Thursday, 29 December 2011
Having just blogged about the Phono, inevitably the next stop on my peregrenations about Leeds in the Autumn of 1982 was the Warehouse. If the Phono was the scuzzy black sheep of the Leeds musical family, the Warehouse was the upwardly mobile cousin ever anxious to flaunt its pretentious veneer. Whereas the Phono was at the student end of the city centre, the Warehouse was on the opposite side and keen to attract the cash of a better-heeled clientele. Basing itself on legendary US clubs like Studio 54, it fancied itself as a dance club but realised that indie was what was current at the time, and that gigs and indie discos were the best way to pay the rent midweek. Whereas le Phono would play The Gun Club's Sex Beat or The Cramps The Crusher, the Warehouse would prefer the androgynous charm of Gina X's No GDM or even The Time Warp from Rocky Horror. In a non-descript road (Somers St) surrounded by small businesses and financial advisors which was otherwise dead after dark, The Warehouse aspired but failed to be hip and cool in a way that Tony Wilson's Warehouse-inspired Haçienda somehow managed to be. Bare brick walls, stripped metal staircases, wire mesh grills and steel conical pillars gave it a brutalist appearance whcih was hardly the most evocative for gigs, yet I saw some amazing shows here over the years. I vividly remember queuing outside in a lengthy line in the falling snow (and not the poncey Southern variety, proper Northern snow) for a last-minute Killing Joke show in December '82 (Jaz had recently returned from Iceland and the band were keen to showcase new material), but the first half of 1983 was dominated by The Sisters. The Girls played the posh end of town no fewer than three times by the end of the Easter break, with the setlist changing to include more of the slower, more hypnotic songs which would form The Reptile House. The January gig was around the time of the release of Anaconda, which at the time seemed more of a riff than a song and was a mild disappointment after the sheer brilliance of Alice/Floorshow, but despite not benefitting from John Ashton's professional sheen, Eldritch's own production seems to have stood the test of time. The second, in early April, served as a warm-up for the band's biggest series of dates yet, the tour in support of The Gun Club, and playing without support the Girls turned in a tour de force performance in front of a home crowd, displaying both confidence and intimacy at a stage of their career where they seemed on the cusp of greatness, the 12" reissue of Alice propelling them back up the indie charts once more. The third gig (with the Gun Club) was necessarily a more muted affair, and it is the middle show which I remember fondly as the best show I saw that line-up play in Leeds. My own visits to the Warehouse were increasingly restricted to gigs, with Danse Society and Xmal Deutschland standing out in particular. The club of course has gone from strength to strength, although I would imagine that it is now some time since Doktor Avalanche's automated beat last reveberated around the its cavernous interior.