A nice flyer from Stefan Boberek
The Police supported by The Cramps / Sheffield Top Rank Suite – June 15th 1979
The Top Rank Sheffield Suite has had several incarnations; nightclub, concert venue and even a gospel church for a time! But starting around 1977 it began to have a great spell as a rock venue just as punk and new wave began to take off. There was a large open floor space, but also a balcony around three sides, so if you didn’t fancy getting bounced around too much you could skulk upstairs and get a great view of the stage (which was quite high).
Now in 1979 The Police were on the verge of smashing it big time with their album debut in the UK top ten, and top thirty in America, and three hit singles off the album. I was quite keen to see what they were like live, but also had found a couple of import 45s by the support band The Cramps (Human Fly and their version of Surfin’ Bird) and really fancied finding out what they were like live. So it was worth £2 for a ticket.
Most of the audience were understandably there for the headliners so I was able to get quite near to the stage ahead of The Cramps coming on, and what a scary bunch they looked. I swear the crowd took a couple of steps back when guitarist Bryan Gregory growled at them and went into the set. This was their first tour here and they were determined to really blast through their rockabilly punk grunge set like they meant it. I was able to get some photographs and then could rest up before The Police hit the stage.
Now they were good but it just felt both a little lazy after the support group, and also a but condescending too, as if they thought they were better than this. Frustratingly their initial promise musically never really developed as they got so big so quickly they never had to try and harder.
I do remember some great silk screened posters being sold at the merch stall (one of which I still have somewhere) but always feel it would have been better to see them a year or two before this tour. I did go along and see one of the stadium shows later, Leeds Queens Hall, mainly as my sister wanted to go!
I was a real Cramps fan after this and we saw several shows over the next few years in Leicester, Birmingham and even trekked down to The Astoria on what sadly proved to be their last UK show. But that first one at The Top Rank remains strong in the memory.
Looking around the forums one or two fans seem to think there was a third band opening for the evening, and they may be right but if so I cannot remember who they were. Any way below is one of my shots of ‘Poison’ Ivy Rorschach from the show. Simon
Slightly surreal footage from the Arbourthorne Hotel in 1975
Stefan Boberek has sent a great batch of tickets, all now on the site
A few more flyers
Yes, Sheffield City Hall. April 20. 1998
Seeing Yes in 1998 was a little strange. Generally I don’t bother going to see bands again who I saw in their prime back in the Seventies (or bands who suddenly discover that they were always huge friends after all and so decide to reform!). And having seen Yes twice back in the day (as I’m told youngsters refer to older times), once on the astonishing Topographic Oceans tour (at the City Hall), then just after Patrick Moraz joined (over in Manchester – both great shows) the news that they were doing a British tour in 1998 didn’t set the blood racing. However at the time I was involved with a reissue record label called RPM and we had licensed some material from Yes guitarist Steve Howe and he was able to put me on the guest list (not something I have ever made much of a habit of I hasten to add), so fearing the worst I gave my brother the other guest ticket and off we went.
And it was excellent. It really was as good as they’d been back in the ’70s and I was both surprised and impressed. Yes are of course one of those bands you either get or you don’t, but obviously for this show the hall was sold out to die-hards (2100 or so). The band played a great selection of material from their glory days (about half) and it was clear they had worked very hard to get everything just right.
The line-up was mostly familiar to us, with four members of the 70s era:
Jon Anderson (Vocals) Steve Howe (Guitars) Billy Sherwood (Guitars) Chris Squire (Bass) Alan White (Drums) Igor Khoroshev (Keyboards)
There was, as the ticket says, no support, so they had time to really pack in a lot of the longer material before the dreaded curfew deadline. It’s a shame more bands don’t do this. I could not resist taking the check sheet off the dressing room door, these are not something which often survive as they get thrown away. Basically they give everyone involved the timeline for the day, rock has for some time been run along these tight deadlines, not like back in the ’70s when it ended only when it ended.
There is a site out there with some fan pics from the gig:
Listening to tracks from the Sheffield-based Pearson Memmott Conspiracy album that arrived today – top notch proggy rock – well recommended!
Adios Al Futuro (goodbye to the future) is the second album by Das Rad – the Sheffield-based trio of Nick Robinson, Martin Archer & Steve Dinsdale. (RAD, geddit?)
Their self-titled debut album on Discus records attracted some rave reviews, neatly summarised by “they seem to encapsulate and deconstruct the entire history of British avant-rock in one fell swoop”. Their new offering “expands and refines their sound, featuring a combination of composed and improvised music, bringing together the personalities of the musicians”.
The album was released this weekend and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a free “Das Rad Magic Cube” – a chance to practice origami while enjoying the music. There’s a possible accusation of bias, but we recommend you invest in both!