Early Days, 1977
Well, the Sex Pistols played in Circles on September 22nd 1976, in between the infamous 100 Club festival and the much bootlegged Burton on Trent gig, Was there anyone who actually saw them? Well, rumours abounded of at least 20 people being there but I've yet to meet any one of them -and those that were there were either members of Bad Company (see below) or those more interested in grabbing a granny...
The late (and notoriously factually inaccurate) Dave Goodman recalls that night in his (now defunct) diary:-
(though whether Goodman was even there is debatable, as punk DJ John Davies, who was also at the gig says, "I Don't care what Dave Goodman says but I don't remember any of Bad Company there, and I swear it was Thursday 23rd Sept, not the 22nd, as Circles was always closed on Wednesdays - I do remember Jacko throwing a pint over Johnny Rotten though."
The Clash played Swansea University on May 16th as part of the White Riot tour, supported by the Subway Sect
I can't actually remember much of the Clash's set, just vague recollections of White Riot and Police and Thieves, mainly because of the large volume of cheap cider which I'd taken advantage of in the student bar earlier in the evening. It was Subway Sect that really impressed me the most. They came onto a foot high stage, dressed in old, dark grey postman uniforms and black slip-on's (with no socks!) and who ran through a sharp barrage of songs, mainly white noise with nasally vocals that all sounded pretty much the same, I'd never seen or heard anything like it before, especially when Vic Goddard (the vocalist) shouted to the bass player that he'd just played the wrong song and nobody seemed to notice....
Nigel Drean remembers, "I was such a fan back then. I was the first one through the door at the top of the stairs and took the large black poster off the wall as II went in. I rolled it up and guarded it with my life as I braced my knees against the stage and suffered the pogoing punks in my back as Subway Sect played their set. As if that wasn't mad enough, the place went wild when The clash came on.
I sold the posters when times were tight and would gladly sell my mother to get them back. Top gig!".
Clash at Swansea University, Pics by Tony @ -euroshot.com (now defunct)
Then the Stranglers supported by the Dictators played at the Top Rank suite on 24th October and things were never quite the same again.
.Punk Rock was just starting to catch on in big time in South Wales when The Stranglers came to town and this was the first real punk band that many people had seen, and they acted accordingly. Spitting and throwing beer was punk; Jean Jaques Burnel was a black belt in jujitsu karate and the Finchley Boys were a fucking rock-hard gang of hells angels, bikers and other assorted nutcases, who carried knives ands chains and baseball bats to the away gigs and created havoc - it said so in the Sun!
Stranglers at Top Rank, Swansea pics by:- Tony @ euroshot.com
Jean Jaques Burnel, (after 20 minutes and many requests to stop spitting) - "Right, the next person to throw a beer can gets it". A guy chucked his beer at him so John dived head first into the crowd and started pummeling this geezer, whos buddies started fighting back. Out came the Finchley boys from backstage (which antagonized the local "big boys and bikers even more ") and then the bouncers charged in, lashing out indiscriminately.
Kunzle Kate later reviewed the gig in ALARM! :-
|"I've often wondered why bands prefer playing Cardiff rather than Swansea. Well, after going to see the Stranglers at the Top Rank (ticket price £1.60), I can see why now. The Dictators who supported played really good exiting set to the accompinment of thrown beer glasses all around them. When the Stranglers came on it got even worse, fuck, I wouldn't play with nerks hurling beer glasses at me. The bass player over reacted in some peoples eyes, when he dived into the audience, grabbing someone who'd been throwing glasses or something. Of course, then the glasses really started coming over.All in all it was an 'orrible night. The bouncers there must be some of the most brutal I've ever seen, one of them, lashed out and hit a young girl in the face, sending her sprawling about six feet. The atmosphere of the place was such that, I dont care what band plays there, I'll be fucked if I ever go in there again. I can think of better ways to entertain myself, which I'll elaborate on next week.t".|
This is how a Finchley boy remembers it:-
| from "
Memoirs of a Fans fan
" by Al Hillier and posted at punk77.co.uk.
just want to curl up and die, kind of cold
Shut your eyes and let the clouds of icy breath billow upwards and take your frozen soul with it, kind of cold.
I envied all those who were blissfully unaware of impending doom. Me? I just hid it really well. Maybe they did too, who knows? but no one displayed any emotion when we discussed the Swansea gig.
By now, the Finchley boys were well known,...articles with references to our antics (often exaggerated) appeared weekly. Our reputation preceded us and and we were now considered "legitimate targets for any group of nutters who fancied "having a go."...
The band had "Finchley Boy" t-shirts produced,...we were issued two each. We wore them with pride. We might as just as well have painted the roundels of targets on our backs.
...As I walked slowly across the room I was aware of a crunching sound. I was walking over a carpeted area that was literally covered in shattered glass. The atmosphere was electric, I could feel the tension.
These tough old welsh boyo's were going to show the finchley boys how they were going to finish the job properly....Boots and fists seemed to explode from every direction, circles opening and closing around skirmishes in the large crowd, sending shock waves and rippling people in an involuntary Mexican wave.
The Stranglers were aware of the happenings in the hall. I remember John giving back some verbal to a section of the crowd with his usual sneering "fuck you" attitude. That was the way it had to be dealt with. No quarter asked and certainly none given.
needless to say, the Stranglers didn't play an encore