Archive for the ‘Spizz’ Category

Futurama 2 Festival Queens Hall Leeds 14th September 1980

Futurama 2 Festival Queens Hall Leeds 14th September 1980
futuramatixThis was the second Futurama festival and it took place at Queens Hall, which was in the centre of Leeds. The Saturday line-up featured U2 (low down on the bill), Echo & The Bunnymen, Soft Cell and Siouxsie & The Banshees (who headlined). I attended the Sunday with my mate Dave and it featured The Psychedelic Furs, Gary Glitter, The Durutti Colum, Classix Nouveaux, Young Marble Giants, Hazel O’Connor, The Soft Boys, Flowers, Naked Lunch, Blurt, Artery, Notsensibles, Vice Versa, Desperate Bicycles, Frantic Elevators, Athletico Spizz 80, Brian Brain, Tribesmen, Boots for Dancing and Household Name. We arrived during the afternoon and missed some of the bands. Queens Hall was a cavernous building, which was originally a tram and bus depot. It was used as a concert venue during the 1980s. It has since been demolished and is now a car park.
When we arrived it looked like a war zone. Punk fans from all over the north, and further afield, had decamped there for the weekend, and had been in the venue all night, sleeping on the floors; there was trash everywhere. We saw faces that we recognised from Middlesbrough Rock Garden, which had closed for the weekend as everyone was going to the festival. We chatted to a few people; everyone was talking about how great Siouxsie (who had headlined the Saturday night) had been. There were stalls around the place and pop-up art performances in dark corners of the hall. I recall one performance which involved a guy having a crap in a bucket; we moved on. The bands were playing on a stage at the end of the massive hall. futuramaflyer
This was an opportunity to see bands who went on to stardom: The Frantic Elevators became Simply Red, and Vice Versa became ABC. There was a great mix of bands at the event and the atmosphere was wonderful, really friendly. Although on the surface this festival appeared messy and shambolic, it is actually one of the best I have every attended for the musical range and the feeling in the crowd. Highlights of the day were Hazel O-Connor, who was in the charts with “Eighth Day” and became the robot from “Breaking Glass”, Durutti Column featuring Vini Reilly’s meadering guitar, and the 4″ by 2″s who were a proto-Oi! band featuring Jimmy Lydon (John Lydon’s brother) and also at one point featured Youth of Killing Joke. But the highlight was an incredible performance by Notsensibles, a punk band from Burnley who had some success with their single “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher”. Their set included a lot of tongue-in-cheek songs, all performed in their strong Northern accent. They’d brought a large contingent of fans, who all sang along with every daft song. Notsensibles motto was “all we want to do is make silly records and play silly gigs”. There is a video on YouTube of them performing “Death To Disco” at the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIGrhea75qU
The festival ran very late into the night (inevitable given the incredible number of bands who were performing) and we left around midnight during Psychedelic Furs set to drive back up North and home, thus missing the headliner who was (also incredibly) the now shamed star Gary Glitter. The Futurama festival had a history of choosing off-the-wall headliners; on another occasion the closing acts was a reformed Bay City Rollers (now that must have been something to experience). A crazy, mad, fun event with some great bands. Happy happy days 🙂

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Department S & Spizzles Sunderland Mayfair 9th April 1981

Department S & Spizzles Sunderland Mayfair 9th April 1981
imageI was driving yesterday, when the great Department S single “Is Vic There?” came on the car radio, reminding me that I saw the band at a gig at Sunderland Mayfair. It was around the time that the record was in the charts and they shared the bill with Spizzles, who were the 1981 incarnation of Spizz aka Spizz Energi (Where’s Captain Kirk). Spizz was always good for a crazy sci-fi laugh, but I went to the gig to see Department S and to hear them play “Is Vic There?”, which had such a catchy hook; it was one of those songs that once you heard you could never get out of your head.
Department S were formed in 1980, and took their stage name from the 1960s cult TV series of the same name which featured the great Jason King. They hit the UK charts with their debut single, “Is Vic There?”, which was originally released in December 1980 and reached No. 22 in 1981. Although Department S are usually characterised as a new wave band, “Is Vic There?” is quite a rocky guitar oriented song, with shades of darkness; the opening sequence of the song reminds me of the music of the Groundhogs. I remember that Department S were pretty entertaining live, although the only song that I, and the rest of the audience, recognised was the hit single; and I think, they also did a cover version of T.Rex’s “Solid Gold Easy Action” which was the single’s B side. For “Is Vic There?” singer and front man Vaughn Toulouse held his mike like a telephone, to fit with the recurring ring tone from the record.
Wheres_Captain_Kirk_SleeveVaughn Toulouse was born Vaughn Cotillard on Jersey in 1959. He followed the Clash on tour in 1978 and wrote about the tour in “The Face” magazine. He then went on to form the bands Guns For Hire and Department S. Toulouse became a regular “face” of the ’80s London club scene, writing for the music press, performing as a DJ, appearing on the cover of the Jam’s final record, and playing with the Style Council. Vaughn Toulouse died in 1991 of AIDS-related illness.
“The night is young, the mood is mellow
And there’s music in my ears
Say, is Vic there?
I hear ringing in the air
So I answer the phone
A voice comes over clear
Say, is Vic there?”
(Is Vic There? , 1981)

Siouxsie and the Banshees Middlesbrough 13th Oct 1977, Durham 15th April 1978 & Newcastle 30th Oct 1978

Siouxsie and the Banshees Middlesbrough 13th Oct 1977, Durham 15th April 1978 & Newcastle 30th Oct 1978siouxsietix78
The Banshees stood out from the rest of the punk bands in their style, their attitude, and the mysterious, somewhat discordant, dark noise that they made. There was an air of danger about them, depth, mysteriousness, and Siouxsie herself was stunning, a force of nature, a revelation.
I first saw the Banshees supporting Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers at Middlesbrough Town Hall on 13th October 1977. Marie and I turned up early specifically to see Siouxsie. The venue was far from full, and this was a raw, ramshackle, Banshees; still feeling their way and learning their craft. But you could see that there was something different and special about them. The uniqueness of their music, Siouxsie’s style and arrogance, their image, all shone through the amateurishness. Siouxise was full of edge that night, fearless, and obviously out to shock. She was dressed in a see-through net top, a leather cap and looked just great. She commanded the stage with crazy dancing and goose stepping. The band were very young at the time and looked it; this was the first and best line-up of the Banshees; with Sioux on vocals, Severin on bass, Kenny Morris on drums, and John McKay on guitar, before they released their first landmark album “The Scream”. I can’t be certain what they played that night, but remember being impressed. I am pretty sure they played Metal Postcard, Carcass, T Rex’s 20th Century Boy (Souxsie announced the song “From one Carcass to Another” which I remember clearly as I thought it pretty bad taste at the time, as Bolan had died just a few weeks before), Love in a Void, The Lords Prayer, and Helter Skelter. For me they were the best band of the night and I went on to see them many more times over the next few years.
The next time I saw them was at a packed Durham University Dunelm Ballroom on 15th April 1978. By now the Banshees were a proper band, a major force. The venue was packed, the crowd crazy, the Banshees loud and intense and Siouxsie pure electric magic. The evening was spoilt by trouble and fights. There was a scary edginess in the air. As we left the venue we faced a massive line of skinheads blocking the ramp leading out to the street. “We hate punks!”…mass brawls….the police soon arrived. We ran to the car and made a swift, and lucky, escape.
The Banshees first single Hong Kong Garden was released in August 1978, they were soon in the charts, and then went out on a full UK tour of major concert halls. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on 30th October 1978. Support was Spizz Oil (did Spizz really wear a helmet and keep hitting himself on the head, or did I dream that?), and the original Human League. The concert was sold out, and the music and the performance were joyous, swirling, challenging and totally engaging. From the first crashing, discordant opening bars of Helter Skelter, through the majestic pop of Hong Kong Garden, to the closing song The Lord’s Prayer, Siouxsie had us all totally captivated. Thinking of the punk bands that I saw live at the time; The Pistols were raw, powerful, important and vital; The Clash were rocky, political, fast, furious and “meant it”, The Jam were sharp, smart, and poppy; and The Damned were simply crazy, madcap, laugh. But the Banshees were different, daring, challenging, uncompromising, and produced sounds that came from somewhere dark, adventurous, rhythmic and yet uplifting. As you might have gathered; I was a big fan.
Based on published setlists, it is likely that the Banshees set at the City Hall was something like this: Helter Skelter; The Staircase (Mystery); Mirage; Metal Postcard (Mittageisen); Jigsaw Feeling; Switch; Hong Kong Garden; Nicotine Stain; Suburban Relapse; Overground; Pure; The Lord’s Prayer. Encore: Love in a Void
“Hong Kong Garden; Tourists swarm to see your face; Confucius has a puzzling grace; Disoriented you enter in; Unleashing scent of wild jasmine.” (Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie And The Banshees, 1978)
More about the Banshees tomorrow.

Athletico Spizz 80 Centre Hotel Newcastle 13th August 1980

Athletico Spizz 80 Centre Hotel Newcastle 13th August 1980
Support: Arthur Two Stroke and the Chart Commandos?
Spizz is a bit of a character. I first saw him in Spizzoil as support for Siouxsie and the Banshees at Newcastle City Hall around the time of Hong Kong Garden, and he seemed totally nuts. The single Wheres Captain Kirk is classic mad punk. By the time he played this gig at The Centre Hotel, he’d built up quite a following. I seem to remember the place being packed and it being a mad wacky gig. The Centre Hotel was home to a few gigs around that time; I seem to recall seeing The Sadista Sisters there one night. I think local hero Arthur Two Stroke may have been support for this Spizz gig. Good to see that Spizz is still gigging.