having lived in the outer regions of the yorkshire dales with nothing to connect me to the real world other than john peel and the nme, in october of 1986 i headed for the bright lights of leeds university (a venue chosen purely down to the nme gig listings as it proved that the city was going to be a constant stream of gigs).
as part of my meager belongings i had a cassette of a godfathers gig that i had recorded off the radio, and despite not knowing much about them, the tape was absolutely fantastic and never failed to send a chill up my spine.
so, when i spotted that the band were to be playing at leeds university during the first few weeks of term my heart skipped a beat.
the venue was an underground basement bar hidden within the corridors of leeds university student union, and on that night it was packed.
while the band had yet to release their big hit album, "birth, school, work, death", they had been getting a lot of attention due to a constant stream of classic singles, so expectations were high.
now the venue is a strange one, the stage is basically a raised floor in one corner of the bar, and to get to the stage the band have to walk through the crowd.
show time beckoned, the lights went down, and over the pa they played the theme from the godfather movie. and then from a side door the band appeared. not in t-shirts & ripped jeans as was the norm for indie rock bands in 1986, but sharp looking suits.
as they walked through the crowd there were no smiles, no hand shaking, no warmth, nothing.
just stony faced arrogance from all of the band, but none more so than peter coyne, the lead singer, who looked genuinely pissed off. they stepped up onto the raised platform and a silence descended upon the crowd,
peter looked out at the packed bar, picked up the microphone, and then stared out above the moshpit nutters to those further back. and then he said the following with slow drawn out cold menace :
"where the f*ck are we tonight – oh yeah – gotham city"
now, given this was 1986, leeds was still in the death throes of the effects of sisters of mercy, and the mission, to name but 2 of the cities best known exports, so it was only natural that in the crowd were a few black clad, flour faced innocents, so after a dramatic pause this opening statement of intent was followed by a cold stare at a particular section of the crowd and a pointed finger :
"what the f*ck are you f*cking goths doing at my f*cking gig ? i f*cking hate goths"
and, as the last sneered "goths" was spat out, the drummer dropped a beat and the band hit the ground running with one of their snarled up classics, and maintained an atmosphere of fear and respect for the next hour or so.
needless to say, this young’un was mesmerised, and in awe of such raw attitude.
now, 20+ years later whenever i listen to early singles compilation, “hit by hit‘, that formed the majority concert, my mind is transported back to that night of charged intensity and new found freedom when it seemed that bunch of bad tempered blokes in suits playing punked up r-n-b riffs could change the world.
if only they hadn’t slagged off midnight oil they really could have come as big as many of us had hoped .. but that’s a story for another day. as is the tale of the band playing at leeds polytechnic a few years later, when yet again peter was in a bad mood and decided to take out his frustration on an audience member.
the real question is : are there bands now having this kind of effect on kids who just left home to start their adult life ?
i sincerely hope so, as i would suggest everyone needs to see a band like the godfathers.
no, scratch that, everyone needs to see the godfathers. full stop.
more detail : here