Celebrating Birmingham's Popular Music History
I played the mermaid in the 80′s with a band called ‘back to basics’. Have been looking for info on Afrikan Star, 80′rerggae band
I remember Afrikan Star. Brilliant band. Had high hopes for them, but alas…
The Mermaid was another killer gig for getting the PA upstairs, but I got stronger from it. What a shame that another great venue is no more – first it got turned into a restaurant and then it burnt down. Not been demolished or fixed last time I went past it.
For me the 80s wouldn’t have been the 80s without the Mermaid. Every week it was the same for our little team – round to someones place for a stoning of biblical proportions, followed by the long slow drive to the venue, enjoying the changing lights of the inner city scene on the way (red, green, amber, red and amber…). The climb up some dingy staircase trying not to break my neck and the (shameful) lying to the well-meaning guy on the door (“unwaged mate”. It helped that I had a mate who worked in the dole office). A pint of warm cider served to us by a 6 year old indian kid who’s head didn’t even reach as high as the bar and then in to see the band. The band mostly seemed to be African Star (the rasta on the flute was a cool dude if ever I saw one), Echo Base (they should have been more successful) or Crucial Music (with the brilliant Pato in charge). One of the most memorable nights was the one where a HUGE black guy in the audience threw, full pelt, a full pint of beer at the bassist (can’t remember the band, sorry). The bassist was in the middle of a solo, saw the glass coming and, without missing a note did a huge bow, the glass hit the wall behind him with a great foamy splash and everyone cheered. The bassist then came back up again, still playing with a nervous grin on his face and everybody started laughing including, fortunately, the huge black guy. I’ve seen the likes of Pink Floyd and even they didn’t ever do anything that impressed me as much as that.
I was ‘the well meaning guy on the door’
You owe me 2 quid – ha ha
Some others we put on there included
I’ve Got A Fuzzbox and I’m Gonna Use It – their first ever public performance if i’m not mistaken.
Attilla the stockbroker
Bram, how can you ever forgive me! These’s a cheque in the post… honest… Seriously, if you’re the guy that’s responsible for putting on all those amazing nights at the Mermaid that are clogging up my memory banks it’s a lot more than 2 quid that I owe you mate!
Went there a few times. Saw the Au pairs and I think TV Smith played there around 1981. Sure that I saw American music club play there later on in the 1980’s.
I don’t think I ever went to the Mermaid for anything more exciting than a great aunt’s Ruby Wedding, but I remember hitch-hiking with a friend from Henley to Stratford one night and getting a lift in Afrikan Star’s gigmobile. They were a riot. I was always disappointed they didn’t make the big time so that I would have had a story.
See https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111204128984271914041 re the MERMAID
Brilliant venue. I was usually a bit worse for wear by the time I got there but I do remember seeing, among others:
Extreme Noise Terror
Saw Swans play in 1986. Gig as ritual/sonic assault with singer Mike Gyra as possessed shaman, made a big impression on my 15-year old ears!
as you approached the Mermaid for a punk gig all you could see was mohicans silhouetted against the upstairs window. That was the greatest photo I never took!
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