Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Music for The Masses
Apart from getting to see the Sisters and The Furs for free, the other musical highlight of Freshers' Week at Leeds University in October 1982 was the Societies Fair, where all the different interest groups tout for business in an event in the Students Union, from the Star Wars Appreciation Society to the Mechanical Engineering Soc (a Venn diagram of those two groupings would make interesting reading). In those days of student democracy, any undergraduate who get get fifty others to sign up could get funding from the Union, and back in 1980 an enterprising group of music fans had got together to from a co-operative that would help with equipment, rehearsal rooms etc, but also put on gigs and generally support the community of student musicians. I had aspirations of getting involved in a posi-punk band myself, so paid my £2 to a kindly-spoken grizzled gentleman at the Music for the Masses stall whom I was astonished to discover later in the term was Si Denbigh, lead singer with the ultra-hip March Violets. With his slightly stocky physique, Robert Smith hairstyle and full beard he certainly stood out amongst the indie crowd, and his unusual style may have put some punters off at the Societies Fair. Despite my good intentions, I never formed my band, and the society ground to a halt during the year, although it was resurrected in 1984 by a few Merciful Release fans who put out a half-decent fanzine with the society's name as its title, full of the obligatory interviews with Billy Bragg, reviews of NMA, and quirky adverts for everyone's favourite punk hairdressing salon, Snipperfield's Circus.