So I guess it started with The Raw Herbs. They were a London based band, with a Scottish singer who released records on the very excellent Medium Cool label, based in Manchester and run by Andy Wake.
Here’s the wonderful, ‘Don’t Bury Me Yet’.
I had got myself on the mailing list for Out Promotions and regularly received a bundle of 12” singles in the post. They varied vastly in style. The ones I didn’t like, I sold, the ones I liked, I kept. I made compilation tapes to play in the bar at The Buzz Club, run from The West End Centre in Aldershot.
One bundle of 12”s contained ‘Sally Cinnamon’ by a band called The Stone Roses. I played it and thought it was ok.
A week later, Danny and I went to a Panic Station night at Dingwalls in Camden to see The Raw Herbs and The Stone Roses were supporting. We didn’t know this until we arrived and were curious enough to be one of about 20 people who had shuffled up to the front to watch them.
The next 45 minutes were an absolute revelation for me. I have never felt the same at a gig before or after that night, 27 July 1987 at Dingwalls in Camden. The Stone Roses basically played the first album, right in front of us. ‘Mersey Paradise’ was also in the set I’m sure. It was just incredible. Ian Brown was swinging from the pipes that were over the low ceiling above the stage. He swung with one hand, microphone in the other. When I started to research stuff for this post, I could not believe that I was able to find photos from that night! Thirty years later I’m seeing my memories lit up via these pics. Awesome. Not one, but two people were taking photos that night. This first one was taken by Andy McQueen and I found it on john-squire.com
He swung and landed right next to us. Still singing and doing that thing he does with the microphone swaying. He landed right in front of a bloke wearing gasses to our left, and with his free hand, still doing his dance, he removed the man’s glasses and put them on his own face.
Oh my God, I was stunned. Ian got back on stage, still with the glasses on and finished the song. The poor glassless fella, blinked self-consciously, looking straight ahead and pretending not to care. Ian swung back down and replaced them on the dude’s face in the next song and did that swagger thing he does when he dances. It was amazing. After each song he’d go ‘Clap, clap. Clap, clap.’ in a mildly sarcastic way as twenty pairs of hands clapped.
The rest of these photos were taken by Kaori Laird, I also got them from the website mentioned above.
The band were so incredible. The drummer’s rhythm and electric guitar player’s riffs. Paint splattered shirts and guitars. The drummer’s singing. The bass player’s grooves. That singer – so cool. So mesmerising. The songs. The choruses.
It was the original bass player, Pete Garner still in the band at this point.I chatted to him at the bar afterwards ‘loved your set!’ I gushed. Well, it wasn’t really a chat – that was it. He said ’thanks’ and I was chuffed to bits.
A couple of hours later we saw them in their van leaving. Ian looked out the window, did a child like wave and mouthed ‘bye bye’. I remember Danny and I just looking at each other. Totally knowing we felt exactly the same.
As soon as we got back to my house, I put the 12” on and this time, it sounded incredible. The Stone Roses were now, 100%, our favourite band.
I carried on with my now changed life. Working for our Price Records by day and playing guitar and singing in Bluetrain or going to gigs at night. I checked the music press each week to see when The Stone Roses would come back down south and it was a few months until I saw they were due to play in London again. They were to support The La’s back at Dingwalls on 29 February 1988. Another Panic Station night. ‘Way Out’, The La’s debut single had recently been released and I had it on 12″. I thought they were great.
Danny and I had both been banging on to our friends about The Stone Roses, so we took Danny’s mate Gary Wollen with us.
This time, the venue was full. The Stone Roses were incredible again. I’ve read that Zomba and Rough Trade were in the crowd to see them. More than the music though, my memories of this night are the looking around at the amount of people – to see The La’s and The Stone Roses and realising The Roses were starting to get popular. I was already feeling part of something special. Feeling a bit cocky because we had already seen them and were fans. Starting to recognise the songs. Cheering and singing along when they played ‘Sally Cinnamon’!
The fact that The La’s then also played is pretty awesome. What a night.
I used to write down the gigs I went to – confusingly varying from writing the bands in the order I saw them, to writing the headline band first. Anyway, here is that hand written list with those first two concerts I saw by seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses. 27.7.1987 and 29.2.1988.
At this point Danny and I decided to join our American guitarist, Mark, in California to give Bluetrain a go over there. Mark had returned a few months earlier as his visa had run out. We stayed in a place called Riverside, about an hour outside of L.A. for six months. We played a few gigs, made some recordings. Got jobs. Hung out. Went to some gigs. We were in a record shop in Hollywood one day when to my absolute delight not only did I see the Bluetrain 12” ‘Land of Gold’ but also, the new single by The Stone Roses, ‘Elephant Stone’. I bought them both (I have the Bluetrain record, still in cellophane with the $5.79 price sticker on.)
Here’s the ‘Elephant Stone’ 12” produced by Peter Hook.
When we arrived back in England in December 1988 I got in touch with Jem Barnes at The West End Centre in Aldershot to say we’d like to start up The Buzz Club again. I was given a few dates to fill. I wasn’t sure who to book. We’d been out of the U.K. for a while and I felt a little out of touch. I was working back at Our Price, temporarily as Christmas cover. I got a phone call one day from an agent called Pete Target. He said, ‘You might not have heard of them, but I’ve just taken on a brilliant band from Manchester called The Stone Roses. I’m looking to get them a few dates in the new year, what do you think?’
I thought ‘Oh wow!’ I knew it didn’t matter if only Danny and I watched them – I was going to book them for absolute sure.
I was sent a press kit and photos to circulate to the local press – a few papers in those days including The Camberley News, The Aldershot News and The Farnham Herald.
The press kit has about 10 pages with various reviews from national and Manchester press. I like this one, The Happy Mondays at number 1 in The Guardian Hit List – The Roses at number 7! It’s starting to happen…..
I still have the original of this photo plus the press kit.
We got posters and fliers made – I don’t have the flier which is slightly annoying but very happy to have kept one of these A1 posters and scanned it a few years ago.
(Update 25.6.2020 – an original poster from this gig just sold on eBay for £247! Not by me, I promise!)
The tour was to promote their new single ‘Made of Stone’. What a cracking 12” – the two tracks on the b side were also wonderful ‘Going Down’ and ‘Guernica’ – a backwards version of the title track and a clue to what would come on the album. A few years later, I met Paul Schroeder who produced the b sides and who engineered the album with John Leckie producing. Paul was working with the band Dodgy who I knew very well. They were managed by Andrew Winters, my boss at Ultimate Records. I chatted to Paul a bit about how they recorded the first album, how they sang along to the backwards track that was ‘Don’t Stop’.
Anyway, back to 1989.
Tickets were doing ok, but not brilliantly. Then with perfect timing, the week they were due to play The Buzz Club, ‘Made of Stone’ was Single of the Week in ‘Melody Maker’ , they had an amazing half page live review in the ’N.M.E.’ and best of all, they were featured on SNUB TV.
The day of the gig arrived and we had sold about 178 tickets. Covered our costs, enough for a great atmosphere.
After they sound checked the band came into the bar for a minute. Ian Brown said to me ‘I like your hair, where d’ya get it cut?’
I was a little lost for words as the answer was actually a shop run by a couple of our friends, Kenny and Steve, in Aldershot called ‘Blow Jobs’!
Danny and I chatted to the band’s tour manager, Steve. He was kind of managing them too. He described how people would break open lamp posts to run the power for illegal raves in Manchester.
I had been telling everyone I knew to come to this gig. Including, our mate Billy Campbell who also worked in Our Price and later went on to run Names Records, releasing awesome music by King Creosote, Alela Diane and The Earlies.
‘My buddy Pascal and I were just driving around with not a lot to do and I remember driving past the West End Centre and saying ‘oh there’s meant to be a really good band playing tonight… we should check them out’
So we came in and saw you and Danny who we knew and hung out for a bit and checked out the support band who were ok .
Then the band came on and played this brilliant opening song which was ‘I wanna be adored’ and then it seemed every song after was a classic , I was really into The Byrds at the time and they seemed like a modern version of them with an incredible rhythm section and the guitarist was out of this world and looked sooo fucking cool and the singer who would be known for ‘holding a tune like an onion bag holds custard’ seemed really good.
The last song was incredible and went on for ever and ever and when it was over we walked back into the bar shell shocked , i asked Pascal what he thought as his musical tastes were really different to mine and he was absolutely blown away.
You just knew they were going to be massive.
We had some beers and John Squire came over and chatted ..
Probably the most influential gig of my life .’
My own memories of the gig were being right down the front. This time not just loving every minute of a Stone Roses gig but also thinking ’we did this!’. That was a pretty great feeling.
Russell Heath, another Our Price friend was there too, smoking while watching the band. Ian took the cigarette from him, held it for a while, had a couple of puffs and handed it back, mid song.
I’ve asked a few people who were there that night for any memories they might have. Dave Driscoll who is the man responsible for loads of Buzz Club live recordings (but sadly not that night!) said,
‘The two things I most remember about the gig… Firstly, Danny saying to Gary, sound check sounds really good “He’s playing through two amps…” To which Gary said.. “Well that’s just being plain greedy..” and being absolute mesmerised watching Reni when playing ’Shoot You Down” with a brush and a beater….’
Update – 30.7.2020 – I have just been pointed to the set list from the Buzz Club gig! It just sold, along with another Buzz Club poster for £320 on a different site (not eBay). Very happy to have this, if only digitally! What a night it was!! Thanks to Mark Lindsay for letting me know).
So back to my hand written gig lists.
Again, confusingly I sometimes write the headline act first, sometimes I write the order I saw the bands in, starting with the support.
15.3.1989 The Stone Roses at The Powerhouse, Islington.
Danny was in a band with Gary at this stage and they had rehearsals that night so I went with my friend Marie -Lou. I can’t remember much beyond being chuffed to have put them on the week before and knowing more and more of the lyrics every time I saw them.
Danny and I moved to London at around this time. We had a ground floor flat on New North Road, London, N1. Islington.
15.5.1989 The I.C.A.. I remember this one for sure. They were really starting to explode now. I spoke to their agent, Pete Target who said the ‘phone in the office would not stop ringing with people wanted to put them on. Pete put me on the guest list. I already had tickets. On the evening of the gig, it was sunny and warm. Danny and I got down to the I.C.A., I was working as band booker at The Rock Garden in Covent Garden by now so walked down after work. I guess the most important thing about this gig is that the album had come out two weeks before. There was a nice Our Price at the top of Neal Street in Covent Garden, I remember running down on the day of release to buy it. Being slightly breathless when I saw it displayed all over the shop. I bought it on vinyl.
Anyway. There were crowds of people on the Mall, trying to buy tickets. The gig was long ago sold out. I bumped into Billy and an old friend, Kieran Best (the drummer in my first band when I played bass and sang, aged 14!). I wanted to check 100% we were on the guest list before selling my tickets. We were, so I did, at face value to one very happy young man.
The gig was fantastic. I remember there being sound issues, Danny doesn’t, he remembers it as being brilliant throughout. The mists of time….one thing we both remember – everyone knew the words! We all had the album. They were still playing ‘Standing Here’ and ‘Where Angles Play’ so still a chance to show off knowing the lyrics to those ones…in fact, I’m sure you can hear me whistle during the drop down on ‘Standing Here’ on this great bootleg from that night.
22.5.1989 Dingwalls. My third time seeing them here and easily the best. This is one of my all time favourite gigs, it was mental. Packed – more so than The La’s gig. We danced and swayed and sang and beat Reni’s rhythms in the air. Absolutely flipping brilliant. I was pushed and pulled within the crowd, sometime seeing people I knew sometimes smiling at people I didn’t know.
23.5.1989 A Certain Ratio at The Town and Country Club, Kentish Town. Iconic Manchester band, releasing records on Factory since 1979.
We had put A.C.R. on at The Buzz Club in June 1986. They had a newish line up in ’89, which featured a bleached haired female singer. During the gig, I felt someone tweak me from behind, turned round and there was Ian Brown, ‘If she sucks in her cheeks any more, she’ll burst’ . Wow. Keep cool Jo, ‘haha, yeah’. It was Ian and John Squire still in town after their gig the night before. They talked about the Buzz Club ‘we thought it was really cool to see the promoter down the front’ (Ian had been on stage and noticed me?!) They asked if there was anywhere to go on to after this gig. Six months later I would have had no problem with this. By then, I knew lots of great clubs to go to and could probably have also organised guest lists. But we had only been living in London for a few months so sadly, we didn’t know anywhere to go. So we said our good byes after the gig and headed home.
The Happy Mondays ‘Lazyitis’ was released in May 1989 and actually just managed to get in to the top 40. We’d put The Happy Mondays on at The Buzz Club in July 1987, only about 30 people were at that gig. A scene was starting that we were a part of, not just as fans, but having actually put the bands on in Aldershot. It was incredibly exciting. Danny was working at Mayking Records in Battersea and Factory Records were his account, so he brought ‘Lazyitis’ home as a test pressing.
6.6.1989 The Majestic Reading. I think Danny and I went with Dave and Gary to this one. The Reading crowd was slightly edgy as I recall.
Jason Cox, a Buzz Club regular and friend was also at The Majestic.
‘I was lucky enough to get to the Buzz Club and Ally Pally gigs but my absolute favourite was the Reading Majestic. I had to drive to that one but was totally buzzing with adrenalin afterwards so much so we had to wait a bit before I could drive home.’
We had to wait until November to see The Stone Roses again. But, it was worth it. Alexandra Palace. Ally Pally.
18.11.1989 Alexandra Palace, North London. This is definitely one of the best nights of my life. We met up with our friends Gary, Dave and Paul Haskell and travelled to the gig together. Here’s the next gig list, so many gigs now we’re living in London, right at the bottom – Alexandra Palace.
I don’t have my ticket for this but Gary does. He has it framed, which i think is marvellous.
Oh my God. This gig! Like a larger, more insane version of the Dingwalls one in May. Dancing, singing, getting pushed around, pushing. So many people. Oddly I remember at one stage I looked up and I was dancing with a bloke from the t.v. show ‘Bread’! Lost all my mates, found all my mates. Euphoric.
Here’s my friend, the wonderful photographer,Justin Thomas’s iconic shot of Ian Brown. Paul Smith tee shirt and bongos.
I found this recently…
And of course, this had just been released….
When the gig was over, we bumped into our friend from Surrey, John Andrews. John was also living in London and working at Concert and Tour Advertsing. We had recently set up a record label, Push Records with John, but more of that at another time. John had a spare back stage pass. We got us all back stage (not the dressing room a sort of after show in a large bar with a few hundred people). One of us would stick a pass on and stick a second pass on a jumper, not worn but tucked under your arm. We’d go to the main auditorium, give a friend the jumper and both go back stage, then they would go back out and repeat the process until we were all in. Myself, Danny, Gary, Paul and Dave.
Paul still has the back stage pass, he must have been last to use it!
I recognised Steve who was tour managing / managing them when they played The Buzz Club – incredibly just eight months before. ‘Alright mate, bit different from Aldershot’ I said. He clicked who I was and said ‘Are you coming on to the party?’….’err, no, but I’d like to?’
He told us to head over to the Holloway Road Studios and gave us the address. We were to meet him there. Danny and I had actually been to a Boys Own party there a few months earlier, with Kevin, our Bluetrain drummer, so we knew where we were going.
We ran outside, somehow organised a taxi and headed over to the Holloway Road. I had always loved this building. On the outside there was a shop front with a giant, dusty platform boot in the window. I have no idea why. I tried to Google it to see if I could find a picture but no joy. Some people reading this might know what I’m talking about.
So. We hopped out of the cab and Steve was already there ushering people in. He gave us all some records to hold, said to say we were with the d.j. and in we went.
The inner (ish) sanctum. Holy Moses. I think around 100 people. The music was great, Cressa was one of the d.j.s. Mick Jones from The Clash was there. We danced. Gary had got hold of two empty coke cans and was clacking them together in time to the music all night. It was actually pretty cool and I remember missing it when he stopped.
Mani and a crowd came in, I don’t think any one else from the band did. Andy Winters, my future boss was there. He introduced me to an agent called Paul Buck I knew him on the phone as I had booked a couple of his bands before, but had never met him. He was The Mighty Lemon Drops agent.
Here’s another record which had just come out and was played.
I think we walked home to New North Road at around 5 or 6 am. Very, very happy.
Back at work on Monday, I was full of it. ‘How was the gig on Saturday?’ ‘Well…….’
As I was leaving to go home, I saw Reni, looking at the Rock Garden menu, outside the restaurant. Oh my God! I remember pausing and knowing I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t say something. So, I went up to him and said ‘I was there on Saturday, it was unbelievable’ he turned round and we spoke. I asked him if he was looking for something to eat – ‘I work here and can organise some food’. ‘That would be great, yes please’. In we walk. Me and Reni. I asked Patrick, the maitre de if we could get a table and had a discrete word not to charge him.
So there we were, he ate while we chatted. All my mates from the Rock Garden positioned themselves behind him but where I could see them and made faces to try and make me laugh.
We knew a few people in common, most particularly a girl who was in the year a head of me at school who was his girlfriend (and now wife).
When we were outside saying good bye, he asked me ‘how do I look, I’ve got to go and film some live t.v. now?’ I said he looked good, and off he went to film for ‘The Late Show’. Yes, that one. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell Danny so rang him from a ‘phone box and then couldn’t get home quick enough to keep talking about it.
We tuned in to watch ‘The Late Show’……
Towards the end of 1989 I celebrated my 24th birthday. I had another party back at my parents’ house in Surrey. I got a couple of mates who were into the Boys Own scene to d.j.(one of them was Steve from Blowjobs the hairdresser, as mentioned in March). The party was packed. The music was great. Danny and I were trying to dress like The Roses and The Mondays. There was a jeans shop by the Green in Islington that sold denim flares – or parallels – and I got a pair. I was chuffed to bits as they were hard to find down south still. Danny wore a cool pair of baggy track suit trousers, high top trainers and a burnt orange Ben Sherman shirt, (which he found in my brother Sam’s room and borrowed). We did a d.j. slot. I love playing records, dancing and seeing everyone else dance, one of the finest things in life.
I remember Steve played this, the first time I heard it.
At some point later, I got an envelope in the post – Reni sent me two Spike Island tickets with a note written on the back of his gas bill ‘I hope you didn’t pay for that meal?’
I’m going to leave it there though. These were the brilliant, brilliant times. Even Spike Island didn’t compare for me.