Sham 69 Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall November ? 1978
This was one awesome gig, for many reasons. It was the first time that Sham 69 had played in the North East, and musically, and in terms of popularity, they were riding high. They had hit the UK singles charts three times in 1978 with their brilliant terrace punk anthems “Angels With Dirty Faces”, “If the Kids Are United” and “Hurry Up Harry”. Sham 69 were the only band to rival the Pistols and The Clash in terms of raw punk power, and you didn’t get any more authentic than Jimmy Pursey who wore his punk credentials and his political views well and truly on his sleeve. Unfortunately, Sham had also gained a reputation for violence at their gigs, which often descended into fighting and riots. They attracted a group of right wing skins, although Jimmy’s politics were very much towards the left. And their followers were fanatical, the Sham Army followed them everywhere, up and down the country. Add to this the fact that this was a students only gig, and you just knew that there was going to be trouble.
When we arrived we ran the gauntlet of a group of punks and skins who couldn’t get in, were pretty unhappy and ready for a fight. Inside; the hall was far from full, the audience consisting of a mix of students, local rock fans, a few punks and skins who had somehow managed to blag their way in, and a heavy travelling contingent from the Sham Army.
“Now they were travelling to Sunderland Polytechnic and were introduced to the cockney Sham Army for the first time. One lad… took no crap and when a student tried to stamp their hands [this was common practice at Poly gigs in the 70s, the stamp was a pass out] he just grabbed him and stamped on the startled boy’s forehead. …. had brought more of the boys up from Sheffield and they were lucky to get in because the students were only allowing members into the venue. Jimmy went mad because their were hundreds locked outside. No wonder the students got a hard time from the rest of the population; their self-serving attitude resulted in them getting a few slaps after the gig….. Trouble broke out wherever the band played – of the huge skinhead following that joined the Sham cause, a small minority always thought it would be fun to bash the punks.” (From Wednesday, Rucks and Rock ‘n’Roll by Anthony Cronshaw, 2012).
Jimmy and Sham were brilliant, but there were fights throughout the night both inside and outside the hall. Lots of singalongs with skins jumping on stage and Jimmy sharing the mike with them. Great songs like “What Have We Got” (F**k All!) and “Borstal Breakout”. Everyone belted out “If Kids Are United”. Loads of beer flying about. Jimmy pleading with people to stop fighting, almost in tears. Electricity in the air; generated by the raw power of the punk music, and the danger and tension of the event. Amazing, happy days.
“What have we got? (Jimmy)
F**k All (Audience)
What have we got? (Jimmy)
F**k All (Audience)
They’ve taken everything
There’ll soon be nothing left
Soon we’ll be walking the street
With nothing on our feet
What have we got
What have we got
I’d like to buy a shotgun
Shooting MPs conservatives, communists
They’re all the bleeding same”
(What have we got, Sham 69, 1978)
Archive for the ‘Sham 69’ Category
Sham 69 Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall November ? 1978
The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
This was the year punk finally arrived. The festival was now officially known as the Reading Rock Festival, having dropped “jazz” from the title and the line-up, and weekend tickets cost all of £8.95. Our old friend John Peel was compere, as always, and a van load of us descended on the riverside site, having driven part of the way down on Thursday, gone for a drink in Wetherby and slept on Wetherby racecourse (the crazy things you do when you are young 🙂 ) Highlights of the weekend for me were Penetration (I was a big fan at the time), Sham 69, The Jam, Status Quo (most of our group were heavily into them) and Patti Smith.
Friday line-up: Dennis O’Brien; The Automatics; New Hearts (who would become mods and change their name to Secret Affair); Radio Stars; Penetration; Sham 69; The Pirates; Ultravox; The Jam.
Memories: Radio Stars were always good for a laugh; “Dirty Pictures” (turn me on) was a favourite at the time; it was great to see local north east punk heroes playing up on the massive Reading stage Penetration, although they suffered from murky sound throughout their set; The Pirates rocked the place with no-nonsense rock’n’roll, “Shaking All Over” and ace guitarist the late Mick Green (a big influence on Wilko); and the John Foxx version of Ultravox! played a quite moody atmospheric electronic set. The main event was Sham 69, who were excellent with Jimmy Pursey his usual cockney “boy on the streets” self, and those anthems “What have we got?”, “Borstal Breakout” and “If the Kids are United”. The Sham Army had come across to Reading in force, all braces, No 2 cuts, and Doc Martins, and ready to take on those hippies. We were right at the front, although we soon moved to the side of the crowd when the fights started. A bunch of skins climbed on to the stage, and Pursey tried to call order, pleading with the crowd to stop fighting to no avail. He was in tears, watching bedlam and violence all around him, and not being able to do anything to stop it. But that was the nature of a Sham gig at the time. Jimmy even brought Steve Hillage on stage to show that it was ok to mix with hippies, but that just annoyed the skins more. A nasty, frightening experience, which marred an excellent performance by Sham. The Jam were great, Weller the edgy young mod, getting himself into a strop at the poor sound quality, and trashing his gear. Punk really had arrived at Reading.
The Jam set included: Mr Clean ; Away From the Numbers; Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane; Tonight at Noon; David Watts; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight; “A” Bomb in Wardour Street; News of the World
Saturday line-up: Speedometors; The Business; Jenny Darren; Next; Gruppo Sportivo; Nutz; Greg Kihn Band; Lindisfarne; Spirit; The Motors; Status Quo.
Saturday was a little more straightforward rock. Lindisfarne had recently reunited and hit the charts with “Run For Home”. The Motors were OK (Airport!). Spirit were excellent, with great Hendrix-style guitar from Randy California. Status Quo played a solid respectable set, nothing earth shattering. I know quite a few people were disappointed with them that night, but I thought they were OK. “Dirty Water’ was to become a crowd singalong favourite.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Rockers Rollin; Is There A Better Way; You Don’t Own Me; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don’t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.
Sunday line-up: After The Fire; Chelsea; Pacific Eardrum; Bethnal; Squeeze; John Otway; The Albion Band; Paul Inder; Ian Gillan Band; Tom Robinson Band; Foreigner; Patti Smith Group.
Memories: Paul Inder is Lemmy’s son and was 11 years old (!) at the time; what a great thing to do when you are 11 🙂 ; Bethnal were a good band, who had a manic violin player; Squeeze were fun; Otway was as crazy as ever (Really Free); Tom Robinson led a mass singalong of “Glad to be Gay”; and Foreigner went down well with the crowd. But the day belonged to Patti Smith who was amazing. I was a big fan and left my mates to push my way right to the front of the crowd for Patti’s set. She had the whole crowd with her as she tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning. I saw her again at Newcastle City Hall two days later and she was equally as electric.
Patti Smith setlist: Rock n Roll Nigger; Privilege (Set Me Free); Redondo Beach; Free Money; Ghost Dance; It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World; So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star); Ask the Angels; 25th Floor; Because the Night; Gloria, You Light Up My Life; My Generation; Godspeed
Sham 69 Brudenell Social Club Leeds 14 September 2012
Support: Chelsea and Acid Drop
Great to see the original line up of Sham 69 again in the Brudenell Social Club with David last night. Jimmy was on top form. Its must be more than 30 years since I last saw this band, back in the day. Sham always stuck out to me as one of the best punk bands. There was an edge about them, their songs were both punky and catchy, and Jimmy Pursey was so charismatic and passionate on stage. I saw them in Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall and at Reading Festival in the late 70s. Both gigs were marred by skinheads and violence. In those days I couldn’t resist going to see Sham, but went in fear of my life, being the only guy in the audience with long hair. When I saw they had reformed the original line-up I just had to go and see them. The gig was sold out, and had been for some time. The Brudenell Social Club is a great little venue, and this was the second time that I’d been. First up were local band Acid Drop, who were good, and played a mix of punk, thrash and ska. Then after a short break Chelsea took to the stage. This is also a band that a saw a few times in the late 70s. I recall a gig at Newcastle City Hall where Gene October told the crowd to ignore the bouncers and come down to the front. I think they were banned from the City Hall after that gig. The band features original members Gene on vocals and James Stevenson on guitar. I recognised a couple of the songs; in particular Right To Work, which was the last song. It was good to see them again. Sham 69 took to the stage around 10.20pm. The place was completely packed, the crowd consisting of a mix of old punks, skinheads, and some younger fans, with a smattering of old timer long hairs like me. David and I managed to get a spot right down at the front, towards the side of the stage, and a safe distance from the mosh pit. Sham exploded onto the stage with What Have I Got, the crowd responding with a loud F*** All!. This set the mood for the rest of the evening, the crowd knew every word of every song, and went crazy at the front. Jimmy looks great, trim and fit, and was in great form. Lots of opening up his arms to the crowd and getting them to sing the lines. Lots of water being thrown about; by the end of the evening Jimmy was soaked. Favourites for me were always going to be Bortal Breakout, If the Kids are United and Angels with Dirty Faces. Other highlights were a great version of The Clash’s White Riot and a new song Stockwell, which was slow, dark and sombre. The set was short and the songs fast, and they were on stage around one hour, or slightly less. And they were just great, just as powerful, angry and relevant as they ever were. It was great to attend a Sham gig again, to have fun and not to be frightened. And the glasses that get thrown now are plastic! A great fun night. David is not a big fan of punk rock, but even he enjoyed them. We got home around 1am. The set consisted of (can’t remember the order, and may have missed some): What Have We Got; Hey Little Rich Boy; Tell Us the Truth; I Don’t Wanna; Ulster; Angels With Dirty Faces; George Davis; That’s Life; Money; Hersham Boys; Asbo Sports Day; Stockwell; Borstal Breakout; White Riot; If the Kids Are United; Rip Off; Hurry Up Harry. I could see the setlist on the stage and Questions and Answers was on the list, but not played. Photos are by David.