News Stories

Aston Villa Leisure Centre

Situated next door to Aston Villa FC, the Leisure Centre played host to some incredible gigs in its time including Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers and Morrissey. Incredibly a gentleman by the name of Giovanni Maria Varese recorded the Dylan gig on April 2nd 1995 which I was at was a couple of friends. It remains one of my favourite gigs as to see Dylan up so close in a relatively small venue was amazing.

I’ll be posting up the videos from the gig regularly. To kick us off we have Highway 61 Revisited

BOB DYLAN – Highway 61 Revisited (April 2nd, 1995) from Giovanni Maria Varese on Vimeo.

Tin Can

The Tin Can was situated above the Sunset Strip Club in Bradford St, Digbeth. It was primarily an ‘alternative’ venue which played host to band like Southern Death Cult and Death Cult, Play Dead, Alien Sex Fiend,Shakin Pyramids, Roman Holiday, X Mal Deutschland, Balaam & The Angel, Theatre of Hate Zerra One, The March Violets but also bands like China Crisis, The Meltdown Experiment, New Model Army, Billy Bragg, Ellory Bop, The Meteors and most notably R.E.M. played there.

It became notorious though when a fan of Play Dead fell through the sky lights to his death. There had been a lot of trouble with skinheads in Birmingham at that time and fights erupted with Play Dead repeatedly leaving the stage. Details are sketchy but the fan fell through the roof and was found by guards. Play Dead smuggled some of their fans out in their van to avoid the marauding skinheads and never played Birmingham again.

This footage is taken from the Tin Can Club of Alien Sex Fiend in 1983 playing:

Wish I Woz a Dog

Chris Cockel sent in this about seeing John Foxxx at was known as the Tin Can but was above the Sunset Strip Club.

One of the most memorable gigs I went to was to see John Foxx at the Sunset Strip Club in Bradford Street. It must have been in about 1985. He arrived about 2 hours late and then only played a few songs, but it was a classic.
Also, The Smiths at the Tower Ballroom, supported by James and the Red Guitars in 1984. I probably still have ticket stubs at my parents’ house in Moseley.
Rather bizarrely, my former scout master was in a band called the House Ghosts. They practiced in a flat cum studio in the Stratford Road opposite the old Sparkhill Swimming Pool. And gigged at the old Mermaid pub on the Stratford Rd, supporting the Membranes in about 1982/3. I remember it being a rather scary gig.


The Day the Music Died – Birmingham Odeon

Brilliant ITV news piece about the closure of the Odeon, one of the best venues in the country.

The Prefects

In 1976 singer Robert Lloyd, with guitarist/drummer brothers Alan and Paul Apperley formed after an advert was placed by the Apperley brothers in the Birmingham Evening Mail. Unsuccessful applicants included Nikki Sudden and Frank Skinner. Lloyd also brought his friend and colleague from the band Church of England, Graham Blunt, into the band. They were Birmingham’s first punk group, and played their first gig on 12 March 1977 at a private party which ended in a police raid. At their first gig at a recognized venue (Rebecca’s in Birmingham) later that month they were bottled off stage after premiering their new song, “Birmingham’s a Shithole”.
The band were part of The Clash’s ‘White Riot Tour’ (playing on the bill of four shows), supported Buzzcocks, played with The Slits, The Fall, The Damned and many others. Paul Apperley left the band in February 1978, to be replaced briefly by Stephanie (of Manchester band Manicured Noise) and then Adrian Moran. Joe Crow also joined the band around this time. They recorded two sessions for the John Peel radio show in 1978 and 1979. The band acquired legendary status in the UK, partly because no records were released until the band had split up, and then, only one posthumous single (“Motions”/”Things”) on Rough Trade, which the band agreed to on the condition that Rough Trade record Lloyd’s new band The Nightingales. The band reformed for a few gigs in 2001, but only briefly. In November 2004 (following a semi-official retrospective, The Sound of Tomorrow on Rush Release) a retrospective compilation Amateur Wankers was released by New York City label Acute Records which, twenty five years after the group’s demise, garnered praise all over, from webzines to Rolling Stone. The interest was such that a Live in 1978 CD was also released on British label Caroline True in 2005. Their seven-second opus “I’ve Got V.D.” remained a favourite with John Peel.


“Motions” (1979) Rough Trade/Vindaloo
Peel Session EP (2001) Strange Fruit
The Prefects are Amateur Wankers (2004) Acute
Live 1978 – The Co-op Suite Birmingham (2006) Caroline True

John Peel Radio 1 sessions

August 1978:
Things In General
Escort Girls
Agony Column
The Bristol Road Leads to Dachau
January 1979:
Going Through the Motions
Total Luck

David Hirst has sent this great photo into the archive:

Taken at Eric’s Club in Liverpool supporting The Fall. I think it was taken sometime winter 1977/78. I was at Teacher Training College at the time and had cadged a lift up to Liverpool with them to see a mate. I didn’t go to the gig. The photo was taken by a guy called Brendan. Photo from left to right Paul Apperley, Robert Lloyd & Joe Crow.

The Ghost

Formed in 1969 The Ghost were:

Paul Eastment vocal, guitar
Terry Guy keyboards, vocal
Charlie Grima drums
Shirley Kent vocals, guitar
Daniel MacGuire bass guitar, vocal

Beautiful song from 1970, Time is my Enemy

National Exhibition Centre


Eric Clapton Steve Winwood LG Arena 2010

Eric Clapton Steve Winwood LG Arena 2010

Cavernous arena that has a rich history of live gigs. Every major act of the last 30 years has performed here.

We’re looking to build a complete history of all the bands who have played at the NEC but we need your help.

Ron Brinsdon has sent in these ticket stubs of some of the gigs he has been to at the NEC.

Steve T has sent in these ticket stubs of some of the gigs he’s been to at the NEC.

Andy Cole sent this ticket in for what we think was the first gig at the NEC – Queen, 1979

Birmingham Odeon

New Street

A once beautiful cinema, now divided into eight screens. The Paramount Theatre opened on 4th September 1937 with Errol Flynn in “Charge of the Light Brigade”.

The Lime Spiders

Sent in by Adam:

Only gig I ever went to at Barrel Organ not living anywhere near. Was staying at a mate’s at Warwick Uni where we were supposed to play a gig that never happened. I went off on my own to see the Lime Spiders at the Barrel Organ – I’d got a single and I think they were touring the Cave Comes Alive LP with the still majestic Out Of Control single… so it must have been 1987.

They were blisteringly good, tight as anything. Much under rated generally. Fag end of a venue I thought, but friendly. One of the weirdest crowds of misfits I ever happened across in one small space – punks, flunks, drunks, druggies and a very strange man in shorts and red patent leather shoes picked out by the lead singer for ‘doing the funky chicken’. Staggered to the train back to studentland after. A Weird and wonderful night.

Anyone know more about The Lime Spiders?

The Scent Organs

Future Duran Duran star Roger Taylor was in this punk band before he shot to fame!

Would love to know more!

Crucified Toad

Future Duran Duran star Roger Taylor was in this punk band before he shot to fame!

Would love to know more!

Send your content to us

We are now actively looking for content for the archive and will always add content that you send to us. The archive is a labour of love and we update it in our spare time.