(To the tune of ‘My Favourite Things’, kinda…)
“From African drummers, through Hip-Hop to Jazz, With Drum-n-Bass rollers, or Space-Rock from Mars, We’ve Skanked ‘n’ we’ve Funked ‘n’ got some way to drunk, Heard Rock covers of Sisqo, danced Disco ‘n’ Punk.”
(Kenny Archibald, poet)
Local music 1996-9
After the renovation, the local music scene, which had been in a state of decline leading up to it, continued its demise. A few of the early-90’s bands still remained in evidence, Spacemaid, Scarper, Dollstar, Lithium Joe, Pop Christ, Joyce and so on, and a few new bands emerged to play at the club on a regular basis – Back-to-Base, Oracle, Whizzwood, Freaks Union, Gagarin, Superscape, Mr Ed, Tartrazine, Waltzer, Mind Candy, Underbelly, Reuben, Still Life, Nazca 9, Santa’s BuggerBoyz, Salako and Fonda 500. These last two bands were important in the creation of The Village – a record label centred around the Adelphi:
The Village record label
“The Village came about in 1998. It was formed by a fusion of like-minded, music enthusiasts: Salako, Jez Riley, Emma Hogan and me. We wanted: to help those who were exceptionally talented, both as musicians and songwriters; to provide a forum for intelligent, left-field music; to promote such music in and out of Hull; to form a record label and create a regular club night. With hindsight, we were trying to create something akin to Manchester’s ‘Twisted Nerve’. The name ‘The Village’ came from Salako’s James Waudby. I don’t think there was any particular reason for the name, but it gave rise to several Village logos which appeared in various forms.
We started off as an occasional club night and, in 1999, Fonda 500 came up with a demo album and they became our first band on Village. We set about putting together a business plan in relation to the release of the album. The bulk of the work mostly fell to me and some funding came from the Adelphi. We submitted a funding application to the council for £1700, which was agreed but then withdrawn by the Arts Officer. The politics of the situation caused us maximum damage. We had to drop all our block advertising and radio plugging. What we lost because of that funding withdrawal made all the difference in breaking the band. Had it succeeded it would’ve been quite an achievement, considering it was basically just me pretending to be a record company. The album did well critically despite the funding difficulties.
The band took control of the production process from start to finish – rather than letting someone else take charge in the studio. We encouraged them to use a lo-fi or DIY-approach. That’s what The Village stood for.
Sadly, the Village didn’t get to support any other local bands, like Kid Samson or The Edible 5ft Smiths. It’s a demanding job and a team is needed to do press, plugging and distribution – you can’t do it by yourself. You can’t just produce a record, send it out the door and hope it sells in thousands, because it doesn’t work like that. You need support by people like the BBC to get new music aired, which sadly isn’t forthcoming because of their selective play policies. The Village still exists in spirit. Hopefully, it could be resurrected in the future.”
Paul Jackson in interview with Lynn Harrison
Salako achieved national critical acclaim with the release of their first album, ‘Musicality’, on Jeepster in 1998 and, as indicated, they were closely involved in the formation of The Village. They are a band who strive for absolute creative control in a sea of corporate interference.
“Salako – I wondered in without realising they were playing to witness a performance of effortless brilliance.” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
“Still only in their mid twenties, and one of the genuinely great bands to have emerged from Hull over the past 10 years. Salako have been both incredibly unlucky, and also far too good to be successful in an industry that, increasingly, fails to reward talent. Their album this year was an absolute gem and deserving of so much better. However, the gap between releases, caused by the collapse of original label Jeepster, did them no favours and I hope there will be more.”
Fonda 500 were the first and only band to record on the Village label. It allowed them to have complete creative control over their music, and their first release, ‘8 Track Sound System’, was nationally acclaimed, becoming ‘Album of the Week’ in The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph, as well as receiving positive reviews in NME and Melody Maker. Paul Jackson became their (temporary) manager, booking agent, promoter and father figure and the club provided them with rehearsal space. They went on to record further albums, first with Truck Records and then Jensen Electic.
“Fonda were about the first band I ever saw at the Adelphi and they really blew me away.” (Matt Edible, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“On their day, Fonda 500 are still the best live band from Hull by a country mile! Originality, stage presence and catchy songs. They have played some great gigs at The Adelphi.” (Priya and Andrew, Yo-Yo)
“Pretty well known as my favourite Hull band which hasn’t always done them any favours. Fonda are still among the most prolific, and brilliant live bands on the planet, and still churn out a couple of albums worth of material every year: all of which is greeted with near unanimous critical acclaim, and modest sales. In 2004 the material and recording quality still gets better, and all 5 members are now fully capable of contributing on an almost equal level to main man genius, Simon, with his unique understanding of the dynamics of the perfect pop song.”
The Village Fete
A series of gigs were set up over a two week period in 1999, under the title of ‘The Village Fete’, in order to develop the profile of The Village and hopefully raise some cash to help finance the project. It included some great gigs by bands like Fonda 500, Salako, Yat-kha and a much remembered one by the hot US band, Pavement:
Hot gig – Pavement
Played: Wednesday 27 October 1999
“I remember the Adelphi gig. We arranged to do a low key show in Hull because our guitar tech said it was a classic venue – and he was right. Stripped down, lean and mean, without an ounce of fat, the Adelphi is the kind of place where the tunage is the focus. People were going ape shit; it was a freak show to warm the iciest of hearts.” (Steve Malkmus, Pavement)
“The Adelphi. What an exceptional place! The Adelphi makes perfect sense as a venue. It commands respect as it reeks of history. I’d visited 20 or so times before I finally got to play there with Pavement. Through much prodding (and even blackmailing) by myself and Andy Dimmack, we slapped the gig on Pavement’s schedule. In the end, everyone in the band was much better off for the experience. It took us back 8-9 years to an era when everything in the band was wild, exciting, and delightfully confused. ‘Shambolic’ was a hackneyed word used to describe Pavement’s early gigs and, at the Adelphi, we were a shambles again! It was incredibly hot and I remember having to stick my head out the back door many times for relief. The music felt loud and nasty but I was an old drunk man by then. It was superb to have so many beloved Hull freaks up in my face. I hope they were as excited as I was. Subsequently, I got to play a pair of fun improv gigs there with a thrown together band called The Misshapen. I wish I could do that more often, but the Adelphi is the only place where I’ve ever felt like a musician. Anybody should feel like a musician on that stage. I’m an older, drunker man now but I know next time I walk through those side doors I’ll be back in the mid-80s again. Absolute best.” (Bob Nastanovich, Pavement)
“One of the gigs where you thought: ‘How are these boys playing at the Adelphi and not Reading festival?’ Then you realise they love the place like the rest of us! Amazing to see such a great band at such close quarters.” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
“The best gig I ever saw here was the time Pavement played just before they split. It was so hot and sweaty, it was disgusting – probably the first time I saw the condensation dripping off the walls” (Wendy Richards, bar staff, ex-Kid Samson)
“Pavement – very full, very sweaty and very good. First time I can remember seeing young Japanese girls with cameras at the Adelphi!” (Jon McArthur)
“Bob and I persuaded the band to play the Adelphi as a warm up show to the last 5 UK shows of the tour. It turned out to be the last 5 shows ever. Despite being jet-lagged, the lads were caught by the Adelphi atmosphere and we had possibly the best night I’ve had at the club. They couldn’t stop encoring and were crammed onto the stage in Hull City hats, as we all lapped up that great night feeling.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, ex-Kingmaker/Elastica/Super Furry Animals)
“At the Pavement gig, Bob Nastanovich made ‘American Bar tips’ apply, so everyone had to give us their change. Me and Beccy could afford a whole bag of chips afterwards!” (Carmel Kilbride, ex-bar staff)
“Pavement – fuck me, more packed than Oasis,!” (Jon McArthur)
“One of the last few gigs they ever did, Pavement’s Adelphi gig in 1999 was fantastic. Stephen Malkmus showed just how rock he was by sporting a furry ‘tigers’ hat throughout it, despite the sweltering heat. Other band members cut quite a dash in the legendary ‘It’s Never Dull in Hull’ t-shirts. Plus great music. Class.” (Carrie Graham)
“One of the truly great bands of the past 20 years, and a band who were still very much at the peak of their powers when they disbanded. It was a great privilege to get a show here on their final tour: and what a night it was. Clearly this was a show that I could have sold out several times over. I was determined that as many genuine Pavement fans as possible could get in. The show itself was absolutely fantastic, and there can be no greater thrill than to see a genuinely great band perform in the sweaty confines of a real music venue. The band performed around 30 mins longer than intended and left the stage, caked in sweat and all wearing huge grins, which stayed with them for several hours afterwards. All had given 200% and I heard another band member saying something to Steve Malkmus like: ‘Isn’t that why we got a band together in the first place?’ It almost looked like a cathartic moment. Steve seemed to agree and, within a few minutes, he was cheerfully serving drinks behind the bar. We certainly succeeded in getting a high proportion of genuine fans into the show. Among the fans were those who had seen Pavement 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and, in the case of one girl who had made the journey from London, 27 times! Virtually all were agreed that this was the best, or one of the best, they had ever seen. A magic show by a magical band.” (Paul Jackson)
Sounds of the suburbs (1998)
John Peel paid a visit to the Humberside area in the ‘Peel on Humberside’ episode of Channel 4’s ‘Sounds of the Suburbs’ programme, a series which looked at underground musical culture in different parts of the country . Part of this show focused on the Adelphi and Paul Jackson, who Peel described as: ‘a fanatical music fan and wearer of an unsuitable hat’ – a sentiment that we can perhaps all agree with. The programme highlighted the unusual nature of the venue, discussed the role the club plays in offering bands their first chance to play, and considered the extent to which bands are given advice, support and help in obtaining management by Paul – all free of charge. When Peel suggested that he must be a ‘genuinely good bloke’ for doing that kind of thing, Paul’s reply was: ‘I’m sure I’m an arsehole really’. The interview took place in the front room of the club. Bands featured, performing live in the main room, included Fonda 500, Back-to-Base, Gagarin and Mr Ed. This programme gave the Adelphi some much-needed national exposure.
First played – 1997
Times played – 350
Last played – 2000/2004 (They still won’t fuck off)
In 1999, local band Santa’s BuggerBoyz decided to release one album per week in the lead up to the Millenium. They also decided that they would perform selections from each album, as it was released, live every week at Musicians’ Night – much to the horror of everyone in attendance. Their challenging output could test the mettle of even the most open-minded of souls. This included recent visitor, John Peel, who received a copy of every album as it was released, for broadcast over the nation’s airwaves to an unsuspecting audience. It culminated in a heartfelt, late-night request (some suggest that a begging tone was involved) by Peel on his BBC radio show, for them to desist from sending them forthwith. Not wanting to spoil Peel’s Santa’s Millenium collection, they carried on sending them regardless. This is their approach to musical culture:
“Musicians’ Nights became something of an addiction, a cathartic therapy process whereby all cultural mores were open to ridicule, free from the fettered restraints of political correctness. We also enjoyed destroying popular culture by ripping the piss out of sensitive young things who felt justified in treating the Adelphi masses to tortured renditions of their fave NME idols. We trawled through Kylie Minogue’s back catalogue, on one memorable occasion causing ‘That Bloke Out Of Travis’ to fall off his bar stool in tears of what we hope were mirth.” (Paul Banks and Bruce Hitchcock, Santa’s BuggerBoyz)
“I remember a strange and wonderful performance at one of their Musicians’ Night residencies. Paul and Bruce played Abba hits on children’s musical instruments to a room of totally bemused students! Genius.” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
“Santa’s BuggerBoyz played! It was an aural sensation.” (Jodey Brearton, bar staff)
“Lest you assume that we were not without our own original ideas, rest assured we were full of it: smashing up a zx spectrum we found in a skip in a Luddite assault on modernism and artificially-inflated computer prices in the song ‘Four Fucking Hundred Quid’; setting fire to the audience with angle grinders; spitting, albeit unintentionally, upon a poor unsuspecting girl and then profusely apologising; and a fine Butchershop quartet, featuring a rhythm section consisting of meat cleavers being sharpened, close harmony singers bedecked in blood stained aprons berating the audience on a range of issues centred around the theme of junkie scum. Audience reaction – sheer horror. This divide and conquer format to performing often manifested in half of the crowd voting with their feet. Other forms of criticism levelled at us ranged from verbal abuse, fisticuffs, and, on one occasion, a rock being catapulted at guitarist Jon Nelson by a local feral mutant child. One memorable incident involved blowing up the PA whilst drilling into my pickups with a Black and Decker, whilst having a Hoover gaffered to my guitar. As the sound level dropped leaving only the drums audible, the audience, including Jacko, stared at us with what looked like admiration at the tightness of the stop. It took about a minute of shouting ‘Paul, can you do something about the fusebox?’ (the microphones had gone as well), before the penny dropped. The message being: always use a circuit breaker if you’re going to drill into your guitar while playing it.” (Paul Banks and Bruce Hitchcock, Santa’s BuggerBoyz)
“Santa’s Buggerboyz were an ever-present fixture among the Adelphi regulars throughout the 90’s. They were, and still are, great company and made some strange and wonderful music. Let us also not forget the utter madness and brilliance of them in Pop Christ, Zeinab Badawi’s 20 Motels and Jane Inckle & The Merkins. They released an album per week in 1999, with a weekly launch at the Musicians’ Night. Many were astonishingly good and included ideas such as a live album recorded in front of an audience of sheep. Album titles included: ‘Thatcher – The Musical’, ‘You Killed it, You Eat it’, ‘Les BuggerBoyz du Jazz’, ‘1K Computer’ & ’20 Nazi Golden Greats’. There were also many unforgettable tunes such as ‘Green day are Shit’, ‘Hey Honey, I’m Homo’, ‘He’s Offside’ and ‘Stop Whingeing.’ We hope to see a reformed Santa’s Buggerboyz in October sometime.” (Paul Jackson)
Local music 2000-2004
“As the new millennium was ushered in, old bands folded while new bands came into being. In the period since there have been fewer local bands than ever before in the club’s history. There have been fewer and fewer student bands laying at the club, a reflection perhaps on the relationship between the Adelphi and the Student Unions. Local bands have continued to plough their course, with bands like Salako, Fonda 500, The Edible 5ft Smiths, Harvey Half-Devoured, Kid Samson (now Age of Jets), The Favours, Cracktown, The Raywells (now split) and Tourismo, playing on a regular basis. Recently The Paddingtons, who cut their teeth at the Adelphi, signed to Alan McGee’s Poptones label, with something like a one single deal. Perhaps if some local band makes it big, it would inspire other local bands to form in the way The Housemartins and Kingmaker’s success inspired people back in the 80’s and 90’s. Time will tell. Local bands come and go, but they will always be welcome at the Adelphi”. (Thanks here to Matt Edible)
A number of bands who now feature on the national touring and festival circuit have played Adelphi on several occasions over the past few years. They include bands like Athlete, Cooper Temple Clause, Jessie James, Fingathing, Jetplane Landing, Capdown, Miss Black America, Mohair, Ocean Size, Martin Gresch, McCluskey, Goldrush and Snow Patrol among others. Several of these bands have come to the club through Dean Shakespeare’s ‘Under the Influence’ promotional nights. A couple of local bands, Freaks Union and Whizzwood (now split), have also made the transition on to the national scene. None of these bands are particularly household names, but perhaps in time they might be. During the halcyon days of the 1980s and 90’ most of the bands who went on to make it big did so after playing the Adelphi, so perhaps the same will be true of these bands in the future.
(Special thanks to Matt Edible)
“The Hull Adelphi is odd. It’s a strange place in a strange city. Yet the passion for what they do to give new bands a chance and bring live alternative music to the area is amazing. We played two gigs at the Adelphi before we released any cd’s. The first time the audience was a little thin, yet when we went back again we played to a great crowd. We still have people we met at that second show supporting us now.” (Jon Harper, Cooper Temple Clause)
“We played with Cooper Temple Clause to exactly six people (including the bar-staff) and got on like a house on fire. They’d just signed to Sony and were on tour for the first time. A year and a half later and they were the darlings of the NME and they listed us in a top ten of songs they’d put on the perfect compilation. We had a small reputation around the country at the time, but not really an enviable one. Shortly afterwards we got a phone call from the Metro Club on Oxford Street actually asking us to play and offering us a guarantee of £100!” (Matt Edible, bar staff, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“Then they entered, Jesse James, the UK’s finest ska/punk outfit, playing an immense set of all their classics, climaxing with ‘Shoes’. It was worth the long cold wait outside. We got what we came for – a classic Punk/Ska gig.” (Ben Allen)
“The dark squalid stench that lives inside the walls of the Adelphi gives the impression that the venue itself is sweating and so gives comfort to a sweaty chicken plucker like myself. I’ve always liked small intimate pokey venues where you are directly in the audience’s faces, it gives an instant punk edge to the vibe (especially if everyone is packed in like sardines and on the brink of fainting from the heat). It forces you to play real hard, and if you were to keel over from over-exhaustion at any point, well then that’s just the way it must be. There really does need to be venues like this on the touring circuit for bands and dj’s for loads of reasons, but for us, playing at these dingy independent venues is loads of fun! Cos we are dealing with people who actually give a shit about what we’re doin’, and that means a lot!” (Sneaky, Fingathing)
“It took us a little while to get booked there, but that was a good thing, we didn’t deserve the Adelphi then. The only venue on the circuit that means anything and we hadn’t done it. That was a good thing too, it made us want to be good enough to play there. So when we did get booked on our two month UK tour last year we saw it as a bench mark, proof that we might be worth something as a band. First time we played there it was good, everything I thought it might be, then the second time it was great, seeing the place working the way that Paul has set it up to operate, on a Sunday night, packed.” (Jamie Burchell, Jetplane Landing)
“We found it harder than most to find a venue that was willing to give a totally unknown and unproven band Whizzwood a chance, but the Adelphi gave us that chance.” (Dan Halen, ex-Whizzwood, ‘Punk not Profit Promotions’)
First and last played – 1996
Times played – 1
The biggest national band to play since the renovation, again well prior to becoming a household name, has to be Travis. The band were particularly keen on the Adelphi, playing there once, and actually spending free time socialising there on one Musicians’ Night (10/2/97), before playing a gig the next night at The Tower Ballroom. They even crashed overnight at the club, ending up extremely hung over at the gig the next night. Unfortunately, they have been a band who have been impossible to contact for the purposes of this book, such is the firewall protection around them these days. We like to think though that, had we been able to do so, they would have had something positive to say about the club. Similarly, we have been unable to locate anyone who was at their Adelphi gig, so we don’t even have any comments about it. But they did play the Adelphi. Honest. Ask Paul Jackson.
“Travis had a day off between Lancaster (Sunday) and Hull on the Tuesday. Because they liked the Adelphi so much they spurned the chance of a day at the seaside, or in the Lake District, and came to Hull. They walked into our Musicians’ Night as Santa’s BuggerBoyz gave their finest ever rendition of ‘I Should be so Lucky’ by Kylie and all were rolling about on the floor with laughter. The following night it was The Longpigs, Travis and Embrace at The Tower.”
Not so hot gig – The Fall
Nearly played: Tuesday 13 June 2000
“With no ceremony or intro tapes, the band are on & bashing away at ‘The Joke’. No Julia, just guitar, bass, drums. Nice clean, punchy sound (as it always is at the Adelphi) & a minute or so later MES is on, looking dapper in suit jacket, upright & sober-sounding. Standard gear-fiddling ensues but, worryingly, no ‘Good evening we are The Fall’ – first gig I’ve seen where he’s left it out. A reorganised ‘Strychnine’ follows, then ‘Antidotes’, ‘Perfect Day’ & ‘And Therein’, all sounding fine if unexceptional. Then the band start playing something I don’t recognise & MES buggers off to the dressing room. Band carry on for a minute or so, then shrug shoulders at each other & bugger off too. After a brief pause (a minute or so) they’re back on & it’s ‘Folding Money’ followed by immediate retreat to the dressing room. L-o-n-g pause this time. The house DJ puts a record on, then they’re back on for ‘Kill Your Sons’. Another hasty retreat & that’s yer lot. Audience hangs around for a while then gradually shuffles off.” (Pete Conkerton)
“The Fall – let’s just say my average wank lasts longer than their last performance!” (Jon McArthur)
“P: The Fall notoriously thrive on an image of unsubstantiated genius, largely due to their position within the Guardianesque gestalt of idiot post-sub-mainstream bohemian detritus, who feel that alternative culture is an exercise in sniffing out the gigs that make them who they want to be. In turn, they feed, like baby rats suckling on their mothers teats, on money.
B: The money of the working stiff.
P: So did you rate the gig?
B: On a scale of one to ten, it was shit.
P: A big bumhole.
B: And for why?
P: Because the gig collapsed in on itself into a big smelly quark that nobody could understand – bar the greatest minds of this planet.
B: I think the thing that got my goat was the shelling out of ten of your English pounds for approximately eleven minutes of incidental quasi-twattishness. The band alone were borderline alright. It was the actions of that whatever-addled alterno-rock lizard preventing them from performing. I would have happily paid a tenner to watch that guy puke on his shoes for twenty minutes.” (Paul Banks and Bruce Hitchcock, Santa’s BuggerBoyz)
“I was so disappointed – even though I know he’s prone to doing that kind of thing. There were a lot of hardened Fall fans in the Adelphi, so I thought he might have made the effort. They didn’t play ‘Mr Pharmacist’ – didn’t have to.” (Martin Deas)
“Two songs and Mark E Smith fucked off and collapsed!!!” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
(To the tune of ‘My Favourite Things’, kinda…)
“There are plentiful faces (plus Mark e Smith’s double), ‘Cos it’s lacking in attitudes that lead to trouble. The atmosphere’s friendly, conversation spills, Aided by triple and quadruple bills.” (Kenny Archibald, poet)
“There were 2 nice lads from Grimsby who came to see the ‘legend’ and, because they were early, stopped by in the ‘Olde Blacke Boye’ for a pint. Upon leaving they noticed it was raining, and at the same time noticed a prostrate figure lying face down in a puddle. They should probably have left it, but being nice boys they investigated, and found one of the most talented fuckers on the planet, the very fucker they had come to see. A process of logic then set in, and it was decided that one would protect while the other brought the car. An incoherent, dysfunctional Blob was then bundled into the car for transit to the Adelphi and ‘The Show’. During the 7 minute journey he puked over the upholstery & pissed and shat his pants, a fact that was painfully obvious to all present at the Adelphi. The show itself was crap: lasting in total about 30 minutes, of which around 10 could be loosely described as ‘performance’ of a sort. Some of those present thought this was the greatest ‘Fall’ show (of up to 30) that they had ever seen. What did I think? Well, aside from feeling ripped off (I actually paid £1300 of the agreed £1500 because none of the crew had been paid for several nights), I feel strongly that one of the most talented fuckers on this planet is no longer capable of playing a real gig, in front of real people, and that future activities should be restricted to funded and curated Arts/Royal Festival Hall type shows where he can be himself and still be appreciated!”
Santa’s Buggerboyz’ Fall Benefit Gig
Following The Fall debacle and the heavy losses sustained by the club, local heroes Santa’s BuggerBoyz stepped in to parody the gig that The Fall failed to present and raise big money in the process. Expectations were high, but they only raised about thirty quid in the end – but the good intention was there. The following review of this gig was found on an obscure Fall internet site:
“Another Fall tribute took place at Hull Adelphi on Tuesday. Pete Conkerton was able to witness it and he’s kindly supplied the following excerpts: Flyer: Could be The Fall show that might have been! Live onstage… temper tantrums + advertising the effects of excessive quantities of drink and dodgy drugs… featuring Mark E Banks and SANTA’S BUGGERBOYZ. Hull Daily Mail: An evening which should turn out to be the gig of the week, without question. Following their success with their interpretation of Grease, Mark E Banks and Co. return with their inimitable tribute to The Fall, partly redeeming the mess the originals made of the task last month… Not to be missed. Setlist: ‘My New House’ – ‘Wings’ – ‘Doktor Faustus’ – ‘Riddler (intro)’ – ‘Walkout’ – ‘Hot Aftershave Bop’ – ‘Shoulder Pads’ – ‘Pat Trip Dispenser’, followed by a set of Santa’s originals.”
World and international music continues to be performed at the Adelphi to this very day. During the previous decades there have been a variety of acts from the continent, bands from Holland, Germany and elsewhere, who see the Adelphi as an important venue and as a launch pad into Britain’s music circuit. Similarly, a wide range of North American performers, covering a variety of musical genres and forms, have began appearing on an increasingly regular basis at the club. In terms of international music then, the Adelphi is booming.
North American connections
There have been an increasing number of US acts playing the club over the last few years, covering an array of Country, Alt-Country, Folk and Anti-Folk genres. These include performers as varied as Eddie Le Jeune, Tracy Schwartz Trio, The Hansome Family, The Willard Grant Conspiracy, Hawksley Workman, Thomas Truax, Kimya Dawson, Major Matt Mason, Schwervon, Jeffrey Lewis, Dufus, Hamell on Trial and so on. These are performers of truly international status, and they have become increasingly popular at the Adelphi, attracting bigger and bigger audiences the more they play at the club:
“I saw the increasing popularity of the Americana and Alt-country genres (it’s country music without any hang-ups about being ‘country’). I was stood at the back and watched a billing including The Hansome Family and The Willard Grant Conspiracy. It seemed like a room occupied by people of all ages. The atmosphere was electric and I don’t remember one person uttering a negative comment about the evening – except that it had to end.” (Matt Edible, bar staff, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
The US Anti-Folk scene has developed into a New York-based, left-field, independently-minded, politically-motivated musical protest movement, championed in particular by Major Matt Mason. ‘Rough Trade’ have released records by these artists in Britain, helping to develop their profile here, while Joe Murphy (Sergeant Buzfuz) has also played an important role in bringing them to play in this country at the 12 Bar Club in London, which has become a British base for US Anti-Folk music. The Adelphi is now part of the US Anti-Folk tour circuit in Britain. This genre of music is becoming increasingly popular at the Adelphi and, correspondingly, the club is becoming increasingly popular with the performers themselves:
“The Adelphi reminds me of the underground music clubs I went to and played at in Lawrence, Kansas. There is an atmosphere and smell that hits you the second you walk through the door that says this place has a spirit that is real. Every college town in the US has a place that fosters underground music and ultimately serves as a great social hub for people to be entertained and inspired, a place where chances are good that you’re going to see something different. The Adelphi seems to be that kind of place for Hull. It would be a true tragedy if it were to lose it. I’ve lived and worked in NYC now for the past ten years. Even in a cultural ‘mecca’ like New York music venues that host great underground music and art, like the Adelphi, are rare and fleeting.”
(Major Matt Mason, Schwervon/Olive Juice Music)
“The gig fell on April 1 and the turnout amounted to a grand total of about fifteen, including the support acts (Matt from the Edible Five Foot Smiths and Emma Rugg) and the small staff. It was probably the least busy night I’ve ever had in the UK (there was a large draw act playing elsewhere in town that night, and some kind of student drama finals). But no matter, as I like to say it’s not the quantity but the quality of the people present that make a night good and so we made a big celebration out of it amongst ourselves. I wouldn’t have felt more comfortable playing for friends in my own living room, and in fact the place has that kind of feel. A rip roaring time was had by all, and I planted the seeds of Hornicator chatter in Hull. When it came time to settle accounts I offered to Paul that rather than give me the full guarantee, certainly a loss for the venue, that I’d take a reduced fee in exchange for a promise that he’d have me back again on another night perhaps when circumstances were better, maybe co-billed with another act that had a larger draw. This he was happy to agree to, and in four subsequent dates I’ve been able to build an audience that at last count pretty much packed the room. Many promoters I’ve encountered wouldn’t have given that second opportunity after such a poor initial showing, but Paul Jackson has a crucial understanding of what it takes to get the ball rolling when artists like myself are trying to build things from a grassroots level.” (Thomas Truax, US singer/songwriter)
“A friend got me to go and see Thomas Truax from New York. He used mechanical home made sound sculptures to create music. Not sure if he was absolute genius, totally mad – or both!” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
“The Adelphi is my favourite venue in England. I’ve only played there the once… so far. The place itself has a great vibe and we found everyone incredibly friendly. It’s also the most loved and respected UK venue for lots of musicians I know from New York.” (Joe Murphy, Sergeant Buzfuz)
“New York Anti-Folk: a city still struggling with the legacy of 9/11 and populated by more musicians than people. A huge and awesome emotional hotbed of diverse talents, musical and otherwise. The major labels get the handsome/complicit ones. We get the real talent – and how!” (Paul Jackson)
Hamell on Trial
First played – 2002
Times played – 3
Last played – 2003
US performer Hamell on Trial took the club by storm in 2002 in the days following his performance at the Leeds/Reading festival. He has since returned on a couple of occasions to perform his unique show.
“He had the ability to grab everyone’s attention immediately. Big stage presence. Really fast and furious guitar with a great sound. A bit of a musical Bill Hicks with a motormouth to boot. Brilliant.” (Martin Deas)
“It was really packed with strange looking people. Hamell was so original, cracking jokes and talking to the audience in between playing his songs – I’d never seen anything like it before. Definitely unique.” (Madeleine Smith)
“We had all heard ‘Choochtown’ because Jacko had championed the album in the club for the previous 6 months but it was real surprise to hear Hamell on Trial was going to play the Adelphi. He was booked to play one gig in London and the Leeds/Reading festival and yet Jacko had convinced him to stay in the UK for a further 3 days in order to play a 200 capacity club in Hull. Nobody knew what to expect. The album was a stroke of genius – but would he pull it off as a solo performer. Holy shit, the stage was desolate bar 2 monitors stacked vertically end-on-end, a large crowd chattering the night away, the bandroom doors open and immediately a short, bald, rottweiler from Saracuse, NY launches into a frenzied attack on his acoustic guitar. Then silence ‘Shut the fuck up’, a joke, a few words and then a return to assaulting his instrument, 2 strings broken in the first song! Jaws visibly dropped as Ed Hamell orders a punter to stop putting money in the bandit and listen to the next tune. ‘I Hate your Kid’, ‘Open up the Gates’, ‘John Lennon’ the audience were dumbstruck. In between songs Hamell continues with banter and jokes, the audience in total silence, he bypasses the P.A. and leans into the crowd to deliver a poem, every word could be heard in the front room. Hamell’s not the sort of person you heckle, he gives the impression he would jump into the crowd and bite your head off. And then ‘Big as Life’. Hamell on Trial at the Adelphi – one of the best gigs, ever.”
“Hamell On Trial is quite simply one of the greatest live performers on this planet at the present time and it has been a great privilege to have seen his 3 performances at the Adelphi. Those present will probably remember the experience for the rest of their lives. Brought up in The Bronx, Ed’s ‘university of life’ credentials are formidable, as are his credentials as a great songwriter and lyricist. Unlike many great live performers he also makes fantastic albums – and I mean FANTASTIC.” (Paul Jackson)
There have also been several Canadian performers at the club, who have developed a similar view of the Adelphi with their US counterparts:
“The club is a surprising place to perform considering its modest size. The first performance at the Adelphi for most artists is one of adulation at the enormously positive response to their art: audience interaction, sing-a-longs, and intimate moments seldom seen in larger rooms.” (Todd Lumley, Canadian, aka Mr Lonely)
Over the last few years the Adelphi has also forged strong connections with Dutch promoter/producer, Marcel Herman, of the Amsterdam-based ‘Transformed Dreams’. This association has brought many Dutch bands to the Adelphi and, reciprocally, sent several local bands onto the continent. The Adelphi is now seen as a springboard for Dutch bands in their efforts to develop an audience in Britain. Strong mutual friendships and working relationships have developed as a result of these links.
“For the Dutch bands I work with (Persil, Seedling, Zea, Zoppo), Paul Jackson has played an undeniably important role in finding an audience for them in England. A quality that is hard to find these days, while it is so vital to keep new and independent music alive.” (Marcel Herman, Dutch promoter/record producer, ‘Transformed Dreams’)
“With both Seedling and Pfaff we’ve visited and played the Adelphi over a dozen times by now and on the way I lost a lot. Then again, there’s so much I gained!” (Bas Pfaff, Seedling/Pfaff)
“Hull might not have the best soccer-team, but it sure has one of the best venues in England. The very first time we played in the Adelphi was in the year 2000. We (Zea) were on tour with Seedling and Zoppo; three Dutch bands conquering the UK. Being Dutch, of course we stayed on a campsites sleeping in tents. So far we had had a gig in London with one visitor, and one gig cancelled and arrived in Hull with high hopes and big expectations. And we had a great night! Many thanks to that Hull-based band which we shared the stage with, and would again play with many times after; the mighty Fonda 500. Lot’s of people came, and we played, sold merchandise, drank beer, played pool.” (Arnold, Zea)
“Dutch Bands: namely Seedling, Zea, Zoppo and, of late, Pfaff from Marcel Hermans and his ace ‘Transformed Dreams’ label in Amsterdam. All of these excellent bands have been playing here for the past 4/5 years and we love their music and colourful company. We also appreciate the various shows and tours that have been organised for some of our more left-field bands. Wouldn’t it be great if Hull could provide an entry/exit point for touring bands from Europe, avoiding the misery of the world’s longest car park, the queues at Dover, and the blockades in Calais. This would have to benefit the region. Sod the ‘Top Ten’ city thing that is always in the shadow of Leeds and Sheffield, and which measures progress by counting the numbers of McDonalds/Weatherspoons. How about aspiring to ‘a modern city between Britain and Europe?’ that encourages things of worth.” (Paul Jackson)
As well as the Dutch connection there is also a German one, in the form of Schneider TM, brought to the Adelphi through the good offices of Wyndham Wallace and the ‘City Slang’ label. Again, this is a band who recognises the welcome that the club gives to touring bands and the importance of such a venue:
“After 4 days of only being able to play for 20 minutes, we finally had the chance to play for as long as we chose, no curfew or similar poo. This was our first time at the Adelphi in Hull. All in all this was one of my best nights of the year 2002. It was about people giving a shit. A rarity nowadays. Actually, this whole day, hanging out in Hull, eating at a British venue, being treated like guests and getting drunk with the wonderful people of Hull is completely beyond words itself. But for stuff like this to happen you need a place where it can happen and radiate outwards.” (Schneider TM)
“The Coda Agency sent me the ‘Zoomer’ album by Berlin-based Schneider TM, which I liked instantly. It was on the ‘City Slang’ label which meant it would be good. I had no doubt that when I started playing it in the club, people would ask me what it was and get a strong word of mouth vibe going around. The band turned up having done the usual round: no rider, no soundcheck, only allowed a 15 min set, ushered from the premises by bouncers the moment they finished, etc. They found the Adelphi very different and more to their taste. They loved it here and we loved having them. Schneider are also one of the great live bands in Europe at the present time. After playing here twice they have both a sizeable following, and a lot of friends here whilst they have been largely ignored around much of the UK. Great music from a great band, and a great set of blokes. Respect to Dirk and the boys.” (Paul Jackson)
That takes us to 2004
That then is the history of music at the Adelphi over the first 20 years. It is an odyssey which began with local bands Vagrant, Cold Dance and The Housemartins, and took us through the exciting and vibrant indies scene of the 1980s, through the relative decline of the early-90’s and the actual decline of the late-90’s, through to the bands, local, national and international, who still play at present. Although live music is still in decline and club nights have become more frequent, live music still dominates the Adelphi output and it always will. We’ve attempted to trace the story of the club through the bands who have played at the club over the years. Not every band who has played has been mentioned by name.
That would be impossible, of course. But it’s important to emphasise that everyone who has played at the Adelphi over the years is part of that history.