This event is 39 years old and obviously the few memories i have of this are jaded to say the least!im not quite sure if we had tickets or it was a pay on the door,but one thing is you had to be signed in,this was of course back in the days when the “students” where all a bit elitist,ie you had to be one to drink cheap cider in the students union bar even tho you had put fuck all in to the system,all that type of shit,keeping the riff raff out type of thing,it was a nightmare and as a 14 year old you can only stand being told to fuck off so many times,the thing with the students around that time was it was there kind of music circuit which was basically for them and nobody else like i mentioned earlier an elite club,so there we where me and jimmy and im not sure who else was with us,standing around trying our hardest when the man himself paul weller came walking down the steps in a parka,we managed to grab him and have a word about getting us in,but no chance there was nowt he could do as there was loads on the guest list,somehow one by one we managed to get in, and assemble at the bottom of the steps that went upto the concert hall,i remember there being a table selling tee shirts and stuff but not purchasing anything at all,on getting to the door that lead into the concert hall i can clearly remember the sound of patrik fitzgerald banging away on his guitar the song “safety pin stuck in my heart” i think we worked our way down to the front as all 14 year olds would do at the time! and next up where the dickies a great band from america who played everything at 100MPH, i already knew both artists from the peel show,so they where another 2 added to my slowly growing list of bands i had seen.So showtime and to this day i can hardly remember anything about the jam playing this night, it was the 1st time i had ever seen the jam and hardly anything i can remember!One thing is, i went in as a 14 year big jam fan but came out a massive jam fan,this gig along with a few others put me on to a lifetime of listening to this great band and paul weller solo stuff and the style council and the future recordings of bruce foxton and rick buckler,why post this you may ask? well it’s 39 years to the day that i saw this band which changed everything in my life after coming out of the now demolished sheffield polytechnic building things where different,these events in life may not really be important to a lot of us,however over the next 4 years i went on to see the jam 25 times,along that way i had some truly great times,met some great lads and lasses,and of course watched a truly great band just get better and better,would i swap this event for anything? NO! in fact i won’t swap any of the 25 times i saw the jam,probably not even to see the pistols who are the only one of my favourite bands ive never got to see.
In a previous posting i mentioned my introduction to John Peels night time radio 1 show, It was Christmas time and I was up late just playing a few records and flicking through the dial on our newly acquired state of the art music centre, Xmas 1977 I was 13 and i came across this glorious shambolic speeding punk blasting out in fine crystal clear glorious FM Stereo from the speakers, I sat and listened waiting for the end of the song for the DJ to say who it was, the short sharp and extremely good tune came to an end and the dulcet tones of John Peel came across the airwaves announcing I had just listened to Johnny Moped’s”Incendiary Device” and it held some position in a record chart that the 13 year old me had never heard of and certainly would never see either being performed by the band, or Pans People throwing a few shapes whilst dressed in pocket handkerchiefs,high heels and bad timing on good old TOTP. It was followed by more Fabulous tunes, again bands I’d never heard of, they just kept coming and coming, it was Punk tapas, a never ending line of small plates being served up, I was the junkie searching around for a lost stash of drugs, as i frantically looked for cassettes to record what was cartwheeling out of the speakers, The Lurkers “Shadow ” Sex Pistols “Holidays in the Sun” The Clash “Complete Control” John Cooper Clarke “Suspended Sentence ” The Rezillos “I can’t stand my baby ” The Motors “Dancing the Night Away ” it was a Thunderbolt of Biblical proportions, at midnight he announced it would be repeated later in the week, I just couldn’t wait. I went to bed that night buzzing, sleep didn’t come easy, I was making plans for the following night just hoping there was more of the same, that evening 40 years ago had started with my parents watching some Christmas time variety show full of flares and horrendous haircuts, by choosing not to sit with them and watch this “Adult Entertainment ” I had put the radio on by chance and found John Peel, all these years I’ve always believed in chance meetings or spur of the moment decisions can change your life as this certainly did.
Early next morning I was in that limbo state of not asleep but not quite awake, that time lapse of “who, what, where ” am I, that blank period, then the exocet missile hit me between the eyes as my mind slowly coughed farted and crunched into 1st gear, the previous night came kicking the doors down of my teenage memory bank, I reached for the cassette I’d used last night and stuck it in my small “hand me down ” Tape Recorder pressed play and laid back listening to my new found music. Later that morning I was sprinting round to my mates house, cassette squeezed into my jeans pocket as I hopped skipped and jumped over, around and through the puddles on the pavement as I headed for my mates house.
My mates mother answered the door and I shot up to his room, I burst in on a slumbering comatose adolescent vampire, blinking and holding his hands to his eyes as I pulled open the curtains to let in this grey damp Christmas 1977 morning “listen to this” I spat out as my shaking hands rammed the cassette into the tape deck laid on the floor, I pressed play and turned the volume up as high as possible, “fucking hell what’s this” he muttered as the morbid monotone voice of John Cooper Clarke reciting the joys of “bring back the rope for everyone ” slowly brought him out of his Xmas slumber, I told him how I found it and what was played the previous evening and it was on again tonight, we grabbed some toast and ventured out into the Xmas gloom, catching a bus to town we bought some cassettes to record that night and then made our way through the Christmas shoppers to Virgin Records at the bottom of the Moor, this was the hang out for all the young punks and rockers and most Tribes back in 77, at times it got tasty with various Tribes slugging it out with each other, we made our way to the punk records and looked for some of the band’s I had recorded the previous night, we came across Cooper Clarke, The Lurkers, a band called the Boys who we hadn’t heard of before who looked pretty punky and The Motors who didn’t look punk but where featured a couple of times in the festive 50, I spied Johnny Moped’s”Incendiary Device” and i just had to have it, I picked it out and paid at the counter and just wanted to get home to play it.
We arrived back at my mates house and put my new single on, now this was bloody class, what a record! the B side “No one” was just as good as the A side, so we played it again and again, we fiddled with my mates radio to tune it to radio 1 so he could listen later, I floated of home in the gloom of Christmas and stuck my new single on the hifi, my mum was making tea and kept giving me funny looks as I sat in the dining room headphones on rocking backwards and forwards to the sound of the mopeds, I grabbed my tea and shot of to my bedroom amid protests from my parents that I should be sat at the table eating and not laid on my bed, that night I must have checked the clock a thousand times, at one point I swear it was going backwards, just before 10 I made my way towards the kitchen, switched the radio on and sat back and waited, major panic as the intro music was not what I had expected, my fears were eased as the sombre dulcet tones of (my future all time hero) John Peel cut across the airwaves and into my (sweet) suburbia. I was completely mesmerised for the next 2 hours, punk, reggae, and new wave, but also other genres all totally obscure to this 13 year old, I listened every night after that and the following days I would play my ever increasing collection of tapes all filled with his shows.
I also had a well earned “brucey bonus” as 1978 brought along The old Grey Whistle Test into my life, so one night a week I would record peely and sit and watch TOGWT patiently waiting for a punk band to make an appearance in between the rock operas of meat loaf and various other long haired, flared trouser American MOR FM radio rock band, some weeks it was a waste of time, but as punk and new wave took 1978 by the scruff of the neck more and more bands made there racket heard presumably to the displeasure of whispering Bob Harris, that however is another story to tell.
Over the next few years I accumulated hundreds of tape recordings from these shows, my collection of tapes probably documented the changing musical landscape of the late 70s and early 80s, from punk to new wave, post punk, ska revival and 2tone to the burgeoning small label indie scene to the coming of the smiths and early dance such as New Order etc.
I sort of lost interest around 1983, mainly due to my favourite bands either splitting (The Clash, The Jam) or just going past there sell by date, I still occasionally listened in mostly when I was working nights, I went a long period in the 80s of not buying music or going to concerts, only now have I found music from that period that I missed which If I had carried on with peely I would have had! Live and learn eh! My tapes all ended up being thrown away by my parents around the late 80s along with various other musical gems I had collected over that fantastic period of my life, when the Internet came along it brought all this great music back, I found loads of John Peel sessions readily available to download and listen to all over again, I went one step further and actually put a lot of what I had downloaded back on cassettes, I went full circle! Thank you Internet!!
A 2nd visit to Chesterfield this year to a new venue recently opened called The Avenue, previously a Rileys Snooker centre (so I was told). The first “proper ” concert i went to was The Tom Robinson Band back in 1978 they where supported by tonight’s band Stiff Little Fingers, billed as a 40th anniversary tour it was a first time ever in Chesterfield for the mighty SLF,the last time I saw them was maybe 5/6 years ago at the plug in Sheffield and overall I’ve seen them 6/7 times over the last 39 years (f**kin ell!) My first time at this venue and I was impressed, fairly wide stage so plenty of opportunities to stand near the front, a balcony looking down at the stage was quite crowded so you had options of which view you could have, huge downside was the bar, at least 10 deep with 4 people serving, 25 minutes before we got served so my mate and I got 2 pints each, maybe the fact that this was probably the first big band they had put on and never expected it to be this busy, so hopefully they get that sorted for this cracking venue.
Jake burns, Ali McMordie on bass, Ian McMallun on guitar and Steve Grantley on drums came bounding on stage and quickly straight into “breakout” minus his singing as it was so distorted “straw Dogs” followed and sound corrected and Mr burns could now be heard quite clearly, dressed in a polka dot shirt and looking rather portly I may add! “Fade away” followed and a quick breather as jake introduced the next song “my dark places” what I like about jake burns is he always explains his songs, about the backgrounds to them and how he came to write them.
“Safe as houses” “nobody’s hero” “at the edge” followed next then a real oldie in “barbed wire love” and “roots ” then a newish (well this century ) “Strummerville” Jakes tribute to the legend Joe strummer, who was instrumental in the Fingers first footsteps on the punk scene.
The heat is turned up as early classics are played “wasted life” “tin soldiers” and the classic “suspect device ” one of my all time favourite punk records, play it at full blast and hear the anger in his voice, jake burns was well and truly pissed off with his lot back in 1977, and that’s your lot! We missed the encores due to running for the last bus back to sheffield ( tight gits) but a cracking show none the less, this was no going through the motions, no nostalgia circuit performance, it still means a lot and the songs mean a hell of a lot to this band whether they are last century or this century the Fingers are still as important today as they were back in the days when they came full throttle at you courtesy of John Peel.
My dark places
Safe as houses
At the edge
Barbed wire love
Guilty as sin
We were young
My usual bandcamp band hunt brought me to searching tags with “old punk ” and ” Sheffield” and luckily for me these sheffield scallywags popped up begging to be played and bought! Brought to the world by the “kids of the Lughole ” label, the Lughole being a small practice/small gig room next to one of the dodgist Ale houses in Sheffield on a back Street in the city centre, General Public EP is 4 slices of pure punk, straight out of 1977, extremely loud, catchy Riffs, a short sharp statement of no frills no nonsense 100% punk rock.
Less than 6 minutes long this ep released in may 2016 on limited edition vinyl features the following 4 tracks
1.. General Public
I think this may be there 3rd release, maybe the 2nd vinyl issue, I strongly recommend giving the “No Salvation” single a listen to if you can get the vinyl format, otherwise there’s a free download via there bandcamp page. Here’s a band I will be keeping a beady eye on in 2017 and hopefully get to see them live, if your penchant is for old style punk this is the band to watch!
First gig I ever went to was The Push playing in the drama Hall at school . It was Organised By ex English teacher and the current school youth club leader and all round Top Bloke Howard Holmes, The Push, where a 5 piece new wave/punk band who where probably more Pub Rock then PUNK Rock with shades of Nick Lowe, Graham Parker and The 101ers Rather then Punk Rock premier league outfits like the Clash, Pistols and The Damned. My school at the time had a great drama Hall with rather a large stage and having hosted various plays and assembly’s was now playing hosts to snarling spitting punk rockers with the menacing threat of violence, chaos and destruction imminent.
Posters where put up around the school and my new punk buddies just couldn’t wait, it was to be our first gig ,we knew nothing about this band at all as our musical knowledge didn’t extend as yet to the local scene.
The night came and we paid our 50p entrance at the door and made our way in, there was a few older kids in from school and some 6th formers, plus a few older punks and various waifs and strays and some local lowedges teddy boys which we found rather strange! Now I’m not sure if there was a support band on, some say there was, some say there wasnt, but The Push bounced onstage and yes! I’m at the front having it in large portions, I’m bouncing around and giving it everything, then the music stopped, Ray Ashcroft the singer (the soon to be famous actor ) has stopped singing and has spotted the Teds in the audience and has launched into a rather heated exchange of words, “get these fuckers out” as he launched himself at them, the Teds had a go back and we where treated to handbags, threats of “see you outside” and opinions regarding each others musical tastes “your bands shite”and “fuck off elvis”
Order soon resumes and we are treated to soon to be “classics” such as ‘Can’t Stop Maureen’ the obligatory attempt at reggae with ‘Front-Room Revolution’ ‘gloria’ which I think every band covered back then and finishing with the soon to be released single ‘Cambridge Stomp’ pop pickers and on to world domination, or not!
Off course this was 1978 and here we are 38 years later in 2016 and my copy of said single is worth £8 according to eBay or discogs, it’s the memory off my first gig that will stop with me as long as my memory holds out.
So what happened to The Push I hear you ask? Main man and leader Ray Ashcroft quit the band after a tour supporting XTC when he got to play the part of Ringo Starr in “The Birth of the Beatles” Film and he went on appear in The Bill, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, Rock and Rolls loss and TVs Gain!!!!
The first records I bought where in the spring and summer of 1977, David Bowie’s sound and vision single and Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Fanfare For The Common Man, slowly I got hooked on the new punk sounds that where now appearing on our TVs, Radio’s and the nations press,I started discovering radio and although it was limited as to what was being played I slowly became a follower of radio one’s Saturday rock show and later I discovered a life changing late night show and in glorious stereo,namely the John Peel Show,(more to follow)
The Saturday rock show was as its title suggests a rock show, however slowly but surely punk and new wave records slowly starting appearing, here I heard The Clash for the first time,with White Riot in BBC session mode getting a serious playing, XTC and the stranglers also seemed popular, A record that really stuck out for me that was played a lot was Dr Feelgoods Roxette, great big bass guitar, wilkos scratchy rhythm guitar riffs and blasting harmonica, this record had everything.
Over the coming months I bought singles and albums, dinner money saved all week and off to town on Saturday to buy records, up until this time I was all football, all my school mates where the same,anything else was not entertained, slowly I saw less and less of my mates as I spent more time listening to records and reading the music papers about all these great new bands and great music, at times I thought I was the only person in school who liked punk music, of course there was the rockers with there denim jackets covered in led Zeppelin and status quo patches but not for me was any of that!
The First ever album I bought was The Jam This Is The Modern World, Quickly followed by The Ramones Rocket to Russia, followed by Ian Dury New Boots And Panties, then I got a bit Daring and went all pub
and bought Graham Parker And The Rumour Stick To Me, Various singles as well, The Jam The Modern World, The Stranglers Peaches, Sex Pistols, Pretty Vacant, I then back tracked and bought all the first punk singles such as the Damned New Rose, The Clash White Riot, Complete Control,Generation X My Generation, Grip by the stranglers, early Elvis Costello singles such as Alison, Less then Zero and Watching the detectives, I discovered The Buzzcocks, and The Saints purely by flicking through every single in the punk section in virgin records, there just seemed to be great records coming out every week, and as a 13 year I had limited money! I was steadily building up a nice record collection and adding all the time to it, somehow I discovered that Debenhams had a music section and would have boxes full of ex chart singles and records that hadnt sold all at really low prices, over the next few months I regularly plundered this goldmine of vinyl with great success.
The life changing event from this period of my life happened as most things do, purely by accident, Christmas 1977 and I’m up late and as far as I can remember I was flicking through the channel’s on the music centre and I came upon The Lurkers Shadow, clear as a bell in glorious FM Stereo, wondering what it was I sat and listened until the record ended and the voice of the DJ appeared singing the praises of the record and then introducing another punk record in some kind of top 50 that I was certain had never appeared on Top Of The Pops! What I had found was the John Peel Show and his festive 50, I stuck a Tape in pressed record and for the next 10 years or so I was hooked, over the next 2/3 days I wished the fingers on the clock around to 10.o’clock and armed with cassette tapes I recorded just about every record peely played.
To Be Continued!!!!
The Stranglers annual visit to the 02, this time they are back and revisiting the classic Black and White album playing it in its entirety,the Stranglers have been regular visitors to sheffield since 1977, probably playing this venue more then any other band over the last 40 years.
With the speakers and keyboards and drums all decked out in white the band bounced on and launched into “Tank” JJ prowling the stage laughing and smiling, whilst baz stage left playing guitar like his life depended on and the ever reliable dave greenfield showing no signs of slowing down delivering highly addictive synthesiser beats and powerhouse drumming from new drummer jim macaulay keeping the beat moving along making the band a lot more tighter,clearly after all these years the two remaining original members are still clearly enjoying it.
Crystal clear tight and loud the band got it right treating old and hopefully new fans to a great performance of this classic album, not much chat, but song after song, JJs rumbling filthy bass always at the forefront, more favourites followed and for me the highlight being ” walk on by” a song I think the Stranglers have really made there own, greenfields keyboards and JJs bass solos playing a huge part in this extended version, could be called self indulgent but not these lads! We then had ” nuclear device” “grip” “always the sun” “London lady ” we where even treated to ” I feel like a wog” from the No More Heroes album, one criticism I have is a huge portion of the crowd switched off when Norfolk Coast was played, we also had “relentless” thrown in to the mix, obviously these people where only there for the old “Cornwell years” material, Norfolk Coast is a cracking record and is up there with the best.
Two hours of classics and an encore of “Go Buddy Go” after 40 years this song sounded as fresh as it did back then, from the opening “Boogie ” shout to the rock and roll organ riff, the scratchy rhythm guitar, drumming like an express train, A worthy finish with a song that is always far superior played live, a truly great night with a band that can still play like they mean it!!