Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Live at Thames Poly

Looking through a friend's neglected looking collection of old cassette tapes recently week I came across a bootleg of Sonic Youth playing at Thames Polytechnic (now University of Greenwich) in 1985. Whether the tape still plays I am not sure, but one of the tracks is featured on a double album released in that period called Communicate! featuring bands recorded live in the Cellar Bar, Thames Poly Student Union in Woolwich (Calderwood Street) between Sep '84 and July '85.


The album was put together in 1985 by Thames Poly social secretary Leigh Goorney, and released on CD in 1992. According to the sleevenotes, the PA crew started packing up the gear in the middle of the Sonic Youth set because the gig was running late! The full track listing includes:

1. THE EELS Granny
2. MARC RILEY Black Dwarf
3. BIG FLAME All the Irish Must Go to Heaven
4. THE PASTELS Something Going Down
5. THE JUNE BRIDES No Place Called Home
6. MARK PERRY Crazy! Crazy!
7. MARK PERRY Release the Natives/Spanish Heaven
8. THE MEKONS Help Me Make It Through the Night
9. UT Sick
10. THE EX M.M.M. Crisis
11. BOGSHED Fat Lad Exam Failure
12. THE THREE MAJOHNAS Like a Virgin
13. THE THREE JOHNS Vicious Acapella
14. THE THREE JOHNS Gone Away
15. THE NIGHTINGALES Only My Opinion
16. THE NIGHTINGALES Crafty Fag
17. THE VERY THINGS The Gong Man
18. CONFLICT The Guilt & The Glory
19. THE POISON GIRLS Rockface
20. SONIC YOUTH Kill Your Idols
21. FIVE GO DOWN TO THE SEA Unga Bunga Song
22. TELEVISION PERSONALITIES Back to Vietnam

Nice mix of anarcho-punk, early indie-pop and post-punk noise. Anyone remember any of these gigs or others at Thames Poly? I saw Conflict there around this time, supported by Karma Sutra and Liberty, and later in around 1990 I saw Chumbawamba with Wat Tyler (though this wasn't in the Cellar Bar, it was in a hall somewhere).

Click to enlarge this full list of gigs there from 1984/85, taken from the CD cover - Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream are among the others who played early gigs there at this time.

13 comments:

Transpontine said...

Looking through that list again I see Nico played there in January 1985, presumably the sometime Velvet Underground chanteuse then on hard times and living in Brixton.

schmoodub said...

I was at that Nico gig! Amazing performance, she played her harmonia and sung along in that gutteral drawl of hers. Quite surreal to see such a legend playing in a tiny venue in SE London.

I also went to the Blue Orchids/Eric Random gig, pretty sure I was at one of the ATV gigs there too - happy days :)

Lucy Fur Leaps said...

Not on the album but I remember seeing Test Dept there in the 80s - great gig!

THE RUINIST said...

Hey Hey, that Sonic Youth tape still plays fine. I think it could have been their second gig in the U.K. Maybe? I saw loads of gigs at Thames Poly during Leigh's reign there. It was pretty amazing to nip down the road Friday and Sat and check it so many great bands of the day and try to sell my zine to uninterested punters. Crazy nights and funny stories abound from that little temporary scene. And remember Five Go Down To The Sea? Or Big Flame? I saw The Very Things! Even New Model Army, blimey! And Conflict about a million times. And The Ex who I also saw this year too!!

Yr Heartout said...

Saw many of the shows there that Leigh put on. Remember seeing the Mary Chain supporting Five Go Down To The Sea. William was singing, reading lyrics from a notebook as Jim Reid had lost his voice. Grab Grab The Haddock is a very fond memory. Sold lots of fanzines there (Hungry Beat) at various gigs - TVPs, June Brides, etc. One of the downsides was the gangs of Nazi skinheads who would be hanging round the area making waiting for the us home eventful.

THE RUINIST said...

Oh yes indeed, The Ruinist bought Hungrybeat No.1 with it's red stencil print cover and I still have it on the shelf! Certainly sorted me out for open my ears away from anarcho-punk towards Love and all that. Thanks Mr Yr Heart Out!

Transpontine said...

wel ruinist, you should check out Your Heart Out (http://yrheartout.blogspot.com/) the blogging successor to that zine, or even more up your street if you haven't seen it his excellent The London Nobody Sings (http://www.thelondonnobodysings.blogspot.com/)

aka Clive Shaw said...

I saw many of the bands on the comp before and during Leigh's tenure. My friend Dave Eyre did the artwork (and the murals in the bar) and I even met my ex wife there (doing security for the Three Johns)fun times... reminds me to refer you to http://guteluft.blogspot.com/2011/03/ambulance-station-old-kent-road.html featuring another hive of musical mid 80s SE London activity.. the Ambulance Station. He even gets to take some current snaps upstairs.

Transpontine said...

Clive, That's strange I was lying there thinking I must write something about the Ambulance Station (which I walk past most days), picked up my phone and saw your comment. Will link to that piece and maybe add some more memories.

aka Clive Shaw said...

Hi Neil, sorry to scoop you!
Loved the salesman “To be honest mate, everyone who was around then is probably dead.”
Clive

Laughing Noam said...

I went to Thames Poly 1985 to 1988 and well remember this album - a double vinyl release iirc and not initially on cassette or cd at, which is why i short-sightedly never bought, being all ultra modern and that, i thought cassettes were where it was at :D
Saw many band from 85 onwards including Wedding Present, Sugar Cubes, Nico, The Soup Dragons, Primal Scream, etc,
Pity there was no equivelent album for my perdiod there...though the quality of performer did clearly drop from 84/85 onwards.
And Nico, if i may nit-pic, played in January 1986 as I was there...in '85 I was skiing in Austria with the rest of my school mates :D

Mick H said...

I played guitar in Liberty ( still do)and the Poly was 'home' turf gig wise mid 80's. I've got a flyer for a gig from a Greenwich Performance Collective gig ( not sure if it was at the Poly) for us playing with Primal Scream, its dated 13 April, unfortunately no year.

Unknown said...

Mike H, I saw that the old Greenwich Performance Collective are doing some gigs with some of the old bands. they have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/gpclpc)

I think I remember the flyer with primal scream, wasn't that with bulbous skunk cabbages as well?
//Trevor