1 April 1977 – Adverts/Rats – Nag’s Head

Friday 1st April 1977 – The Adverts, supported by The Rats – Nag’s Head

Iconic punk band The Adverts played The Nag’s Head on 1st April 1977.  A crowd of less than 100 would see lead singer T.V. Smith burst on stage with his band and claim “This is the real thing”.

Support came from The Rats, a US based Stooges influenced outfit doing the London circuit.  The low key advertising for the gig would mean their audience numbered around 30 at a time when the punk scene was still very much underground in High Wycombe.

The Adverts – 1977

Formed in late 1976 after front man T.V. Smith and partner Gaye Black (both 20 years old at the time) moved from Bideford to London in order to part of the growing punk scene in the Capital.

They played their first gig at The Roxy, London on 15 January 1977 as support for Generation X. Their second gig at the same venue four days was recorded and the track ‘Bored Teenagers, was included on the live compilation album, ‘The Roxy London WC2’.

Another early gig was supporting The Damned at The Roxy and they signed for Stiff records shortly afterwards. In March 1977, they supported The Jam and Wayne County – again at The Roxy – a venue they played at ten times inside the first three months the iconic venue opened.

Their appearance at The Nag’s Head on 1st April 1977 is believed to their first outside of London but there is a possibility that they supported Wayne County at The Nag’s Head on 6th March 1977.

The March and April outings pre-dated any official studio recordings by a few weeks. Later in April they would record the first of four sessions for the John Peel show, while their debut single, One Chord Wonders’ was released on Stiff on 29 April 1977.

The Nag’s Head gig also came just four days before T.V. Smith’s 21st birthday, while the slightly younger Gaye (now Gaye ‘Advert’) was set to become one of the first female punk icons – with her very familiar ‘panda’ eye makeup and black leather jacket.

Other members of the band during what is believed to be their only appearance at The Nag’s Head were Howard ‘Pickup’ and Laurie ‘Driver’.

The gig was reviewed in punk fanzine of the time ‘The New Wave’, where the audience number is recounted as being barely 50.

The set-list includes: ‘One Chord Wonders’, ‘New Boys’, ‘Quick Step’, ‘On the Roof’, ‘New Day Dawning’, ‘We Who Wait’, ‘Bored Teenagers’, ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’, ‘Bombsite Boy’ and ‘Great British Mistake’.

Part way through the set Smith tells the audience what he thinks of their lack of life. However, in an interview after the gig Smith admits:

“A few people enjoyed it tonight”, adding: “What I didn’t like were the people standing at the bar, who were more interested in their pints than what was going on”. Drummer Laurie chipped in: “Why pay 60p to come here and drink?”

Smith went on:

“Go and drink in another pub if you don’t wanna hear what’s going on. People aren’t prepared to listen to anything that isn’t exactly what they expect.  That’s the problem – it’s gonna take time.  It’s not an instant thing…”

It may not have been instant but T.V. Smith’s song writing ability soon became a major factor in setting them apart from other ‘punk’ bands of the time. ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ quickly became a stage favourite but there was controversy when the story behind the lyrics was revealed – Gary Gilmore as a convicted US murderer who offered his eyes for medical science after his execution.  I wonder if Noel Edmunds knew this story when he introduced their appearance on Top of the Pops shortly after the track was released as a single in August 1977?

A quick word about support act, The Rats. Not much about their history on the internet at the time of this post but they appear  to have hailed from Brooklyn (USA) and included Soer (vocals), Mike Williams (guitar), Fred Wilde (bass) and Mouth (drums).  The New Wave fanzine commented: “The Rats don’t sound like any of the English New Wave bands – they draw most of their influences from The Stooges”. Their set-list included ‘Sick Friends’, Iggy cover, ‘Search and Destroy’, ‘You’re so dead’ and ‘Havoc’.

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