Friday, September 08, 2006

Exalted decade

The real reason … ahem …. some people have for blogging is nothing to do with adding to the sum of human knowledge. For instance, I couldn’t comment on the claim that weblogs are a place to have a second crack at arguments that you lost in the pub.

ANYWAY. I still think that everyone else is wrong and that the 1980s was the best decade for popular music. And to prove it, on my way home from the pub, I made a list of the bands that I was able to go and see in small / medium size venues during that exalted decade:

  • Madness
  • The Blades
  • Aswad
  • The Jam
  • Dexys Midnight Runners
  • The Pogues
  • Kid Creole and the Coconuts
  • Ian Dury and the Blockheads
  • The Damned
  • The Men they Couldn’t Hang
  • The Purple Hearts
  • The Beat
  • PiL
  • The Temptations
  • Tom Waits
  • The Pretenders
  • The Comsat Angels
  • Clint Eastwood and General Saint
  • The Undertones
  • Working Week
  • The Cramps
  • Martin Stephenson and the Daintees
  • Steve Earle
  • Hackney Five-O
  • The Mighty Lemon Drops
  • The Stranglers
  • The Housemartins
  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • U2
  • The Fall
  • Bauhaus
  • The Birthday Party (supporting Bauhaus)
  • The Stars of Heaven
  • The Smiths
  • The Screaming Blue Messiahs
  • Restless
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Teardrop Explodes
  • Robyn Hitchcock
  • REM
  • Vic Goddard and the Subway Sect
  • The Selecter
  • Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  • Dwight Yoaham
  • The Boomtown Rats
  • Riot of Colour
  • Courtney Pine
  • Wah Heat!
  • The Stone Roses
  • Black Uhuru
  • Echo and the Bunnymen
  • The Boothill Foot-tappers
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Nine Below Zero

And, of course, The Pioneers of the Sacred Heart, live, in small / medum sized venues, or on the student circuit.

I’d be happy to hop into a time machine and go to any of those gigs again, but I’d say that Teardrop Explodes, the Daintees, The Cramps, The Boomtown Rats (!), Black Uhuru, The Fall, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party were the real outstanding ones. Them, The Pogues (obviously – and their 1986 Hammersmith Palais gigs were their best ones IMHO), and the best single live set I ever saw was from…. The Woodentops with their multimedia set at the ICA in London. Just for the lockjawed positivity of the whole thing.

There's not a great selection YouTube and this doesn’t do justice to them, but, here goes….

In addition, looking at the list, a lot of black music was fairly unrepresented on the cheapo gig circuit at the time, so I’m probably making the case that the 1980s was the best decade to see the bands that would play provincial shitholes. But I’d be happy to make the case for that decade being pretty fantastic for soul, hip hop, electro, soul-jazz and dancehall records as well.

(Missing counter-arguments please in the comments. Let me start with James.


Skuds said...

Since the eighties started when I was 18 I obviously have a lot of fond memories of it too and could add Depeche Mode to the list. And (unfashiobale though it is) Toyah who I thoroughly enjoyed seeing.

Its a bit of an unfair argument though because nearly all concerts were at what we would now call small/medium-sized places. Back then it was a lot rarer for bands to only play stadium shows.

When I saw Thin Lizzy at the Hammersmith Odeon it was a big venue as far as I was concerned.

The weird thing is that there seems to be more large venues and more large concerts now but its harder than ever to get tickets unless you queue or take part in some lottery.

Its the same with football. In the 70s and 80s you could turn up at a top-flight game on the day and get in, but now you have to have a season ticket to stand a chance.

I saw bands in the 80s who were big bands, but got the tickets by posting a cheque to the venue... can you imagine that working now for a hyped show?

Andrew Brown said...

How about, for the counter-arguementCrass?