Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979
This was Public Image Ltds 5th gig, and their first in the North of England. I’d been a massive Pistols fan, having seen them twice in 1976 and 1977, so I was looking forward to this one. I’d bought their first album, and found it quite strange and rather disconcerting, it was so different to the Sex Pistols. Marie and I went to the concert which was in the massive Kings Hall our at Belle Vue Manchester. We drove down and stayed at a hotel in the city centre (the Portland I think).
The concert was entitled ‘Creation for Liberation’ and was a benefit gig in aid of the ‘Race Today Friendly Society’. Also on the bill were Bristol’s The Pop Group (punky/jazzy/art-rock), Merger (a great reggae band), and poets Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke. We arrived early to see all the bands. I remember seeing a lot of people from the Manchester punk scene; a couple of members of the Buzzcocks were in the crowd. Everyone had turned out to see what John’s new band was like. I remember both dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (“England is a bitch’ was a stand-out) and local hero John Cooper Clarke (super fast) going down well, and then there was a long wait for PIL. The line-up of PIL was: John Lydon (vocals), Keith Levene (guitar); Jah Wobble (bass) and Eddie Edwards (from the Vibrators sitting in on drums for this one gig). There was a long, cold, ait before PIL came on stage. When they did, they wandered on and Lydon famously said to the waiting crowd, “No gimmicks, no theatre, just us. Take it or leave it”. They then launched into ‘Theme’ and played a set which featured songs from their first album, and the controversial Pistols songs ‘Belsen Was A Gas’ (this was the last time that PIL would ever perform the song, and the last time that it was performed live until the Pistols played it again during their reunion tour in 2002). The sound was poor and murky and you couldn’t hear Lydon’s vocals very well at all. John was as scary and engaging as ever, but overall the band’s performance was a little shaky, and lacking the power and depth that PIL can achieve on a good night. I was hoping we would get a Pistols hit for the encore (I should have known that was never going to happen), but they simply played ‘Annalisa’ again. It was great to see Lydon on stage again, and in a strange way, this was a memorable concert. It represented everything that PIL was about at the time: challenging, strange, not quite what you would expect, noisy and discordant.
Set List: Theme; Annalisa; Low Life; Religion; Attack; Belsen Was A Gas; Public Image; Annalisa
Thanks to Paul B. Toman for allowing the use of his image of the PIL button badge through the Wikimedia Commons licence agreement.
Archive for the ‘John Cooper Clarke’ Category
Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979
Pauline Murray, John Cooper Clarke and the Invisible Girls Newcastle City Hall 1980
I went to see Penetration play a lot in the North East during the late 70s, and was sad when they split. I always thought they deserved greater recognition and success than they achieved. But not to worry, lead singer Pauline soon bounced back with her own solo career, releasing an album and touring in late 1980. This home-coming gig featured Pauline and punk poet John Cooper Clarke each performing their own set. Both performers were backed by the Invisible Girls who had originally been formed to provide backing music for John Cooper Clarke. The Invisible Girls were Manchester producer Martin Hannett’s house band at the time and featured various members including at one point Wayne Hussey. I can’t be certain who was in the band at the City Hall concert but do remember that it featured the excellent Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly on guitar, Buzzcocks drummer John Maher, and Penetration’s Robert Blamire on bass. I think the Invisible Girls may have played their own short instrumental set before John Cooper Clarke came on stage. Vini Reilly had a particular guitar style, very atmospheric, beautiful and melodic. I never quite understood the need to add music to John Cooper Clarke’s poetry, which is strong enough to stand in its own right. I enjoyed seeing him with the Invisible Girls, but his set that night didn’t have the same edge as previous performances I had witnessed; the music somehow almost stifled John’s poems, and didn’t allow him to experiment with phrasing and rhythm in the way that he normally did. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable performance. Pauline’s solo material was much more melodic and poppier than the punk rock of Penetration, and her set that night featured songs from her first album, which is a classic of the time, and quite under-rated. The music is very atmospheric, dark, almost goth in parts. I remember this gig as an enjoyable evening with some uplifting music.
To celebrate National Poetry Day The Tyneside Cinema welcomed punk poet John Cooper Clarke for a one-off live broadcast of the documentary Evidently… John Cooper Clarke. Not only were we treated to a screening of the film, but the great poet was also there himself, and took part in a Q&A session after the film. The proceedings were beamed to a dozen or so cinemas across the UK, and the audience at each event was given the opportunity to tweet questions to John. Laura is a big fan, so along we went.
Evidently… John Cooper Clarke, is a documentary which “records and celebrates the life and works of ‘punk poet’ John Cooper Clarke, looking at his life as a poet, a comedian, a recording artist and revealing how he has remained a significant influence on contemporary culture. With a bevy of household names from stand-up comedy, lyricists, rock stars and cultural commentators paying homage to him, the film reveals Salford-born Cooper Clarke, as a dynamic force who remains as relevant today as ever, as successive generations cite him as an influence on thier lives, careers and styles.
From Bill Bailey to Plan B, Steve Coogan to Kate Nash and Arctic Monkey’s front man, Alex Turner to cultural commentators such as Miranda Sawyer and Paul Moreley, the film exposes the life behind one of Britain’s sharpest and most witty poets – a national treasure.”
Laura and I both enjoyed the film which featured all of John’s best known poems, and the Q & A session gave a fascinating insight into his life and influences. I found out quite a few things that I didn’t know about John. For instance I wasn’t aware that his poems had been placed on the national English syllabus for Schools. He even told us which brand of hairspray he uses to keep his formidable locks in place.
Elvis Costello Newcastle City Hall 1979
Support Acts: Richard Hell; John Cooper Clarke
Elvis Costello was back at the City Hall in early 1979 fronting a great triple bill, with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and John Cooper Clarke as support acts. I’d seen Richard Hell as support for the Clash at Newcastle Poly, and John Cooper Clarke popped up quite often as a support act in those days. Both acts were well worth watching, of course. Richard had been a member of Television and, briefly, the Heartbreakers, and was known at the time for his signature tune “Blank Generation” and for “inventing’ ripped, safety-pinned shirts. John Cooper Clarke was a revelation in those early punk days. His rapid, caustic humour delivered in that greater Mancunian drawl always went down well with the Geordie crowd. Songs (are they songs?) such as “I Don’t Wanna Be Nice”; “Psycle Sluts 1&2” and “(I Married a) Monster from Outer Space” stick in my mind even to this day. Elvis Costello had kept on turning out those classic hit singles in the year since his last City Hall performance. “Oliver’s Army”; “Accidents Will Happen” and “Radio Radio” were all new to the set this time around. The set was much longer with two extended encores. I’ve just played last song “part Girl” on Youtube to remind myself how great Elvis was in those days. I must also mention Elvis’ band The Attractions, who were a very important part of his sound. Local guy Bruce Thomas played with Paul Rodgers in the 60s, and I saw him several times in the very under-rated band Quiver. The other members were Steve Nieve on piano and Bruce Thomas (whoo I’d previously seen with Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers) on drums. Setlist: Goon Squad; Hand In Hand; Oliver’s Army; (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?; Green Shirt; The Beat; Accidents Will Happen; Lip Service; This Year’s Girl; Lipstick Vogue; Watching The Detectives; Big Boys; You Belong To Me – including a line from The Last Time; Pump It Up. Encore 1: (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea; Mystery Dance; Radio, Radio. Encore 2: No Dancing; Party Girl
John Cooper Clarke Whitley Bay Playhouse 22 Oct 2010
So the Manchester punk bard comes to Whitley Bay (and he thought it was Whitby!).
Laura has been listening to quite a lot of John’s material and has wanted to see him for some time. For me it must be 30+ years since I saw him, probably supporting the Buzzcocks or Penetration or some other punk band of the late 70s. The Whitley Bay Playhouse has recently been renovated and this was our fist visit to this particular venue. We arrived while the support act was on stage, and decided to partake in ice cream (Laura decreed the honey flavour glorious).
John took to the stage around 8.45pm and treated us to some jolly good banter, lots of dry humour peppered with expletives, and northern observations that only John can create. The poems came thick and fast, and included old favourites such as Beasley Street which was given a revamp to bring it up to date with contemporary society (Beasley Boulevard), Twat, and Evidently Chicken Town. All of these were delivered at break neck speed in his monitone Mancunian manner. John looks pretty much as he did in the 70s in a tight black suit and wearing some great chelsea boots.
Laura said it was great, which I had to agree with.
Setlist (something like): Hire Care, Adverts; Limerick; The List; Beasley Street; Beasley Boulevard; Twat; Crossing the Line; Things are Gonna Get Worse; Evidently Chicken Town.