rough trade tour 1979

by jamesendeacott

In February 1979 I was living in Halifax, West Yorkshire. I was 13 years old and I was an addict. Just over a year earlier I’d become addicted to records. To buying them, listening to them and looking at them. It started with Statue of Liberty by XTC and took in Rich Kids, The Skids, Sex Pistols, The Clash, X Ray Spex and of course David Bowie. My real passion however was for Stiff Little Fingers – named after a Vibrators song these 4 leather clad angry young men were from Belfast. They had an energy that spoke to me…not that I understood the situation in Northern Ireland. I barely knew where Leeds was never mind Ireland. Whatever it was I just couldn’t get enough.

They had two singles out on Rigid Digits / Rough Trade. Both the Alternative Ulster and Suspect Device 7″s were on my turntable most days. In fact the b-side to Alternative Ulster I still play every couple of months and it never fails to send a shiver up my spine…Jake Burns growl still scares and thrills in equal measure. 78 revolutions a minute now…

Anyway one day I noticed that Stiff Little Fingers were going to be playing at the Halifax Civic Theatre – an old, dusty Victorian place in the middle of town. A theatre that had seen better days and certainly never seen anything like Stiff Little Fingers. The most ‘punk’ thing around at the time was probably the Junior Light Operas interpretation of Joseph and his amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I know because I was in it but that’s another story. I got my ticket from the local record shop. It cost me 75p and was a tiny yellow thing that said ROUGH TRADE TOUR 1979. There were three bands mentioned Stiff Little Fingers, Robert Rental & The Normal and Essential Logic. I was beside myself with excitement. This was to be my first ever gig and I had no idea what to expect…..its a long old story and one that i’ll go into more detail on another day but to say that the night changed my life would not be an exaggeration. All 3 bands had an influence on me – the sax playing raggle taggle of Essential Logic through to the weird avant garde electronics of The Normal and on to the full on in your fucking face brashness of SLF….

I ended up backstage and missing the bus home. I think i was in heaven for the next week…in fact I think I still am.

I’ve always had fond memories of that tour and then out of the blue last week something happened. I was fumbling around youtube and came across an old SOUTH BANK SHOW from 1979 about the Rough Trade label and the tour of 1979. The 30 minute show is not great quality and the sound doesn’t quite synch to the pictures but its an amazing piece of film. Great live shots from the tour – not Halifax obviously as there were only about 100 people there from what i can remember. There are bits with The Raincoats in the Studio and interviews with all the bands from the tour. It all came flooding back…quite emotional actually if I’m allowed to be emotional at 48 years old. There are several interviews with Geoff Travis the head honcho of Rough Trade who about 12 or 13 years later became my boss as I got a job at Rough Trade records…some things were meant to be i guess.

i hope you enjoy this film as much as i did….