In late 1976, Manhattan’s Academy of Music on East 14th Street changed its name to The Palladium. Throughout the 70’s, this former movie theater served as a prominent concert venue hosting many great shows under both names in the City. Sadly, the Palladium was converted to a nightclub in the 80’s and later demolished in the 90’s. An NYU residence hall now sits on its former site.
During its heyday, I found myself seeing shows on both sides of the Hudson since this 3,000-seat venue typically hosted the same acts that would play Passaic’s Capitol Theater on the Jersey side. This duality allowed me to choose the better date on my calendar, and sometimes gave me a chance to see my fave bands twice.
In 1979, there was no question about who my favorite live band was: Rockpile, the quartet consisting of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams. Since 1978, these Brits recorded and toured together in support of records by Edmunds (Tracks on Wax IV and Repeat When Necessary) and Lowe (Labour of Lust). Rockpile later backed Carlene Carter (at the time Mrs. Nick Lowe) on her Musical Shapes record. Although they still had not yet released their lone record as Rockpile (1980’s Seconds of Pleasure), this night’s show was billed under the band’s name. Typically they billed themselves as either “Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile” or “Nick Lowe’s Rockpile” depending on whose album they were promoting.
On this late summer night in New York City, Rockpile played at its finest. Nick and Dave alternated numbers for the most part with Bremner singing lead on a few songs as well. The night was made even more special with opening sets by New York icon David Johansen and British punk-poet John Cooper Clarke. Lowe let the crowd know of his disappointment about the poor reception they gave to friend Clarke’s offbeat performance. The full Rockpile set was recorded and broadcast on the radio by Long Island radio station WLIR-FM.
Although both Edmunds and Lowe claim it will never happen, a Rockpile reunion tops my list of bands I would like to see play together again just one more time.