Your memories of Herts gigs by The Police, U2 and Led Zeppelin

A review of U2 at St Albans City Hall from the Midweek Times in 1981.

A review of U2 at St Albans City Hall from the Midweek Times in 1981. - Credit: Supplied by Jack Griffiths

Earlier this year, we featured Hertfordshire gigs by groups before they became stadium-filling acts. Here are just some of our readers' recollections of The Police, U2 and Led Zeppelin playing Hertfordshire music venues in their early days.

Tony Dawson-Hill was one of the lucky ones in the crowd for when Led Zeppelin played The Cherry Tree pub in Welwyn Garden City in April 1969 – 10 years before they packed Knebworth for two nights.

"I seem to recall that they were actually billed as The New Yardbirds," said Tony.

"Me and my mate were standing right at the front of the very low stage – about 30cm high.

"I took my camera along and finished a roll of film. I was very dismayed when I had the film developed as there was nothing on it – there was a fault on the camera!"

Tony also remembers encountering Led Zep singer Robert Plant at the gig.

"I was standing at the bar during the interval when this person pushed in front of me – the usual cry of ‘oi mate there’s a queue here!’

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"He turned round and said ‘sorry but I’m on in a minute’. It was Robert Plant! Not many people can say they were pushed out of the way by Robert Plant!"

Other Herts gigs he remembers seeing are David Bowie and Elton John both playing separate shows at The Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead in 1972.

He also saw The Who at St Albans City Hall on November 22, 1968.

"You had to wear a shirt and tie to get in!" said Tony.

"Also around that time, I saw the legendary bluesman John Mayall there. Apparently the staff wouldn’t let him, even though he was headlining, because he wasn’t wearing a tie!"

Then there was the Small Faces at the Market Hall, St Albans. Tony said: "Steve Marriott stormed off stage because someone threw a light bulb that hit him on the head."

An advert for the Small Faces at Market Hall in St Albans.

An advert from the Herts Advertiser for the Small Faces at Market Hall in St Albans. - Credit: Supplied by Tony Dawson-Hill

Tony also saw The Police's gig at Hatfield Polytechnic 42 years ago.

"I didn’t think they were very memorable but I do remember trying to take a poster, advertising the gig, off the wall, as a memento only for it to fall  to pieces.

"The Student Union had slashed all the posters with a razor blade to stop people taking them!"

Marion Cook also attended that famous BBC 'Rock Goes to College' gig on February 21, 1979, and saw it as "a badge of honour".

"Back in the 1970s, my mum worked as PA to Sir Norman Lindop, the director of Hatfield Poly, " recalled Marion.

"Having decided he didn’t want to go to the concert himself, tickets were offered last minute to my Mum for myself and my brother.

"My brother was 19 and I was just under 17. Together we went to the first ever concert I’d been to and the first concert I’d been to with my brother.

"It was a great venue, brilliant atmosphere, upbeat, happy and unintimidating for someone so young at a concert."

The gig included The Police's first live public performance of new track Message in a Bottle.

Marion added: "Sting was mesmerising, my brother and I pogoed to Roxanne and So Lonely.

"At the time The Police were a new band, with records just coming to everyone’s attention.

"Little did I know what a formative concert that would be and that so many years later I would still remember the mood and the main songs played.

"For the next few years mentioning that I’d seen The Police live at Hatfield Poly was always seen as a badge of honour."

Jack Griffiths, meanwhile, used to live not far from Woodhall Community Centre in WGC where David Bowie once played in his early days.

While not seeing Bowie in WGC back in the 1960s, Jack was in the audience 40 years ago to see Irish rock group U2 play St Albans City Hall – now The Alban Arena.

He still has a cutting from the Midweek Times newspaper with a review of the gig, and keeps it in the record sleeve of the Boy album.

The Midweek Times' review of U2's gig at St Albans City Hall in 1981.

The Midweek Times' review of U2's gig at St Albans City Hall in 1981. - Credit: Supplied by Jack Griffiths

Recalling singer Bono, guitarist The Edge, drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton taking the St Albans stage to promote the band's debut album, Jack said: "They only played half a set as they were on after the Manic Jabs, who were a punk band.

"Bono (quite rightly) objected to the phlegm being spat on stage and after a warning they went off."

He also saw them later in the year at The Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead as part of the October tour.

"A girl I was at college with knew Adam very well, so she got me into them early on.

"My mum worked with a guy who worked on the doors in the evening at St Albans City Hall so was no problem getting tickets, in fact I can’t even remember even paying for them."

Keith Dean reported seeing reggae legend Bob Marley and The Wailers at Hatfield Polytechnic around 1973.

The Hatfield resident said: "Bob handed out Wailers' album 'Catch a Fire'.

"The sleeve was in the shape of a Zippo lighter, along with stickers etc."

He added: "No one had heard of the Wailers and the audience were all into rock."

Former St Albans resident Kevin Beadle recollects seeing Pink Floyd at Hatfield Poly in the early 1970s when he was a student in the town.

This summer will be the 50th anniversary of when Pink Floyd played Hatfield on June 23, 1971.

Now living in Solihull, Kevin was also a regular at 'The Civic' in St Albans from the late 1960s.

"A little further afield, but I do remember providing transport for a female friend from Hemel Hempstead who wanted to see a relative unknown at the Friars in Aylesbury: a long haired young guy with acoustic guitar, called David Bowie!"


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