February 25, 1974 (Monday)
The Brewery, Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.
The show was at The Brewery, about a five hundred capacity
bar. There was this degree of awe that a band of their caliber, with four previous
big hits, was playing this tiny club. If Brian Auger had been there, that would've
been more realistic, not a band everyone had heard of.
They were having a rough time. It was an awkward show and everything was going wrong with their sound system. I remember they started Day After Day and midway through they had to stop. They played an impromptu blues tune for quite awhile before they could start up again. I felt sorry for them.
I went backstage after the show and I went over to Pete Ham. I tried to make some small talk and he was being really nice to me. It wasn't as if he saw some moron hippie guy; he was being very affable. I started to mention some songs of his that had been covered, like Without You and Midnight Caller, and I sort of naively stressed how ironic it was that people were covering his material and getting airplay, and yet here, their albums weren't getting played on the radio, and they were at this small college club, dealing with a screwy record release pattern. The whole tone of the night had been semi-tragic.
After I said all that, Pete looked really dismal, as if I'd thrown a barrel of salt into a gaping wound. I felt like a bonehead. I could see that it ran really deep in him. I was overwhelmed that I could have such an effect on him.
Dave DiMartino (former "Creem magazine" editor)
from "Without You, The Tragic Story of Badfinger" by Dan Matovina, p. 236
I attended my first Badfinger concert at the Midland High School gymnasium [April 9, 1971].
I continued to follow Badfinger throughout the next four years culminating in another great Badfinger performance in 1974 in my final year at Michigan State University. In my four years there, I became a regular at the Brewery in East Lansing. It was the most important venue on campus. It was just a bar, but the folks at the Brewery were true believers. In my last two years in town, I attended shows by Joe Walsh & Barnstorm, the Climax Blues Band, and the glorious Rory Gallagher.
As I waited for Badfinger to hit the stage, I noticed that there weren’t any roadies setting up the equipment. The band was doing their own set-up. I got the gumption and wallowed my fear and approached Badfinger drummer, Mike Gibbins. We talked about Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run – Gibbins opined "that’s a good one" as well as their latest disc 'Badfinger' and I praised several songs including Give It Up and Andy Norris – two hard rockers penned by Joey Molland, Evans’ Why Don’t We Talk and Pete Ham’s funky Matted Spam. I was pumped!
After an extended and loud sound check, Badfinger took the stage. They opened with Molland singing Only You Know And I Know (penned by Dave Mason) and proceeded to rock hard and loud with a triumvirate of songs from their Ass LP: Constitution, Blind Owl and Timeless. This was not the Badfinger I saw in 1970. They were much louder, so loud that I yelled at them to turn it down. People around me told me to “shut up.” I did. And I got used to the volume as the show progressed. It was apparent that they were no longer the Beatlesque mop-tops from 1970. They updated their sound and the dynamic interplay and the harmonic leads between guitarists Molland and Ham was astonishing, inspired. It was apparent that Badfinger had been listening to the twin lead harmonics of the Allman Brothers and was able to incorporate it into their power pop-oriented framework. Molland seemed to be at the front and center of this phase of Badfinger, assuming more of the spotlight with his hard rocking tunes. He contributed the raucous Give It Up, Feelin’ Alright (another Mason song), Suitcase and Andy Norris. Pete Ham was still the putative leader, and he commanded attention whenever he sang with his rich, full range tenor. He contributed a rock hard versions of Name Of The Game, I Can’t Take It, Day After Day, and Take It All. It was a masterful performance. I left feeling that Badfinger was at the top of their game and had a bright future ahead of them. Instead, it all fell apart. Badfinger’s tragic end was one of the most inglorious chapters in a corrupt music industry. They deserved better.
Bo White (July, 2012)
© Copyright 2004-2012 Tom Brennan's Badfinger Library
(TBBL). All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.
All trademarks used on TBBL are the property of their respective owners.