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James, The Smiths
Backstage Pass
Palace Theatre
Not sure of the date of this, guessing August ’85...? Anyway the Palace and pavement were abuzz with anticipation and the touts were having a field day; a hometown gig of local heroes and at probably the biggest hometown gig so far. Actually it was around the “Meat is Murder” time so whenever that was. Got the pass through the James camp; used to love that band. Don’t know if the singer turned out to be a twot but they made a sweet noise.
Probably my clearest recollection of the gig was all these teenybopper girls screaming at Johnnie Marr when the band came on; hadn’t heard the like since an Adam Ant gig at The Apollo with God’s Gift in support; good local band that;(that single “Discipline” I reckon is an absolute classic).. I think the last time I saw James and The Smiths was at “The Festival Of The Tenth Summer “ thing at G-mex in ’86.
The first time I ventured into The Palace was in ’75 to see Tommy Steele in “Hans Christian Anderson” for my sister’s 14th birthday and being a stroppy teenage brat I think I ruined it for her; soz again our kid and happy 49th for yesterday! Actually Tommy was a bit of a hero round skiffle time along with the great Lonnie Donegan. I know one of my uncle’s played in a Manchester skiffle group round the mid/ late ‘50’s; should do some inquiries....
I also saw Bob Seeger there round mid ’77.In the early to mid ‘70’s , a time of E.L.P. ,Uriah Heap, Genesis, Frampton coming alive (then thankfully dying again), Caravan, Fotheringay and the whole prog/ folk rock flock ,there was still some old fashioned rock ‘n roll a la Thin Lizzy, Slade, Quo etc. ;and chubby Mr. Seeger, chunky Steve Miller and others were in that camp. Another gig at The Palace was Horslips (an Irish band with a name derived after drunkenly trying to to Christen the band The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.....very interesting rock ‘n roll fact No.1635 # B.). Anyway that was a great gig. I feel I may have mentioned something about it before but by this late stage I’m pretty much all at sea with where I’m up to; so much for hittin’ and quittin’ the site in a matter of a couple of weeks. Coming up to Christmas has certainly put a spanner in the proverbials too. The band had to stop halfway through the set as the oi polloi up in The Gods insisted on having too much fun and the whole balcony was scarily springing up and down so much that plaster was falling off and landing on the punters below. After the gig we ended up back stage, courtesy of my brother, stood in a large, built-in wardrobe conversing with The Radiators from Space who were touring with Thin Lizzy at the time; I couldn’t wash the star dust off for days.....I saw Horslips play one more time a couple of years later at De La Salle College of all places; it wasn’t as memorable.
So as far as I recall The Palace wasn’t used greatly for gigs; probably too nice a venue and too upmarket for that. Because I knew several people who worked there I did get to see the likes of Marcel Marceau, Lulu in “Guys and Doll” (loved Damon Runyon books),ballet ‘n opera proper culture stuff...well at least I tried....and my piece de resistance, an afternoon matinee of “Duty Free”;a highlight of my theatre going career. I was on the mailing list as Jah Hitler; oh what jolly japes we had getting things like that through.
Well that’s pretty much me Palace Theatre story and I’m sticking to it. I had a real keen interest for some inexplicable reason, many years back, in the vaudeville and variety hall era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I know my grandmother had played the piano accompanying the old silent films of yesteryear but it’s probably got bugger all to do with that....Anyway, of course the theatre would be crawling with that history and no doubt very well documented. I’m pretty sure “gigs” of the late 1800’s were as bawdy and raucous as anything seen since, if not more so, especially as the great unwashed drank mostly porter since water was totally diseased and undrinkable. Eeh now dem really were de days, give or take the odd s.t.d.,goitre and other such minor ailments .....I'm sure the likes of Marie Lloyd, George Formby, Gracie Fields and if you were lucky, Josephine Baker would help you pack up your troubles in your old kit bag......if not you could always throw rotten tomatoes at midgets just for fun.....
Yukio Tani, an offshoot of Abdominal Pains and Armed Force, were apparently named after a famous Hawaiian surfer dude who toured the Variety Halls and who's name had been spotted on an old Palace Theatre poster. How / why I know this is beyond my ken.....
Artefact added : 20th December 2010
by dubwise-er
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