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The Night I performed at an Iconic Venue

by Joe Young 2 months ago in alternative / 80s music
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I gatecrashed the stage and sang, and I'm glad I did

The entrance to the Station (Photo by permission of northeast underground)

As a young man, I was heavily into the punk rock scene, and via my involvement in that, I produced a crude music fanzine called Aural Nightmares. I also attended many local gigs, starting off with mainstream acts, such as Chelsea and the Vibrators, but later branching off into the anarcho-punk sector, seeing bands like Conflict, Amebix and the Subhumans.

I also used to sometimes watch a young local band called The Possessed at rehearsals. They were a very good outfit, doing covers of such gems as Killing Joke’s Eighties, as well as a crop of their own material.

One of my fanzine contacts was Pete, guitarist with Political Asylum from Edinburgh. I was conducting an interview with him by post, as was the norm in those pre-Internet days. In one of his letters, he told me that his band were to play a gig at the Station in Gateshead, a music venue housed in a former police social club. There were to be five bands playing that night.

Front covers of my fanzine (My own image)

That got me thinking. The Possessed, who had now changed their name to Post War, were ready for their first gig, and Gateshead was only some fifteen miles away, so I asked Pete if he could look into the possibility of including my friends on the, already crowded, bill. Happily, my suggestion got the green light.

On the day of the gig, we arrived in Newcastle mid-afternoon, the four band members, me, and my then partner, Sue. We walked, carrying the instruments, across the High Level Bridge to the Gateshead side of the river Tyne, where we located the venue.

The Station was run by the Gateshead Music Collective, and, being a community venture, there were always punk rock types about who were helping out in some way or other. We went into the hall, which stood on the first floor, to be greeted by those running the show. After introducing ourselves, and chatting with members from other bands that were on that night, Post War did a very impressive sound check.

A group of punks at the Station (Photo by permission of northeast underground)

With everything set up, we left the venue to seek refreshments in the Nag’s Head, a nearby bar.

Of course, those who would be playing instruments later had to refrain from over-indulging on the sauce. My job, which was basically guide, was subject to no such restrictions, and so I partook with gusto. By the time we headed back to the venue, yours truly was somewhat squiffy.

There was no licenced bar at the venue, so punters were invited to bring their own booze. Before I left the Nag’s Head, I ordered a four pint draftpak, that being a plastic container designed for carrying draught beer. With half a gallon of ale to get me through the gig, I climbed the stairs at the Station.

He’s in the band

Half way up the stairs, there was a guy sitting at a table. This was the point where punters paid their entry fee (50 pence that night, if I remember rightly). I fumbled in my pocket for some coinage, but a guy I’d seen at the sound check, who was clearly involved in the running of things, said to the one collecting money, “He doesn’t need to pay. He’s in the band.”

I entered the hall with Sue, feeling quite pleased that I hadn’t been charged an entry fee, just as Post War were hurried onto the stage. They were to be first up, on account of them being a late addition to the line-up, and completely unknown. As they prepared to start, the words of the guy on the stairs kept repeating in my beer-sodden brain;

He’s in the band.

I walked over to Sue, handed her my draftpak and said, “I’m in the band.”

I staggered towards the stage, where only three weeks earlier a more famous Joe, a certain Mr Strummer, had performed with The Clash. I clambered up and took my place at an unused microphone. I knew all of the band’s songs, so I chipped in with some backing vocals in an ad-hoc manner, never having sung in public in my life.

I warbled on throughout the band's entire set, and I even became a fully fledged member, although that turned out to be a short-lived venture. In a review of the gig in his Have a Good Laugh fanzine, editor Trev said;

Post War from Blyth got the show under way, and I heard someone say this was their first gig. This was almost unbelievable, for they were one of the most powerful bands I’ve ever seen, and they obviously know a good tune when they hear one. Even Joe (Aural Nightmares ‘zine) didn’t put a foot wrong with the backing vocals, despite his intoxicated state. Excellent band, let’s have more of them at the Station.

Site of the Station recently. The stage stood against the wall where the white square is (Photo by permission of northeast underground)

The Station closes

In the space of a few hours, I had gone from not being in a band, to performing on stage at one of the regions most iconic punk music venues (alongside the Bunker in Sunderland). And I’m delighted that I had the opportunity to do so, even though it came about under somewhat unorthodox circumstances.

For, soon after that gig, the Station closed, and it has since been demolished. But its legacy lives on.

Renowned photographer Chris Killip (1940–2020) was an occasional attendee at the Station, where his lens captured some fabulous images of the punk scene in the mid 1980s. Some of those monochrome masterpieces appear in the book, The Station (Steidl, 2020).

I originally told this story, in a different way, in the book From the Garage to the Station, and beyond: Stories from the Gateshead Music Collective 1980–88 (Amorphous Pieces, 2021).

In 2018, there was an exhibition at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, of photos and other Station-related material, including a huge plaque fixed to a wall, on which was a roll call of the 133 bands that played at the Station. I’m happy, and not a little proud, to report that the name Post War was on that list.

In June 2021, there was a Station reunion gig held at the Black Bull in Gateshead. I didn’t attend that one, which was maybe for the best. For, after consuming several sherbets, I might have clambered onto the stage, and took up my place behind a spare microphone.

Station veterans at a reunion (Photo by permission of northeast underground)

In closing, I would like to pay tribute to Big Toot, who was a driving force at the Station, and who was taken from us way too soon.

alternative80s music

About the author

Joe Young

Blogger and freelance writer from the north-east coast of England

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Comments (10)

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  • La niceabout a month ago

    Thank you for sharing, great write up!

  • Gang Du AI2 months ago

    I like your article I want to give you credit

  • Powanda Sowden2 months ago

    Great!

  • Noethiger Guerrero2 months ago

    Great! I want to give you credit!

  • Great story thanks for sharing

  • Great

  • Steffany Ritchie2 months ago

    Great story! And your infamy lived on in print! I never made it to this venue, I have lived in Scotland for 20 yrs. I like dingy old clubs, a fading commodity for sure.

  • Kendall Defoe2 months ago

    Man, I love this so much! I came from a steel-making town that appreciated punk rock earlier than most and I went to quite a few shows...but I never leapt on stage to take the mike. Only wrote poetry and practiced the guitar by my lonesome or with a few friends. Thank you for your memories! ;)

  • Brenton F2 months ago

    I can feel the buzz from here - top story!

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