After the summer of 78 I wanted to change how we were doing the RAR stuff. I had an idea that instead of going through all the hassle of finding a venue, persuading the management to let us put on a RAR gig and then publicising it enough to get sufficient people along, it would be better if we could have a regular night at one club which would get a regular crowd along to. I wanted a deal where the management took the bar money and we took the door money which we would give to the bands after expenses like advertising and security. This sort of thing is quite normal now but at the time it hadn’t been done before and I was having some trouble in selling the concept to the club owners. I wanted a Thursday night when most of them were quiet anyway so what had they got to lose? An old mate of mine, Jimmy Evans came to the rescue. Jimmy was always on the piss in town and knew loads of dingy club owners. They were the right sorts of clubs as well – dirty, on the smallish side and a bit grungy. Jimmy introduced me to a bloke who looked like a fully-fledged member of the Manchester Underworld, Tommy Harrell. Tommy had a club behind the CIS building on Amber Street called Kelly’s. Tommy was always dead quiet on a Thursday night and so he could see the logic in letting us bring in some bar takings for free. The one problem was that it didn’t have any stage at all, but Tommy told me not to worry and that he’d sort it out before the first gig.
The Fall opened for us with The Distractions in support. Tommy, as good as his word, didn’t provide a stage but Mark wasn’t bothered. He said that they’d just play on the dance floor and this they did with Mark wandering through the audience doing his bit. What a night that must have been for those legions of devoted Fall fanatics nowadays. The week after we had Mick Hucknall’s first band, The Frantic Elevators supporting Joy Division, who went on to be New Order after their singer Ian Curtis had committed suicide. They released “Love Will Tear Us Apart” posthumously and it turned into one of the best singles of all time. I have to say, Ian Curtis never looked normal to me. He always looked like he was suffering from epilepsy and would slump down on a chair after a gig and have a sort of violent shaking fit. Tommy hadn’t brought a stage again, but one of the lads, Gwil Stephenson was the social secretary of UMIST students union. He said he had a collapsible stage but someone would have to go and get it and take it back again. Joy Division’s Peter Hook and Barney Sumner immediately offered to go and get it and away we went. They picked it up, erected it, took it down again, took it back to UMIST and then put their own gear in their van and went home for the night. If only all rock stars could be so nice and normal. Tommy sorted out a stage for week 3 and we went on from there. (By Bernie Wilcox. Submitted 05.07.07)