Have you ever seen a band or an artist play in a small, smokey club? Maybe they were first on the bill or were so ordinary that you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was a band playing in the first place? I believe that’s the time when many punters will “hit the bar” and wait for the Headliner.
I had to check, but I think this was August or September 1986, and I was at The Barrowlands in Glasgow to see one of the popular beat combos of the day -The Housemartins. They’d just had a huge hit earlier in the year with “Happy Hour”, a jaunty, jangly, 2 minutes-and-change tune that’d gone high in the charts. They only rleased 2 albums before morphing into “The Beautiful South” and having many, many more hits.
Two things of note about The Housemartins. First, Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim was the bass player. Whatever happened to him? Secondly, the original drummer was sentenced to 6 years in jail for arson. Kinda sad…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Whitaker
So, we’re at the gig, and first one were a local band called “The Crows”. Not The Black, nor Stone The, or even Counting…just simply, The Crows. Later on, I’d pick up a couple of their records but they were somewhere between The Cult and a mish-mash of Goth Rock. They were great, one of those bands you see supporting, remember the name, but never quite hit the big time.
Next up, was an extra addition to the lineup, an acoustic duo called “The Proclaimers”. Remember, this is a few months from their breakthrough “Letter From America” (produced by Gerry Rafferty no less) and they went down like a turd in a fishtank. It wasn’t just their nerdy-twinness that was freaking people out (Auchermuchty no more etc…) but they seemed nervous, somewhat lacking in that “banter with the crowd”, and to be honest, a bit out of their depth. I don’t think, or at least I don’t remember thinking that “these guys’ll go far”. Probably, far from it, but hey, good luck to them. They’ve done alright for themselves.
The Housemartins were late for the show. Like, super-late. It was a Wednesday night and they’d been filming for Top of The Pops which went out the following day. Glasgow crowds weren’t noted for their understanding or compassionate nature and didn’t really like to be kept waiting or be messed about (Beastie Boys Licence to Ill Tour is another that comes to mind). However, we got there in the end. I really don’t remember that much of The Housemartins set (it was 30 years ago…) but I always had a bit of a soft spot for the band.