Monday, 31 January 2011

39 X-MAL DEUTSCHLAND, Restless, The Bolshoi, London Camden Town Electric Ballroom, Monday 4 November 1985

Got the train up and arrived in time to see The Bolshoi's set. They excelled in the face of utter indifference, changing the lyric of their best number, the spooky, sinister "Happy Boy" to reflect their reception; "such a happy boy today, blew the audience clean away..."

Restless - again - were rockabilly rubbish. I wish they'd stop turning up as support in my gigs...

Xmal Deutschland also excelled with a fine set of mostly unfamiliar material, but with the usual strident female vocals and spiky, spooky Goth overtones. Left running on the conclusion of the last number, and caught the last train by the skin of my teeth, actually hopping onto it while it was pulling out of Paddington! Whew!

40 ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE WOODENTOPS, Gloucester Leisure Centre, Friday 13 December 1985

A potentially brilliant double-header turned out exactly as planned, with both bands excelling; The Woodentops played a superb set of their frantic and fast studenty strumalong rockabilly pop, with "Last Time" particularly memorable, and The Bunnymen, plugging slightly disappointing new eponymous album, were nevertheless their usual glacially cool selves. Great stuff; spoke briefly to Alice from the Woodentops on the way out of the gig.

41 DEL AMITRI, Bedroom Fear, London Marquee, Friday 28 February 1986

Took the day off work and took the train up to London to see Del Amitri, increasingly becoming my favourite band of this mid 80's moment. However I got utterly pissed on the journey up and before the gig! We snuck in without paying as well!

Support Bedroom Fear impressed, covering Liverpool band Dalek I's splendidly spooky "A Suicide" in their set. Lounged backstage with the Del's before they went on, however by now I was totally pissed and increasingly hungover, so the Del Amitri set went by in a drunken haze. I'm told they were brilliant!

42 THE HOUSEMARTINS, His Latest Flame, Sheffield Leadmill, Saturday 1 March 1986

Took the train up to visit Craig at Sheffield Polytechnic, and catch the Northern leg of the Housemartins' "Twisting Roadshow" tour, featuring a fine support act in the all-girl poppy Scots 5-piece His Latest Flame, and a confrontational comedian compere going under the name of Porky The Poet (who later found fame under his own name - Phill Jupitus!).

The Housemartins were very impressive with a splendidly paced set, with a capella numbers of old soul and 60's staples "Caravan Of Love" and "He Ain't Heavy" next to fast and frantic instrumental numbers. Some great poppy moments as well, such as "Sheep" and "We're Not Deep" highlighted a fine set.

43 THE POGUES, The Balham Alligators, London Hammersmith Palais, Monday 17 March 1986

Took our lives in our hands for this one, a "St. Patricks Day Special" which was wall-to-wall in rowdy drunken Irishmen! Support acts included The Balham Alligators (very fat and folky), a loud Irish punk band whose name eluded us, and a duo of Irish buskers.

The Pogues played up to the occasion as you'd expect, "Wild Rover" in particular raising the roof! Drunken singalongs and fiddly diddly dancing were the order of the day in a most appropriate way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

44 THE HOUSEMARTINS, His Latest Flame, Swindon Level 3, Tuesday 18 March 1986

Met the Housemartins in the Rolleston pub when they wandered in, and casually stuck my copy of their recent Sheffield set-list under their noses for them to sign (Norman Cook signing it, "thieving rotter!").

Support His Latest Flame impressed again with some classy girly pop. The Housemartins, however, were generally slightly disappointing after their excellent showing in Sheffield. Norman later informed me by letter that the Swindon crowd was the most complacent on their "Twisting Roadshow" tour, so this was their toughest gig. However, highlights were a splendid a capella "Caravan Of Love", and vocalist Paul Heaton commenting on the recent railway works closure ("Thatcher's Britain..."). I thanked him for that afterwards (my dad being one of the railwaymen to lose his job in the closure), and also chatted with a couple of Flames and to Norman at length!

45 THE RAMONES, The Prisoners, London Hammersmith Palais, Monday 5 May 1986

Took the train up on a Bank Holiday Monday with Rich and Paul, my brother really saving my bacon by taking up a ticket offer which became available at the last minute due to a drop-out!

Hit the bar instead of paying attention to The Prisoners, so can't remember what they were like! However The Ramones lived up to their image and reputation once again, running through 30 numbers, including all the old favourites ("Sheena", "Blitzkrieg Bop" et al), plus many selections from return-to-form recent albums "Animal Boy" and the excellent "Too Tough To Die", all in a leather jacketed blur at breakneck pace! At one point, the 3 of us, furiously fighting for dear life in a frantic moshpit, all pitched up in the toilets at the same time just to get some air! "What are we all doing in here, the Ramones are on out there!"

46 THE JUNE BRIDES, Giant, Swindon Level 3, Tuesday 6 May 1986

Unorthodox local band Giant played a very odd opening set, which included a cover of 60's staple "Backstage", but The June Brides played a superb lovely set of jangly, ramshackle yet utterly charming pop. Spoke briefly to vocalist Phil Wilson afterwards, who gave me his plectrum!

47, 48, 49 DEL AMITRI, Kevin McDermott, Swindon Level 3, London Marquee and Sheffield Leadmill, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 13, 15 and 17 May 1986

A triple-header following my current "live" faves, masters of introverted yet verbose (in a nice way) jangle pop Del Amitri, seemingly halfway around the world! It nevertheless started locally, with a gig in Swindon that I had a hand in organising (although not in financing, I'm glad to say..). Helped the band unpack and set up as well! Only 46 people paid to get in, though; at one point guitarist Brian asked if people could go to the loo one at a time! The Dels played a razor-sharp set nonetheless.

Two nights later, and on the first anniversary of my first Del Amitri gig, we reconvened in London early for an advertised "extra special support", which turned out to be The Dels themselves, along with support and friend Kevin McDermott, playing cover versions such as "(Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Let's Go Crazy" and "Venus", under the name of Bob Dylan And The Libyans! McDermott then played an impressive and emotive solo singer-songwriter set before the Dels themselves headlined with an excellent and enjoyable set of their own numbers!

Finally, a weekend visiting Craig at Sheffield Poly concluded my first gig triple-header; wandered past the Leadmill on a drizzly Saturday afternoon at 4.30, and helped the Dels unpack and set up again, consequently getting in on the guest list! Del Amitri again played a fine set, this time in the face of an indifferent audience, rounding off an impressive three in a row!

50 HIS LATEST FLAME, Wendover Wellhead Inn, Saturday 7 June 1986

A long-haul drive for this gig, a pokey little pub in the middle of nowhere! I thought it was a whole lot closer, or I might not have bothered...

The band took the stage, unsurprisingly, to Elvis Presley's "His Latest Flame" and played a tuneful and energetic set of their well crafted girly pop. Spoke briefly to vocalist Moira afterwards.

51 SIMPLE MINDS, The Cult, The Bangles, The Waterboys, In Tua Nua, Milton Keynes Bowl, 21 June 1986

Drove up on a blazing hot day, ideal for an outdoor gig, although I was suffering from the high pollen count and had to wear dark glasses to combat my hay fever!

The support acts whiled away the afternoon, providing a musical backdrop to some sunbathing; The Cult and The Bangles didn't do much for me, but In Tua Nua and The Waterboys were more impressive with their Irish-tinged melodies.

Simple Minds played a long set of their by-now stadium friendly anthemic rock, with occasional (not enough for my mind, but still...) forays into their more challenging and inventive back catalogue ("I Travel" and "Love Song" being predictable highlights). Jim Kerr was a very energetic frontman, changing shirts about 5 times, covering "Sun City" in the encores, moving around the stage frantically and expansively, and even reading out the score of the France-Brazil World Cup Quarter Final during their set!

52 JULIAN COPE, The Mighty Lemon Drops, London, Tuffnell Park Boston Club, Thursday 14 August 1986

Got a lift up to London in a full carload with Roger, who drives like a bloody lunatic; 130 mph on the M4, 2 yards behind the car in front! Stopped on Oxford Street to do a bit of record shopping, and ran into Richard Jobson of the Armoury Show (and formerly vocalist of my early teen faves The Skids). Got into a conversation with him, during which he said the Armoury Show were looking for a new guitarist, and could I play guitar! I remember stammering out, "I could learn..." (but I didn't - and still haven't!)

After all that, the gig wasn't half bad either! The Mighty Lemon Drops were a tuneful bunch of leathered-up rockist Bunnymen/Teardrops disciples, but the master himself, Cope, also in full leathers and slithering over a huge microphone construct, gave them a lesson in powerful, tuneful rock and utterly astonishing showmanship. A wonderful and commanding frontman, and a pleasure to see him back in rude physical and mental health again! As one of his new numbers put it, "I've been away too long..."

53 THE SOUP DRAGONS, Bath Moles Club, Saturday 23 August 1986

The tiny little hole in the wall bistro-like club Bath Moles turned itself into a small punk rock youth club circa 1977 for The Soup Dragons, who played a very Buzzcocks-like set of spiky punky blasts with an underlying (and occasionally well buried under the guitar noise) melody. Met Sushil, the bassist, afterwards, after a fine and sweaty little set!

54 THE SHOP ASSISTANTS, THE BODINES, Wild Flowers, London University Of London Student Union, Friday 3 October 1986

Caught the train and met up with a couple of Uni friends in London; spent much of the time taking the piss out of current music press darlings Talulah Gosh; a couple of members of said band were actually in attendance tonight, and when confronted by this drunken lout claimed "they'd been misquooooted" about being the fore-runners of a new anorak movement!

The Wild Flowers were absolutely god-awful; The Bodines however turned it around impressively with an excellent performance of strident jangly rock, flying floppy fringes and colour, with "William Shatner" a highlight. Certainly a more consistent offering than headliners The Shop Assistants; like the girl with the curl, when they were good they were very very good, but when bad they were dire. An unorthodox blend of very quiet breathy girly vocals from vocalist Alex Taylor and loud surf-punk rock guitar, they were however good more often than not!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

55 THE WOODENTOPS, JAMES, London Institute Of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, Saturday 11 October 1986

A great double-header, this, and a great venue as well, the ICA being very posh indeed with an impressive and ambient bar, where I spent much time - and money!

Both bands played superb sets; Tim Booth of James wore a massively vile boiler suit and jerked his way through a set of mainly new material, yet still fun, unorthodox and distinctly James. The Woodentops, by contrast, played all the old favourites in their 100mph set of mutant rockabilly. Grabbed both set-lists; Rolo's one for The Woodentops halfway through the set! Naughty, naughty...

56 THE HOUSEMARTINS, The Proclaimers, Bristol Studio, Sunday 12 October 1986

Enjoyed the support, a pair of heavily-accented Scottish buskers singing funny folky songs! The Housemartins premiered new material during their fun set; I re-introduced myself to my occasional correspondent Norman Cook afterwards; he signed my set-list.

57 THE SMITHS, Raymonde, Gloucester Leisure Centre, Saturday 18 October 1986

Drove down with a carload for this one, unfortunately getting there in time to see poor support Raymonde. The Smiths, however were much more like it; promoting serious-return-to-form new LP, the rockier "The Queen Is Dead", The Smiths, never the most reliable proposition "live" for me at least, were at their venomous, acerbic best, with Morrissey commanding, waving his Ramones-like placard bearing the LP title with imperious majesty.

Grabbed the set-list after a refreshing experience, making a difficult drive home in horrible weather well worthwhile!

58 THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS, The Wedding Present, Pop Will Eat Itself, London University Of London Student Union, Friday 24 October 1986

Continuing a hectic, 7 gig October; took the train down for this one and hit the bar, popping in to the hall only to see openers Pop Will Eat Itself do a thrashy cover of the headliners' "Like An Angel". Very impressed with the guitar dexterity of main support The Wedding Present's vocalist/ guitarist, the loud shirted David Gedge!

The Mighty Lemon Drops played an incident-filled yet solid set of their strident rockist pop; I had a punter land on my head during the set, and the Lemon Drops themselves were assaulted by a plastic beer cup and took it rather nastily!

59 HIS LATEST FLAME, Bath Moles Club, Saturday 25 October 1986

Drove down to the old hole in the wall, to catch an energetic set of chiming, increasingly countrified pop from Glasgow girlies The Flames, having a few words with vocalist Moira afterwards, who saved me her set-list! Nice!

60 JULIAN COPE, Primal Scream, Bristol Bierkeller, Wednesday 29 October 1986

Drove a carload down for this one, getting there in time to catch support Primal Scream play a flat, innocuous set which didn't do justice to their melodic, slightly-delic catchy vinyl work. Maybe next time...

Piled down the front, ending up stood next to a girl who insisted upon biting my arm because I stood too close to her - must've been her first gig - and got a large bruise in the process. Still t'was all worth it, after another splendid showing from Julian Cope, the supreme frontman. Got drenched down the front to Copey's wonderful set of soaring, epic pop, St. Julian delving back to the Teardrop Explodes days for a version of "Sleeping Gas", and encoring with a punk rock "Spacehopper". Brilliant!

61 EASTERHOUSE, Soil, The Academy, Uxbridge Brunel University, Friday 7 November 1986

Stayed over with a friend at the Uni; got drunk at the gig and dropped a contact lens! Bah! Support Soil were ignored by everyone!

Easterhouse played an exciting set of their dark, politicised yet catchy rock, encoring with a fine cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay".

62 ULTRAVOX, Zerra 1, Oxford Apollo Theatre, Friday 14 November 1986

Drove down in appalling conditions, having an aquaplane spin on the journey there, but managing to collect it before I totalled the car!

Zerra 1 played a disappointing set of metallic thrash, very unlike their earlier, more anthemic rock material.

Ultravox however were astonishing. We were in the balcony, so had an excellent view of a brilliantly complimentary light-show. The band were ostensibly promoting slightly disappointing new LP "U-Vox", but played a "Greatest Hits" set of their familiar synth pop, notable being a stark "All In One Day", a rocking and soaring "One Small Day" and the inevitable "Vienna".

Managed to get the last set list by running down the stairs, exiting the theatre then getting back into the stalls!

63 THE MEN THEY COULDN'T HANG, The Company, Bristol Bierkeller, Thursday 20 November 1986

My hopes were high for this one after the Men had produced my favourite LP of 1986 in "How Green Is The Valley", a much more consistent album than their predecessor, whilst still full of their catchy, singalong folky rock. We were not to be disappointed; their set, following a dull support, was excellent, opening with the chiming "Gold Rush" and culminating in a raucous, singalong "Green Fields Of France" and a blast through the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks". A drunken, beery and brilliantly bawdy night!

64 THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS, THE WILD SWANS, Freight Train, London Astoria, Saturday 22 November 1986

One hell of a gig! Took the train up to this eagerly anticipated one, my first time of seeing early 80's Liverpool favourites The Wild Swans since they'd unbelievably reformed. Freight Train comprised Julian Cope's brother Joss and his guitarist Donald Ross Skinner, and played a not unimpressive set. However that was mere bland hors d'oeuvres before the banquet; I'd seen The Wild Swans 5 years previously, and time and break-ups hadn't mellowed or stifled their epic creativity. Only recently reformed, they still touched the face of Godhood; "Revolutionary Spirit", one of the best singles EVER, was divine, and the new stuff lived up to that standard. Brilliant to see them again!

Spent most of The Lemon Drops bolshy rock set talking to Paul Simpson and Jerry Kelly from the Wild Swans, who were friendly - Simmo particularly so - signing my set-list and inviting me to an after-show party. Damn my train home!

65 DEL AMITRI, The Dentists, London Marquee, Friday 5 December 1986

Took the opportunity of this gig to visit and stay with a friend at Brunel University; or was it the other way round? Either way, I got very pissed indeed at this gig, meeting up with a number of other Del Amitri mega-fans (Dels fans of the world unite!), hanging out with Sushil and other Soup Dragons in attendance, and also bumping into Lloyd Cole, being terribly rude to him about his glasses and unshaven state. He still signed my Dels set-list, although on the back...

Del Amitri, despite my drunken state, were memorably excellent, premiering lots of new and impressive material, particularly catchy opener "When I Want You". They also threw in a cover of the Rolling Stones "It's All Over Now" in their set.

66 THE WOODENTOPS, Stump, Miaow, London Kentish Town Town And Country Club, Saturday 6 December 1986

Day 2 of a weekend visit to Brunel University, so tubed over to the gig, unfortunately missing most of Miaow's cultured set, and equally unfortunately catching all of Stump's abysmal set!

The Woodentops as usual took the bull by the horns with their manic, frenzied punky rockabilly "Hypnobeat". Vocalist Rolo proclaimed, "we've been halfway around the world, but we know where the sun shines brightest," and proceeded to show us where!

67 JAMES, THE PRIMITIVES, Miaow, London University Of London Student Union, Friday 9 January 1987

Took the train in and stayed with a friend at Brunel University. Got to see all of Miaow's set this time, and was impressed with their understated but groovy pop, with current single "When It All Comes Down" a delight. The Primitives were very loud, punky, psychedelic and cool; met tiny and cute vocalist Tracey Primitive afterwards and complimented her on her elegance!

Headliners James (headliners! At last!) took the step up in their stride, and were, as ever, James; precious, whimsical, unorthodox, never dull, always eccentric, debuting a slew of new numbers but never failing to entertain. Superb!

68 THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, Bristol Colston Hall, Monday 16 February 1987

A re-arranged gig from November, this; I drove down with Rich and Doug, hitting the bar in favour of the support band The Ward Brothers. The Psychedelic Furs were ostensibly promoting new US-Radio friendly LP "Midnight To Midnight", but played a colossal set, drawing from their poppy, sleazy Bowie-esque back catalogue as well. Great stuff; got a set-list then hung around by the backstage door afterwards and got the band to sign it, meeting vocalist Richard Butler in the process!

69 THE SOUP DRAGONS, My Bloody Valentine, Bristol Bierkeller, Tuesday 24 February 1987

Drove a carload and hit the pool tables - successfully this time - ignoring the support band in the process. The Soup Dragons were less, well, "Soup Dragony", sounding more like themselves, i.e. cleaner and poppier, and less like their buzzsaw Buzzcocks-like reputation. A fine set; went backstage afterwards and got my set list signed, chatting at length to the band and putting up with insults about my shirt!

70 AGE OF CHANCE, Miaow, The Wallflowers, London Astoria, Friday 27 February 1987

Took the train with Ray and met Craig there! Had a culture shock, with The Wallflowers, purveyors of my favourite single of last year with the chiming, charming "Blushing Girl, Nervous Smile", featuring former Telephone Boxes vocalist Peter D'Brickley! Spoke to him after their excellent set to confirm this. Miaow, next up, were again quietly and understatedly impressive; complimented bassist Ron afterwards.

Age Of Chance, whom I'd described as a cross between an industrial steam hammer and the Tour De France (!), were loud, brash, arrogant and confident, and a burst of noise and colour "live". The guitarist broke strings on virtually every song, such was the intensity of his playing. The stark backlit stage and their cycling outfits made for a unique visual spectacle. A wild and wonderful gig!

71 THE WEDDING PRESENT, THE CLOSE LOBSTERS, The Wild Flowers, Bam Bam/Calling, London Hammersmith Clarendon Hotel Ballroom, Saturday 28 February 1987

A last minute gig, this; I'd intended to go to Stockton On Tees, to see The Primitives at Teeside Poly and stay overnight with my student brother, but that was curtailed due to him walking through the door at home 1/2 hour before my train left, "to see the footy!" So, at a loose end and still up for a gig, I went for plan "B" and caught a train to London!

First 2 bands were anonymous, but Close Lobsters were excellent; pissed but energetic and kinetic, playing their excellent, jangly and edgy "Foxheads Stalk This Land" LP material. Headliners The Wedding Present also impressed with their energy and the dexterity (once again) of vocalist David Gedge's guitar playing. I missed their encores, however; had to leave to catch the last train home!

72 THE PRIMITIVES, Jim Jiminee, Reading University Student Union, Tuesday 3 March 1987

This turned out to be a very late gig, as Reading Uni Student Union had ordered the wrong PA! A replacement didn't arrive until 10.30, so once things were set up, support Jim Jiminee didn't start their set until 11.30! Nevertheless, they impressed with a very fast, upbeat and punchy jive/ rockabilly/ jangly/ I don't really know how to describe it set. Complimented vocalist Kevin afterwards.

The Primitives (whom we'd chatted with beforehand, standing around waiting for the PA) were on just before 1 am, mainly promoting new single "Stop Killing Me" but playing an excellent fast, brash and punky set, with closer "Really Stupid" my favourite of the night. On a small stage, we nevertheless still looked down on them!

73 THE CHESTERFIELDS, Bath Moles Club, Saturday 21 March 1987

Drove Rich down, and got a little annoyed with him as this meant I couldn't drink! The Chesterfields made up for it, however, playing a fast, furious and fun set of their catchy, upbeat, ramshackle pop. Spoke to vocalist David afterwards, who'd try to get us on the guest list for their London gig next week (we went - he didn't!).

74 THE CHESTERFIELDS, Riot Of Colour, Escape From Burma, Catholic North, London Hammersmith Clarendon Hotel Ballroom, Thursday 26 March 1987

Had a promise for a guest list spot for this one, so me and Rich caught the train, consuming a 4-pack on the journey, and Guinness in the pub next door! Had to pay to get in to this "Club Bastard" night, however, as we'd got bumped from the small guest-list; bah!

Chatted with the Chesterfields whilst the support bands came and went, also meeting Johnny Dee, a Brighton fanzine editor and subject of the Chesterfields single "Ask Johnny Dee". Also spoke to John Violin, vocalist of headliners 1,000 Violins, inarticulately attempting to persuade his band to come play in Swindon!

As for some music; The Chesterfields played an excellent set of happy jangle pop, which I danced to down the front of this big hall. However we missed 1,000 Violins' set as we had to catch the last train home. Damn!

75 MIGHTY MIGHTY, Bristol Western Star Club, Friday 8 May 1987

Drove down and stayed overnight with a friend in Bristol. The venue was a cosmopolitan dive on the edge of St. Pauls; met Martin from the Flatmates there, who introduced me to his stunning bandmate Sarah! Mighty Mighty introduced themselves as "a mod band" and played an energetic if tinny set of push'n'shove pop, with "Twilight" a highlight.

76 THE WEATHER PROPHETS, Happy Mondays, Bristol Bierkeller, Monday 18 May 1987

Drove a couple of Thompsons - no relations to each other - down for this one. The Bierkeller is good for my pool game, as I played 6 games and won all 6!

Support The Happy Mondays were atrocious, but the Weather Prophets more than made up for it with a deliciously laid-back set of Byrds-like jangly, slightly countrified rock. Mainly promoting new LP "Mayflower" but strangely omitting current single "She Comes From The Rain", this was however a fine slice of thoughtful guitar pop.

77 THE FLATMATES, NORTH OF CORNWALLIS, The Word Merchants, Aldershot Buzz Club, Saturday 23 May 1987

Got driven down for this Saturday night gig, so consumed Carling Special Brew on an eventful journey down, driver Snowy hitting a rabbit on the way! In my drunken state I found the Buzz Club sign, "Admission £3, Members £2.50" hilarious; "d'you mean I have to pay £5.50 to get me and my member in?" Hardy har har...

The Buzz Club itself was a little posh, much like the ICA; openers The Word Merchants covered The Weather Prophets' excellent "Almost Prayed" in their set; North of Cornwallis ended their set with some Monkees covers, capping off a fine pop set which included an excellent, plaintive original "Falling Over December". A band worth seeing again!

The Flatmates were very raucous as expected, dishing out dollops of ramshackle buzzsaw pop with girly vocals. Spoke (or slurred...) at length to the bands afterwards, then promptly fell asleep on the drive home!

78 THE MEN THEY COULDN'T HANG, JAMIE WEDNESDAY, Bristol Transport House, Thursday 28 May 1987

The JDubs - "live" at last! I'd been a fan of this band for about a year now and tried on a number of occasions to go see them, but finally I got a note from vocalist Jim, advising me of their support slot on this "Red Wedge" show, so I drove down on my own, meeting the band in the pub opposite before hitting the venue. DJ Wendy May spun the discs, and "Porky The Poet" (AKA Phill Jupitus) was MC.

As for the JDubs themselves; they were upbeat and jangly, and I enjoyed them immensely, being the only one dancing throughout their set. They dedicated "Born Again Atheist" to me, and also had a conversation with me from the stage! Headliners The Men They Couldn't Hang were as raucous and rabble-rousing as ever, with their Irish folk tinged rock well suited to this event. Unfortunately they omitted "Green Fields Of France" this time, but a great set nevertheless, capped with a raw and raucous "Ironmasters". Spoke at length to Jim and Simon from Jamie Wednesday after the gig, before hitting the road having finally seen this wretched band!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

79, 80 U2, Hurrah, London Wembley Arena and Birmingham NEC, Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd June 1987

A couple of arena gigs from U2, on the back of their most successful LP yet in "The Joshua Tree", which combines their anthemic rock with almost folky, country-esque softer moments, and has finally seen them crack it big time. This double-header was the first and second of 4 U2 gigs over 12 days. Stadiums later, arenas first...

Headed off to Wembley - a former aircraft hanger, surely! - in time to catch competent support Hurrah play pleasant pop to a complacent crowd.

U2, however, were a cut above; in fact a cut above pretty much every other band around when viewed in the "live" environment. The set consisted of old faves "I Will Follow", "MLK", "The Unforgettable Fire" (introduced by Bono with, "some fires you can't put out..."), an acoustic "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Pride", a wonderful soaring "Gloria" and singalong closer "40", punctuated with new numbers from "The Joshua Tree".

U2 also covered Ewan McColls "Springhill Mining Disaster", Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" (transformed into a party political broadcast for the anti-Thatcher party), and Eddie Cochran's "C'Mon Everybody". A brilliant set.

We also bumped into a couple of luminaries around the venue; met Lloyd Cole and apologised for being so rude to him when we met at the Marquee at Del Amitri's recent gig! Also met Pete Wylie, who perched on a bar and held court for 10 minutes; just as I'd imagined him!

The following night was not so notable; drove up and grabbed something to eat before their show (marvellously sickly mushy peas!) at this similarly large indoor auditorium.

Missed Hurrah this time, but U2 were again exemplary, including in tonight's set Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" and Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door", jamming with various members of the audience! Bono lost his voice slightly during "Pride" so cut the encores to 2, but still another great show.

More was to follow, at Wembley Stadium the following weekend...

81, 82 U2, Various Supports, London Wembley Stadium, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 June 1987

A double double-header of U2 gigs (4 in all in 11 days) culminated in this 2 night stand at Wembley Stadium, the first time U2 had been elevated to Stadium Band status (1985's Milton Keynes "Longest Day" show notwithstanding), and my first Stadium gigs as well!

Day one, I drove up and parked in Uxbridge, tubing in from there. Wembley Stadium is huge; luckily the pitch was tarpaulined over so the hallowed turf wasn't desecrated. Found a good viewing spot near the front of the stage as the place filled... and filled... Openers WORLD PARTY started with their best song "Ship Of Fools" then faded badly. SPEAR OF DESTINY were next up; disappointed not to see Alan St. Clair or Stan Stammers in the line-up, but SOD played a strident rock set featuring old faves "Mickey", "Once In Her Lifetime" and "Young Men", which won me over.

Pleasantly surprised by the PRETENDERS set, which was more rocking than their intelligent but often wallpaper pop output might have suggested; vocalist Chrissie Hynde dedicated best number "Kid" to the late Pete Farndon and James Honeyman Scott; the rendition was beautiful.

As for U2; they played basically the same set as the NEC 10 days ago, omitting their version of "Maggies Farm" now that the election is over. With Bono a splendid showman well at home on this big stage, their set was typically wonderful, but no surprises after a couple of viewings already. However, tomorrow was the biggie...

Stayed overnight with a friend in Uxbridge, then tubed it in again, meeting lots of Swindonians in the massive queue, including PG and the Budlet (already - and still - U2's biggest fan).

LONE JUSTICE opened with an energetic set of countrified pop, certainly more kinetic than the totally static POGUES. Shane MacGowan was totally pissed as the Pogues got lost on this huge stage. However LOU REED was surprisingly good, playing memorable covers of Velvets classics "Walk On The Wild Side" and "White Light/ White Heat" and proving there's life in the old dog yet.

As the light dimmed on a slate grey sky - some contrast from the previous day's sun - the PA played "Stand By Me" as per usual, but this time U2 wandered, almost nonchalantly, onstage, picked up their instruments and started playing along! Thence followed a totally awesome 2 hours, easily the best set of the 4; a rejigged set including covers of "C'Mon Everybody" and the Beatles "Help", a brilliant, brilliant "Gloria", 6 songs for encores and much sincerity from Bono, everyone's focus. "This Wembley Stadium is a big place but this music and you people are bigger; don't forget tonight, we won't." Tonight, I believe it, and at this point, U2 are setting the standard in live performances. Awesome.

83 THE CHESTERFIELDS, Rodney Allen, The Rosehips, Thursday 2 July 1987

Drove down for this one, the first of a couple of gigs in a row from Subway Records acts, appropriately enough in label home Bristol! Parked up and went for a drink , then bumped into the delightful - and at 17 very very young - Rosehip vocalist Yoland (real name Donna; how disillusioning!) stuffing her face with chips in the street. T'uh, kids...

Got into the very cosmopolitan Bristol Tropic Club, where Flatmates drummer Rocker acted as Master of Ceremonies and DJ with excellent taste. The Rosehips played a hot, fast and very breathless set, featuring wilful destructions of The Chesterfields "Ask Johnny Dee" and The Ramones "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" - the latter if anything being even faster than The Ramones version! Yoland also dedicated their buzzsaw-like rendition of single "Room In Your Heart" to us Swindoners!

Rodney Allen was outrageously excelent; one man-cub and his guitar taking on hordes of sweaty punters with bittersweet love songs and Billy Bragg/ Weller-esque deliveries, and winning handsomely. Complimented him on this remarkable feat afterwards.

Bumped into those fresh faced chaps from The Chesterfields and chatted before their set, which was typically jangly, smiley, upbeat and fast paced. I rocked out down the front, then headed off afterwards with signed stuff and a large grin. And one eye, as I dropped my contact lens before the gig. Silly me...

84 THE FLATMATES, Buy Off The Bar, Bristol Western Star Club, Friday 3 July 1987

Set off a bit later tonight for the 2nd night in my Subway Records Bristol double-header, to avoid being tempted to have a bevvy. Got to the club at 10, meeting other Swindonians who'd made the trip down. Met up with the Flatmates beforehand and got stuff signed and bought merch!

Buy Off The Bar were from Holland and were almost as bad as their name; plus they played for far too long!

The Flatmates didn't come on until nearly 1 am, by which time the place was a total sweatbox, with condensation dripping from the low ceiling. Their fast, furious and fun set of ramshackle melodic punky pop didn't help matters there, but left us all hot and happy!

Had a quick word with Sarah Flatmate afterwards, to cap a sauna-like but fun gig!

85 THE MEN THEY COULDN'T HANG, BOB (soon to be Carter USM), Head, London Astoria, Thursday 6 August 1987

A landmark gig, though I knew it not at the time. I'd taken the train up with a couple of mates, primarily to see Jamie Wednesday, only to find, after lasagne tea and on arrival at the Tottenham pub to meet up with the JDubs, that they'd split up, and vocalist Jim and guitarist Les were going to play a set as a duo, backed up with a drum machine! They were due to play under the name of Bob, but I informed Jim that there was already a band called Bob (ironically featuring a former Jamie Wednesday drummer), which prompted a rethink on their part. Thus it was that I attended the first ever Carter USM gig...

As for their performance, I have to admit it was a disappointment after the upbeat fresh melody of their former band Jamie Wednesday, but at least it was better than the first band on tonight, Head, who were crap. Headliners The Men They Couldn't Hang were however superb as usual, although we had to miss some of their set to catch the train. Bah!

86 THE FLATMATES, NORTH OF CORNWALLIS, Riot of Colour, London Camden Dingwalls, Monday 7 September 1987

In London on a 2-day BT training course anyway, so I popped along to this gig! Chatted at length to North Of Cornwallis vocalist Lester Noel, and Bristolian Flatmates Debbie and Sarah, during Riot Of Colour's innocuous but pleasant set.

North Of Cornwallis and The Flatmates both played excellent, fun sets of upbeat pop; North Of Cornwallis playing a splendid "cover" of Grab Grab The Haddock's "Last Fond Goodbye", and the Flatmates, with their new drummer, sounding more coherent as a band and less like a jam session in a student union bar!