The Tom Robinson Band returned to High Wycombe Town Hall on Wednesday 4th April 1979 on a date midway through their promotion of their second studio album, TRB 2. The Ron Watts promoted concert was a sell-out and the TRB set was recorded by the BBC mobile for a later broadcast on the Saturday evening Radio One ‘In-Concert’ series. Support came from British rock/pop all-female outfit, The Straits.
During my research for the 40-year anniversary of this gig, the very sad news that TRB guitarist Danny Kustow had passed-away came to light. Kustow’s guitar provided much of the musical power behind the lyrics of Tom Robinson and his band. This article is dedicated to his memory and may his many wonderful licks and solos live on forever.
TRB had last officially played High Wycombe in a Town Hall concert in November 1977. However, my research suggests they were also lined-up for a secret gig at The Nag’s Head on 30th July 1978, shortly after the release of their debut album ‘Power in the Darkness’, but I’ve been unable to confirm if the appearance actually took place. Previous to the Town Hall gig in November 1977, they had also graced the stage at The Nag’s Head on two occasions, making their return in April 1979 as long awaited ‘homecoming’ following the rise to fame through late 1977 and 1978.
Their move into the media spotlight had also seen the band feature in a Granada TV documentary, recorded in the main during their tour of Autumn 1978 and broadcast for the first time on national UK TV in February 1979. However, fame had taken its toll on relationships in the band. By the time of the TRB Two tour, original drummer ‘Dolphin’ Taylor had left and been replaced with Charlie Morgan. Keyboard player Mark Ambler had also flown ship and replaced by Ian Parker. That left lead singer/bassist Tom Robinson and guitarist Danny Kustow, the remaining original members from the foursome that burst onto the seen during 1977 with their heavily polictical rock/pop collaborations. More than 40 years after its release, the messages with the debut album, ‘Power In The Darkness’ remained eerily valid at a time when the UK was being tortured with the political farce of Brexit.
Politics were not the main agenda for support act for the TRB Two tour UK in 1979. Leeds based band, The Straits, had their influences heavily entrenched from 1970’s glam rock.
Their set-list included original songs ‘Strait To The Point’, ‘Release My Soul’, ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘Studio 54’, ‘Come Fly With Me’, ‘Fairground Boys’ and ‘Sacha Shoes Mafia’. However, it was the T.Rex cover ‘Get in On’ that brought the best reaction from a crowd mainly in waiting for the main act.
For the record, band members, according to a Sounds article published shortly before the tour, were Judi Rock (lead guitar/vocals), Di Harde (bass/vocals), Shirley Newman (rhythm guitar) and Suzi Roll (drums). With the exception of Ms Newman, I think it’s fair to assume those names are pseudonyms. They were touted as heading for success but at the time of this post there appears to be no record of what became of them. Anybody have any clues?
TRB burst onto stage to loud cheers from the packed house and went straight into the opening track of TRB Two, ‘All Right, All Night’, quickly followed by the classic ‘Winter of ’79 – the latter seeing new keyboard player Ian Parker showing his creativity by taking the mid-song instrumental break to a new level – definitely worth a listen on the YouTube audio at the foot of the post.
Tom Robinson Band set list for the Town Hall gig on 4th April 1979
- All Right, All Night
- Winter of ‘79
- Black Angel
- Blue Murder
- Too Good To Be True
- Getting Tighter
- Law and Order (**)
- Sorry Mr Harris (*)(+)
- I Shall Be Released (**)
- Glad to be Gay (**)
- Martin (**)
- Bully For You
- Don’t Take No For An Answer (**)
- Ain’t Gonna Take It
- 2-4-6-8 Motorway
- Right on Sister (encore) (*) (+)
- Jumping Jack Flash (encore) (*) (**)
An edited version of the concert was broadcast on BBC Radio One in May 1979.
The tracks indicated (*) were NOT broadcast by the BBC.
In 2013 a TRB Anthology collection was released with a slightly different selection of tracks.
The tracks indicated (**) were NOT included on the Anthology release.
The tracks indicated (+) were included on the Anthology release but not the BBC broadcast.
The second encore, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ remains the only track not available from the BBC mobile recording. And if by magic, I’ve managed to find a recording of that in my own collection and include it below (via YouTuber) as further tribute to Danny Kustow, who took on lead vocals for the Rolling Stones cover.
Tom Robinson’s affection for High Wycombe was confirmed in a brief interview for the Bucks Free Press published in the 12th April 1979 edition. Robinson said:
“I don’t know why we’re so popular here but I know why I like playing here, because the people are so friendly and the audience is one of the best I’ve ever played to.”
TRB were to split later in 1979 but Tom Robinson and Danny Kustow would return to High Wycombe within the year – Robinson as a member of his new band, Sector 27 and Kustow as a guitarist with ‘punk’ super-group, Jimmy Norton’s Explosion – the latter featuring Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and drummer Budgie.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Winter of ’79 (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979
At the end of the track Tom Robinson reveals to the audience that the gig is being recorded for Radio 1.
”Tonight High Wycombe is to be immortalised again (cheers). I wish those at home could see the sight that confronts us here at High Wycombe Town Hall tonight. Strong men would cry”.
Note: The video is incorrectly dated 1 January 1979
Too good to be true? – Granada TV documentary – broadcast UK TV February 1979
Jumping Jack Flash (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979
References and further reading
Tom Robinson’s tribute to Danny Kustow, as read at his funeral on 14 March 2019