Sex Pistols – The Cancelled Derby gig 1976

Ooh the excitement, the Sex Pistols were coming to Derby again (having already played Cleo’s on 30 September).  Upon hearing the good news I promptly went down to the local record store R.E.Cords and purchased my ticket for the mighty sum of £1.60.  And they had support, the Damned, Johnny Thunders Heartbreakers (an ex New York Doll) and The Clash.  This was The Anarchy in the U.K. tour, and in solidarity with them I promptly ripped my ‘Never Mind the Bollocks.. Here’s The Sex Pistols’ LP cover in half (then sellotaped it back together again – well how else was I going to store it with all my other LPs?).

They were due to play the King’s Hall (basically the local swimming baths, they used to cover the pool so bands could play!) in Derby on 4 December 1976.

Unfortunately for me and hundreds more what happened on December 1st, 1976 would put an end to what would have been a great night out. The group appeared on the ‘Today’ TV show, hosted by one Bill Grundy (dick head!) who goaded them into swearing – now that certainly was frowned upon in those days – let alone the stream of F-words. Alas this was being broadcast live in London. The next day the press made them headline news all over the UK.  Overnight their entire concert dates for December were pretty much all cancelled!

Derby Gig Cancelled

All this publicity was far too much for the good folk of Derby City Council to bear – don’t forget this was ‘up north – the provinces’.  They decided that they should preview the gig to make sure it was ‘suitable for human consumption’.  So at the aforementioned hour (14:00) local councillors and press gathered at the venue where the Pistols had promised to preview a matinee gig for them.  They all waited for 2 hours in front of an empty stage (bar a guitar and amp) but the Pistols didn’t turn up! Angered councillors said that the Pistols would not be allowed to perform, but the other bands could.  Malcolm McClaren had decided that none of the bands should play, however the Damned disagreed.  After some discord the event was off, nobody played.

Well what’s a poor boy to do?  That’s right, take your ticket back and get a refund. After all £1.60 in those days was the equivalent to an excellent night out with a pint being approx. 25 pence!

Tribute Bands

You’ve just got to admire these people, and there are hundreds of them all over the UK, for devoting all their spare time (or their lives if they are doing this for a living) doing what they love best – copying their favourite bands. Luckily there are plenty of small venues around the country willing to put on a live show.

Think of all the hard work involved, leaning the music for every instrument, finding other like minded people (and quite often some in the band bear a passing resemblance to their heroes – weird that), practicing regularly, traveling around the UK to play, organising gigs, promoting concerts, web sites, thinking of the names (some are really quite good) etc..

The definitely have their place in the rock music cosmos.  How else would you be able to see and listen to bands who no longer:-

  1. exist
  2. tour
  3. have changed line-ups and no longer play the ‘good stuff’
  4. don’t tour your part of the world often

They range from the note perfect, total immersion experience of Aussie Floyd (that cost’s fortunes to undertake – but they make a good living out of it) to say Re-Genesis with their Gabriel era only music and DIY props.  Some even record and sell their live versions of songs such as Dirty D/C – who by the way are brilliant – I had my ears ringing for days afterwards!

Also it brings in the younger audience who can go and experience the sights and sounds of what their parents keep telling them was the best decade ever in music.

Over the years I’ve seen quite a few bands such as Nearly Dan, Dirty D/C, Re-Genesis, Free, T.Rextasy, Talon, Bootleg Beatles, Rat Pack, Blues Brothers, Australian Pink Floyd  etc. from pubs to small clubs to Playhouses to the Hammersmith Odeon.  It’s a relatively cheap night out and there are plenty of like mined people to chat to at the bar – and yes some really old tour t-shirts are proudly displayed (albeit somewhat tighter around middle aged spread!).

I found these two site: Tribute Bands & Alive Network whilst browsing.  They list various bands touring the UK but is by no means an exhaustive list and I certainly can’t quote on the quality of the acts! This site also lists small independent venues around the UK.

So check out your local press, web sites, whatever – you never know when someone decent will be playing live locally. So much better than sitting in front of the tv and watching 400 channels of crap!

Before I forget, some of these bands are available for hire – what a brilliant way to celebrate a birthday, special occasion, wedding etc.  Go on – you know you want to!!

Marko 18 Jan 2016


Jacques Brel and me

The first time I’d even heard of Jacques Brel was when a certain Mr. David Bowie sang Amsterdam (B-side of the single “Sorrow” in October 1973, it finally made it onto the Rare LP in 1982). I was immediately intrigued as this was not a ‘Bowie’ type song yet it captured my imagination. I looked up the writing credits and Brel came up. Now in those days the internet hadn’t been invented, Brel records were not in the record shops I visited, so research was practically impossible.

Baal1982Then in March 1982 I watch the BBC paly adaption of Bertold Brecht’s (who he?) play Baal, purely because David Bowie was in it. Once again the style and tales in the songs drew me in. I immediately went and bought the EP, and came across another name Kurt Weill. But again no internet! Time passed.

I next came across another Bowie Brel cover – “My Death” on the Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture album in 1983. Wow! It still haunts me whenever I hear it. It will also be played at my funeral – one day in the dim distant future!

I can’t actually remember when, but eventually I managed to research Jacques Brel. Blimey who’d have known he was a singer, songwriter and actor and had written so many songs – not me that’s for sure! He was exceedingly popular in his adopted country of France, and had bucket loads of famous artists covering his songs. Now being Belgium by birth, and a pain in the ass he totally refused to sing any of his lovely songs in English. This in turn led to many artists relying upon the skills of various translators (Rod McKuen, Eric Blau, Mort Shuman) to give life to his songs in English. Therefore you will find there are subtle differences in interpretations of his songs, depending upon who did the translations.

His songs told stories, some funny, some sad, some rude but all literate, theatrical and thoroughly engaging. A cabaret style that I have fallen in love with. Beautifully sculptured cinematic and poetic songs of cynicism, life, emotion, passion all of which are open to interpretation – was it his wife or his lover?

Version of his songs by David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond, Rod McKuen, Camille O’Sullivan, Scott Walker, Neil Hannon being amongst my favourites. Check these albums out!

  • Camille sings Brel – live
  • Various Artists – Next Brel
  • Rod Mckuen – Sings Jacques Brel
  • Scott Walker – Sings Jacques Brel
  • Marc Almond – Jacques

It might surprise you that you probably already know some of his songs e.g. Terry Jacks “Season in the Sun” (yes a bloody awful cover version) or Dionne Warwick “If We Only Have Love” or Scott Walker’s “Jackie” or simply the best ever cover version “Next” by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) – check out their version on The Old Grey Whistle Test – stunning!

Jacques Brel (8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978) was buried in Calvary Cemetery, in Atuona on Hiva-Oa island (part of the Marquesas Islands – French Polynesia). But his legacy lives on!!

For more information just look at Jacques Brel Foundation or Wikipedia..

The man was a true genius.