Although it has now been established that the first TSOM gig outside the UK took place in Ancona (Italy) at the end of July 1983, the band had of course already been out of England once before, for a gig at Glasgow’s Night Moves venue on 1st April of that year, a concert which has taken on legendary status thanks to the existence of a relatively high quality video of the entire show, filmed from a camera fitted to an elevated position opposite the stage.
Night Moves was a club with a rather mixed historical local reputation, situated a few blocks up Sauchiehall Street from the ABC venue that seems to feature on every TSOM UK tour itinerary these days, and those passing the New City Palace Chinese restaurant today at number 92 would have no idea that they are in the immediate vicinity of a venue which promoted gigs by many of the great and good on the UK indie scene between 1982 and 1984 (The Birthday Party, Culture Club, Eurythmics, The Smiths and REM to name but a few).
Rob C was present at the Sisters gig, which took place on April Fools’ Day 1983, along with many others at Night Moves, a venue which he has extensively researched : “It is a strange building in that the gig hall was up 4 flights of a winding staircase above an oriental restaurant. There is a reason for this. The original building was built as a cinema/music hall in the early 20th Century, with a ballroom on top. This was not unusual in the early 20 Century with the advent of moving pictures Cinema. The much bigger Glasgow Apollo just round the corner has a similar bigger design, although the cinema below Night Moves had been gutted and turned into three floors of office space by the Night Moves days. The entrance was up a winding staircase that had passageways on each floor, although there is also a lift [behind the metal shutter] beside the stairs."
"Bands used this to get their gear up to the venue in, when it was working, but it was a very small lift. Once at the top there was a door and you entered what is roughly the top floor on the outside of the building. On this floor were the toilets, cloak room and pay-in desk, also another room which was used as a smaller disco called Secrets in the Night Moves days. You then walked past the pay desk along a corridor and upstairs into the gig venue area. This had the dance floor and stage, with a balcony mezzanine that had rounded booths when there were stools to sit it. This was accessed by two opposing staircases just in front of the bar. Night Moves was probably the most difficult place to bootleg gigs back then in Glasgow due to the quite invasive search the Bouncers carried out on entry. The Sisters gig was busy, I think Anaconda was out or due out and it was busy, not absolutely rammed but busy. I recently found out that the fire certificate capacity was only about 400 whereas the rammed gigs there such as The Cult / Cocteau Twins must have had about 800/900 people in. Alice was a Night Moves dance floor favourite and I think most were there on the back of that. It was a Friday so it would have been £2 / £2.50 to get in. It’s funny watching videos back of gigs, I always think they are not really representative of the gig as you can’t really get the atmosphere. The Sisters would have gone on late, as the doors used to not open till about 9pm with the bands on about midnight.”
Glasgow crowds have always had a reputation as being tough to please going back to the days of the Music Hall, and so it proves as TSOM open their set with a slow-building KTC before launching into blistering versions of Anaconda, Alice and Adrenochrome. Compared to Peterborough, the crowd seem strangely static as the Eldritch, at his sinuous best, contorts himself in his black leathers around the mic stand delivering a perfect baritone whilst Marx careers around the tiny stage, or poses one foot up on the monitors, Adams stares out into the crowd from the back of the stage whilst picking out timeless basslines, and Gunn nonchalantly strums out power chords between forays to the back of the stage to kick-start the Doktor for the next track.
The gig was certainly better attended than many others around that time, with the West of Scotland boasting a thriving post-punk scene. Alexander T recently recalled on FB : “The Sisters had their own section at Virgin Records on Union Street. There was a decent alternative shop in Falkirk which made clothes to order – not the best quality, but it allowed for originality. I loved the Cocteau Twins who were from the neighbouring town Grangemouth. There was a huge “goth” scene there at the time. Robin Guthrie of the Cocteaus had worked at BP at Grangemouth (a massive oil refinery) and buses were run to both The Sisters’ and Bauhaus’ gigs at Night Moves”.
The concert itself continued with the band slowing things down for a full-on Valentine and a blistering Burn from the forthcoming Reptile House EP, featuring a more aggressive chorus from Doktor Avalanche than on record. Von confesses “I’ve never been to Scotland before”, as the band burst into an incendiary Jolene, a song well-known to the punters in a city well-known for its long-lasting love affair with Country and Western music, rendering Eldritch’s comment “We didn’t actually write that one” somewhat superfluous. “We did write this one”, he adds proudly as the distinctive beat to Floorshow starts up, and the first evidence of “chicken dancing” amongst the crowd eventually becomes apparent amongst the feedback and screams from the stage. Andy then disappears to the back of the stage to light up a cigarette (clearly visible as these were the days before the omnipresent dry ice) at the start of Heartland, as the camera pans further into the seemingly well-attended venue. “Ye’re rubbish”, shouts a lone and somewhat cowardly voice after the lengthy dirge eventually reaches its climax, and the band responds with a high octane Body Electric, Eldritch taking up residence stage left, allowing Marx more room for his own jerky cabaret, and bringing the main set to a climax. With a brief “Thanks, good night” the band are gone, and fortunately only a few, half-hearted cheers are required to get the group back on stage, the rest of the crowd still in “Impress us” mode. (The Birthday Party gig at the same venue the previous November “descended into chaos” according to fromthearchives.com, with “Nick jumping from the low stage to fight with a member of the audience”). Lights, the fourth track to be played that evening from The Reptile House, is the first encore, Gunn’s guitar mixed very low as Adams’ bass dominates the opening verse. Eldritch slowly brings the song to its emotional climax before taking an extravagant bow as they begin their last song, Gimme Shelter, which ends (as at most 1983 gigs) with just Adams and Eldritch for the final chorus, before leaving the stage to appreciative applause. As a decent quality visual and aural record of the band at the top of their form in the original line-up, the video of the Night Moves show is hard to beat, and cements its place in Sisters’ folklore. By the time the band returned to Scotland the following year, they had outgrown such small venues and had a new setlist of songs that would form the basis of FALAA, shorn of many of the earlier, punkier classics.
According to Rob C, Night Moves had been the Piccadilly Club around WWII the White Elephant club, but a criminal fire one night when the club was packed in 1977 saw it fully refurbished and relaunched as the Roseland in 1978. After Night Moves, it became (appropriately, given its location). Rooftops in about 1986 and continued with similar types of gigs, eg XMal, Ghost Dance, The Rose Of Avalanche, The Stone Roses and Batfish Boys all played there. Effectively layout and decor-wise it was exactly the same. It was rebranded as the more mianstream Moon Nite Club for many years until finally closing as a club earlier this millennium.
As ever, huge thanks to all who have contributed to this post, but particularly to Rob C for sharing both his memories of the gig and his research on the venue, including making a special trip to take some of the photos. Cheers, Rob!