Friday, 23 December 2011

This is where I came in ... Leeds Uni, Tues 5th October 1982

Little did I realise when I left home for the first time, to go to Leeds Uni in the autumn of 1982, that within 48 hours I would be under the spell of a band who would be a huge influence on the next thirty years (and counting) of my life. As a new first year undergraduate, I was entitled to attend all the events of the legendary Fresher's Week free of charge, and one of the little tear-off sections on the A4 perforated green card sheet granted access to the second and final Fresher's gig. The first the night before had been 70's legends Mud (now reduced to the Student Ball and Variety Club circuit) supported by a capella troupe The Flying Pickets, and being an indie kid I had given that a wide berth. But Tuesday October 5th paired The Psychedelic Furs, certainly in my top ten bands at the time, with up and coming youngsters The Sisters of Mercy. I was aware of the latter from the John Peel show, and had been a fan of their second single, Body Electric/Adrenochrome, which had a driving drum machine beat with the jagged, slightly rasping guitars so many of the Northern bands favoured at the time. Much to my surprise, most of those around myself and my new flat mates in the queue for the Leeds University Union Riley Smith Hall were not students but local teenagers who had got their tickets of enterprising freshers outside. So the trip to the bar was postponed and we stood towards the back of the hall to see what had encouraged such an enthusiastic local following.
As soon as the band took the stage, it became clear. The juddering metronomic backbeat courtesy of Doktor Avalanche provided a hypnotic backing for the duelling guitars and buzzing bass, but the undeniable focus was the serpentine presence of  the skinny long-haired frontman, chain-smoking, bedecked in black and wearing shades despite the near darkness all around. Despite being only 18 at the time, I ahd laready seen some legendary performers, from Lemmy to Iggy, but this cocky young singer seemed to exert more of a hold over his followers than any of them. All too soon, their set came to an end with a second stab at The Stooges' 1969, with Andrew Eldritch announcing that it would be the last time we'd hear them play it, a threat which mercifully turned out to be premature. As his final yelp and the feedback suqall faded, a new band had squeezed into my top ten favourites. My companions did not all agree. but despite a decent show from The Furs, it was beer fuelled screams of "'Teen Sixty-Nine" which echoed around the empty university precinct on our way back to the flat - the Sisters had made a real first impression.

1 comment:

  1. My first gig too. I fell in love with both bands.
    Did you get to the first couple of Warehouse gigs after that? I have dim memories of only 50 people being at the first one I got to... and that Eldritch had an awful cold the second time. Tim.