My playlist is based on artists I’ve seen live in Leeds (no, not The Who) since I moved here in 1980.
Andy Kershaw in his autobiography explains that he applied to study at Leeds University because of the great live music. I had no inkling when I applied, but quickly signed up as an “Ents” steward for free entry to the excellent gigs that Andy was now putting on as Ents Sec.
My first three choices date from this time, John Martyn, clearly stoned as usual, played in the Riley Smith Hall in the autumn of 1980 – the hippies wanted to sit down, we wanted to dance. The Au Pairs supported Gang Of Four in the Refec I think in the spring of 1981. I watched from the top of the balcony steps – one of the better duties, certainly better than outside the dressing rooms in the bowels of the building.
On 4th July 1981 I had a small part in putting on the Rock Against Racism Carnival in Potternewton Park. The Au Pairs played again, winning over an at first hostile crowd and the day finished with The Specials. Ghost Town was number one that week and Toxteth was in flames (Chapeltown would follow the next weekend). It turned out to be The Specials last live show until the recent reunion. The best song in the set was The Boiler sung by Rhoda Dakar, but that’s too bleak to include this time.
My first trip to the Leeds Irish Centre was in the late 80s to see Zimbabwean band The Four Brothers – we danced all night. The Irish Centre is probably my favourite gig venue – not too large, not too small.
I didn’t see much live music in the 90s due to having two small children and a 140 mile commute to work and back every day. Kate Rusby at the City Varieties was one of the first I took my kids to and wouldn’t you know it the BBC filmed it. You can see me en famile, in the balcony at 2:15 into the track.
I was blown away by The Hold Steady’s appearance on Later … and got to see them at the Irish Centre in June 2008 and again at Leeds Met SU in February last year. I discovered British Sea Power the same way and have seen them them at Leeds Met SU and even Holy Trinity Church on Boar Lane but the best show was of course at the Irish Centre.
The Imagined Village are a fantastic fusion of English Folk, beats, dohl drumming and more to create a new English people’s music. I caught up with them at the Irish Centre in January 2010 touring their second album – but why was the dancefloor littered with tables and chairs?
I saw the Alabama 3 at Leeds Met a couple of years ago, not the best gig (awful muddy sound), but how could I pass up a chance to include Ain’t Going To Goa from the Reverend D Wayne Love, minister of the First Presley-terian Church of Elvis the Divine (UK).
Most of the tracks are live versions, so do watch as well as listen. Putting it together has brought back many memories, I hope you enjoy it.
1. John Martyn – I’d Rather Be The Devil2. Gang Of Four – Damaged Goods3. The Au Pairs – Come Again4. The Specials – Ghost Town5. The Four Brothers – Uchandifunga6. Kate Rusby – Sir Eglamore7. The Hold Steady – Stuck Between Stations8. British Sea Power – Carrion9. The Imagined Village – Cold Haily Rainy Night10. Alabama 3 – Ain’t Goin’ To Goa