Nostalgia: Were you there? Liquid Lunch rock The Oval Bandstand 45 years ago this weekend

Liquid Lunch at The Oval Bandstand

By Pete Barnett

Forty five years ago this weekend rock band Liquid Lunch organised the first local rock showcase at The Oval Bandstand in Cliftonville on August 20,1977.

The band – Pete Barnett/drums; Bob Haynes/ guitar and vocals; Paul Mellor/ bass and lead vocals; and Ben Colgate/ guitar and vocals – played a strong mix of cover songs and originals, with fellow rockers Berlin from Deal and the other-worldly Capt Galaxy and the Photon Torpedoes energetically performing in the support slots.

The show attracted hundreds of music fans – and it was so successful that Liquid Lunch held a number of other outdoor shows at the Oval (again) and in Ellington Park, Ramsgate, as well as self-promoted concerts at major venues Margate Winter Gardens and the Grand Ballroom, Broadstairs, plus regular gigs at venues including The Ship Inn, Margate; The Bowlers, Cliftonville; the Van Gogh, Ramsgate; the Lafayette Club, Birchington.

They also won praise as ‘highly commended’ in the nationwide Melody Maker pop/rock competition which the band entered several times.

The initial Oval show (and subsequent other showcases) owed much to strong links with the then theatre manager at Margate Winter Gardens David Bill whose support for local live music was such an important factor; plus enthusiastic support from journalist John Hutson who also audio catalogued some of the band’s performances.

Liquid Lunch continued playing numerous gigs until disbanding at the end of the decade with three of the outfit (Peter, Bob and Paul) returning to live and recording work in the 80s with guitar maestro John Dobbs in The Babysitters, while Ben was part of emerging funk favourites EK1.

The four musicians subsequently continued to play solo, duo and band gigs through the ensuing decades as well as working in the studio recording original music. But these are stories for another day.

What remains of the fondly remembered Oval outdoor Liquid Lunch concerts are pivotal moments that were a benchmark for the development and promotion of local live rock music in Thanet.

WERE YOU THERE? Let us have your Liquid Lunch/Oval Rock Showcase memories.


    • Me neither !
      I remember another local Margate group called “Ghost” who played the Oval bandstand in the early 80’s .
      “Ghost” featured then well known local Margate brothers Kevin and John Greves on drums / keyboards and Brian Boarer on guitar if I remember correctly .
      I grew up with Kevin and John Greves in the 70’s and they had strong links/ friendship with top veteran Space Rockers “ Hawkwind “ who had a top 3 hit in 1973 with “ Silver Machine “ written by then local Margate lad Bob Calvert (who is soon to have a blue plaque erected) who they introduced me to just after he written the then not yet famous song .and who I remember as being very humble .
      I remember that “Ghost” themselves made an attempt at big time success in the early 80’s by getting a transit van and doing gigs in London Area to get noticed by record companies but alas nothing did become of them
      My lasting impression of seeing “ Ghost “ playing the Oval bandstand was that they sounded nothing like Hawkwind and were more contemporary then with their early 80’s sound having more in common with
      Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet .
      I wonder if anyone else remembers “Ghost “ ?
      Incidentally , if you like “ Hawkwind “ then “ Hawklords” are playing Olbys ,Margate in tribute to Silver Machine song writer Bob Calvert on the day his Blue plaque is being erected in Margate .
      And finally ….. I wonder if this recent concert by The Libertines might make a new trend for bands to play at the Oval bandstand again ?

  1. Yes, I was there as the bassist with John Dobbs’ “Captain Galaxy and the Photon Torpedoes”. Not only was I proud to play alongside John, but was delighted to be a “Photon Torpedo” by the pseudonym “Flight Lieutenant Reginald Larynx”! John was a great musician and singer/songwriter who left us far too early. The local music scene was very much alive and kicking back then and we moved around from band to band with “Assassin” and my final departure from the local music scene playing with “Risky Business”, “Stranded” and briefly with “Kilo” and “The King Goode Blues Band” in 1999. Good times; great times.

  2. I remember most of those venues from “ back in the day “ and especially fondly remember The Bowlers Arms in Cliftonville where one night I saw a gig a by band called “ Son of a Bitch” this would be approx 1977 .
    They were a hard rock band who strangely had former Glitter Band drummer Pete Gill on Drums !
    SOAB later went on to international success when they changed their name to ….. SAXON
    And they’re still going very strong today making some of their best music in recent years .

    Btw .I don’t remember the Lafayette Club , in Birchington , was it in Station Road ?

  3. That’s a blast from the past, I saw them a few times, brilliant band with heaps of talent, obviously I never lied about my age to go into the pub they played in, as I was never asked lol

  4. John “shoeshine”dobbs. What a legend. Some great bands used to play the bowlers. Quint being a favourite with another local legend Roger Diamond on drums. Does anybody remember “Tricks”? Used to have a regular spot at the bowlers. Great band. Fun times

  5. Another local Thanet rock band “ blast from the past “ from the 80’s was ….. “ Vigilante “
    Does anyone remember them ,what became of them and are they still around ?

    • I was bassist in Vigilante, we reformed about 12 years ago and did a few gigs but it faded a bit and covid killed it off. We’re all still in contact and are doing various music projects together.
      I myself are now playing with Black Roze which you can find @ and there is a Fb page for Vigilante.

      Dave Price the vocalist is also fronting Glamtastic 👍🤘😁

      • Thanks for the update Steve . Shame that Vigilante are defunct but good to see that both you and Dave Price are still involved in the music scene
        Please can you say which venues that your new respective bands play at ?
        Btw . Am I right in thinking that “back in the day “ ( Lol) that your former band Vigilante also played at The Oval bandstand ?

      • Hi Steve , I’ve just been on your site which is impressive and listened to your bands track
        “ Not you whore ( Anymore ) “. Do I detect an Influence on the female vocals by top American female rock singer Pat Benatar ?
        Btw . That’s a good thing in my book as Ms Benatar really rocks and still even now over 40+ yrs later has an amazing voice .

  6. I remember that wonderful summer’s evening at the Oval so well. I was a regular member of their audience at the Ship Inn in those days but the Oval gig felt like our very own Woodstock or Isle of Wight. The Gazette published a fab photo of myself and most of my mates on the floor in front of the stage. Capt. Galaxy was in fact the aforementioned John Dobbs (though I thought the band was called Cartoons).
    The live music scene in those days was wonderful. Local bands like LL and Babysitters were great. The ex-Butlins Queens hotel at Newgate Gap regularly put on excellent bands such as Venus Delta and Barnacle. While Dreamland Ballroom hosted progrock bands such as Stone the Crows, Hawkwind, Stray, Osibisa on a Friday night and chart topping bands such as Slade, the Sweet and many others.
    Mick Muff were a thrilling hard rock addition to the scene playing in venues like the Saracen’s Head, the Van Gogh and a tiny little pub out in one of the coal mining villages in mid-Kent where the Phil Divers (the drummer) had to be lowered onto his drum stool behind his kit by 3 burly miners such was the lack of space available.
    Oh, and we used to drink an awful lot of beer at these gigs (hint to current landlords! (

  7. Nice “Blast from the past” mention Dean for the Queens Hotel where I remember many new breaking punk rock bands who went on to later success played there
    I also remember that Suzi Quattro,Chicory Tip , and Glitter band basically most decent glam rock bands also played at Dreamland ballroom at their peak and I remember seeing “one hit wonders”
    Eddie and the Hot Rods ( Do anything you wanna do ) played there and had a power cut whilst they were playing but they were professional and eventually carried on

  8. I also remember in 1978 when punk band Sham 69 ( Hurry up Arry , Hersham Boys , If the kids are united)
    also played Dreamland Ballroom .
    I also used to see bands at The Ship ,Margate where I remember seeing members of top “ Canterbury scene “ band “Caravan” played there .
    Btw. Am I right in thinking that the scene in the classic comedy “ Only Fools and Horses “ episode of
    “Jolly Boys outing “ set in Mar-gate where Del famously sees future wife Raquel performing as a magicians assistant was filmed in the old Dreamland Ballroom ?

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