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.