Friday, 3 February 2012

Nottingham Union Rowing Club, spring 1983

Another legendary gig from the halcyon days of Spring '83. Nottingham had always been a musical desert - to this day it's hard to think of a famous band from there (Paper Lace anyone ? Tindersticks ? Thought not) - and until Rock City emerged in the early 80s it didn't even have a decent music venue. The punk era had seen Sandpipers in the now gentrified but then decaying industrial Lace Market host the Pistols amongst others, but when that closed attention had turned again to those most unlikely of venues, the rowing clubs that line the banks of the Trent on the towpath down to the ground of then European football champions Nottingham Forest. Back in the 60's, the enterprising owners of the Britannia had used the bar and function room above the ground floor storage facility for Boat Race style rowing boats to put on gigs, and after the Sandpiper closed the neighbouring but almost identical Nottingham Boat Club took over the mantle. Thus it was that in 1980-1981 the local punters could see the likes of U2, Killing Joke, Siouxsie and the Banshees (a Futurama warm-up under the name Janet and the Icebergs), the Dead Kennedys and UK Decay in their prime, before Rock City gradually took over. However, bands on the way up had nowhere to go, so the third of the boat clubs, the Union Rowing Club, was hired by a local promoter and thus it was that the Sisters were engaged to headline at the 400 capacity URC, which was packed for the occasion. Support was from Oz punk legend Ed Kuepper (of The Saints of (I'm) Stranded fame) touring his more eclectic Laughing Clowns project. The low ceiling and low stage did not make for the best of gigs, with sweat dripping from the former as the temperature inside soared, and the inexperienced bouncers didn't know how to deal with an ecstatic yet non-aggressive crowd. Still, one storming set later, Eldritch announced that the band would just play the encore straight away, as it seemed pointless to leave the stage to come back when this would require passing through the crowd in both directions en route to the "dressing room". It's funny to think back to such ramshackle surroundings when the band play some slick, huge outdoor festival these days, but as the Boat Club list above shows, all bands went through this in those days, and in the NZ radio interview last year Eldritch too looked back on such days with the same nostalgic affection with which I attempt to write here ...

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