Joy Division in Yorkshire
Ladies and gentlemen...for your viewing pleasure. A few contemporary images of various venues JD are known to have played in Yorkshire, plus a little background information besides. Some photos - most notably Roots, The Royal Standard and The Queen's Hall - will seem a tad disappointing and rightly so as there's bugger all to see, but special thanks must go to John Keenan, Colin Blades and Denis Kilcommons, all whom went way over and above the call of duty. Chaps, we salute you
- Julian October 2014
All photos (C) the author unless stated
|Down to cases. All
told, it's been a peculiar affair involving, well, some very
peculiar people. There's been a mountain of dog's eggs spouted
about this group over the years and I've encountered more than
my own fair share of Billy Liars, especially the last few
months whilst researching this piece. Seriously, the
falsehoods have been quite extraordinary and, in one
particular case, shocking. You'll see what I mean as we move
on. But happily this wasn't a rule of thumb; most folk I spoke
to were only interested in setting the record straight.
Everyone involved gets a mention but special thanks must go to
John Keenan and Colin Blades, both of whom went way over and
above the call of duty. Chaps, we salute you.
What follows, then, is a plain statement of the truth as we know it, and the ghost stories we may never, in all likelihood, get to the bottom of. At one point I did consider abandoning the latter category, speculation and rumour being two things I was especially anxious to avoid. However, from amongst the jetsam I retrieved one or two curious fragments which seemed to warrant closer investigation, so here they are. I'll leave it up to the reader to decide what's worth its salt. If you know something I don't (and I hope you do) feel free to message me - better still, Marko or Erik - right here.
Please keep in mind this isn't just about Joy Division; it's also a homage to the mostly long-dead venues in this region where I spent much of my own youth, those ultra-important dog kennels where every fledgling band was compelled to serve its apprenticeship and which, despite popular opinion, have been replaced with something very much to write home about. The Brudenell, The New Roscoe, The Chemic Tavern and The Primrose in Leeds still bristle with up & comers, likewise Fibbers and The Duchess in York (the latter named in honour of the original Duchess in Leeds, which was closed and gutted in 2001 when the brewery sold the property to an Italian clothing chain; cultural values at their very best), and alongside The Grove, Leeds Irish Centre, The Cockpit and numerous others, it's a very happy story nowadays.
Annoyingly, I couldn't turn up any previously unseen shots of Joy Division onstage, though this is something I won't abandon - it's rather difficult to accept that out of a dozen confirmed gigs in Yorkshire only one - Futurama - was actually photographed. Again, if you can help out, do get in touch.
I haven't included the brace of Sheffield venues Joy Division played in 1979; being from Leeds I'm pretty ignorant of the punk/alternative scene in South Yorkshire and anyway, the concert guide elsewhere on this site gives nice overviews of the Top Rank Suite and especially the notorious Limit, so there's not a great deal I can add to those.
And, like a rancid trump that won't go away, there remains the strong whiff of a rumour that Warsaw/Joy Division played a low-key gig at an unknown Leeds venue sometime in 1977-8. The Ace Of Clubs (the original F-Club venue), The Hobby Horse, Leeds Rifleman, The Primrose and The Chemic Tavern have been named as probables and, interestingly, all within gobbing distance of each other in the Meanwood/Little London/Buslingthorpe/Woodhouse areas. This is no idle fairytale; I first heard it in 1980 whilst still a snotty schoolboy and well before the JD legend had taken root. Prior to Ian's death there seemed little reason for anyone to invent such a story; I half-believed it (and still do) and felt a touch peeved, having also missed out on Roots, Futurama and Leeds USU due to my tender age. I've dug deep and turned up an awful lot of fireside yarns but no hard facts; however I feel we haven't heard the last of this one. Anyrate, let's crack on...
|00.05/00.06.78 The Good Mood, 13-17 Crown Street, Halifax, West Yorkshire|
|This, a previously
undocumented show and (so far as we know) Joy Division's
premier appearance in Yorkshire, was very recently brought to
light by none other than Stephen Morris: "We played the Good
Mood twice, can't remember the exact date of the first one but
I reckon it would be around May or June 1978. We got the gig
through Simon Kite of The Kite Organization, he seemed to
specialize in Yorkshire club gigs. He wasn't really a promoter
as such, I think he was some sort of agent/middleman. The
funny thing is, I never actually met him. We only ever spoke
on the phone. Kite may not have been his real name but it is a
moniker you don't forget. I'm sure The Coach House show was
also done through him, and this first Halifax gig was before
that by a few months. He rang me up one day out of the blue
and asked if we could do the Good Mood as a bit of a try-out.
It was short notice and the middle of the week but the line
was, if it went OK, he would get us more.
"I remember it was upstairs; the load-in was up a fire escape. There were probably around twenty or so in the "audience", I think they were a bit hostile at first but came round in the end. They would pop in for a bit then go out again; one minute there'd be five or six then they'd nip off and another bunch would come and have a look. It was as if there was some ridiculously low fire limit or something - but the bar being downstairs was clearly the explanation. I remember the mysterious Mr Kite ringing up a day or two later - he wasn't at the gig but he'd spoken to someone from the club. He said it wasn't the best night for a gig in Halifax but the bloke from the Good Mood thought we were OK so he'd sort us out with some more. Sorry I can't be more specific."
We're not! Cheers, Stephen....and if anyone else can throw more light on this fascinating revelation, please contact us. You can find more info on The Good Mood itself - and Joy Division's much-discussed second appearance at the venue - later on in the article.
[Update: February 2017 - the date has been confirmed as 7 April 1978 - this article will be revised by the original author shortly]
|27.07.78 The F-Club, Roots Club, Francis Street, Chapeltown, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
known variously over the years as The Glass Bucket, The
International, The Cosmopolitan and finally The Phoenix, this
former synagogue was chiefly a West Indian drinking
establishment, but between 1978-9 it doubled up as Leeds'
premier punk venue, thanks to the ebullience of John Keenan
(the man behind Futurama '79) and his pioneering F-Club. JD
played two corking gigs here, their known Leeds debut being
under the F-Club umbrella.
I actually spoke to a very nice lady who was there on July 27th 1978, social worker Karen Maas who still lives and works in the Chapeltown/Harehills area. I was introduced to her courtesy of a mutual acquaintance whilst photographing what's left of The Phoenix; we only managed a brief chat as she was extremely busy but this is what she had to say. Bear in mind I scrawled this lot down as it was spoken:
The building as the Pheonix Circa 2006
Photo (C) JohnnyG1955 and reproduced here with permission
|"I'd never heard of Joy Division and it was only years later someone told me I'd seen something important. The Cosmo wasn't my local, I preferred The Gaiety in Harehills and The Bridge in town but my girlfriend at the time liked it so that's where we ended up basically. I don't remember paying to get in or many people being there either but I remember Joy Division quite vividly because they played very fast and for a very short time, and also because Pete Hook reminded me of The Stranglers' bass player, he was very aggressive in the way he looked and played and a bit of a poser with his legs apart. I will say I detested The Stranglers. I've been a feminist all my adult life and I can't stand aggressive men but there was something sexy about Pete Hook, probably because he wasn't dolled up in the usual punk crap clothes, in fact none of them were. The Cosmo was a punk club then but they didn't look outrageous at all in fact they looked rather boring. They made a noise but looked very normal I thought, which was strange. I couldn't tell you any songs they played but they were all very bass-driven. Ian Curtis wasn't doing that daft dance of his either, in fact he spent a lot of time with his hands in his pockets. They were alright. I never saw them again but they did stick in my mind. I know Durutti Column were there too but all I remember about them was a very quiet group compared to Joy Division, who made a racket."|
Entrance to Roots in 2013
|Another local girl still resident in the Francis Street area, Janet Richmond (she didn't see Joy Division but attended Roots gigs by Aswad, Black Slate, Steel Pulse and many others) remembers the club having an undeservedly bad reputation, chiefly due to naughty cigarettes and heavy-duty gambling in the cellar after-hours, plus one or two victims of our friendly neighbourhood serial killer The Yorkshire Ripper had been regulars so the odd Evening Post journalist or plainclothes Mr Plod could on occasion be found lurking at the bar 'on the sniff' for information. But Janet says that despite the building's run-down facade and intensely dark, seedy interior, it had a very friendly atmosphere and an excellent Chinese restaurant in the basement, though there was occasional trouble between a Chapeltown gang and rival factions from the Armley district in the club's later years (I myself was a semi-regular on dub nights in the late 1980s and for sure the overall vibe could be intimidating, to say the least).|
|The tone was further lowered when the restaurant closed and the cellar became a strip joint, resulting in an influx of 'dirty old men' who would normally have been found in city-centre dens of iniquity such as The Scotsman on Duncan Street (one of the locally-acclaimed 'Four Leeds Pubs of the Apocalypse'), Bar-Barella's on Vicar Lane (primarily famous for its exclusive in-house cocktail, the 'Barbarella Legspreader', and the rampant peddling of amyl nitrite capsules masquerading as 'room fresheners'), and the unbelievably sordid Belle Vue in Bradford, the latter just a stone's throw from The Royal Standard in fact. Sadly - or not, depending upon one's aesthetics - all the above-named establishments have long since disappeared.|
maintenance costs and the landlord's return to Jamaica to
recuperate after a long-term illness led to the closure and
eventual sale of Roots (by then trading as The Phoenix) in the
mid-2000s. The building was purchased by a housing association
who had it demolished in 2011 and have done precisely nothing
with the site since. The last we heard, an Islamic centre is
going up. We're still waiting. Here you see the club as it is
today; only part of the right-hand outer wall and the entrance
Finally, whilst undertaking research into the club's chequered history I stumbled across a real lost nugget; seems a certain Mr James Marshall Hendrix once trod the same boards as JD, back in early 1967. If you're interested, read all about it here: (thanks to BBC Leeds).
Roots Club, last remaining outer wall facing Hamilton Place in 2013
|10.09.78 The Royal Standard Hotel, 22 Manningham Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire|
|Originally an hotel then a very popular pub and live music venue, the Standard was a paradox, a splendidly 'period' boozer awash with frosted etched windows, leather upholstery and a mahogany bar with brass fittings, yet the central room, known rather optimistically as 'Fisherman's Cove', was, once upon a time, hung with nets, corks, and multicoloured glass 'floats', as well as boasting a lovely psychedelic AMI jukebox in the corner. This made for an intriguingly cosy atmosphere but there was always an element of seediness about the place, in which location played an inevitable part: Manningham Lane was one of the more unsavoury areas of town, plastered with betting offices, sex shops, vulgar 'caffs' and takeaways of questionable hygiene, peeling bedsits, and illegal drinking clubs. In addition, running parallel to Manningham Lane is Lumb Lane, parade-ground to many of Bradford's 'sporting girls' in the 1970s and indeed the Royal Standard itself was a favourite haunt of Peter Sutcliffe - local legend has it he used to carve skulls and coffins into the formica-topped tables of 'Fisherman's Cove' - though I doubt, the Yorkshire Ripper being a self-confessed Donovan and Bob Dylan fan, he was present the night JD played.||
Royal Standard 1986 Photo (C) Derek Pearson and reproduced here with permission
|A mecca for 'rockers' in the 1960s then 'skins' in the 70s, Peter Hook once described the Standard as 'terrifying', and though I know from personal experience how rowdy the place could be, his remark is contradicted by one Colin Blades, Emergency's soundman who also engineered JD's Standard show (and a good few others besides). His account of the evening throws some fascinating new light upon the entire affair; amongst other things we now know JD played with no support act, despite what it says on the posters and flyers. Read on, this dude knows his onions.|
Inside the Royal Standard's music room on a Sunday soul night circa 1981.
The tiny stage where Joy Division would have performed several years earlier was situated below the white screen on the wall.
Info and photo (C) Derek Pearson and reproduced here with permission
first got involved or hooked perhaps, in live music when I
roadied for a band called Flashback, their first gig held at
Woodhouse Park Labour Club, Wythenshaw, Manchester - where I
was born and raised (for the history books, Flashback after
appearing on 'New Faces' split in two and became Fast Breeder
but I wasn't involved by that time, instead I was working for
that other, far more exciting Woodhouse Park beat combo -
Slaughter & The Dogs along with fellow City supporter Rob
Gretton, good times indeed, but that's a whole different
"My involvement with Emergency aka Foreign Press came about by pure chance; they rehearsed at my Dad's warehouse on Manchester Airport and I also knew the lad who drove for them, I was asked to manage/engineer, and jumped at the chance to get back on the road.
"Emergency/Foreign Press was one of the few - if not only - bands to own a PA large enough to break windows in any decent size venue - up to and including the mighty Mayflower, and as a sideline to earn a few pennies we would hire the rig to any and all passing minstrels, Joy Division being our busiest customer. We knew the lads very well, then there was the Rob Gretton, Dogs and Woodhouse Park link with me goodself. We originally had the top floor rehearsal room at Davidson's; we swapped with JD for their basement room due to a) cost, and b) having the biggest rig in Manchester and lugging the thing up four flights of stairs at 3am was no fun, I can tell you.
Standard...another pub venue but with a good chippy not too
far away. We would have soundchecked about 4ish - maybe a
little later, then off to said chippy. Ian and his soundcheck
antics...he had the annoying habit of demanding "more
foldback" and constantly saying "I can't hear me fuckin'
voice". This was something I witnessed both as an engineer and
with other PA companies; it was simply a habit as no other
vocalist sharing the bill/rig had a problem. It was muttered
in the wings that he was a right pain in the arse. But I don't
want to leave the impression Ian was a dour character; on the
contrary he had a terrific sense of humour and was easy to
chat to, which we did on a number of occasions at Davidson's.
The conversation usually centred around music and especially
Bowie, Reed and Iggy (both of us being huge fans of theirs).
"The night in question...trouble, personally I don't recall any. I do recall the locals were hungry for live music and of the three occasions I worked there would say each gig was well attended. And lively. Remember of course I'd worked for the Dogs at the height of punk - up and down the motorways of the UK so was fairly hardened to trouble and could see it coming, so I don't recall any - mainly because we certainly wouldn't have gone all that way on another two occasions thereafter; we weren't that desperate for a trip to Bradford even if it did have a good chippy.
|"I believe the
'support' mix-up probably came about due to Rob hiring our
rig, so the name Emergency may have been linked as support -
so technically we did have a supporting role, albeit the PA.
Joy Division's set-list wouldn't have registered with me I'm
afraid (I did have a couple of Ian's set-lists up in my mam's
loft, sadly no longer), but I do recall them opening with an
instrumental (Colin has since said he might be mistaken and it
may well have been during the soundcheck - pure speculation on
my part but I think it was an Ian-less version of 'No Love
"Always a burning question...but yes, the gig was taped. The facility was available on most desks, as it was with our 12-track. Rob would drop off a C60 cassette and I'd drop it in and spin it over halfway through. Rob took care to keep each and every one so the Standard tape certainly exists in a shoe box somewhere (there's an interesting post of Colin's on JD Central about this legendary tape; apparently there are two different versions around).
A homage, of sorts. 'Royal Standard House', Sovereign's HQ in 2013 - actually the site of Bradford Theatre Royal
|"I recall the Standard had a fairly large dressing room which was a luxury; through the main doors to the right was the bar and on the left the function room, it wasn't massive but large enough to mic the back-line and kit. The acoustics were fairly good as it was a standard oblong room, the ceiling wasn't too high, I think I read somewhere the function room was in the back - it certainly wasn't.|
Site of The Royal Standard, 2013, now a car park for Sovereign Health Care
|"I do recall the
last time we played there, myself, the driver and the landlord
formed a chain across the front of the stage, but this was
more to contain the energy from spilling onto the stage. I
recall thinking the landlord did this to 'add' to the
atmosphere. I'll leave the last word on that to Dave Midwood,
Emergency/Foreign Press guitarist: "Oh yes, both the Royal
Standard gigs were tops". I can't add any more than that". And
neither can I. Could it be any better, what? Thank you, Mr
Unhappily In later years the venue was allowed to fall into a lamentable state of disrepair, its 'listed building' status being withdrawn in 1997 followed by immediate demolition. The site is now a car park, a depressingly familiar thread running throughout this article.
Images are thin on the ground but some cool interior shots featuring local Mod combo The Drive onstage are right here(thanks to Detour Records).
|22.09.78 The Coach House, King Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire|
|Home to Joy Division for one solitary autumn evening, The Coach House was situated at the 'bottom end' of town, an area pretty much the epicentre of Huddersfield night life from the 1960s onwards - just around the corner were The Fleece, The Golden Girl, Cleopatra's, The Wharf and locally famous soul venue Tahiti 2 (later Lord Jim's Folk Bin). Curiously, very few people I spoke to can recall any bona fide 'alternative' acts playing The Coach House - it seems between 1978-1981 it was a favourite Mod haunt, and for sure The Amber Squad, Secret Affair, The Akrylykz (who included future Fine Young Cannibal Roland Gift in their line-up), The Purple Hearts, Seventeen, The Chords and dynamite local bands The Scene, The Prisoners and The Killermeters all played there.||
The Coach House, 1970s (thanks to Graeme Bower)
|Several large question-marks have hung over this murky appearance for many a year and continue to do so; for example we still don't know for sure who promoted it; Stephen Morris thinks it was The Kite Organization, while Wakel, a Huddersfield native on JD Central, recalls it was a 'nameless enterprising DJ' from nearby Holmfirth. Then there was the rather dubious Coach House gig poster that turned up on ebay in 2013; despite selling for a rather pretty price its authenticity remains unproven. And whilst researching the original article I met a local dude who muddied the waters further by announcing that JD didn't appear at The Coach House at all, the concert allegedly taking place at Cleopatra's, a mainly Caribbean hangout on Venn Street. This was possibly the most enigmatic show in JD's entire gigography but now it can be told: Joy Division did play The Coach House, and besides Stephen Morris' earlier confirmation (see the first Halifax Good Mood entry) we also have an audience member with a great story to tell. Step forward Gena:|
|"My then best friend and I arrived in Huddersfield about 7.30, did the usual which was a quickie in The West Riding then down Westgate and King Street, past the Coach House which we intended to go to later on. A bunch of lads came out and asked us if we knew a decent pub so we told them we were going to The Wharf where the local 'alternative' DJ was playing and they could come with us if they wanted. What I remember most is it wasn't dark, not raining and not cold. Most of the guys were chatty and friendly but there was one who didn't walk with us, seemed in a bit of a mood and wore a long, grey trenchcoat. They said they were Joy Division, they'd just set up and soundchecked and were hungry, asked if there was a chippy open so we waited until they got their chips then they came down to The Wharf with us. That place had a bit of an 'in-crowd' so we sat with them so they didn't feel alienated, and they bought us a couple of drinks. Nothing flirtatious or anything, they were just out-of-towners who saw two girls dressed 'alternatively' so approached us as like minded.||
The Coach House, 1970s, alternate shot (thanks to Roger Spivey)
|"We stayed with them til a bit after 9pm, then they went back to The Coach House. We followed them an hour or so later and they'd put our names on the door. I'm afraid I remember absolutely nothing about the gig. I remember some of the people at The Wharf that night but whether they went on to The Coach House I really can't remember. I don't think it was a full gig. It was a small club and there might not have been another band on. There was a bit of rivalry between Huddersfield and Manchester at the time. I thought that was daft, we all went over and rocked against racism at Alexandra Park in Manchester that summer, but how many from Huddersfield would turn out for a then unknown Manc band, I really can't say.|
King Street, 1970s. The Coach House is the building second left to the 'No Entry' signs (thanks to Robert Brennan)
|"The rivalry wasn't just with the Mancs. It was local too, especially The Prisoners versus The Killermeters. Vic Vomit of the Meters didn't like me because I went out with Paul Strickland from The Prisoners, who was also in The Jerks along with my brother. I met a lot of people back then, The Alarm played The Coach House when they were called Seventeen and I have a single, 'Bank Holiday Weekend' signed by all of them. I went to so many gigs back in the day, saw the Sex Pistols at Ivanhoe's on Christmas Day 1977, I knew all of the bands, some of them went on to become famous whilst others drifted into obscurity. So Joy Division leaving my name on the door was nothing special. I'm afraid I regarded them as just another band. I am willing to undergo hypnosis to bring all this back, it's driving me mad!"|
|Stephen Morris: "The Coach House I'm pretty sure was through Mr Kite again. I'd also thought the Royal Standard was through him as well but according to Rob's book ('1 Top Class Manager') that gig was booked by Bankhouse Entertainments with an address in Holmfirth. I recall going to the chippy exactly as described by Gena. Good chips as well if I remember. I think we were bribed into doing an encore by the landlord with the promise of free pints, a change from the couple of bottles of pale ale that was all we seemed to get in the way of a rider." (author's note: we now know Bankhouse was run by a geezer called Bill Wright, a disc jockey who promoted many gigs at Huddersfield Polytechnic, Bradford Royal Standard and other local venues - one famous instance being the Pistols at Ivanhoe's. We think Mr Wright is almost certainly the 'nameless DJ' to whom Wakel refers above.)||
Coach House sign, now on Roger Spivey's garage wall
And Roger Spivey offers this fine little coda: "I didn't go to the JD gig but I did see a lot of bands play there in the late 70s and early 80s, like The Chords and The Killermeters. I can always remember Arthur Lacey (the manager; see Examiner article below which also gives a vivid description of the club's interior) being a really decent bloke, on one night there had been a lot of trouble with skinheads fighting and instead of banning them, because he would lose out on their beer money, he made them them hand in their Doc Martens at the door. They were walking around in their socks still thinking they looked hard. When the club was demolished in 1999 I managed to buy The Coach House sign off the demolition men for £20, which I still have on my garage wall at Crosland Hill....and fantastic memories of a brilliant club. But whatever happened to Arthur Lacey?"
|24.10.78 and 07.06.79 The Fan Club, Brannigans, The Top Rank, Call Lane, Lower Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
The venue in 2013
|In autumn 1978 John
Keenan transferred operations from The Cosmo to Brannigans, a
cellar club below The Top Rank, slap bang in Leeds city
centre. The abrupt change came about primarily because he'd
exchanged harsh words with aggressive left and right-wing
extremists peddling nasty literature inside The Cosmo (and I'm
surprised the latter managed to walk out with their lives, as
that particular establishment drew a predominately black
clientele) plus he was annoyed by the absurd accusation in a
leftist rag that the 'F' in F-Club stood for 'fascist'.* Ergo,
he upped sticks and renamed it The Fan Club - though the law
of custom dies hard around here and it was still referred to
by regulars as The F-Club.
Unlike The 100 Club, The Factory and Eric's, The F-Club seems to be unknown or largely forgotten by the mainstream. It is rarely namechecked in punk anthologies, yet some of the most influential and important acts of the era played there. No justice. But up this way, it's still fondly remembered.
Records on The Headrow in town continues to ply a healthy
trade in reproduction 'F-Club' t-shirts; that's how venerable
the place still is, some 35 years down the line. The original
shirt, designed by John himself, was issued in 1978 alongside
a button badge.
JD appeared at Brannigans twice between 1978-9, and New Order made their Leeds debut here playing to a packed house in January 1981. The latter show was an interesting measure of JD's standing in this city; Mr Keenan tells me that Rob Gretton threatened to have the band off for an early bath if our hapless promoter dared to mention any Joy Division connection in New Order's pre-gig publicity, so John printed a flyer saying 'if you don't know who they are, don't bother coming'. In his words, "people made it their business to find out and the place was rammed".
|Here are a couple of images of The Top Rank today; I couldn't gain access to the actual cellar as it's now walled up. These days the building combines a nightclub with The Elbow Room, a rather wonderful old-guard snooker hall with an excellent bar.|
Staircase which led to The Fan Club in 2013
Approaching Brannigan's from The Calls in 2013
|*Note: The 'F' in F-Club actually stood for 'Fuck', as in 'Fuck Leeds Polytechnic' - after a highly successful stint in mid-1977 hosting punk nights under the 'Stars Of Today' banner, John & associates were unceremoniously evicted from the Poly and ended up relocating to The Ace of Clubs in Woodhouse - see Part 2 of this article.|
|22.12.78 The Revolution, Lady Peckett's Yard, York, North Yorkshire|
|Long a tremendously
popular nightclub and live music venue, The Revolution opened
in 1970 as Hypnotique, initially hosting gigs by progressive
luminaries such as Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep and, I kid you not,
Deep Purple. Thursdays, the club upped its ante somewhat with
R&B/Soul evenings; besides some stonking DJ sets there
were live appearances by numerous legends of those genres,
Bobby Hebb, Major Lance and Percy Sledge to name but three.
Come 1977, Hypnotique became The Revolution and was focused primarily upon local punk acts - amongst the regulars were Cyanide, The Jermz (of the brilliant and ultra-rare 'Powercut' 45 on One Way Records) and the magnificent Sema 4 (who, with true punk perversity, were a trio) - alongside a plethora of outsiders destined for, er, greater things - Simple Minds, Toyah, Fashion, The Teardrop Explodes and Joy Division being a mere handful of examples.
Revolution, fronting onto Piccadilly in 2013- the entrance was around the back (C) http://www.yorkstories.co.uk
Former entrance to The Revolution in 2013. The door lintel on the left sported a grinning skull wearing headphones (C) Bryan Hopson
|Until recently we
knew nothing about Joy Division's appearance (and it's still
unclear whether Cabaret Voltaire supported JD or vice versa)
but Bryan Hopson, an affable veteran of the Yorkshire live
circuit, just stepped forward to give us his memory of that
night, and a later recollection of JD at the Queen's Hall.
Maybe I should have separated and inserted these quotes into
their relevant chapters, but it's interesting to explore the
views of an unbiased observer who saw the band at two gigs
nine months apart.
"I came away a bit unimpressed that first time. It was all a bit gloomy compared to what I was listening to, mainly Stranglers, The Skids, The Jam and The Clash. As to who was on first, I don't remember. I honestly have no memory of Cabaret Voltaire's set. I saw Joy Division again the following year at the Futurama thing in Leeds; by then I had got into the Banshees, Magazine and PiL, bands who had a bit of a darker side to them, and I came away more impressed this time. They'd played Brannigan's a few weeks before and I wish I could say I'd gone to that one, it's a legendary gig and I think I'd have been more ready for them by then. The thing I remember most is how they paved the way for gothic-style music, I enjoyed the set and seeing Ian do that crazy dance of his back then, not knowing it was linked to epilepsy, was really something... Following this I started to get into the Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus...and I'm sure that if Ian hadn't committed suicide they would have headlined at one of the following Futuramas."
|As quirky a venue as
they come, The Revolution was stationed down one of York's
innumerable 'snickelways', Lady Peckett's Yard being one of
the more picturesque and certainly not yer typical 'punk club'
location. Or wasn't it? The lane eventually opens into
Fossgate, which in the late 1970s was home to Track (best
record shop in town - well, with the friendliest staff, at
least - now long since gone), Huxtable, bespoke tailors and
outfitters of all things Mod (happily still in business albeit
under a different name), and the Army & Navy Stores, which
always smelled of boot polish and whose stock included a fine
selection of ex-US Army raincoats. Did Ian buy his here?
At the turn of the decade Revolution changed hands and metamorphosed into Casanova's, a 'nightspot' of supreme ghastliness that seemed to epitomize all that was wrong with the 'electronic, eclectic Eighties'. Out went the headphone-wearing plaster skull over the entrance, out went the simple lighting system and basic bar; in came psychopathic doormen, telephones superglued to the tables so you could order the nasty 'cocktail' of your choice, a sticky dancefloor, a bubble machine and a perspex booth containing a 'hip' DJ spinning 'the platters that matter'. I went just the once, and got beaten up.
Entrance to Lady Peckett's Yard in 2013. The Revolution could be accessed through here or by another ginnel at the far end via Fossgate (C) http://www.yorkstories.co.uk
Lady Peckett's, looking towards Fossgate in 2013 (C) http://www.yorkstories.co.uk
|Post-punk York was
obliged - and relieved - to move its activities to the equally
unlikely De Grey Rooms opposite the art museum, The Forge on
Tadcaster Road, notorious 'goth' mecca The Hellfire Club, and
the Irish National League on McQuade's Crescent - some even
recall the latter venue holding 'Revolution' evenings in
deference to the original of this most, well, original of
Today, that part of Lady Peckett's Yard has a somewhat neglected air about it, with rubbish-bins, pallets and cardboard boxes in abundance. What was Hypnotique/Revolution/Casanova's is now the shared delivery/disposal area of several shops fronting onto Piccadilly and surrounded by warehouses converted into bare-brick 'open plan' apartments, underheated and, naturally, unaffordable. Punk rock.
|22.06.79 The Good Mood, 13-17 Crown Street, Halifax, West Yorkshire|
|When this article was first published in April
2014, our knowledge on this gig was restricted to Peter Hook's
cryptic remark "we played to one person in The Good Mood Club",
from a brief 2003 interview eventually included as an 'extra' on
the '24 Hour Party People' DVD. It gives us great pleasure to
finally explode this long-accepted myth with recollections from
Good Mood barflies Andrew Helliwell and Sean Cahill, plus
official confirmation from Steve Morris; of them more hereafter.
First off let's have a smidge of background on the venue itself.
In terms of native attitude towards anything even remotely non-mainstream, the importance of The Good Mood cannot be overstated. It was, literally, a safe-house for the dispossessed. Anyone with long hair in Halifax stood no chance, a spiky-topped punk even less so.
The venue in 2013
|The club opened as Big Daddy's in 1964 and
occupied two floors above what was then Dolci's shoe shop, went
through a variety of name-changes (2+2, The Scene, Clarence's)
and became The Good Mood in 1975 then later still, for a very
brief period, simply The Mood. It seems the 'Roxy Room', where
the stage was located, switched position over the years - for
example we spoke to someone who saw a very hirsute Brinsley
Schwarz on the first floor in 1974 ("they looked to me like they
smelled" - cheers for that, Mr Farel) and the night JD performed
the stage was on the second floor. Audience numbers are still in
some dispute, as we shall see. First off, cue Andrew:
"The Good Mood was my regular hangout for about 18 months or so between 1979-80. There were bands on most Friday and Saturday nights including Generation X, The Cure, Salford Jets, Clock DVA, UK Subs who played a fortnight after Joy Division if I remember rightly, and Jab Jab, a local band who seemed to play every other week. The club was mainly underage punks and ageing hippies. To get in you went down an alley, knocked on a door, a little panel opened and the bouncer would peer out at you then open up. On the right-hand side was an old woman in a little office. You had to sign in, we usually put Johnny Rotten or Mickey Mouse, then pay admission. Usually 50p or 60p on non-band nights, which were rare. I think Joy Division charged £1.60. Up some steps to the first floor which had the bar, DJ booth, a dancefloor and a couple of alcoves with tables. The Roxy Room was on the floor above, about half a dozen rows of church pews so most bands were watched from the back of the room leaning against the bar, which I remember being open just once. The norm most nights was the DJ/owner Paul Mountain - now a joiner in Seahouses, I believe - would announce the bands and we'd wander upstairs to the Roxy Room. With Joy Division it was no different. We gave them twenty minutes as per usual then back downstairs for another Newkie Brown, then back up to see the rest of the set. I suppose there would have been about twenty people there. JD were good, I remember telling my girlfriend afterwards they did one absolutely shit-hot song."
Sean Cahill: "The Good Mood was to me just a place you went to when the pubs had shut and you had nowhere else to go. The regular Halifax yobbos didn't go near it, they got taxis into Huddersfield or Leeds. It seemed to me every time I went there I'd had a stinker with my girlfriend. It happened a hundred times. "Why don't you fuck off" she'd say, and I would. If we were in Leeds, I'd go to the Old Royal Oak or Bar-Barella's or The Regent or Tiffany's. If we were in Halifax where we lived, I'd end up like as not in the Good Mood. I saw Clock DVA there and remember thinking what a pretentious arsehole the bloke next to me was. 'Clock Der-Ver' he called them. Being Irish I was much more into no-nonsense Ulster punk like Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi, The Undertones, and a fantastic band called Victim. So to me Joy Division were a bit arty farty music-wise compared to them, all that staring at the shoes shit. They all looked deadly serious, I couldn't imagine any of them having a sense of humour. I'm not a fan, never have been, never will be. But I liked their clothes,they looked the part, they seemed to me to dress like The Undertones did, work clothes, this is like it is, this is how we look, day to day. One song did make an impression, I can't be sure but I think it was 'Transmission' or maybe 'Disorder', both songs were around an awful lot a few months later. My pal was a big fan, I don't think he saw them but that bloody album ('Unknown Pleasures') was always blasting out in his car. Until now I didn't know anything about this 'one person' bollocks. I'd say there were at least fifty, maybe more, and all blokes for sure. I had a similar situation a couple of years later and ended up in Tiffany's watching New Order out of the blue. They were shit, I mean really shit, totally boring, and so were the support band". (author's note: I was at the same gig, Leeds Merrion Centre, March 1982, The Thunderboys were guesting and both groups were bleeding brilliant...but that's neither here nor there I suppose).
Former entrance to The Good Mood, 2013, accessed
via a ginnel to the right of the building
|And the man himself, Stephen Morris recalls: "We got the gig through Simon Kite again. This second time there were quite a lot more than the first, pretty fullish, I think." Finally, again courtesy of Stephen, let's put the 'one person' legend to bed once and for all. It seems this story originates from a much earlier show at The Tower Club in Oldham, yet another obscure gig which Stephen now describes as "the one with the audience of one" and says took place around the same time as Joy Division's first Halifax appearance in May/June 1978. I think we may take Stephen's account as read - he also mentioned the Oldham concert on 'Rock Family Trees - And God Created Manchester' in 1995 and has never deviated from his version, whereas Hooky seems to have confused the two gigs over the years (as well as the oft-quoted line in 'Unknown Pleasures' stating that at Huddersfield "one person turned up, it was diabolical", he gave a perplexing account of Oldham and the HUDDERSFIELD Good Mood to 'The Guardian' in 2005; it's right here: http://www.the guardian.com/music/2005/feb/04/blocparty.popandrock) .|
|Besides JD, other acts of note who appeared during
the venue's 16-year existence included The Pretty Things,
Medicine Head, Kevin Ayers, Be Bop Deluxe, Spring, Roxy Music,
The 101ers, Kilburn & The High Roads, Wire, The Beat, The
Only Ones and, believe it or not, Genesis and Status Quo. The
Good Mood folded in 1980 under somewhat acrimonious
circumstances; as Andrew Helliwell says "Paul Mountain told me
the reason was that the people in the shoe shop underneath were
sick of having to sweep up all the plaster dislodged by pogoing
punks the night before." The original building still stands,
currently occupied by a sex shop and 'Collectaworld', a rather
nice fantasy/sci-fi gift emporium. The upper stories of the
latter are being converted into flats, while the room above the
sex shop (supposedly where the stage stood; there's some
contradictory evidence about this one) is, apparently, unchanged
from the day the establishment closed its doors.
Note: This gig was one of several local appearances that brought Joy Division to the attention of West Yorkshire Police, or more specifically, the 'Ripper Squad'. They seemed particularly interested in the movements of Messrs. Hook and Morris on certain evenings, their car number plates having been logged by police surveillance teams (not members of the public, as Hooky has claimed) in Chapeltown, Manningham Lane in Bradford, Huddersfield (most likely Venn Street, a short walk from both The Coach House and the timber yard on Great Northern Street where Peter Sutcliffe had dispatched one of his victims in January 1978) and Moss Side in Manchester. All of these were notorious red-light areas and also home to some of JD's most well-known stamping grounds; as we have seen Roots and The Royal Standard had especially strong Ripper connections, and although Halifax has no red-light district and no known prostitute population, Sutcliffe had by mid-1979 attacked two women in the town, killing one of them. Undercover squads were everywhere, and if your vehicle was spotted more than twice or thrice in a succession of 'dodgy' areas, you were likely to receive a visit from the constabulary. Stephen and Hooky were but two in a long line; hundreds of unfortunate young men whose professions took them into so-called 'Ripper Country' were pulled in for questioning as a result.
|11.07.79 Roots Club,
Francis Street, Chapeltown, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Despite tales to the contrary, this was not a one-off Fan Club night in its old location. Over to John Keenan. "I don't know much about this as I wasn't involved, I was arranging the first Futurama at the time. I seem to remember asking Rob Gretton why they didn't do it through me, and him replying that it was a warm-up for my festival. It could have been a Rock Against Racism gig but I'm not sure". Jim Fields has since confirmed the show was definitely a RAR benefit, and his friend Paul Furness, a RAR campaigner who helped to organize the concert, has this top little tale to relate: "I seem to recall the band standing back and talking to everyone then letting their manager argue the toss with us over the RAR banner. He didn't want it, but he got it. Ian Curtis stayed at our house in Harehills that night and I took him up to The Special Shop on Harehills Road for one of yesterday's cheap pasties then went back and sat on the sofa gabbing with him about music before he headed back to Manchester." Great stuff. Incidentally, JD played unsupported that night, bar a pre-show sound system.
Entrance to Roots in 2013
Roots interior, looking towards Francis Street 2013
|08.09.79 Futurama 79, Queens Hall, Swinegate/Sovereign Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|This former tram-shed was, until its demise, the biggest venue in Yorkshire with an audience capacity in the region of 10,000. It was also a sepulchral, unbelievably cold monstrosity with gaping holes in the roof, toilets that were nothing less than an outrage against human rights, unfriendly (on occasion, aggressive) staff, and on gig days the rear walls were scattered with 'snack bars' flourishing wares that would have made a billy goat puke (I harbour a fond memory of gagging up a horseburger in those repulsive, stinking lavatories during Doctor & The Medics' set at Acid Daze - losing one's entrails at this venue seems to have been a rite of passage for many of us; do read on), yet the Queens Hall was also somehow very intimate in a bizarre kind of way. I'm not explaining this very well; if you ever attended a concert there you'll know what I'm driving at.||
Queens Hall Leeds 1986 Photo (C) Phil Edwards and reproduced here with permission
Site of the Queen's Hall entrance in 2013
|Dennis Powell was present on September 8th 1979: "The only reason I went to Futurama was to see Public Image, my favourite band who turned out to be an awful disappointment on the night. Couldn't believe how bad they were. Joy Division had already made up for that though, I knew about them but had never seen them until that day. I can only describe the music as a howl, but a very melodic one and very very powerful. The Queens Hall acoustics helped I think as it was like an ugly metal cathedral. The atmosphere was great. But then, I was a bit stoned. There was a lot of drink and pot around. All the same, the other groups were an anti-climax after Joy Division. It was on the strength of Futurama that I went to see them at Leeds Uni next month and they were even better."|
|In contrast, Philip
Fairley - by his own admission not much of a JD fan - was less
than impressed by the whole affair. "It was a very dismal,
horrible place full of cigarette smoke and wanky students. It
smelled of piss too. I remember Joy Division mainly because
they played a very long set, in fact far too long in my
opinion. I don't want to be negative for the sake of it but
they were OK, and that was it. I think I got quite bored at
one point, they just seemed to go on and on. I certainly
didn't think I was seeing the future of music or anything. My
big lasting memory of that festival is of tripping over people
in the dark. The place was full of pissheads. The drinking was
really something else."
It seems the alcohol and dope took a larger toll amongst certain other audience members. My barber and personal friend Ian Kershaw offered this non-recollection: "I remember Spizz and Cabaret Voltaire quite well but I missed Joy Division as I was spewing up in the bogs while they were on."
|Colin Blades: "I don't recall how I got involved; probably asked if I'd work the gig as I was fairly well known in Manchester. Mark E Smith once asked me to road-manage his band whilst backstage at Deeply Vale; he said he remembered me from Slaughter & The Dogs. I declined, but often wonder how long I would have lasted. I didn't engineer on the day but probably did the stage soundchecks. I can well imagine folk throwing up. The beer was rotten".|
Site of the Queen's Hall queuing area in 2013
|John Keenan also has this to say: "Joy Division would not have gone down half as well if it hadn't been for the echoing hall and the doom-laden atmosphere. I think it all added to their legend. They received loads of publicity from it in all the European indie mags as well as the British press. Anton Corbijn and Kevin Cummins took some iconic photos at that gig. I received a very nice letter of thanks from Anton Corbijn afterwards. Futurama gave them (JD) a massive boost." John also points out that at least 4,500 people were present on the 8th, making Futurama the largest audience Joy Division ever played to.|
|As already stated, the Queen's Hall - also home to the legendary 'Mammoth All-Night Rave' in 1967 (featuring Cream and Barrett-era Pink Floyd, the latter playing their first gig outside London), a succession of 'Christmas On Earth' punk bashes and the truly awesome Acid Daze festival in 1987 (Suicide, Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters, Hawkwind, The Enid and Spacemen 3 on the same bill, a supremely volatile mix to say the least and, violent vomiting aside, quite possibly the most entertaining night of my life) - was always in a shockingly decrepit condition. Indeed, in this current age of health & safety paranoia the venue simply would not have been allowed to function, one frightening example being The Jam's appearance in 1982 (supported by local JD soundalikes Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and skinhead poet Seething Wells - best act of the evening, incidentally) when the fire exits were chained and padlocked, entombing 7,000 punters - including me - inside a potential death-chamber. Naturally us callow youths thought nothing of it at the time.||
Site of the Queen's hall 2013
|Leeds City Council belatedly took umbrage in 1991 (not 1989 as is often claimed) and promptly demolished the entire structure; an office block was supposed to go up immediately thereafter but as you may observe, almost 25 years down the line, bugger all has happened, as we say in these parts. My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...another car park.|
|03.10.79 Refectory, University Students Union, Lifton Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
brain-mashing appearance at Futurama, JD's rep in Leeds was
assured. The group's final appearance in the city less than a
month later (and the first USU concert by any band during the
1979 autumn term) was, by all accounts, total bedlam. This is
what I was told:
Ed Thomas: "I was at the Buzzcocks/JD gig at the Uni. Hookie's bass was so loud and the band so intense that my ears were still ringing the next day. Ian Curtis was mesmerising to watch. I seem to recall him having to be helped off stage at the end. Tremendous performance."
Mark Hubbard: "The first gig I went to in Leeds on moving up from Brighton. A life changing event at age 17. Both bands were earthmoving. Curtis was mesmerising, bathed in green light. 'Dead Souls' did my nut in."
Dennis Powell: "It was a madhouse. I remember Joy Division doing 'Disorder' and the whole place erupted. The Buzzcocks were great too. They opened with 'I Don't Mind'.
Detail of poster on Refectory wall listing all the gigs that took place in 1979-80. Note the non-mention of Joy Division on the Buzzcocks date
Refectory exterior, University S.U., Leeds, 2013. On the left-hand wall is a blue plaque commemorating The Who's appearance in 1970
|I don't know what it
was about the atmosphere. Both bands were great, very very
energetic and somehow the audience got off on that. It's a
cliche but it was probably the most exciting gig I ever saw. I
know it's easy to say that with hindsight especially as Joy
Division are seen as gods these days but it's true. They were
totally brilliant and so were the Buzzcocks. There's been a
lot said about Joy Division blowing the Buzzcocks offstage but
in my opinion they were both as good in their own different
ways. I've also read a lot about how there were people
fainting, I didn't see that happen but I was quite far back in
the crowd so it may have happened and I missed it."
The USU doesn't see much live action nowadays; the venue - still one of most attractive in town, in my opinion - seems tragically fated to hosting tedious 'club nights' with most high-profile gigs now taking place at the recently-opened Leeds Arena, a hopelessly impersonal edifice (with rotten acoustics into the bargain) which couldn't even begin to match the in-yer-face atmosphere of the old Refectory, the self-same auditorium where The Who recorded 'Live At Leeds'. Such is progress.
|Refectory stagen 2013. On gig nights the stage would be artificially heightened with, er, 'podia' The original interior was much scruffier than this, and underwent refurbishment around 2008|
|25.10.79 St George's Hall, Bridge Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire|
|As with the 1979 Halifax Good Mood gig, up until
very recently there was absolutely nothing to report on this
other show on the Buzzcocks tour, which sadly turned out to be
Joy Division's final live appearance in Yorkshire. Now we have
no less than five audience members convivial enough to share
their recollections with us. St George's is in fact the oldest
concert hall in Britain, a massive seated venue built in the
1850s and remaining pretty much as it was a century and a half
ago. Don't want to get over-lachrymose about this but believe
me, the interior is really rather beautiful. I've attended a
number of gigs here; the atmosphere was always on the mellow
side and by all accounts seeing Joy Division at St George's was
quite an experience.
Enter Steve (Joy Division Central's own 1979ok): "I lived in Skipton at the time of punk hitting. Me and two other lads used to go all over the place to see bands. We were considered weirdos in Skipton, as we dressed in straight trousers and monkey boots instead of flares and platforms. It was quite a dangerous place to live.
Thanks to Roger Spivey
|We saw nearly all the punk bands except the Pistols. They did play at Keighley but that was a very rough place and we were too scared to go there (author's note: actually one of their last English gigs, at Nikkers Club, 19 December 1977 - there's a tape around if one cares to look, pretty damn it is good too). We used to thumb it over the tops to Halifax Good Mood. We saw The Cure there and I really can't remember why we didn't go to the Joy Division gig. Probably money or something, but I really regret that.|
Entrance to St George's 2013
|We had some great times, jumping in snowdrifts on the moors at three in the morning, drunk, then thumbing it home. We could have frozen to death I suppose. We saw Joy Division three times, first at Futurama and they were brilliant. Powerful. Their sound echoed around the Queen's Hall and they seemed to make everyone take notice, especially as there had been a load of bands whose sound was rough. We also saw them twice supporting Buzzcocks, at Blackburn King George's Hall and Bradford St George's Hall. We loved them so I think there were only a few days between those two gigs. I remember Joy Division being better than the Buzzcocks at Bradford, it was very intense and I clearly remember Ian's manic dancing. I thought the Buzzcocks were better at Blackburn due to the sound and also because they were so angry. The crowd bombarded them with beer mats. Quite funny at the time, but it must have been so annoying for the band."|
|Andrew Helliwell, for whom the phrase 'spawny get' might well have been specifically coined - the reader will remember he also caught one of Joy Division's legendary Good Mood sets - has this vignette to add: "I was at college that day and went to the gig with a few of the lads on my course. I wasn't actually going to go, but my mates went to get tickets at dinnertime, I went with them, saw JD were the support so bought myself one. And I'm glad I did. I had been telling the lads how good Joy Division were at Halifax, and they did not disappoint. So much energy. Still one of the best sets I've ever seen. Not to say Buzzcocks were bad. One memory that sticks is the Buzzcocks stopping after two songs and Pete Shelley saying in the campest voice ever, "can you all stop spitting please?""|
|Of equal intrigue is Neil O'Connor's account: "My recollections of the evening aren't great though I am certain of the memories I do have. Joy Division definitely started with an instrumental which I think was 'Incubation', but I cannot be sure of this. The thing I recall about the second song was Ian Curtis played guitar as he had for the instrumental; again that's a distinct memory for a 16-year old seeing them for the first time...I was beginning to worry he might play guitar for the whole show but to our relief he was just on vocals for the rest of the gig. They were not on the stage very long, thirty minutes if that, and they didn't do an encore, not that there was any great call for one. They didn't seem in the best of moods.||
Photo © Copyright Rich Tea and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
|I was at the front and whilst I have no other JD
shows to compare Bradford with, it almost seemed as though
something was wrong...they seemed like four strangers just going
through the motions. As I say I was at the front watching
intently and not once was there a flicker that betrayed this
impression. I put it down to the fact they were the support
group and there didn't seem to be much interest from the crowd;
there were no obvious signs that many people had come to see Joy
Division. As a big fan I left feeling pleased I had seen them,
me and my friend went just to see Joy Division, we stayed for
about three Buzzcocks songs then left, but that was all I could
take from this performance. I'd be interested to hear if other
people seeing the show felt similarly underwhelmed."
Roger Spivey, who very generously contributed a previously unseen poster for the gig to JD Central, remembers it like this: "The sound was a bit of a dirge for Joy Division, no doubt the Buzzcocks' sound engineer was behind that. One song really stood out, 'Transmission', which they had released earlier that month. I was in the balcony so it wasn't a great view but noticed the singer was doing a strange dance to some of the songs and seemed to be in another world...little did I know at the time he would become a rock icon. I vaguely recall cadging the poster off the guys who were bill-posting in Bradford either when I'd been over to get tickets for the gig or when I went over to St George's Hall that September to see The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees."
St George's Hall, Bradford 2013
|The final word goes to Phil Ascough (another outrageously lucky sod who, like Gena - see the Huddersfield Coach House entry - also caught the Pistols at Ivanhoe's): "I went, like most people I think, to see the Buzzcocks. But I was definitely turned on to Joy Division after that night. I remember both groups being incredibly loud but Joy Division had this weird power about them, I think it made them seem louder than they actually were, if that makes sense. There were sound issues too, I couldn't make out what Ian Curtis was going on about, the vocals were very distorted but you couldn't get away from the group's presence even though they didn't do very much.|
|They were good at just standing there, let's say. Very difficult to describe. I'd say only Killing Joke who I saw at the F Club in Leeds the next year came anywhere near them in that respect. One thing about this gig has always puzzled me, as I clearly remember seeing someone in the audience with a cassette recorder but as far as I know there isn't a tape around. Or maybe that guy is keeping it to himself (*Anyone with further information on this, please contact Julian or a JDC moderator; this is the second performance in the article which may have yielded a previously undocumented recording - see also the entry for Bradford Royal Standard). I never saw Joy Division again much to my regret. We heard they were coming back to Bradford or Leeds sometime in 1980 but of course they never did. I saw New Order at Bradford Uni in 1981 and though they were very good there was something very sad about them too. A strange night, that was."|
Here we have the cancellations, the rumours, and the bullshit. There's no evidence any of these concerts actually took place but I did hear some interesting tales whilst walking the streets, so here they are...
|00.00.77 Ace Of Clubs a.k.a. The F-Club, 175 Woodhouse Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|Originally the Astra Cinema, this long-demolished edifice became a casino and favourite hang-out of sundry local villains and 'gangsters' in the 1960s; some 10 years later John Keenan steamed in and opened the original F-Club in late 1977. By that time the Ace Of Clubs had crumbled into a flaky cabaret joint and, as John says, "the management were glad of the custom" when he began booking punk acts. Warsaw are supposed to have played here (local gossip connecting the venue to JD was commonplace before Ian committed suicide) but John is adamant they didn't; his recollections on all other counts are remarkably accurate and I'm inclined to believe he's absolutely right in this case too. In addition Stephen Morris recently commented "I don't recall playing Leeds as Warsaw at all. Joy Division did play the F Club - I have a strange recollection of one of the Fairbrass brothers, later Right Said Fred, being there...odd what you remember, isn't it? But that was definitely later than 1977. Those who did tread the stage include Siouxsie & The Banshees, Sham 69, X-Ray Spex, and local heroes The Gang Of Four. Very few images of that period appear to have survived, and The F-Club was relocated to Roots in Chapeltown after the The Ace Of Clubs burned down in highly suspicious circumstances in January 1978.||
1951 photo of the rear of the Astra Cinema by kind permission of Leeds Library and Information Services, www.leodis.net
|00.12.77 The Primrose, 280 Meanwood Road, Buslingthorpe Vale, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|"As miserable an area as you could find." That's the opinion of Buslingthorpe as quoted by a grizzled local who, perversely, also says he loves the place. It is a trifle shabby to be sure, peppered with sad-looking industrial units, derelict cottages, used car lots and bricked-up warehouses, and Buslingthorpe Lane holds the sorry distinction of being one of the most dangerous streets in Leeds (though it must be said I've used that route as a short-cut to Chapeltown on numerous occasions and not seen any bother). It'll never make it as a 'must-see' in the Council's tourist pamphlets but there is a curiously attractive seediness about the area, especially the eerie ruin that once housed the Springhill Tavern. And it also boasts The Primrose which, unlike many of the venues mentioned in this piece, is still buzzing with live music.||
The Primrose, Buslingthorpe Vale 2013
|Did Warsaw play
here? Some say so, albeit with mild conviction. Mick Oldroyd,
a regular of some 40 years standing, remembers seeing a
'terrible group' at The Primrose around Christmastime, 1977.
"The singer yelled that they were from Manchester. He had a
stupid haircut and plastic trousers. They were tuneless,
absolutely bloody awful, and I've seen some rubbish in my
time." Mick has no recollection of the band's name.
I must say I find it rather unlikely Ian Curtis (if that's who it was) would have "yelled that they were from Manchester", but it's not outside the realms of possibility. The Middlesbrough tape from 1977 does illustrate how garrulous Ian was onstage in those days, at least compared to his strangely endearing abruptness of later years.
I've questioned a couple of local promoters and neither could recall Warsaw/JD, or any other Manchester combo, playing The Primrose; the closest we got was John Keenan confirming he organized a Buzzcocks gig at Leeds Polytechnic a few months earlier, and the support acts were The Worst and John Cooper Clarke, with definitely no Warsaw involvement. Neither did they have anything to do with the brace of separate shows played by Ed Banger & The Nosebleeds and Slaughter & The Dogs around the same time, also at Leeds Poly. So, case still open, and so it shall remain until I get to the bottom of things.
|00.12.77 The Hobby Horse, Lovell Park Road, Little London, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|A JD venue if ever I saw one, but despite much manure spouted by a local gentleman who, for reasons of my own personal safety, shall remain nameless, there isn't a sliver of evidence they came anywhere near this charming little establishment. And I wouldn't blame them, either. The Hobby Horse, now boarded up and awaiting demolition, was a dog-rough bar on the edge of Little London, an area still known locally as 'the concrete jungle'. My 'source' claims "Joy Division" played there in December 1977 (were they billing themselves as such then? I don't think so) and did a "brilliant" version of 'Transmission' (not written until 1978, I believe) and that he chatted to Ian Curtis afterwards and found him "very sensitive". Hmmm. I'd like to believe Warsaw/JD crossed The Hobby Horse's mildewed threshold but the cold fact is this pub has no traceable history of hosting 'punk' gigs, so I remain agnostic. What the hell, it's a nice photo and if anyone can fill in the gaps, so much the better for all of us.||
The Hobby Horse, Little London 2013
Howard Street, Hull, East Yorkshire
25.11.78 University S.U. (?), Richmond Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire
|I haven't uncovered much about this pair of dates from the Rezillos/Undertones/Joy Division tour; we know they were scratched but that's pretty much it. It does seem likely the Bradford show would have taken place in the Student Union refectory on Richmond Road, a fantastic little venue and host hundreds of gigs over the years. Amongst others I saw New Order - coupled with a rather po-faced Crispy Ambulance - strutting their stuff here in 1981, and A Certain Ratio in 1989 supported by a wondrous and pre-fame Stereo MCs. The refectory is totally unrecognizable today and now houses part of the massive J.B. Priestley Library; happily a brand-new venue was built next door at the turn of the century.||
University S.U., Bradford in 2013. This was almost certainly the venue pencilled in for the aborted Rezillos/Undertones/Joy Division date in November 1978, and more than likely where JD were scheduled to play on 12th April 1980
|03.10.79 City Hall, Little
Queen Street, Hull, East Yorkshire
For reasons unknown this early gig on the Buzzcocks tour was suddenly switched to Leeds University. It's interesting to note the original choice of venue as it clearly illustrates the sad lack of medium-sized rock emporia in Yorkshire at the time; as with St George's Hall in Bradford this gaff has an incredibly ornate interior which one would normally associate with political conferences and classical music, not a pack of leather-jacketed herberts grinding their dog-ends into the carpet. Would have been nice to nip over there for a few photos but it's way too far - most of this research was conducted by bus or on foot; I refuse to ride my scooter for any distance in this county, far too many madmen on the roads - so if you're really interested in seeing the place, try: http://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/thedms.aspx?dms=13&venue=1587410 (thanks to VisitHull).
|12.04.80 Unknown venue,
Bradford, West Yorkshire
Despite extensive research the returns have been piss-poor; I've failed to dredge up anything about the proposed venue for this enigmatic non-happening. Very doubtful it would have been St George's Hall; despite their local popularity JD couldn't have hoped to fill that Fingal's Cave of the North by themselves, nor is The Royal Standard a likely choice - a tad too small for the band at this point in their career. A possible would be Bradford University Students Union (or the U.B.U. as it is now known), the same spot mooted for the ill-starred Rezillos package; it had an audience capacity of around 400, much more in-keeping with JD's crowd-drawing status in Yorkshire at the time. Other names vaguely mentioned were Manningham Community Centre - again, a little bit poky in my opinion - and The Metropole on Albion Street, though definitely not in its current guise as the famous 1 In 12 Club - that venue didn't open until April 1981.
|With thanks and gratitude to: Geoff Abbott, Phil Ascough, Colin Blades, Graeme Bower, Robert Brennan, Sean Cahill, Allan Carney, Philip Fairley, Thomas Farel, Jim Fields, Paul Furness, Gena, Andrew Helliwell, Andy Hirst, Bryan Hopson, Mark Hubbard, Ben Jonson, John Keenan, Ian Kershaw, Denis Kilcommons, Karen Maas, Lee McFadden, Stephen Morris, Neil O'Connor, Mick Oldroyd, Dennis Powell, Janet Richmond, Shug Sludden, Roger Spivey, Steve (1979ok), Jonathon Wakefield, Wakel, Baz Waterhouse, and John Woods, all for their time, guidance and recollections, and Marko for his patience in disentangling the Godawful mess I originally sent him. -Julian October 2014|