In this post I recall three gigs at High Wycombe Town Hall during July and August 1979, as detailed on a flyer discovered in my own collection. Headlining these gigs were The Angelic Upstarts, Eddie & The Hot Rods and The Buzzards – all acts trying hard to maintain the momentum of the punk and new-wave explosion that burst into the UK music scene during 1977 and 1978. All three of these gigs were promoted by Ron Watts who was also simultaneously putting on gigs at The Nag’s Head and the 100 Club (in London). However, by this time, The Town Hall was the only venue of the three where Watts was allowed to promote outright ‘punk’ bands.
Saturday 21st July 1979 – Angelic Upstarts/The Indicators
Most definitely falling into the ‘punk category were North East based Angelic Upstarts. Despite being formed in South Shields in mid-1977, this gig is believed to be their first visit to High Wycombe. Their slow burn career saw national recognition gained following the release of their debut single; “The Murder of Liddle Towers”/”Police Oppression” via Rough Trade in 1978. Then, having signed to Warner Brothers in 1979, their next single, ‘I’m an Upstart’ went on to reach No.31 in the UK charts in mid-May 1979 – just a few weeks before their Town Hall gig. The follow-up single, ‘Teenage Warning’ and the album of the same also hit the top 30 of the UK charts shortly afterwards but the Jimmy Pursey produced efforts received mixed reviews – some saying the sound failed to capture the intensity of live Upstarts gig where the band were not afraid to mix punk with politics.
The line-up of the band at the time of the Town Hall gig was Thomas Mensforth (Mensi) on vocals, Ray Cowie (Mond) on guitar, Steve Forsten on bass guitar, and Derek Wade (Decca) on drums.
Main stays of their set-list at the time were:
Police Oppression, Never Again, We Are The People, I’m An Upstart, Student Power, Teenage Warning and The Murder of Liddle Towers.
I’ve been unable to find any information on the advertised support act, The Indicators, at the time of this post – please get in touch if you can help.
Saturday 28th July 1979 – Eddie and The Hot Rods
Eddie and The Hot Rods returned to High Wycombe on Saturday 28th July 1979 as the continued their roller-coaster career. Originally morphing out of the pub-rock scene during 1975 and 1976 to join the punk revolution, they quickly progressed from playing the likes of The Nag’s Head in the summer of 1976 to headline such prestigious venues as The Rainbow in Finsbury Park during 1977. But they lost their momentum and a less than successful US tour in 1978 saw them return home and eventually re-group on the pub circuit – including returning to play the Nag’s Head again in August 1978 where they still had a decent local following.
Extensive gigging throughout 1979, promoting their ‘Thriller’ album and two accompanying singles (‘Media Messiahs’ and ‘Power and The Glory’), failed to push the band back into the charts – their greatest hit remaining the 1977 classic, ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do”. By May 1979 they had been dropped by record label Island Records and this gig came while searching for a new deal that would eventually come later in 1979 via EMI.
I believe the line-up of the band at the time of the Town Hall gig was Barrie Masters (vocals), Dave Higgs, Steve Nicol (drums) and Paul Gray (bass). Gray had also been gigging with The Members during mid 1979 and would later join The Damned. Ed Hollis (brother of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis) is also recorded as their manager at the time. The Hot Rods would split in 1981 but Masters would lead several re-incarnations of the band through and beyond their 40th anniversary.
Saturday 18th August 1979 – The Buzzards/The Beez
The Leyton Buzzards were from the Leyton area of East London – rather than the Hertfordshire Town of the same sounding name. The sprung out of the 1976 pub rock scene and issued the quirky ‘19 & Mad’ single in 1978 on Small Wonder. After winning a national band competition in 1979, they signed for Chrysalis and released their memorable ‘Saturday Night Beneath the Plastic Palm Trees’ single in March 1979 – earning them a spot on Top of the Pops but limited chart success -peaking at No.53.
By the time of the Town Hall gig they had shortened their name to The Buzzards and released their debut album, ‘Jellied Eels To Record Deals’. The track listing of the album made-up most of the set-list for the Town Hall gig.
Buzzards line: Geoff Deane (vocals), Kevin Steptoe (drums), Vernon Austin (guitar) and David Jaymes (bass and vocals). Deane and Jaymes would later form Modern Romance who would go on to have chart success through to the mid-1980’s.
Buzzards set-list for High Wycombe Town Hall as typed by myself for a cassette recording.
Support for The Buzzards were local band The Beez, returning to the Town Hall again after a previous support slot to The Damned. The Chesham based band had built quite a local following by this time and later in the year supported The Damned at Aylesbury Friars.
Their set-list at the August 1979 Town Hall gig included the four tracks from their second release on their own Edible Records label – an EP including ‘Do The Suicide’, ‘Backstreet Love’, ‘Girls’ and ‘You Make Me Feel Better’.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Angelic Upstarts – Teenage Warning – BBC Top of the Pops – August 1979
Eddie and The Hot Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do – Marc TV Show 1977
Leyton Buzzards – Saturday Night beneath the Plastic Palm – BBC Top of the Pops March 1979
References and further reading