Author Topic: 29 June 1983 Liverpool  (Read 131 times)

CheerfulHypocrite

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29 June 1983 Liverpool
« on: December 01, 2016, 03:33:26 am »
It was a Wednesday. Challenger was flying back to Kennedy Space Center via Kelly Air Force Base. The Residents had been booked to play in The State.

The State Ballroom is situated on Dale Street in Liverpool. Originally a Ballroom where ‘Tea Dances’ where held in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The State is an architecturally unique, Grade Two listed building. The State actually opened in the late 1920 with a design more Art Nouveau than Art Deco. It had been designed in 1905 as a Restaurant. The State fell into disuse in the late 1970’s.  The Littlewoods Organisation had used as their Social Club then as a store house. The State opened as a club in 1982 and quickly became "the city’s premier hotspot". Featured in the 1984 film Letter to Brezhnev and used by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as the backdrop for their video to “Relax” and ever more recently as a Night Club in Peaky Blinders. It was, and is, a site of architectural interest.


The outside is still as dull as ever. The Word "Insurance" being the only part of the building left after they demolished half of the "State Insurance" building to erect a vile piece of concrete and glass. Or, modern Architecture as it is known.



The music policy was White Alternative Dance: Kraftwerk, Heaven 17, New Order, DAF, ABC, King Trigger, A Certain Ratio and then, suddenly, in 1983: a live performance by The Residents. Which was all a little strange. But not that strange. Live acts at the State included New Order, the Farm, Big Audio Dynamite and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Not always the mainstream but usually interesting. Largely, Mike Knowler and Andy Carrol were responsible for some of the cutting edgery of the sounds.

Mike Knowler and Andy Carrol

Being Gay was, largely, still illegal. The State attracted a gay but mixed clientele whose musical taste was not entirely mainstream. In 1982-1983, The State was still largely outside the Gang Drug Culture of the rest of the City. Gay Clubbing often sought to draw as little attention as possible. Despite the fact that the State was such a popular destination. You could go to prison for same sex kissing in public and if someone mentioned that sexual act you performed with your eighteen year old boyfriend then that would be the end of you. Strangely it was a hugely popular but not popular part of the State. Discreet might be the word. In a camped up and outrageous sort of way.

The State sold a cider that was 9% by volume and entrance was a penny. You could book a party at The State and the person making the booking would get 100 free tickets and a bottle of champagne. The State’s place in Liverpool legend crystalised when new music programme The Tube was filmed there. All in all it was the hub of a social scene that encompassed such people as Pete Burns and the entire staff of Probe Records. Where, strangely, The Residents could be purchased in return for money and some harsh comments about 'taste'. A 7" single cost 79p - most concert tickets were £2 to £3 and everyone played Liverpool. A very young pre-Kurt Courtney Love lived in a flat that was on the way to my house. She had a reputation for having stolen pairs of knickers instead of doing laundry. It was not the most normal of moments in history.

Pete Burns working for a Living in Probe Records

Which hardly explains why The Residents were even remotely interested in using the venue. Perhaps they simply wanted to not play in an astounding architectural monument. Perhaps it was simply because Pete Burns went to the State and Pete Burns went to Probe Records and Probe Records had an Eskimo Era Resident on the bags they gave away with those 79p lumps of petroleum vinyl. See, there, up in the top right.


But then. Suddenly. The Residents at the State were cancelled. It was sort of kind of exciting. It was sort of kind of, well they would cancel, why would they even be touring. Whereupon there were further announcements and a sort of sinking feeling: they were really going to play at the Royal Court instead.

Which was weird. The Royal Court was used for pantomimes and plays. When they put music on they took out all the seats. It was run by gangsters. It was the scene of murders deaths and all sorts. All sorts really. It largely looked the same for decades. But in the 1980s it was the grim version.


The stage was sort of the right size for the set. Tickets were the standard £3.50 "Standing". Which meant there woud be no seats. There would be seats but they would be stacked up at the back. Which meant milling around with half of the "musical elite" of Liverpool. All of the Balcony was out of bounds. Nobody really wanted to have a repeat of previous events. But it was perfect.

There were probably five people in the audience who had heard anything of the Mole Trilogy. It was - despite all the praise for the State as some epicentre of culture - an audience that did not have any idea of what they were hearing or why or even if it was them witnessing the collapse of another band. There was an A&R man there. He was confused. He needed to ask what was going on more than once. Mistaking Penn Jillette for the Lead Singer. He was persuaded to stay by Pete Burns right up to the point where a Resident announced: "You've ruined our Show. You've ruined our Show. Now You're gonna pay." poor Lamb exited, almost literally, stage left. Why would you turn up to a Residents Show to see if you could sign them: makes almost as much sense as not playing the State.


So The Residents never got signed to some obtuse Label - probably by Bill Drummond, whose rumour mongering can be found in the Novelisation of his live Volume 45. Thus never became the Liverpool Band they never were. Which was good for the Beatles, who would never have coped with the competition. Which only make their contribution to the world that tiniest bit more obscure: not signed by Bill Drummond.

Even worse. There was confusion about if this was theatre or if it was music. The vagueries of Theatrical Licencing Law would forbid acting if they were a band and therefore performing music. But if it was Musical Theatre then different rules, again would apply. In a venue where the seats were taken out and put back in on a daily basis and the door and stage staff might be paid in beer or half a lamb out the back of a cab, such rules might not apply. The Penn Jilette narration often consisted of joking commentary on the story and performance and that confused the the Door Staff -whose main intent was to get off with a dancer. Which, again, was not really helping.

But the performance was magical. So it was freezing cold and the venue was vile. But the entire experience was so worth it. It was nothing like this: video. It was better.

Warning: Much of the foregoing is rumour and unverifiable. The Residents have a rich and varied History that encompasses much more than merely the mundane, tiring and repetitive process of touring. The foregoing may well be confabulation or even outright lies. Use sparingly and externally only. Do not use if skin is broken. This way up.


Not altogether reliable for facts.

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