Mark wrote about the Ritblat Tube in his blog
Anyone remember the Handsworth Plaza? Located at the junction of Richmond Road and Bramley Lane, the Plaza was opened on the 27th of December, 1937. Seating in total was for 1,100 patrons with adequate waiting room provided in the entrance hall and foyer. The entrance was covered by a sweeping canopy with stairs to either side of the balcony. The Plaza had only two managers in it’s cinema lifetime, George Turner being the first, who was replaced by Colin Arnold in December of 1957. The cinema closed for redecoration in September of 1962, and a year later saw musical groups and variety acts booked for a series of one night stands. The Plaza was taken over by Ken Kerner Entertainments Ltd in 1963, and closed as a cinema in September of that year.
It continued as a bingo hall, Rileys ten-pin bowling and snooker hall (was up for auction with a guide-price of £95,000 in 2013 and is now the Sheffield Christian Life Centre.
Some notes sent in to accompany Andrew Vaughan’s signed ticket contributions. (More tickets here). How many of us know we went to a gig but had no memories of it?
|21/02/1976||Sutherland Bros and Quiver||Soft rock duo with backing band Quiver. The SBs wrote most of the material. This was the “Slipsteam” tour. I still have the album. There were two hit singles at the time of which one, Secrets, came from that album. Nothing notable about the
gig other than they were a very slick outfit.
Little known factoid; Gavin Sutherland wrote ‘Sailing’ which Rod Stewart made famous so even if they didn’t achieve much critical acclaim, one of the brother’s must have made some money.
|28/02 1976||Manfred Mann’s Earth Band / Racing Cars||To be honest, I think Racing Cars played a better set and that was well before the released “They Shoot Horses Don’t They”. ‘Blinded by the Light’ is the only song that sticks in my mind. I confess, I didn’t know at the time that Bruce Springsteen wrote it.|
|05/03/1976||Thin Lizzy / Graham Parker and the Rumour||Promoting the “Jailbreak” album though curiously the album had yet to be released (late March) and “The Boys are Back in Town” had yet to be released as a single (April). They played a rip roaring set and set themselves up for a return to play the City Hall later that year.|
|13/03/1976||Hawkwind / Unicorn||Not a big fan so I missed this gig.|
|01/05/1976||Caravan / Stars||Caravan were moderate regulars at Sheffield Uni. They were promoting “Blind Dog at St. Dunstans” on this date though there was a fair amount from “Cunning Stunts” in the set. I forget the exact line-up though Jan Schelhass had replaced Dave Sinclair so the band was, by then, comprised of only two of the original members. Pye Hastings was always charming company off stage and I remember meeting him in a pub in Soho a year or so later which was to be sadly before the band broke up for the first time.|
|07/05/1976||Van der Graaf Generator||I’d previously seen VdGG on the Charisma tour of 1971 (tickets were 6/-) where they were supported by Genesis and Lindisfarne who upstaged them easily. The University gig was much better and intimate – and very loud.|
|15/05/1976||Steve Gibbons Band / Shanghai||I’m afraid I can’t remember this gig at all.|
|22/05/1976||Jack the Lad / Wayne Grajeda||A spin-off from Lindisfarne after the failure of the latter’s album, “Dingly Dell”. Despite being, essentially, Lindisfarne without Alan Hull, they never really got off the ground.|
|12/06/1976||Mike Absalom / Cocky||Hard to describe Mike Absalom. His songs had a wry and sometimes macabre sense of humour and he was incredibly well spoken and quite chatty in between songs. He was truly based in folk traditions but I’d say he was more a multi-talented entertainer than just a folk musician. I understand he’s still active and I would search him out if I saw he was performing.|
|19/06/1976||Kevin Ayers<||A completely offbeat gig promoting “Yes We Have No Mañanas (So Get Your Mañanas Today)”. The irony of the title was probably lost on most the audience in a haze of dope. Lots of early material and the new album but sadly very little from “The Confessions of Doctor Dream” which I always reckoned was his best album.|
|30/09/1976||Michael Chapman / Richard Digance / Mechanical Horsetrough||Michael Chapman was well established on the folk circuit and went down well with his distinctive, jazz influenced guitar.
Richard Digance was his usual laconic self and has a hit with my then girlfriend as he came from her home town of Bromley.
Mechanical Horsetrough were a slightly comedic threesome.
|02/10/1976||Linda Lewis||A blinding and quite rocky set from the lady with the fabulous vocal range. A very good start to the academic year.|
|09/10/1976||Kraftwerk||In my view, poor relations to Neu who were the real epitome of Krautrock as it was then known. They nevertheless provided a nice diverse set and had a devoted audience.|
|30/10/1976||Fairports / Arbre||The Rowland, Pegg, Swarbrick line-up after Sandy Denny left. A rousing show but they did miss Denny’s singing.|
|06/11/1976||Jess Roden Band / Krazy Kat||A surprisingly well attended and lively evening for a ‘white soul’ singer who wouldn’t perhaps have been expected to appeal to a mid-70s University audience.|
|13/11/1976||Man / Alkatraz||Welsh stoners famed for the lyric “I like to eat bananas ‘cos they have no bones. I like marijuana ‘cos it gets me stoned” Remarkably prolific, they were still recording as Man in 2019 though the last of the original members left in or around 2002.|
|20/11/1976||Al Stewart Band||The ‘Year of the Cat’ tour, some would argue the peak of his career so surprising that he was still on the University Circuit. The set list also included a lot from Past, Present and Future. I last saw him at Glastonbury in 2015 or 16. Still very good.|
|26/11/1976||Kokomo||A hot favourite in Sheffield for a few months; they played several gigs around the town. NME hailed their album as one of the best debuts for years. The line-up was very diverse. I was pleased to see Mel Collins join them from King Crimson (to whom he has, of course, returned).|
|03/12/1976||Mud / Deuce||A staunch favourite at the Union, they would sell out in minutes. A very professional bunch but who weren’t adverse to joining the Ents. Ctte. for a game of darts in the bar before the show.|
|15/01/1977||Jack the Lad||They obviously went down well the previous May to deserve a return show but I don’t remember this gig.|
|25/01/1977||Climax Blues Band||Climax were the first band I ever saw at a school concert in, probably, 1969. They had previously been the Climax Chicago Blues Band and were just that, a rocked up and lively blues band. They had a strong following and a good lively audience.|
|29/01/1977||John Miles / Krazy Kat||Here promoting his second album ‘Stranger in the City’ following the 1976 success of ‘Rebel’ and the single ‘Music’. Archetypal slightly progressive pop/rock if you want to put a label on it. Miles was great proponent of the Talk Box, a mouth operated effects device. He was to say in the dressing room, after the gig, that every time he used it, it made him want to throw-up.|
|05/02/1977||John Martyn||John Martyn on his own after a 1975 tour with Paul Kossoff and Danny Thompson. The set was cut short when JM was ill having eaten some dodgy whitebait at the Hallam Towers. A bit sad really, as had been playing really well, going back to his roots.|
|11/02/1977||Suzi Quatro||The Union Ball so lots of very pissed but well dressed people in the audience. Suffice to say a blinder of a set for a very receptive audience. I’m not sure what she made of the dress code.|
|19/02/1977||SAHB / Bandit||This should have been billed as ‘without Alex’ as he’d temporarily left the band. I’m afraid ‘Delilah’ without Alex Harvey wasn’t the same. Chris Glen still wore a jockstrap over his jeans on stage.|
|12/03/1977||Jack Bruce||My 21st birthday. The set was excellent but you did have to like long bass solos and Bruce’s singing style. I was a big fan of Cream so I did like both. The album they were promoting, ‘How’s Tricks’ was a bit dodgy though.|
|30/04/1977||Kursaal Flyers||A rather non-descript gig which I barely remember. The band broke up that year.|
|14/05/1977||Frankie Miller / Rainstorm||Famed on the Uni circuit for the promotional T-shirt with ‘Frankie Who?’ on the front and ‘Frankie Fucking Miller, That’s Who’ on the back. At some campuses (not Sheffield) the T-shirt was banned by college authorities with the obvious effect of achieving the reverse.|
|29/09/1977||Magna Carta / Mike Absalom / Bright Eyes||MC were an early fusion band mixing progressive jazz and folk themes. Some thought them a little pretentious but they had a receptive audience at this Intro Week gig. The drummer for this set was Pick Withers who would next appear at Sheffield with Dire Straits.|
|01/10/1977||Racing Cars / Rumblestrips||Headlining now on the back of “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” fame. They were actually quite a talented band and clearly enjoyed the sell-out Intro Week audience.|
|05/10/1977||Climax Blues Band / Flying Aces||Not much more to add to the previous entry.|
|08/10/1977||Little River Band / Tequila||Australian, US west coast emulators. They were clearly used to playing bigger venues. The onstage guitar rack wouldn’t fit on stage which caused a bit of furore with the road manager until we pointed out that the contract stated that the stage was only 30’ by 20’. They did play a good set but I don’t think they were impressed with UK venues.|
|15/10/1977||Jim Capaldi Band||Ex of Traffic of course and I’m not sure why they were billed as the Jim Capaldi Band. The band he toured with were known as the Space Cadets|
|22/10/1977||Boomtown Rats||Perfect timing. We’d made the booking some months previously and before “Lookin’ after Number One” hit the charts. This was the first punk gig at the Uni and they played a blinder. Offstage, Bob Geldorf and the band were perfect gentleman and incredibly professional. We had a bit of an argument with the University authorities beforehand after Manchester University reported damage to a sprung dance-floor from pogoing fans. The Uni almost had the gig cancelled.|
|29/10/1977||Sad Café||Altrincham based band so from near my home town of Knutsford. John Stimpson (bass) dated a school friend of mine for a number of years and she turned up on the merchandise desk for the band at this gig. This gig would have been promoting “Fanx Ta Ra”, their first album, and (in my view) their best. The gig was a blinder.|
|01/11/1977||Colosseum II||I have only hazy memories of this gig. I was a big fan of the first Colloseum, less so of Tempest so I would have been looking forward to this with anticipation. Something must have distracted me.|
|04/11/1977||Jasper Carrott / Johnny Coppins Band / Downes and Beer||The UK was in the throes of regular power cuts with little warning. Power station workers were carrying out industrial action. The power went off at the students union at about 6 o’clock and the artists were decamped to The Bath Hotel on Victoria street where they were entertained by the Ents Ctte. until the power came on at about 9 o’clock. I forget how we managed to squeeze three sets into the remaining time but the evening was a great success. This was probably the last college tour Carrot did before becoming a substantial TV personality. I always thought it odd that he succeeded where Mike Harding, who preceded him as a singer turned stand-up comic, didn’t.|
|12/11/1977||Gordon Giltrap Band / Claire Hamill’s Transporter||This show was put on in collaboration with Radio Hallam as an outside broadcast which had its pros and cons. The Giltrap set was a resounding success consistent of pretty much all the “Perilous Journey” album plus a few old favourites. There was surprise among many how far he’d moved from his folk origins. The sound was excellent and the broadcast sounded very slick.
The downside of the broadcast was that Claire Hamill, who was using Giltrap’s PA could not get a proper soundcheck or configure the mixer for her set. She was reduced to tears and I felt she’d been badly let down by Giltrap’s road management who were totally beholden to Radio Hallam’s needs.
|15/11/1977||China / Foster Brothers||China were Elton John’s backing band who had, with EJ’s blessing decided to try and make a name for themselves independently. The tour was heavily promoted but wasn’t a big draw. On stage the band may have been proficient but the material was weak. The only saving grace to a rather dull evening was when Kiki Dee, who was travelling with the band, came on for an apparently impromptu version of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (all pre-rehearsed of course).|
|19/11/1977||Burlesque / Mother Superior||I only vaguely remember this gig which is odd because they also hailed from my girlfriend’s home town of Bromley and they were seen as quite a hot property at the time. They were an avant-garde, arty, comedic but otherwise solid rock band with a strong following. They were to break up shortly after this gig. I wish I could remember more but an internet search has produced an only an old blog post.|
|26/11/1977||Frankie Miller / Meal Ticket||By popular request – this was a sell-out gig. Miller had a prodigious appetite for sweet German wine. The contract rider required that three bottles of Blue Nun be provided. We couldn’t find Blue Nun anywhere in Sheffield so laid on Piesporter, which is an equivalent. It turned out that only Blue Nun would do and fortunately Miller’s road manager carried a covert supply and agreed to switch our bottles for his. Miller got wind of the switch and, having consumed the three bottles of Blue Nun, demanded the three bottles of Piesporter as well. He didn’t get them.|
|02/12/1977||Mud||The last gig before the end of term, this sold out in advance within 20 minutes|
|17/01/1978||Caravan||Nothing much to say about this gig. The band were on their way to disbanding and I think it showed.|
|20/01/1978||Talking Heads / Dire Straits||An excellent gig. Talking Heads were in top form and entertained a number of us for coffee at the Hallam Towers the following morning. I remember Tina Weymouth was suffering from a blister on her right thumb – not good for bass player. They were curious about the new wave movement in the UK and why they had been cast in it as they didn’t see themselves as punk.
Dire Straits were just being talked about and we’d been told to expect something like JJ Cale. They played a blinding set for a support band getting a good hour and a half probably helped by the fact that the agent booking them out with Talking Heads had just become their manager. We got lucky and immediately booked them for a Free Concert in June that year for the princely sum of £300 to include the use of their PA for all other bands. We were forgiven for not getting their name on the tickets.
|28/01/1978||The Bothy Band||An excellent show from a much underrated band. We got a bit nervous when they didn’t show up for the get in at the prescribed time. Two hours late we eventually got a ‘phone call from a payphone to say they were outside. They weren’t. It transpired they’d turned up at the Polytechnic and having been convinced they weren’t playing there had desperately searched for a phone number and telephone box. The get in was a little rushed.|
|03/02/1978||The Pleasers||Another Radio Hallam outside broadcast. The Pleasers were talked of a as a Beatles tribute band (when tribute bands were a rarity). They certainly took on the appearance of the Fab Four and their music was poppy but there the resemblance stopped. They were OK and the broadcast was well received but it wasn’t a memorable gig. They were fed up that the printer got their name wrong on the tickets.|
|04/03/1978||Richie Havens / Josh White Jnr||What a lovely gig! Richie Havens was a humble and delightful performer. His contract rider had a request for a carpet for the stage and we’d dug an old Axminster out of the cellar of the Union thinking he’d turn his nose up it but he couldn’t stop thanking us and even told the audience about how thoughtful we’d been. His performance was spellbinding and had all the aura of his Woodstock set albeit a decade on.
Josh White was a great support too playing folksy blues and not missing a beat when he broke strings (several). He continued to sing while he restrung and retuned the guitar. A great party trick. This was one of my favourite gigs.
|11/02/1978||Slaughter and / the Dogs / Dead Fingers Talk / The Push||Getting true punk bands to play Universities was quite tricky. There was a bit of social snobbery involved and they preferred playing pubs and clubs. We’d almost had the Sex Pistols a few years before but their gear didn’t turn up so they got pissed in the bar instead. This went well and it was nice to have local band The Push on the set. To be fair they weren’t really a punk band but they had a great single with “Cambridge Stomp” and it was nice to give them a decent audience.|
|24/12/1978||Blondie||A bit a coup as they could have been playing far bigger venues by the time we had them on. This sold out almost as fast as Mud. They played a great set and Debbie Harry had the audience (not all male) eating out of her hands. The show was a little marred when Chris Stein trashed Jimmy Destri’s keyboards as he walked off stage. It seems he felt the keyboards were too far forward in the mix .|
|07/03/1978||Ralph McTell||Super professional set from a classic folky but he was already looking a bit long in the tooth for undergraduate audiences.|
|11/03/1978||John Miles / Johnny Cougar||Promoting “Zaragon”. There was a bit less use of the Talk Box in this gig.|
|14/03/1978||Darts / Young Bucks||Riding on the back of a string of hits, Darts couldn’t fail and they played to full house of bopping students happy to revert to the music of their parents. There was moment of fear when Den Hegarty elected to climb up the lighting rig and sing clinging onto the balcony rail. Fortunately everything was well attached and he descended safely.|
|28/04/1978||Graham Parker and the Rumour||Not my favourite band, Graham Parker was full of himself and I thought played a rather poor and very short set. We hadn’t sold out which was surprising as the band were doing well and they’d been well received at the Thin Lizzy gig the previous year.|
|06/05/1978||Wilko Johnson Band||A great gig with everything played at a thousand miles an hour. Heaven knows what the members of the band were on. Having seen him with Dr. Feelgood, I think he’d made the right decision heading out on his own.|
|09/05/1978||Lindisfarne||A very polished gig from a newly reformed Lindisfarne. It very nearly didn’t happen when we had a ‘phone call at midday to say their van had broken down at Ross on Wye and they couldn’t make it. We said ‘no way’ and that we’d run the show late but they had to find another van. We had no idea whether we could run late as it was midweek and the hall had to revert to a dining refectory for the following day. Somehow we negotiated an extension with the University authorities and the band went on, without a support, at 11 o’clock finishing at one in the morning.|
|13/05/1978||UK / The Fabulous Poodles||Bill Bruford, ex Yes of course but also of King Crimson with John Wetton; they were the founder members. A bit left field perhaps and the gig didn’t sell well which was a shame as they gave and very good performance. A musicians band.|
|20/05/1978||The Flamin’ Groovies||I cannot remember this gig at all.|
|17/06/1978||Ian Gillan Band||A rather disappointing gig which probably goes to show that Deep Purple were definitely more than the sum of their parts.|
SMA are deeply saddened to hear the following news
It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H. Kirk has passed away. Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career. We will miss him so much. We ask that his family are given space at this time.
A true pioneer of modern Sheffield music, Rest In Peace Richard
Thanks to John Firminger, who has shared an article he wrote about Violet May’s legendary record shop.