This brutalist gem (one of Sheffield finest C20 architectural complexes) was opened as The Top Rank and hosted live music for many years, as well as doubling up for other entertainment. The large block next door was The Fiesta night club (now a cinema) and underneath was a seedy ‘foreign film’ cinema and walkways with shops, etc. Both Top Rank and Fiesta were entertainment chains with venues around the country, so could book bands for several venues. Bowie and many others played here. The Sheffield Top Rank was taken over and became The Roxy later, then became more of a down-market night-club called Barry Nobles Roxy. It then closed altogether and was empty for ages, before being used as a religious hall. Happily sense has prevailed in recent years, and it is now part of the O2 Academy chain.
The Roxy came into it’s own in the later seventies and early eighties, hosting many of the premier punk and new wave acts which didn’t really fit in at The City Hall. As a live venue it was pretty much the best modern hall in the city. A wide deep stage, a large square floor area, and a balcony round three sides which gave an excellent view. We remember seeing Killing Joke, Police, Cramps and many more bands there.
Looking round the forums out there, it’s clear the place is well remembered. Bands seen include The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Magazine (supported by Simple Minds on their first tour), Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees (supported by Altered Images!), The Jam, Hinkleys Heroes (with Joe Cocker guesting), Hoslips (Irish prog rockers), The Damned (“me and my mate thought it would be a good idea to get backstage, we sneaked through a door to the right of the stage to be met be the sight of Dave Vanian stood in a coffin. Needless to say we decided this was a bit wierd and beat a hasty retreat!”), etc.
“The first time I went I made a bit a prat of myself by trying to buy some tickets in advance at the Top Rank Bingo place round the corner!”
Sheffield bands known to have played there include Comsat Angels and The Human League. Other gigs included
The Stranglers, Drones, 2.3.
October 19th 1977 – Top Rank Suite
The Clash, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Lous
November 1st 1977 – Top Rank Suite
June 12th 1977 – Top Rank Suite
The Damned, The Dead Boys
23rd November 1977 – Top Rank Suite
20th May 1978 – Top Rank Suite
Siouxsie And The Banshees, Cabaret Voltaire, Spizz Oil
October 31st 1978 – Top Rank Suite
The Clash, The Slits
November 19th 1978 – Top Rank Suite
The Police / The Cramps
June 15. 1979 – Top Rank Suite
Perhaps hard to believe now but The Police were quite a credible band in the beginning, and their mix of reggae and rock looked like it was going somewhere. So with a few hits singles under their belts they drew a good crowd at this Top Rank show. But for me The Cramps stole it. They came on and took no prisoners, with original guitarist Bryan Gregory particularly fearsome in the face of the pinkier elements in the crowd: I was close to the stage and everyone near by took a step back when he came on snarling! Their grungy garage rock worked well and I was a fan from then on. And any guy who says he didn’t instantly fall for their other lead guitarist Ivy (pictured at the show, below) is a fibber. The Police had an uphill struggle to follow it.
One guy on the web also recalls the show: “Our Form teacher at School told us not to bother buying tickets as he knew Sting (they had been at teacher training college together) and would sort us tickets. Needless to say we ignored him (as did Sting!). I remember the ticket was about £2.00 which was most of my pocket money for a week! “
A rare early slot in Sheffield for Joy Division, spotted by The Star’s eagle eyed music reporter Martin Lilleker.
The Skids – Top Rank Suite 24th October 1979
The Jam, The Piranhas
26th October 1980 – Top Rank Suite
Human League, The Scars
May 20th 1980 – Top Rank Suite
10th March 1980 – Top Rank Suite