Sitting just below a flyover in West London is the Hammersmith Apollo, The Odeon as I knew it as, where you could witness some great concerts. In fact many artists have recorded live albums there. The next step up in London would be Wembley Arena for capacity, so you could say it was a benchmark of the artists popularity. I have been lucky to see many artists perform at this old cinema, most I have to say were pretty good concerts. So today I will just mention a couple of occasions that I visited this grand old building.
The first story I will tell you about is when I went to see The Stranglers perform there on the ‘Feline‘ tour, booked to play two nights, of which my mates and I were to attend the first night. Well after seeing the man playing the spoons as support, the band came on and played a couple of number. Hugh Cornwell decided to stop proceedings, he stated they’d not play another note until the yellow t-shirted bouncers left the auditorium. The crowd was now getting restless as the time ticked on, fifteen minutes maybe, I can’t remember exactly. Finally the lights went up and the men in black re-appeared, informing us they’d spoken to the venue’s management and it had been agreed the security would withdraw. Hugh stated maybe in jest, “I know you will all behave“, how wrong could he had been.
Anyone who knows the venue, will appreciate that the upstairs is vastly bigger than the stalls. Well once the burly chaps had vacated the seating areas, masses of fans made a b-line for the downstairs. The place was rocking with the band going full pelt, fans were jumping up and down. The extra bodies soon paid toll to the seating as many collapsed under the sheer weight and volume in the vicinity. Indeed this was only occasion I’ve ever been punched by a woman. The row of seats I standing on gave way I fell forward and I accidentally head-butted this particular woman, who swung round and landed one on me. She soon saw what had happened and apologised and we got on with enjoying the show.
After leaving the gig I realised I had left my jacket inside, so I quickly went back in to see the carnage in the building. Remember this was 1983 and mobile phones had yet to be invented so we couldn’t relay on to our friends who had tickets for the following nights show, what had happened. Well to cut a long story short, they turned up to the doors twenty fours later to be greeted by a sign saying ‘cancelled’. The band had been banned from the venue and no doubt got a hefty bill too. It has to be said and we did often to those who weren’t lucky enough to see the same show, it was one their best!
Another occasion was when I went to see Simple Minds play eight nights in a row at the Odeon. It was Saturday to Saturday back in May 1984, at the time a record for the venue. I had travelled down by train straight after work directly to the venue with my suitcase. Of course once at the doors they wanted to search it. After informing them I was here for the week, they left me pass. These were the days I used to record concerts inside was all my recording equipment, sadly most of those recordings have oxidised. By the end of the week, the security had named me ‘suitcase boy’ and didn’t even think again to search me on the following nights. The final Saturday, I attended the FA Cup Final in the afternoon, to see my uncle’s local team Watford lose 2-0 to Everton. In hindsight maybe even eights travelling on the tube backwards and forwards from my relatives home was a bit too much.
Note: None of the music was taken from the venue – sadly!