Saturday, 14 November 2015

Double Hull ?

Not many venues received a double visit from TSOM as they toured relentlessly in the second quarter of 1983 as a series of successive releases (Anaconda 7”, Alice 12” and Reptile House EP) from the band began to dominate the upper reaches of the indie charts. Leeds Warehouse got a couple of visits within three weeksin April, whilst various London venues also enjoyed multiple gigs by TSOM, as the canny Eldritch knew that (despite what he said about not needing to be based in London) impressing in the capital was key to unlocking further growth potential for the band and would unlock vital future friendships for further stages of the slowly evolving meisterplan.

One town which seems to have enjoyed a return trip was Hull, or Kingston upon Hull to give the city its full name, original home town of Gary Marx before he moved to Leeds (and of course also the home town of current Sisters stalwart Chris Catalyst). The owners of successful London venue Dingwalls somehow acquired finance at the start of 1983 to open up a chain of sister venues around the UK to roll out its live music every night of the week (as far as possible – advertised with the strapline “Rhythm and Booze) concept and Hull (along with Bristol, Sheffield, and Newcastle for example) was chosen as one of the cities for the launch.

In Hull as in several other cities, the venue transformed was the former bierkeller the Hofbrauhaus, which had a disco (Scamps then Oddyssey) upstairs, and details of the venue’s history, together with the photo reproduced above can be found on Paul Gibson’s excellent website which provides an exhaustive history of the former nightclubs of Hull. The Sisters were originally booked to play at Dingwalls on March 31st (Maundy Thursday), as can be seen in the music press advert below which gives some idea of the eclecticism of the booking policy, a mixture of disco, reggae and fading new wave artists featuring in the same week as the Sisters. Very little evidence of this first gig has surfaced, as tapes originally circulating amongst fans, and tracks which have appeared on bootleg compilations such as Black Diamonds, are in fact from the following night’s Good Friday gig at Glasgow Nightmoves. A half ticket purporting to be from that night can be seen on the TSOM wiki, but again provides no conclusive evidence that it was from this gig. The best evidence I have been able to find is this conversation on Twitter where a fan who ran the bar at Hull Dingwalls remembers seeing them twice there.

The second Hull Dingwalls gig, and the final UK show of the lengthy spring tour took place on Friday 1st July, as the advert below will testify. There are no doubts about the legitimacy of this second gig, however, as the whole show was recorded via the mixing desk resulting in arguably the finest quality audio bootleg recording of the Gunn era. Our old friend “spiggytapes” has very generously uploaded a couple of samples of this gig on to YouTube, so that everyone can hear the likes of “Valentine” in their live prime. Furthermore, he has also uploaded a snippet of a very rare soundcheck recording of the band, Gimme Shelter, also from the soundboard recording of this gig, with Eldritch complaining “I can’t sing it this fast” about a minute in before the band grind to a halt. Sack the Nurse !

On the internet there are a couple of sets of photos from gigs at the short-lived Hull branch of Dingwalls (the whole chain except London closed abruptly shortly after the Sisters’ second trip to Hull). This very impressive Eurythmics website features a dozen or so shots from that band’s gig there, and give a good idea of what the venue looked like, with the then fashionable bare brick walls and the ubiquitous pillar close to the stage to spoil the sightlines for the audience. Legendary Sisters collector LG has very kindly shared these previously unseen (by me at least) wonderful pics of TSOM’s visit, which again show the close proximity of band and fans in these small, intimate gigs, the likes of which we have not seen since 1983. Von is seen wearing his “Sisters” leather jacket, with a Reptile House sticker armband, not the most effective marketing campaign ever.

Sadly, not long after the venue closed (and before the photo at the top of the page was taken, as eagle eyed readers will no doubt have noticed), the club (including Odyssey upstairs) was badly damaged in a fire, and like so many venues of that era, has subsequently been bulldozed and is now used primarily as a car park. Careful scrutiny of the photo below however will reveal that the original brickwork from the lower fa├žade is still in place, and certainly more than enough to erect a blue plaque on ;-) .

Once again I would like to express my thanks to LG and Spiggytapes (Phil Verne) for sharing the relevant sections of their extensive collections for the purposes of this post, and for those whose own archive sites have helped with research.

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