Previously Unseen Photos – Aztec Camera – The Venue, Victoria 5.8.1981

Hot on the heels of his amazing Orange Juice photos, Justin Thomas has now sent me these wonderful Aztec Camera snaps. The boy wonder himself, also from The Venue in Victoria, these are from the night before the Orange Juice gig.

Justin has very fond memories of The Venue.

‘Saw SO many fab artists at The Venue….James Brown, Al Green, Captain Beefheart, The Cramps, Depeche Mode…..loads, also great dance floor in front of the stage.
I remember when The Cramps played, Lux Interior jumped off the stage ran across the dance floor and jumped into the dining area. He then walked from table to table treading in people’s hamburgers :)’

That wouldn’t happen at an 02 venue these days would it?!

I also didn’t realise that Richard Branson had owned The Venue. I picked this up form here –

Address: 160-62 Victoria Street, London SW1.
Dates: 1st November 1978 to August 1984.
Capacity: 600, reduced to 550 when dance floor added.
Past Use: Metropole Cinema. Opened in 1929 and closed in 1977.
Current Use: Restaurant which has passed through the hands of a lot of different operators. Currently Ask Pizza and Pasta. In September 2010 there was an announcement that the building would be demolished to enable the expansion of Victoria Underground Station.
This venue owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group was modelled on the Bottom Line in New York. The audience sat round tables, with a waitress service for drinks (a bar customers could go directly to was added later). Food was available with from a Hard Rock Café style menu. The venue was steeped to give everyone a view of the band. The aim was to attract name bands visiting London to give a performance in a club-like atmosphere. From the beginning there was a mixed reaction by punters to both to these innovations and to the cost of entry. As a licence condition the GLC required a minimum entrance fee of £3, to keep the wrong sort of audience out of Victoria (this was the peak of the punk era). The first gig was by Graham Parker on the 1st November 1978. The venue covered a wide variety of different musical styles, not just rock. Amongst those who played here were Todd Runtgren, Southside Johnny & the Ashbury Dukes, Captain Beefheart, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Al Green, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Tito Puente, Machito, Hugh Masekela, Taj Mahal, Rockin Dopsie, Queen Ida, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and James Blood Ulmer. In August 1984 Virgin closed the venue down (the last performance seems to have been the New Sweet on the 25th July). Virgin said they were looking for another central London venue, but as far as I am aware this was their only venture into live music.

Plus I found out that Steve Strange was the band booker in 1981 – not sure if he booked Orange Juice and Aztec Camera though?

It looks like The Bluebells played their first London gig supporting Orange Juice the night after this Aztec Camera show. The Sound of Young Scotland was in full force.

This is the closest I can find for an advert – yes, Aztec Camera, no, wrong date though, but you get the idea.


Anyway after all that….here we go….there aren’t many but they are fantastic…Aztec Camera, The Venue, Victoria 5.8.1981 by Justin Thomas…..enjoy.

Roddy Frame/Aztec CameraRoddy Frame/Aztec CameraRoddy Frame/Aztec CameraRoddy Frame/Aztec Camera



  1. Lovely photos…thanks so much ! And for the orange Juice ones as well.

    Here’s an advert and the tickets for the 2 evenings. I have a vague memory that Aztec Camera encored with The Clash’s “Garageland”.

    And a review from the NME. They didn’t like OJ !

    If you click on the View Photos(next to the binoculars) you get all my scanned Postcard collection. I even got a thanks from Grace (Edwyn’s wife) for putting all that on line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow – amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. My most treasured record is my 7″ of ‘Falling and Laughing’. I got it when it came out,
      by sending money to Alan Horne having read a review in ‘Smash Hits’!


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