Direct from Hollywood, California, Kim Fowley’s band of jailbait rock queens The Runaways opened their first national tour on July 18, 1976 at the Tomorrow Club. This was only the second gig the band had played outside of California (the other being one brief stop in Texas in Feb. 1976). This was the real deal, however, as the band was playing in support of its debut self-titled album released on June 1, 1976.
The band consisted of Cherie Currie (age 16) on vocals, Joan Jett (age 17) on vocals/guitar, Lita Ford (age 17) on lead guitar, Sandy West (age 17) on drums and Jackie Fox (age 16) on bass. Currie wrote extensively about her first show experiences on tour in her memoir Neon Angel, but this one is not mentioned. Instead Currie talks of a show at the Celebrity Theatre in Cleveland as being the first gig on the tour. That’s incorrect, though. The Runaways played the Cleveland Agora on July 19, 1976 (I’m not as familiar with Cleveland rock history, but I never heard of the Celebrity Theatre). Everything Currie writes in the link I provided above, could be about the Youngstown gig.
There’s probably a good chance she forgot or was just told Youngstown was in fact Cleveland. A 16-year-old on tour for the first time probably wasn’t too concerned with details nor were her handlers.
As for the setlist, it likely consisted of California Paradise, Cherry Bomb, Take It Or Leave It, Secrets, You Drive Me Wild, C’Mon, Blackmail, Wild Thing, Don’t Use Me, Rock and Roll, Is It Day or Night?, Johnny Guitar and Dead End Justice in that order.
This show would not be the band’s last here. The band would play dates in 1977 and 1978 at the Tomorrow Club as well.
WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: WMMS recorded the next night’s show in Cleveland. Just Google it. There are lots of places to download it. It’s worth it. Here’s a peak of the show closer “Dead End Justice”. Allegedly it included some theatrics during the song (bullets and blood), but no film or video footage of it exists.