, I would've have liked one. I look around for something else to buy but all they've got is scarves. I never wear scarves. In fact I absolutely loath scarves but I get one anyway. The only use it ever got was to be hung over my wardrobe door for a year or two.
I was half deaf for the next couple of days. I met someone years later who'd been to this gig. He said that at one point he'd had to sit on the floor with his hands over his ears because of the volume. There you go, it was loud!
In early 1984, the Air Force sent me from Pope Air Force Base to Bentwaters Air Base in England. ("This is the real Air Force, Roberts, chemical warfare suits, the Cold War, do more with less, and you'll be lucky if you get leave.")
Working hard, playing hard. Some darts and pint of ale at the local pub (I lived off base in Felixstowe) washed away the long day. England was great for concerts too. We're talking storied venues like the Dominion Theatre in London (Motley Crue was dynamite) and the Monsters of Rock at Donington (AC/DC, Van Halen, The Crue, Gary Moore).
Once again, wish I could remember more about the show. Went with two buddies from the squadron. I do remember Eric saying something like, "We'll be checking out all you Americans here tonight."
Also noteworthy is that "Kerrang", the premier magazine in England at that time for hard rock and heavy metal, were supporters of BOC. I remember one time one of their writers reviewed The Cult, and ended with saying something like The Cult, for me, is Blue Oyster Cult.
And who can forget their album rating method?
SPEAK, MEMORY, SPEAK!
Your First BOC Gig should be burned into your consciousness like the first time you made love, particularly if at the time you already came to the conclusion that BOC is, was and always will be the best music making combo to walk the earth. But then again, as many people report of their disappointment regarding their first amorous encounter, I, too, have to confess with some shame to, firstly, not remembering much of the night and, secondly, leaving the venue feeling let down.
So, what do I remember of the night?
Statetrooper: I remember the name.
Girlschool: If only...
My Kronos flag: and, by the way, that's all my wife remembers of that night, she having to lift one end of it, and as we were near the front, I bet some people behind us might have got quite impatient with us.
Eric's black outfit: now my wife doesn't remember this, but what she does remember is that I used to wear a similar kind of top a couple of years earlier when we met which I thought made me look interesting; she thought I looked camp.
Eric's nunchaku (rice flail): had he stuck to only using it to play the cymbals on Cities on Flame it would have been a neat trick to pull, instead it became an integral part of...
Eric's coreography: I couldn't help but feeling that I witnessed this nonsense before in the form of a one hit wonder man who I believe was called Carl Lewis (Kung Fu Fighting?). I knew the band was promoting Club Ninja (Rock Not War, how the mighty have fallen), but still was there any need to inflict visually what they did aurally?
The set list: and the arrogance of youth. Here I own up to my responsabilities regarding the night's unsatisfactory proceedings; you see, the band played their set list and not mine, which at the time would have included the whole of Fire of Unknown Origin. Twice. Although we did get Joan Crawford and Burnin' for You and Veterans, possibly (if we didn't we should have). And talking of fire, that's what I felt lacked on the night: with the exception of Take me Away, which sounded phenomenal, I didn't think thay played with conviction and enjoyment and I returned home believing that the good old days, which I never witnessed anyway, were over. An impression that was reinforced a few years later when I saw them again in Manchester on the Imaginos tour; in the recording studio, amazing as ever, live, mmmh....
And then came the 18th of May 2002, Bilston and what an epiphany it was. The highlight of every year since then for me has been to see them as many times as possible and every time I've come away with a big smile of satisfaction on my face.
1985, Edinburgh. A shorter train journey but after the ME262 opener from the year before no one on the train went for the more obvious choice of RU Ready.
I guess you should never second guess the cult.
Again the show flew by and as your never sure of the set list you end up guessing the next song as soon as the current one starts. Roadhouse blues is one as I am also a big Quo fan and they also used to close shows with this song.
I only know about this setlist thanks to the following post on "giginjapan.com":
Newcastle City Hall is hit and miss for gigs - when the atmosphere is right (circa BÖC 1984 and 1989) it can't be beaten - it holds about 2000 and is all seated - a large floor area , all square sides, and a wrap around 3/4 balcony - the hall is low and fairly long, quite good acoustics and the front balcony seats look right over the stage.
However it can feel very austere if not full, or if the band haven't got the crowd onside - sadly, in 1985, fewer people turned up and the Dominance & Submission chant loses something when the main effect of pressing the crowd to the front is to leave much of the hall looking sparse.
I got the feeling in Newcastle 1985 that the band were really "going through the motions" (ahem) and I suspect that wavering fans who weren't sure whether to see them again (after there being here 20 months prior) would have stayed home after hearing Ninja - it was in many ways a weaker album.
The 85 list seems "a stock track from each album plus the faves - ! and stuff the covers." I think this point needs making as some correspondents can see no evil - but every band must get cheesed off now and again.
Just a quick hello to say thank you for your website. I was Girlschool's roadie for this tour and I have to say that all the lads in BOC were very generous and kind throughout the tour.
Fond memories indeed.
The Asian Alliance
Outside the Manchester show, Joe Bouchard told us that they'd be coming over again in a few months (Feb 1986, I think) to do another short tour and to film a TV special.
The TV company were - apparently - into the mythology of Astronomy. A couple of their reps went to the Ipswich show to recon and assess the bands performance but Bloom fucked up the song lyrics big style and the whole thing collapsed.
I have heard a tape of that Ipswich show (they soundchecked without Bloom and did Perfect Water) and Bloom indeed screws up Astronomy!
Joe's mention of a short tour got me looking for tickets. I phoned umpteen venues eventually striking gold (so I thought) with Leeds University.
I sent for tickets - and received them - from the Uni who later contacted us to say the concert was cancelled. Sadly, I had to return the tickets in order to get a refund.
I'd already seen the Blue Oyster Cult play earlier at Hanley Victoria Hall, but was in Manchester city centre that afternoon. I'd been to see the band Fireclown play their last gig at Jilly's the night before.
Standing in a store near where the Arndale Centre is situated, as night fell, I saw a number of obvious BOC fans walking onwards to the gig. I persuaded my brother and his girlfriend to get to the Apollo, but the rain was falling so hard, that they peeled away as a sodden ticket tout tried to sell me two tickets - each for half of the cover price.
This is the first and only time I've managed to get a ticket at half price. I love the BOC, so the gig was great - and I believe was the last night of the UK tour?
They brought members from the support acts on for Roadhouse Blues. I've seen the Blue Oyster Cult a number of times, but this was one of my favourite occasions.
I'll be at the gig at the Academy this Friday, the 1st March 2019. If anyone from the band reads this, I would love to fulfill a lifetime's ambition and play drums on Don't Fear the Reaper... Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
I think also that these date(s) were played in 1985 - if you have any info, please let me know:
The first time I saw them live was a Soft White Underbelly show at The Button South in Ft. Lauderdale.
While it was a very long time ago, I know the show was at The Button South because that was the only time I ever went there.
I'm also reasonably sure the show started somewhere around 8ish (though I'm extremely fuzzy on that point) so is it possible they did two gigs that night?
Check out the discussion here as to why I don't think they played this venue in 1985, despite a newspaper listing suggesting they did.
That said, if Rick is correct about seeing the SWU play The Button South, the question remains: just when was that...?