Still making rumpus, the Slits in Sounds, 1 November, 1980.
Record Mirror, June 28, 1980 reviews The Slits, The Pop Group, The Raincoats, John Cooper Clarke at ‘Beat The Blues’ Festival, Alexandra Palace, London.
And the rain came down, only temporarily dampening spirit soon to be lifted by one J Cooper Clarke who had even the drollest of trendies smirking self-conciously to themselves. Popular classics like ‘I Married A Monster From Outa Space’, and the finale ‘Beasley Street’ warmed the audiesnce quicker than the spasmodic sunshine.
Favourite of many was a poem described by John as, “A love poem in reverse”, about a girl zealously hated by all: “You put the ‘-‘ in Scunthorpe, you took the rain to Spain.” Next came an autobiographical piece about a baby called Larry, mistakenly delivered to Siberia and ending up as an English poet. The end, however, was dramatically interrupted by a punk with bleeding head scrambling onto the stage for help after which a rotund, officious sounding head-steward gave a peace-loving speech. “I think I was outside the take-away”, continued a calm Cooper-Clarke.
The Raincoats started off abysmally: Out of tune, harmonies untogether and somewhat confused, they didn’t get into their stride until ‘Lola’ five numbers into their set. It became obvious that The Raincoats had already done their best, with the piece de resistence two numbers from their debut E.P.: ‘Don’t Get Personal’, and ‘No Side To Falling’. So where do they go from here? The raincoats cannot afford to be casual or uninterested but they do not seem to care.
The Pop Group determined to liven up the “straights” in the audience put on a show hard on the ears but highly amusing. Gareth, their zany guitarist come violinist and dubious part-time vocalist provided the best of the day’s antics with leaps and bounds including knocking a mike stand onto the eager photographers below.
mark’s voice was in it’s usual gravelley form as he blasted red-faced from the stage. Obvious songs like ‘We Are All Prostitutes’, and ‘No-One Is Innocent’ were played with frenzied enthusiasm to the bopping punters. ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?’, was introduced by Gareth, with a picture of Brezhnev, to whom it was dedicated. Aimed at the supposed Socialist Morning Star contingent, this had little effect on the public who were there to see the bands, rather than attend a political rally. In fact the only political force outwardly apparent was manifested in a few surly NF skins.
Ari couldn’t see the wood for the trees, and dressed like one just to make sure that we could. Gabbling away in what sounded like some West Indian tongue, she hopped around the stage in and out of the bongo’s like a tribal princess, livening the performance from the start with a rocking, if not scrappy ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ but much enjoyed. The set, if a little draughty, went well, but The Slits aren’t really an outdoor band, the conditions not lending themselves to their usual intimate, whirlwind performance reserved for night-time.
The gigs were good, with suprisingly clear sound, sometimes shoddily mixed, but well organised. However, there was trouble. Three injured punters hospitalised out of nearly three thousand isn’t bad, but of course, there shouldn’t have been any. All in all it was an enjoyable occasion, at least a different way to spend a Sunday afternoon. By the by, did you know there is a nuclear bunker in Alexandra Park?
The Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke and the Slits in 1978, all three at the top of their game.
Cabaret Voltaire and Gang of Four also played in London.
In Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 Simon Reynolds says this about the gig:
The Cabs started playing live regularly… they wangled their way into the punk world, sending off tapes to New Hormones’ Richard Boon, who didn’t have the cash to release a record but gave them a support slot with Buzzcocks in March 1978. ‘It was at the Lyceum, John Cooper Clarke and The Slits were on the same bill. A complete fucking nightmare,’ recalls Kirk. ‘Full of crazed punk rockers. We got covered in spit. It wasn’t just us, though – someone threw an iron bar at the Buzzcocks,’