I was working in Our Price Records in Aldershot, when a strange album, with an even stranger title, was released on Factory Records. The band were from Manchester and were called the Happy Mondays. The album, ‘Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)’ was produced by John Cale, so I put it on the shop’s stereo. I didn’t really know what to make of it, but I did know I liked it. A lot.
I booked them for the Buzz Club. I can’t remember how, through an agent, the label or their manager. I got sent this photo and a few photocopied press sheets to help with the promotion.
3rd July The Buzz Club – The Happy Mondays
My band Bluetrain were about to play a little tour of Scotland and the promoter of our gig in Perth, Derek Moir, was in a great band called This Poison! – I asked if they would like to play. They didn’t make it in the end, but they are on the flier.
In fact, both the main support bands failed to make their epic journeys down south. The Waltones like the Mondays, were from Manchester, and on the fabulous Medium Cool label run by Andy Wake. They were also meant to play, but also didn’t make it.
As previously in the year, we were putting bands on in the bar. You didn’t have to have a ticket to watch them, it made for a great atmosphere as the venue was packed. Local band the Stigmata Club and solo artist The Caretaker aka Giles Sennett played. They didn’t have to travel far, so fortunately made it! Giles remembers ‘I played a few songs by Billy Bragg and a Microdisney fave ‘Armadillo Man’ ‘
I don’t have any posters for this gig – but the wall in the background of a photo Mark from Bluetrain sent me recently revealed this:
It was a hot summer evening on the 3 July 1987. It was also a Friday – we usually had the Buzz Clubs on a Saturday. No one had really heard of the Happy Mondays yet and so, not many people turned up. I think about 30 or so. I remember sitting on the steps outside the West End Centre and looking down the street, realising that no one else was coming. At that stage it was a bit of a blessing as the band themselves hadn’t turned up yet. They were about three hours late. I have a feeling, since neither of the main support acts were there, once the Mondays were there and sound checking, they just kept playing and it turned into the gig. I also remember being pretty scared of them. Southern softies that we were. I hadn’t really ever come across anyone like Shaun Ryder or Bez before. Probably haven’t since to be fair.
One of the people who was there, was Buzz Club regular, Jason Cox. He recalls;
‘One of the most memorable Buzz Club gigs I’ve been to. Having bought the record on the back of an NME review and giving it a test drive in Our Price (Aldershot branch of course!) remember turning up for the gig and counting just 17 of us in the audience at one point. Nobody knew what to make of this strange new band of Mancunian rogues on Factory records as they certainly didn’t fit the usual jingle jangle template of the time. But I do remember Shaun Ryder sporting the type of hat later made famous by Reni in the Stone Roses. He wore it for most of the gig and it covered the top part of is face but he also had a big spliff on the go. I don’t think Bez had completely mastered his freaky dancing at this point and was doing a kind of nodding dog with his feet nailed to the floor movement thing which was none the less unusual for its time. The whole gig for us Southerm indie kids was as brilliant as it was bemusing and I was a fan from there on in. Another Buzz Club triumph of sorts!’
Luckily, the scattering of people who were there also included Dave Driscoll aka Fruitier Than Thou who recorded the gig. Dave says;
‘A number of things that I remember about this gig… I remember Jo saying she desperately put some sandwiches together for them (being the good egg she is) as they turned up “Fookin’ Starvin’ “ Shaun & the drummer asked me “Have you got any gear?” when I was expecting them to say “Do you want to buy some gear?” … I obviously looked like a gearmeister… I like to think that the encounter lead to the comment at the end of the first track “Keep Britain drug free move to Aldershot…” As Jason said.. Most of the gig you could just see Shaun’s nose from under his beanie hat… Not only that but Bez actually had a rack of percussion stuff which he occasionally whacked rather than just doing that squat thrust breast stroke dance…. At the end of this track you can also hear Mr Paul Maguire Esq. suggesting that Shaun sounded like Frankie Sidebottom…. I’ll put the whole gig up sometime’
Also, in the crowd was Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. His memories of the night are:
I have to concur with the ‘scary’ tag everyone is giving them. I was just 17 at the time, and not at all worldly-wise. Even then, though, I figured that this band had seen a lot and probably had various degrees of ‘form’. Bez scared me because I wasn’t used to a band member not really having a role. He had a shaved head and was stick-thin and his eyes were pretty glazed. At that age I was thinking more ‘cult’ than ‘drugs’. The rest of the band (except Shaun) seemed very serious. No laughing or larking. Apart from when A Certain Ratio had played in June the previous year, I had never seen that from a Buzz Club headliner; they had all been friendly and jocular.
At the end of the set, I picked up the hand-written setlist which was on a fluorescent green sheet of paper (how 80s, eh?) I still have it somewhere, but God knows where it is. I met Tony Wilson in 2002 (and he was REALLY nice) and showed him the setlist. He said it was a rare piece of history as he signed it for me.
After the gig, I met the band backstage. They were all perfectly nice to me, to be honest. Shaun was asking me what it was like in Aldershot – did the Army go after people and were the police used to using CS gas? They all signed the back of a gig flyer for me (also still owned, also still in an unknown place) and Bez signed himself as ‘Skaghead’. In my innocence, I thought it was some kind of Manc slang for a shaved head. I knew what ‘skag’ was, but I thought no way would I ever meet someone who had a connection to it!
Jo and Danny drove me home and I remember Jo being quite shocked that Shaun had asked her where he could score some heroin in Aldershot.’
Hutch and I recently got back in touch and he very kindly dug deep into his family garden shed and was able to find lots of joyous recordings and photos and artefacts of various Buzz Clubs. Including this signed set list, also signed afterwards by Tony Wilson who called it ‘a piece of music history’.
Plus these, never seen before photos – thanks so much Hutch!
For a more in depth review of the Happy Mondays at the Buzz Club with more photos and live recordings click here.
The next night Bluetrain played the After Dark Club in Reading. The stage times were all pretty late as the club relied on drinkers coming in after the pubs had closed. When we went on, the place only had a smattering of people but it filled up steadily while we were playing and the crowd got more and more rowdy. A skinhead in the front kept shouting for ‘White Riot’. Suddenly he jumped on stage, mid song and started to talk to our drummer ‘Alright Kev, I didn’t know you were in a band?’ I looked round in between signing ‘Errr, yeah’ replied Kev. We finished the song and Edwyn (the skinhead) said ‘Do you know any songs by The Clash?’ disappointed that we didn’t, he jumped back down and carried on shouting for them anyway.
When we had finished, Edwyn joined us in the car park at the back of the venue where we were enjoying a few beers. Turns out Danny knew him too. Edwyn asked him, ‘How’s my Dad?’, ‘you tried to burn his house down didn’t you?’ said Danny ‘yeah, but I found out afterwards he wasn’t in’.
Edwyn had a tattoo on his neck – ‘A.C.A.B’ – I asked him what it stood for. ‘All coppers are bastards, but if a policeman asks – ‘Always carry a bible’ ‘
And off home we went leaving the late night drinkers of Reading behind.
We had been offered a gig in Edinburgh by friend of Dan Treacy and The Television Personalities, the brilliant Stuart Cant. A great gig actually, at The Venue supporting The Pastels and The Vaselines. I decided to see if I could organise a few other dates and turn it into a tour. Stuart gave me a few phone numbers and I started to make calls and did put five dates together. Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Stockton and Manchester.
We were too late to make the listings, but this is the first gig.
We drove up in the nursery school mini bus, Danny at the wheel as usual. Our friends Marie-Lou and Guy joined us while Kev and his mate Tommy drove up separately. It took about eight hours, we cheered as we drove over the border into Scotland on the day of the gig. We had left very early and when we arrived – unlike in England in those days – the pubs were open all afternoon. We decided this was an excellent opportunity to get the first orders in. Very foolish as Mark, Kev and I got drunk and the set we played wasn’t very good. Mark broke a string mid set and spent an agonising amount of time putting a new one on. People started hurling abuse at us from the crowd. We made up for lost time, finishing with a few songs played well before leaving the stage to a lukewarm response. A wasted chance, the venue was packed and up for it.
We went to the coast for the day. Guy Van Steene took these black and white photos.
On Sunday 12th we played Fat Sam’s in Dundee.
12 July – £60,000,000 is stolen during the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery
We had a lot of fun!
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.
One bundle of 12”s contained ‘Sally Cinnamon’ by a band called The Stone Roses. I played it and thought it was ok.
16 July Unemployment is reported to be down to just over 2,900,000
A week later, on the 27th July, Danny and I went to a Panic Station night at Dingwalls in Camden to see The Raw Herbs and The Wallflowers, The Stone Roses were first on. 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, seeing a band for the first time. The Stone Roses basically played their 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 by day, playing gigs with Bluetrain or hanging out with friends in the evening, waiting to see when The Stone Roses would next play down south.
27 July – Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” is released, the first of eight of his singles to reach the Top 10 in the UK.
30 July – The Docklands Light Railway in London, the first driverless railway in Great Britain, is opened by The Queen; passenger service will begin a month later.
French TV came along to a gig we played with label-mates, 1,000 Violins at The Green Man pub on the Edgware Road. (Don’t know if the pub name help to inspire our festival name!).
Here from that night is ’Some Greater Love’ – unfortunately Danny is hidden behind the PA speakers!
Summer holiday time. Off to Bodrum in Turkey for a couple of weeks.
19 August Hungerford massacre: Michael Ryan shoots dead fourteen people in the Berkshire town of Hungerford (with weapons including semi-automatic rifles) before taking his own life.16 people are injured, some of them seriously. On 21 August the death toll rises to 16 when two more victims die in hospital from their injuries.
I got a phone call from a promoter in Port Talbot in Wales. He was booking lots of indie bands that had played Glastonbury that year and offered us a gig at Raffles Nightclub. We made the long journey and had a really good night, chatting with lots of people afterwards.
Back to the Green Man pub for another Cool Trout Basement gig, this time supporting The Raw Herbs (who we had seen The Stone Roses support in July).
We had written a few new songs since Mark had joined the band and so went into the studio to record them. ‘Some Greater Love’ and ‘Decline’ plus a new version of a song called ‘You Bring Me Back To Life’. All three of these are included on the ‘Some Greater Love’ album released on Berlin’s Firestation Records earlier in 2021. The album came out in vinyl and sold out within two weeks, it then came out on cd in Japan where it also sold out very quickly.
24th September The Buzz Club 1,000 Violins /The Rain / The Anyways
I had originally booked wonderful Australian band, The Triffids but they sadly cancelled at quite short notice, I rang 1,000 Violins and asked if they would like the gig. (Dan Treacy gave me Alan McGee‘s number first to see if he had any bands needed a gig – he said he’d heard about it already but couldn’t think of anyone.)
I loved 1,000 Violins, but, darn! That would have been a great gig – I absolutely adored The Triffids! Anyway, thanks very much to the boys from Sheffield for stepping up and driving down South, it was a great night. Too late to get new tickets printed….
….but enough time to hit the letterset and photocopy shop to get the correct fliers made.
Main support came from local band, The Rain, who had released this wonderful 7″ single a few months earlier.
The Anyways were first on, they were from Oxford.
I was also in time to contact Adrian Creek at the Camberley News & Mail with the correct information, and he gave the gig a push for us.
26th September The Housemartins Brixton Academy
Great line up, support coming from The Farm, (themselves a few years away from having hits) and another band we gigged with a few times North Of Cornwallis. It was the biggest venue we’d seen The Housemartins at. Actually the last time we saw them, having first supported them at Dan Treacy‘s Room at the Top Club in Chalk Farm two years previously and followed them as they grew to be one of the biggest bands in the UK. They split up the next year.