I worked at The Rock Garden in Covent Garden as the band booker from early 1989 to December 1990. Having previously had a great heritage on the London circuit, by the late ’80s, the venue had become known as a tourist spot for unsigned bands from the suburbs to play. The bands were given loads of ticket fliers and encouraged to give them to their ‘fans’ to get in at a cheap door price. Usually this meant the band members hung around outside Covent Garden tube station and gave the fliers to tourists. At the end of the night the tickets were counted and the band given a split of the take.
I got given the job as they were keen to get cool bands to play again, the sort of bands I was booking for my club, The Buzz Club. It was a hard ask as lots of the agents wouldn’t even consider it. However, I started a Wednesday night indie club and booked a few great bands, very early in on their career.
One such band I was able to book were from Ireland and insanely young. They had just released their debut album on the wonderful Setanta label – Fanfare For The Comic Muse.
The Divine Comedy were about to take their GCSEs but came over and played their debut London gig at the Rock Garden. Luckily my old school friend, Guy Van Steene was in the audience and took these fabulous photos. Guy had a roll of film, he wasn’t sure what was on there and he send it to me, I got it transferred digitally and unearthed some real gems, including this gig.
Update: 4th April 2020 – I shared this post on a site called> ‘a short site about the Divine Comedy,‘ which is hosted by Philippe. He contacted me to correct me on a few points – corrections I was only to happy to receive, I must admit, I took a punt on a couple of the ‘facts’ above!
Thanks Guy – more gigs from other bands on that roll of film to come!