An upset punk writes to the NME, 18 February, 1978. The letters page was edited by Les Miserables of the Snivelling Shits.
I’m just writing to say I think Skins are the biggest wankers out. On the 28th of Jan ’78 I went up to the LSE to see Sham 69. When I arrived at Holborn tube station The Skins were hassling all the ol’ ladies and unsuspecting beings into corners and ‘phone boxes.
When (evenyually) everyone got in, everyone was fairly well behaved. Then downstairs, about 400 people broke down the doors and came charging up the stairs throwing bottles and cutting into people’s flesh with kitchen knives etc. – so eventually I left (without seeing the band).
I’d just like to say I think it’s a shame ‘cos Sham are a good band but I won’t go to see them again ‘cos I refuse to go through another charade with the Skins. I also heard a bunch of Skins saying if any of the Clash came to see Sham they’d give ’em a rough time ‘cos they thought “The Clash should have supported Sham, not the other way round” quoted an extremely large looking Skin, playing with a knife carelessly near my jugular vein.
I know you won’t print this letter ‘cos you never print anyone’s letter unless they mention the boring, beautiful, blonde Debbie Harry at least twice, but it really pisses me off when you can’t see a band ‘cos you’re not a Punk/Skin/Ted/Rasta.
A ‘CLASH’/’SHAM 69’ FAN
We had the same trouble when they wouldn’t let in a guy ‘cos he had on a Beatle jacket. The management didn’t know we’d given up punk. Dunno why Jimmy Sham puts up with them skins, they should stick to Skrewdriver. – Les
The Adverts and Sham 69 at the Roundhouse reviewed in the NME, 18 February, 1978.
Ugly scenes are nothing new to the hoards in their Number One crops who make it their business to check out Sham 69.
And once the “gig sold out” whispers began to travel through the crowd outside the Roundhouse last Sunday, a heavy night was in store.
First signs of trouble came with the sight of skinhead groups charging down Chalk Farm Road to roll some poor kid for his ticket. Another bunch tried – unsuccessfully – to ram their way in through the back door.
With the commotion outside and the Roundhouse door policy of letting people in one by one, the smiling, suited Boyfriends are already into their set by the time I’m in.
Maybe, like Roogalator for instance, they’re a band who will sound a lot better on record than they do live, but tonight it’s a struggle in the face of Nil Audience Reaction.
One or two things reminded me vaguely of Elvis Costello, but then little of real substance, and consequently nothing to write about them.
They weren’t even booed offstage or heckled.
In the meantime, between 50 and 100 of the “Skeenhead/We hate Punks” brigade pogo gleefully to some reggae in front of the stage.
It’s only when the Shams come on that things start to get reallt vicious, and the cowardly thugs start laying into individual innocents.
“Just enjoy it right. Otherwise you won’t get another chance to see us,” shouts singer Jimmy Pursey.
Naturally he freaks as the West Ham Northbank crew go totally crazy.
“For fuck’s sake, pack it in and just enjoy yourselves.”
But as the Upton Park beret boys merely move to the back of the hall to wreak further havoc it’s obvious that even Pursey can’t control them, and a lot of people leave.
“I’m sick of making speeces,” declares Pursey, now stripped down to the waist and looking more than ever like young Iggy.
“I don’t want to have to keep on saying stop fighting! If you don’t just enjoy the next song, then we’re fucking off.”
The threat seems to bring some semblance of order, but no doubt the GLC officials in the audience already have their minds made up. The merits of Sham 69’s music I’ve discussed elsewhere in this paper. Suffice to say here that they were easily the best band of the evening – a fact which makes some of these audience scenes all the more souring.
A mindless chant of “Sham – Sham – Sham” brings them back for encores of “George davis Is Innocent” and the inevitable “What Have We Got?”
An exceptionally long break ensures that everything has cooled down sufficiently for the bill-toppers The Adverts to play what turns out to be a lifeless, messy set to rapturous applause.
“Safety In Numbers” was all too appropriate a song for the evening, but The Adverts left me cold. Oh-so-bored Gaye Advert drags most songs down to a dirge with her plodding bass lines, while there’s too much of a tendancy to, er, intellectualize in the dull lyrics.
I leave before the encores, convinced of a growing Fascism in certain secors of the Great British Rock Audience. (The earlier violence seemed so pre-meditated that it beat the Dunstable riot of two weeks back).
On the whole, not a great night.
An elbow jabbed her face I’m not sure
it was accidental. The band were all girls,
the crowd lust. She grabbed his shirt collar,
punched once, twice, ‘til he dropped.
Then danced a dance all her own.
Two kicks to the ribs then the sole
of her boot to his face. Citizen O’Brien
would’ve been proud. At the bar
she showed me the gap in her smile
where the tooth’d been knocked free.
“How do I look?” she asked. “I love it,” I said.
Blood she spat, “Nobody’s ever loved me yet.”
In reply to the Adverts fan from Kent (March 11th): I wasn’t at the Greyhound that particular night but from your description of “moronic skinheads” involved, I know who they are.
For your information these particular goons have been going to the Greyhound every Sunday night for as long as I can remember, and I can assure you, that on a boring night they are the life and soul of the party. So if anybody has the right to criticise how they behave, it should be someone who goes there just as often, not some prat that goes down there once and just happens to get hit by a low-flying walking stick. So what if they have got new checked shirts and braces, it’s better than spending all day bitching about it – which doesn’t say much for me, does it?
What ‘ave we got? – Big boots and tiny minds – but who cares?
had to be.
Most could shut
a pub to silence.
All could talk
‘til the Monopoly
boot came home.
The blue of
the same green
as the liquor
On Saturday night
I heard ‘Ali Baba’
and I wanted
my dream last
night last night.
Her monkey boots
scraping my shin,
of cinema carpet
as the adverts
and the action begins.
The first issue of Cardiff’s sussed skinhead ‘zine Backs Against the Wall, from 1986, has this poem in it. Cardiff skinhead/punk pub the Pig and Whistle, also known as The Gill, gets a mention.
A single guy, against the crowd,
So you beat him up, do you feel proud,
He must think you’re insane,
If it happens to you, you soon complain.
You fight in a pub, you fight in the station,
Is it any suprise you’ve a bad reputation,
Is it a laugh, when no band plays this town,
Cause then who’s the dickhead, who’s the clown?
There’s no need of violence, no one’s gonna gain,
Do you really get pleasure, by giving someone pain?
Just be a mellow guy, and drink in the Gill,
Make sure you watch Auf Wiedersain,
And be sure to watch Grange Hill!!