July 25th 1973

“HAWKWIND – Top Rank”

Inside of the Top Rank. Looks awful.

Southampton’s Top Rank was part of a nationwide chain of dancehalls/nightclubs responsible – as history will attest – for putting on some of THE biggest acts in rock/pop during the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

The Southampton location was also an ice-rink – presumably the ice was covered when there were live acts or a disco going on? I never visited the place in its nightclub or ice rink forms, but as a gig venue I probably went there more than anywhere else in the area. Between the Top Rank and Southampton University I saw pretty much every major act from the 70’s punk/ska/post-punk/indie boom as the 70’s progressed.

Tonight, in 1973, this impressionable 15-year-old teenager was there seeing Hawkwind, the UK’s premier “space rock” protagonists. (I talked briefly about them last year)

Hawkwind's own "Bez". Stacia with her clothes on.

Let me rack my brain and see if I can remember what the band played that night…. yes, I think the set list was this….
• Gaga
• Eternal Champion
• Born To Go
• Down Through The Night
• It’s So Easy
• Brainbox Pollution
• The Black Corridor
• Space Is Deep
• The Watcher
• Warriors
• Brainstorm
• Seven By Seven
• Sonic Attack
• Time We Left
• Master Of The Universe
• Standing At The Edge
• Urban Guerrilla
• Seeing You As You Really Are

Bloody hell, my memory is FAR better than I have been giving it credit for all this time isn’t it?

Let’s see, was Lemmy still with them that night? Why yes, I do believe he was!

Was the rest of the band Robert Calvert, Nik Turner, Dave Brock, Del Dettmar, Simon House and Simon King? I think so, yes.

Shocked by how much I can remember? When I found this, everything just seemed to just come to me. *heh*

Actually, all I can really recall was all the stage set bubbles, the lighting and strobe effects. Oh, and Hawkwind’s female dancer, Stacia, dancing nude at some point.

Which probably made it a good concert.

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6 Comments

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

6 responses to “July 25th 1973

  1. Strange that you can remember so much about the Hawkwind gig 😉 but forget that the ice rink was in a separate building next door. Probably because, like me, you never used it. When you entered the site the dance hall was in front of you and, I think, the ice rink was over to your left.

    My biggest memory of the Rank, besides the bands, was the round revolving stage – the dj would be on one side which would rotate 180 degrees so that the band would appear, when their set was over the stage revolved again for the dj to continue!

    Good times.
    P x

    • teenagerockopera

      Two buildings? Really?

      Revolving stage? Really? Crap, you would have thought my addled brain would remember things like that wouldn’t you?

      I defer to your better recall Mr T!

  2. Just googled it a bit more and can confirm that the ballroom building was called the Top Rank Suite.
    I think my first visit was for an early Radio 1 Club, the precursor of the Radio 1 Roadshow, with Tony Blackburn – I think it was the summer before we went to B.P. I remember Albatross was the big tune of the day which would make it 1969 … ah the summer of 69!

  3. Brian Taylor

    I D.J.’d the Top Rank Suite on a Tuesday Night from 7-10 for the kids in the early 70’s. The house D.J. back then was Arthur Sheriff who went on to have a career with CBS and then DJM records before I lost contact. Also, Top Rank house band was called the Birds and Bees if I remember rightly. I left in 1972 for the Mecca circuit, traveling up and down the country and then moved to Europe where I worked in various clubs and on the air for another 14 years. I really enjoyed my time on the revolving stage in Southampton, it’s where I began my professional career! All the best, Brian Taylor

  4. I remember the Top Rank Suite well. It was built on the site of the old Southampton speedway stadium and as stated was a separate building to the skating rink. In the late 1960’s I both worked, as a barman, and also socialised there. There was a big band with resident singer for ‘normal’ nights and some fantastic gigs on other nights. I remember seeing the Kinks and the original Drifters but best of all Stevie Wonder who was incredible. The place was always heaving and I had some great nights there

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