One Man & his Bog
Published in October 2004 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The New Adelphi Club.
Limited Edition of 2000 copies. 180 pages including 2 free CDs 39 songs.
November 28th 1998, Humberside Ice Arena, Hull. We missed the support band through hanging around in the bar and just managed to make the arena before the main act: Pulp, live at one of the most acoustically barren music venues in the country. The lights go down, tension builds and the crowd erupts as Jarvis Cocker materialises, microphone in hand, tall and majestic on the precipice of the stage.
“Does anyone know Paul Jackson?” he asks.
The crowd goes berserk, 15 year old girls wailing like banshees.
A similar response.
“There was a time when only Hull and Sheffield would give us a gig,” proclaims the tall, charismatic frontman, with humility in his voice. And the band launch into the first song.
Strange to think that, of the 2600 people screaming at this introduction, only a few would actually know what Jarvis was on about. Only a few would know who Paul Jackson, or Yosser was. Or just where in Hull it was that Pulp could always get a gig when no one else, apart from a couple of venues in their home town, would give them one.
The place was called The Adelphi Club. Paul Jackson was, and still is, the owner. Yosser was Paul’s dog, (but sadly is now no longer with us). During their rise to fame, from Red Rhino and Fire Records to the world-famous Island record label, Pulp performed at the Adelphi on many occasions. They spent some of their most formative years, from 1985 onwards, playing at this small venue, learning their trade. They had become good friends with Paul Jackson and his dog over the years. And now they were famous – but they hadn’t forgotten the importance of their roots.
The next night we told Paul Jackson about the gig and what had been said. He’d been too busy at his own club the night before to attend himself. He just smiled and said: ‘Well, they were welcome to pop in for a pint. They always know where we are’.
The Adelphi Club has been open for twenty years now. This is the story of those years: of Paul Jackson and Yosser, his dog; of the bands and performers, local, national and international, who have played at the venue; and of the people who have frequented and supported the club over the years. It’s also about proposed government legislation, in the form of Public Entertainment Licencing (The PEL), and the threat that it poses to grass roots venues and the cultural values they represent. Finally, it’s an argument for why venues such as the Adelphi should be exempted by the local council from the excesses of such legislation and left to continue the unrecognised public and cultural service they provide at both a local and national and, indeed, international level. But, firstly, it begins with a place.
The New Adelphi club in Hull was originally a three bedroom terraced house, complete with garden, built in 1888 as part of the city’s progressive northward expansion. Located at 89 De Grey Street, which runs between Beverley Road, a main arterial route into the city, and Newland Avenue, a busy shopping thoroughfare, it was, and still is, essentially a down-at-heel residential area with a smattering of retail outlets and small industrial workshops and warehouses. To the rear of the club lies a railway embankment, once the main goods line between Hull and Barnsley, which runs parallel with De Grey Street itself, and is still used for freight to this day.
The layout of the club consisted of two downstairs rooms, one a front taproom located to the immediate left of the main front entrance, the second a larger concert room at the rear, with a maximum capacity of about 220. The bar was located between front and back rooms, the serving hatch to the front room providing panoramic views of the concert hall. Toilets were to the rear of the building and could only be used by walking through the concert room. The upstairs of the building, accessed through a private door just inside the main entrance, provided living quarters for the club’s subsequent owners.
What happened before it became one of the UK’s celebrated underground music venues…
1888 – 89 De Grey Street built (residential household).
1923 – Liquor licence granted – The Victory Club and Institute.
1933 – Imaginatively re-named De Grey Club. New owner: Harold Percy.
1940 – Car park created for De Grey Club (courtesy of the Luftwaffe, who facilitated the abrupt removal of neighbours 83, 85 and 87).
1956 – Becomes the Civil Service Sports and Social Club (sports facilities include: pool, darts, dominoes and five-a-side football – pot-holes and bomb craters permitting).
1965-70 – Typical of the decade, no one can remember.
c.1970 – Becomes an Industrial Laundry (the club starts to clean up its act).
1978 – Re-opens as a drinking establishment with the title, The Adelphi Club.
New owners: Robert and Trudey Marshall Tomlinson (supposed membership 800 (!), with plans for a wine bar upstairs (!!)).
Early 1980s – Re-named The New Adelphi Club. New owner: Bruce Bramley. New manager Brian Portman, assisted by Julie.
1st October 1984 – The New Adelphi Club. New owner: Paul Jackson
“Oh, and by the by, there would never be an Adelphi had the Germans not aimed so miserably” (Schneider TM, German band)
Meet Jacko (Paul Jackson)
Born: in 1954 at the Townsend Maternity Hospital, Cottingham Road.
Grew up: in the villages of Swanland, North Ferriby and Cottingham.
Interests: sports (football, cricket, tennis, high jump, rugby), fishing.
Schools: Swanland Primary School/Cottingham High School.
Work experience: shipping clerk, Fenners Ltd (13 years).
Musical background: church chorister, played guitar and piano.
Early musical influences: classical music and Elvis (but not the films).
Later musical influences: evolving and eclectic musical tastes, from 1960s and 1970s underground rock and psychedelia, Krautrock, avant garde, through to Indies, World and original, independently produced quality music – especially music that bears repeated listening over time.
Musical interests: buying records (1000s) and attending gigs (1000s).
Buying the Adelphi
Paul left his local high school and worked in the busy shipping office of Fenners, a local industrial company, where he settled into the mundane existence of a nine-to five job. After nearly thirteen years in this, he felt ripe for a change.
It was natural then that when he felt the need for a change in direction it was to music that he turned. But had this been a secret, lifelong ambition of his? To be involved in running a venue and promoting live music? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is no. It was simply that it seemed the right thing to do at the time. So perhaps then it was motivated by the spirit of Thatcherism, of free enterprise and the entrepreneurial ethos dominant in the 1980s? Again the answer, less surprisingly, is no. Indeed, the aims and ambitions of Paul Jackson were in many ways the exact antithesis of Thatcherite ideology, a reaction against those very principles. The were no grand schemes for corporate expansion, no expectations of making big money on the back of others. This was about creating and maintaining the very kind of communities that Thatcherism sought to destroy. The intention was to set up a venue where original music could be played and heard. There was no dedicated venue like this in the city and Paul felt that such a club could provide a service to both local musicians and music fans alike. He wanted it to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, one which served a unique social and cultural purpose. It was based very much on a ‘see how it goes’ philosophy. He had no great expectations beyond surviving past the next few months, let alone keep going for twenty years.
Paul Jackson’s aims and ambitions were quite simple then: to be involved in promoting diverse and original music; to make a bit of a living; and to survive.
Initially, Paul had two potential partners: Vince Lee and Frank Moffat. After viewing several venues, including both New York Hotel on Anlaby Road and the Wellington Club on Beverley Road, Paul decided to go it alone and settled on the much smaller Adelphi club instead. When asked whether the choice had been dictated by its location relative to Hull University and the Colleges of Higher Education, or by the cultural diversity of the surrounding population, the answer was more straightforward than that: the Adelphi was the cheapest club on the market at the time. Perhaps more importantly though, after a few visits the place felt right.
Nevertheless, it would soon become apparent that the right choice had been made, whether by design or default. In retrospect, it seems clear now that the type of club he had in mind could only have succeeded in its De Grey Street location; that a similar club elsewhere in the city would have inevitably failed. This can be attributed directly to the diversity of the local population, with its high proportion and turnover of students, many of whom, along with enthusiastic locals, would get involved with the club, either as performer, punter or, as was often the case, as both.
An added attraction to Paul was the living accommodation above the club. This allowed him, in his own words, ‘to wander downstairs, have a beer and watch a band’. It also saved money, insofar as living expenses were concerned. This factor was important because he knew he would have to live on a tight budget for the foreseeable future. Paul initially planned to run the club while continuing to work at Fenners (his salary was then about £140 per week) – but this juggling act subsequently proved to be impossible. Rumours had it that Paul had received redundancy money from Fenners and that this had allowed him to finance the purchase. But this was simply not the case.
The freehold to the Adelphi cost £57,000. To someone of limited financial means this represented a tremendous amount of money. After re-mortgaging a small house in Cottingham, he was still left with a shortfall of £45,000, which he managed to somehow borrow from the Whitbread brewery, this despite him never having even worked behind a bar, let alone manage a nightclub. This was perhaps a fitting testimony to the enthusiasm and drive he possessed at the time. He obtained his licence to serve intoxicating liquor soon after this and so the stage was set for the club’s grand opening.
“He was always good at sport, starting with British Bulldog, the sack race, and eventually becoming the egg & spoon champion.” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
“He was brought up on Elvis, and also learned to play piano, delighting family gatherings with his enthusiastic renditions of Elvis’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
“When he told me he was going to give the job up I was quite surprised but wanted him to do what he was happy doing – the first place he mentioned was the New York Hotel and I was agog. He eventually settled on the Adelphi.” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
OVERVIEW (OCTOBER 1984 – 1986)
“I started at the Adelphi in October 1984. I inherited a run-down working-mens’ club, with a gay night – which meant that working men wouldn’t come near the place! Our regular ‘punters’ consisted of the local gangster fraternity. I felt that virtually all the drugs off Hull docks must have been coming through the club, and that we must have been supplying all of Glasgow if not all of Scotland… There was a constant stream of mean, grizzled, Scottish ex-cons, in big flashy cars – one of which, I recall, was used in an attempt to decapitate someone who had previously been knocked senseless in the car park. As far as my future was concerned, it was hardly what I had in mind! The gay night soon folded after in-fighting began, and, not being gay myself, I felt unable to mediate. So, it was a music venue I wanted and got. The first bands to play here were Vagrant and Cold Dance. After that more bands came – and the regulars went elsewhere. Inside, music replaced the sound of bottles whistling past your ears, whilst outside the street fights and burglaries diminished. The young of Hull rapidly adopted the Adelphi as theirs. The Housemartins were one of the first names to play here, and early out-of-town bands included Pulp and The Shamen. Students also started to attend. The Adelphi was one of only a handful of venues that actually welcomed them.” (Paul Jackson)
“I couldn’t believe what I found. An end of terrace typical Victorian house with a sign attached to it. Was this a joke? Jacko answered the door like one of those characters from the old Hammer House of Horror productions. The only difference was that he was wearing fluffy slippers. And so in I went. I was even more shocked by the inside than I was with the outside. It seemed to be no more than a living room knocked through to the lounge with a small stage at the far end. Where there should have been a kitchen, there was a bar. Where there should have been a porch there was a pool table. Surreal in the extreme. What made it all even more of a mind-blowing experience was the decor. Seventies kitsch meets art-deco. Peters and Lee meets Salvador Dali. Gold Lame on Pebble-dash walls, red velvet curtains to the stage with grotty rope-style tie-backs. And a bingo machine in the middle! I kid you not. A bingo machine!” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
“Our first visit there must have been shortly after Paul Jackson took over. I certainly remember the original dodgy decor. Weren’t there little darts trophies scattered around? Not to mention the old Viking hat… “ (Ted Alkins)
“I started working a few shifts behind the bar in 1984 just a few weeks after Paul took over. There was Gay Night (men dressed as Shirley Bassey, singing Shirley Bassey songs), and Jason, (who had a huge snake as part of his act), Rockabilly Night (people in their twenties dressed like Happy Days characters doing amazing dances) and an increasing trickle of young new bands giving enthusiastic but generally unpolished performances. I was hooked. There were a few older regulars from the social club days of the Adelphi who carried on being a fixture for a few years, occasionally commenting on the (questionable) musical ability of the new talent. After a while I became full time bar manager, doing five nights and five afternoons a week. Lunchtimes were generally fairly quiet, with a dozen or so people having a couple of pints and everyone having a go at the record deck, playing the songs they wanted to hear. Sunday afternoons were generally busier with the Savannah Street Stompers and The Velvetones playing alternate weeks. Evenings were usually busy, with three bands playing most nights and Musicians Night on Mondays. At one point I even had a brief venture providing sandwiches.” (Sharon Clay, bar staff)
The sandwiches were known as ‘Sharon’s toasties’ and are fondly remembered by Paul Jackson to this day.
Here’s a bit more about some of the early clientele, neighbours and bar staff:
“Mad Dennis fended off the great and the good to propel 20 or 30 empty pint glasses at Jacko, who, leg in plaster, did his best Roscoe Tanner impression as he hit shards of broken glass back at him. Or the night Irish Ritchie, completely upside down in the pool-room, one arm flailing at his attacker, the other vainly searching for his pint on the side of the pool table. Or Biffa serving on New Year’s Eve with his shirt in tatters and covered in blood as someone attempts to pull him over the bar for a quiet word. Or it’s Gary pissing in the pool table pockets.” (Chris Elliott, ex-Gargoyles)
“Who can forget Midge the Cellarman (who looked like a character from Captain Pugwash), Steve ‘Biffa’ Gittens, Dave Wrack and Sam Pink Noise…” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
“It had its characters; some very frightening individuals, some incomprehensible ones: Paddy the glass collector, Ernie and George from next door (what can they have thought as, say, F.U.B.B. cranked it up at 9pm on a Thursday night?) and Dave Wrack.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
After a while, the Adelphi clientele became a strange eclectic mix of old and new:
“People of extreme violence would share the bar with people of extreme peace.” (Eddie Smith, ex-Gargoyles)
Eventually those people of extreme violence left, leaving the rest of us. Those people of extreme peace are the people who have been going to the Adelphi for the last twenty years.
Some of the pre-existing activities at the club remained for a time. The bingo was definitely out from the start. The dominoes team was knocking shortly after. The darts and pool teams carried on for a while. Paul developed his catering skills accordingly:
“Sandwiches for the visiting pool teams that might just kill.” (Chris Elliott, ex-Gargoyles)
After a couple of seasons though it was all over for good – Paul could no longer be arsed to make his killer sandwiches. People still carried on playing pool for fun (there were two tables, one in the front and one in the main room) and the dartboards remained in place for several years, though nobody really played anymore.
The Sunday gay night, the Alternative Cabaret, continued for over a year after Paul took over. The assorted comedians, drag acts, male strippers and circus shows were provided by P.J.A.M. Promotions from Keighley in West Yorkshire. Here are some choice observations:
“I remember regularly being a barman on the Sunday Gay nights which provided me with some of the wildest club nights I’ve ever experienced. That really was like the wild west and I remember us having to double as security staff when frequent cat fights broke out! Believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be involved in a love-triangle with any of the Adelphi gay crowd. The entertainment on those nights only added to the highly charged atmosphere. Outrageous drag acts, freaky circus shows and sexual magicians whipped the audience into regular frenzies.” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
“Jason’s Horror Show sent 50 grown men to bed weeping, having been chased into the car park by a 20ft python.” (Chris Elliott, ex-Gargoyles)
“Loud music burst forth and onto the stage erupted – a nun! A nun who pranced round the stage, turned his back on the audience and lifted his habit over his head to show stockings, suspenders and frilly panties. A little while and much prancing later he began a tour of the tables. By this time the habit had been cast aside as had some of the underwear. Did he really dip a certain part of his anatomy into peoples’ beers? Or was it more pretence? We didn’t wait to find out.” (Nell Hirst)
“‘Twas a cold dark night, in autumn 1985. The performer, Batman, a spindly youth, theatrically removed his bat-gear to eventually reveal his bat-organ, which was too big to be true – or too good to be true (for the gay lobby). In fact, it wasn’t true, as was revealed when it was snatched off by a punter while Bat-fink was dipping it into a pint of Strongbow. Several minutes of confusion followed. Cue Paul Jackson, stage centre, mike in hand, looking over his glasses, with serious PJ voice: ‘Batman’s willy has been stolen. Batman needs this for his livelihood. I shall turn down the house lights. If, when I turn them back up, I see Batman’s Willy before me, no more will be said about the matter’.” (Dave Rotheray, ex-Velvetones/Beautiful South)
“I was told I could go any night but Sunday” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
The eventual demise of the Alternative Cabaret was due to in-fighting between the various factions that made up the Adelphi gay community, as well as the emergent issues associated with AIDS and the negative spotlight it placed on the gay community as a whole at that time.
The first major change in the club involved the provision of music. There was still some of the stuff that had gone on before:
“It was still a great place to catch celebrities like Eddie Twang, one of the finest musicians that graced any stage. With his thin legs, thin face, thin quiff and huge hearing aid, he would offer knockabout Rockabilly true to the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. A curious combination between Eddie Cochrane and George Formby, he was dressed in full teddy boy regalia. On stage he would laugh and joke between numbers and, when dancing, he would kick his legs about wildly. I remember once his shoe flew off into the audience, people offered to return it, but he couldn’t hear them because I think his hearing aid was switched off.” (Ann Maguire)
But the Saturday night resident covers band was dropped and immediately replaced by bands who played their own original music, bands like Vagrant, Cold Dance, The Housemartins, Victims of War, Born Idol and Burgess and McLean. The equipment was basic and so was the audience:
“I can’t remember that much about the gig. I was introduced to Paul Jackson by Nick Swift, a month or so earlier, at the Trades & Labour Club. We (Vagrant) supported the Membranes, and Jacko was suitably impressed to ask us to play his venue. I think Les Zeiga Fleurs were supposed to play on the night with us. Anyway the gig was ok. We only had 40 minutes worth of our own ropey punk rock originals, plus a Clash cover, and Johnny Thunder’s ‘Chinese Rocks’. The club was even grottier then, than ever. The regulars at the time were made up of the local gay community, a few curious music fans, some of our mates, and a friendly Irish family. I can’t remember Yosser being there though (or getting paid!).” (Guy Gibson, ex-Vagrant)
“First played the Adelphi in 1984 with a crappy punk band of my mates called Born Idol (helping out on guitar as the guitarist they had couldn’t really play!). The PA system was a small ramshackle affair, the amplifier housed on top of a small rickety table. Back wall of the stage area was covered with that awful 70’s beaten copper effect wall-covering, particularly popular with fire surrounds!… I think Jacko did the sound.” (Tony Peaks, ex-Kicks/New Day Rising/Suffocation)
“I remember doing an early gig supported by Thin Ice. The Adelphi didn’t have a proper PA in them days (let alone a soundman), so we used Cold Dance’s PA at last the minute. Everybody mucked in with no rivalry between bands. I also remember the famous gold wall paper on the stage backed up by the clapped out piano which took up most of the space on stage!” (Sean Bryant, ex-Victims of War)
“The PA was basically two disco speakers nailed to the wall” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
This change in musical orientation was the first tentative step towards Paul’s longer term ambitions for the club: to become a 7-days-a-week dedicated music venue. Gradually the equipment was improved and upgraded and more and more bands started to play at the club. Paul soon linked up with Nick Taylor and Nick Swift of the The Unity Club, and together they brought out-of-town bands to the club. Nick Taylor explains:
“The idea of having a truly independent, autonomous, politically sound, friendly, underground, non-profit making (not intentionally!), creative venue in our own hands was a dream I had already aspired to. So the partnership between the Adelphi and The Unity Club was forged and we got down to the business of bringing up-and-coming bands/acts from all over the country (and later on the world) to the Adelphi. The first one we promoted was a band from Leicester called Yeah, Yeah, Noh. From that point onwards, it developed into more than just a ‘business’ arrangement… We were weeding out all of the up and coming talent in the nation and bringing them to Hull to play at the Adelphi, which because of this exposure, was fast gaining a reputation itself in the music world as one of the most important independent venues. We were ahead of the game. Finger on the pulse. Ear to the ground. All those sorts of clichés, but it was true. We were constantly recognising the next big thing. Some of the acts we found, early on in their careers, went on to absolutely massive. Examples of some of the names we brought to the Adelphi under the Unity banner were: Bogshed, The Godfathers, Manic Street Preachers, 3-Johns, The Housemartins (obviously), The Gargoyles, The Membranes, The Prisoners, The Soup Dragons, Attila the Stockbroker, Vee VV, Happy Mondays, The Farm, Pulp and many others. All went on to become household names or underground legends” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
“Many great bands first came to the Adelphi first through Swift Nick and The Unity Club. I would therefore acknowledge his role throughout the early days of the venue and thank him sincerely, along with cohorts such as Gary, Ian, Dodger, Biffer Bacon, etc. Cheers mates!” (Paul Jackson)
And so. with the help of the two Nicks and The Unity Club, the Adelphi became part of the infamous Toilet Tour – one of a handful of venues around the country dedicated to presenting original live Indies music aimed specifically at younger people. This was the start of the Adelphi’s twenty year musical odyssey, one that has seen some of the greatest local, national and international acts grace its humble stage.
First played – 1984 Times played – c.6 Last played – 1985
In 1985 The Housemartins, who played the the club several times in these early days, landed a record contract with Go! Discs. They signed the contract on the Adelphi stage on the 20th June, 1985:
“One of the most significant moments in my life was The Housemartins signing the record contract with Go! Discs on the Adelphi stage in June 1985. The Adelphi had been a very important part of building the band’s audience. The occasion of the signing was the culmination of many months of hard work, especially by Paul (Heaton) and Stan (Cullimore), but it was in recognition of the importance of the club for the band, and the support of Paul Jackson, that we decided to set up the event – and also it would be a bit of fun and something special for the fans. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy putting my name to a record contract whilst playing the drums – the point was to keep the song going while we all signed – but fortunately I had another arm and two legs to spare. For the record by the way, I think the song was ‘I’ll be your Shelter’ – not a Housemartins original, but a stage stalwart nevertheless. There are one or two supposedly ‘in the know’ people who allege that the Adelphi signing was entirely symbolic – a way of sharing the ‘promotion’ of one of Hull’s local music ‘teams’ with the punters – and that the REAL contract had been signed in London some days before; but I couldn’t possibly comment.” (Hugh Whittaker, ex-Gargoyles/Housemartins)
“The Housemartins’ signing party – Sam and I had been to Paul Heaton’s house 10 days previously (at his request) and fixed it up. We got paid £56 for the gig as our share (Diary: ‘Big Time’- I can only hope that was an ironic comment, but it probably wasn’t!). They looked just boring and shit, and the rest of us consequently thought that we could easily do what they’d done. But we overlooked the fact that we couldn’t write songs as clever and catchy as that, and neither could we sing in four-part harmony. I was forced to revise my, until then, fairly dismissive attitude towards them when I watched them rehearse ‘Joy, Joy, Joy’ in the soundcheck. Then I got it.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“I still remember the queues down De Grey Street when The Housemartins played, even though I think they got about right when they described themselves as ‘the fourth best band in Hull’!” (Pete Jack, Mambo Jambo)
“The Housemartins are still the best band I’ve ever seen. My first ever gig at the Adelphi was one of their’s. It was a few months before ‘Happy Hour’ and I was a bit nervous about going to see this brilliant band at such a cool venue, thinking everyone would be aloof and full of themselves. I walked into the front bar and there was an old bloke sitting there with his dog and his shopping. I felt right at home after that.” (Katy Noone, ex-Coyote Trap)
“I think the Housemartins were the 3rd band to play the Adelphi on the 3rd Saturday of our existence. Paul Heaton came to the club during the first fortnight to ask for a gig, and got one. I got the instant impression that this was someone who could make things happen, and that whatever he set his heart on, and wanted sufficiently, he would achieve with grace, intelligence & principle. He did!” (Paul Jackson)
The Housemartins went on to achieve massive success in the national charts. The rest, as they say, is history. They soon became too big to play the Adelphi, but always acknowledged the opportunities that the club gave them. However, Nick Clay recalls:
“Paul Heaton and Ian Cullimore played with us and other bands at the Adelphi Xmas party on 19 December 1986. I have no recollection of seeing them play, but according to what I wrote in my diary I did. They were #1 in the charts when they played.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
Footnote: several of their fans came to Hull in order to be near their heroes and visit the Adelphi club. At least two of these Housemarteenies have been Adelphi regulars over the years. You know who you are!
First played – 1985 Times played – c.20 Last played – 1988/2002
Another popular band who played early gigs was The Gargoyles, who performed at the Adelphi on a irregular basis over the next three years and who subsequently staged a couple of re-union gigs, to great popular acclaim, in 2002:
“One of my happiest associations with the Adelphi was with a happy band of brothers they called The Gargoyles (originally Funforall) and I still remember our first gig at the club. In those days the backline was played as it was set up – the PA was only big enough to take the vocals so nothing else was miked-up. Fortunately, our frontman was Eddie ‘Mad Banana’ Smith so we never had any problem projecting our act onstage. I can still remember Eddie, while we were fiddling various knobs and making adjustments to drum stands, informing the audience that while they may have enjoyed this band or that, tonight they were going to be treated to ‘some proper bollocks’. Well, anyhow, we used to play with all the bollocks we could muster. And so was signalled the first of many Adelphi gigs by what would become one of its best-loved bands.” (Hugh Whittaker, ex-Gargoyles/Housemartins)
“My first Gargoyles gig. What a spectacle. Ted, Paul (sadly missed) and the rest of the band dressed in over-sized Safari shorts with Eddie stood on top of the speakers with a ‘Frankie says Relax’ t-shirt on, winding his microphone lead around his body, while singing ‘Dead Men’s Boots’! …Fantastic!” (Dave Paine, journalist)
“Gargoyles gigs were just the best. Always full, always good with an unpredictable edge. I was selling off Gargoyles merchandise at their last gig in 1988. It was at the Adelphi and very emotional. When all the stuff went I sold my own ‘Sod the Aquarium, I’m Gonna Live’ t-shirt to a bloke from London who was in tears because the band were breaking up.” (Katy Noone, ex-Coyote Trap)
“My first experience of the Adelphi Club was to see a band called the Gargoyles. I was in my early thirties and walking in the entrance thought – this is not my scene! Four hours later I was hooked! I’m not sure how it happened but a short while later I was manager of the same band.” (Maggie Johnson, ex-manager, The Gargoyles)
“Nothing really compares to seeing the Gargoyles. Their performances were unique. Eddie Smith was a schoolboy comedy genius. His stage prescence was outrageous. He would often scare and woo the crowd by chatting to them during the songs, leaving his band high and dry. Or by much more basic methods – like getting his knob out! The Gargoyles were the Adelphi for me. The first band I saw and still the best.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, Super Furry Animals)
“They were, quite simply, the must see Hull live band of the mid to late-80’s, one of the greatest live bands you could ever have seen. So how good were The Gargoyles? Well, how many bands could book a 600 cap London venue pretending to be The Housemartins (Hugh and Ted had just rejoined the band from The Housemartins), sell the place out, and get away without being lynched for their audacity? Sure, the unsuspecting audience went berserk. They demanded 4 encores and the band were immediately asked back – but as The Gargoyles next time. Unfortunately, the band never reached the same heights in the studio and the whole thing folded. But what fun we had! It is also important to acknowledge the role of The Velvetones, in that, at that time, there were 2 total one-off bands in Hull, both fronted by indescribably brilliant frontmen, Eddie Smith and Mike Montez of The Velvetones, They were also best mates from their schooldays and I can’t help but assume that this contributed to the parallel development of a uniquely natural humour and sense of showmanship – especially co-events like the ‘Battle of the Elvises’!” (Paul Jackson)
THE GARGOYLES RE-UNION
“When we got back together for John Rowley’s 50th birthday, the rehearsals were so full of tales and adventures of old that we could hardly play for the laughter.” (Ted Key, ex-The Gargoyles/Housemartins)
“A couple of years ago The Gargoyles performed their first re-union gig. On the night we turned up early, grabbed some seats near to the stage and waited in anticipation. I needn’t have worried. As soon as I saw Eddie bend down with his back to the audience and a dubious looking stain on his trousers I knew everything would be ok. From then on the night was fantastic, every song triggering off another memory. We ended up standing on our seats, dancing and singing along. Reeling with happiness. That was a perfect night and it’s sad it will never happen again but I will always remember it as the best night ever.” (Becky Wareing, ex-bar staff)
“Eddie Smith at The Adelphi December 2002 (2nd re-union gig): ‘My first job was in Teals on Newland Ave. I used to walk around with a condom machine strapped to my front and a tampax machine to my back. I had to ask the customers “Can I help you…?”’ (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“The last Gargoyles gig was one of the most enjoyable live sets I have ever seen. The band were loving every minute of it and it clearly would not have mattered if they were playing to an empty room. As it was, however, the room was packed and the crowd were grinning from ear to ear throughout the set.” (Dr Ruth Graham)
Shortly after this last re-union gig, bass player with the band, brilliant artist and Adelphi regular, Paul Warhurst, was tragically killed in a road accident. He was a good friend to the club and we all miss him.
First played – 1985 Times played – 7 or 8 Last played – 1988
Pulp played at the Adelphi from 1985 onwards on a fairly regular basis and developed a close affinity with the club:
“I think my Pulp debut was at the Adelphi club back in 1986. We played there 4/5 times in the late 80’s. Sometimes the place would be rammed and you’d think ‘come on’, but then next time it would be a dozen spotty indie kids or nutters who had wandered in off the street. On trips to Hull we always tried to set off a bit early and visit the seaside: Withernsea or Cleethorpes. It usually ended with Jarvis falling into the sea and stinking the van out. Once, after we had done our soundcheck we retired to the pub up the road. Instead of walking along the path I decided to jump over a small wall. I tripped, of course, and landed badly on my hand. My index finger really hurt. Several pints later it still hurt and if I stopped moving it, it would seize up. So, keep moving the finger everyone said. The show went ahead in true showbiz fashion. Yes, the finger still hurt. Next day, one Sheffield A&E X-Ray later, revealed a broken finger. Yes, it’s true the show must go on!” (Nick Banks, Pulp)
“I have very good memories of the Hull Adelphi. It must’ve been around the mid to late eighties when we regularly played the Adelphi and our line up changed a few times in that period. In those days we used to basically play Sheffield, London, Bath, Bristol and Hull Adelphi and I found Paul to be the most friendly & generous of hosts. He had a lovely friendly & relaxed attitude & a lovely dog & he used to (originally) invite us up to his kitchen for tea and toast which was always highly appreciated. But sadly this all ended after some other group had abused his trust & I think stolen from him, or something. It was a sad day when our tea upstairs ended!” (Candida Doyle, Pulp)
“One time Jarvis performed the entire set from a wheelchair, think he’d fallen out of a window or something. This just added to the strange spectacle that Pulp were in those days, ‘Little Girl with Blue Eyes’ (There’s a hole in your heart/ and one between your legs), ‘Dogs are Everywhere’, ‘Master of the Universe’, and the drummer’s Krusty the Clown ‘style’ hair.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“Jarvis Cocker doing a gig in a wheel-chair mumbling: ‘…in case you’re wondering why I’m in a wheel-chair… it’s because I’m a cripple!’” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“Fond if somewhat hazy memories of Pulp – on one occasion with Jarvis more Davros than Robert Wyatt in his wheel-chair. And on another, or maybe even the same occasion, having all our numerous but cheap guitars stolen out of the ‘back stage’ corridor, only to be retrieved later after being spotted lying on the railway embankmemt at the rear, awaiting an aftershow pick up!” (Noel Kilbride, ex-AC Temple)
“Pulp, an explosion of flares and bad hairstyles, once went back on to do an encore for me after I asked Jarvis for a fag… Silk Cut! Well, you can’t complain can you?” (Jon McArthur)
“I saw Pulp several times early on. They were really avant-garde then, quite different from what they are now.” (Martin Deas)
“As well as being an amazing band for a long time before they became popular, there was also a wicked sense of mischief that seemed to fit in nicely with the feel of the venue. A really great, and mixed, bunch of personalities too – with Jarvis, a star, and probably much the same today. Russell, very businesslike and even quite serious sometimes. Candida, quiet and inobtrusive by nature, but if she chose to speak everyone would shut up and listen. A guy called Manners, who was a right character, along with various others. Thanks for the memories and you were always great to work with.” (Paul Jackson)
A few weeks after taking over, Paul adopted Yosser, a Springer Spaniel, who became the Adelphi’s resident pub dog. Yosser was to become more famous than Paul and certainly sired more offspring than he did. Yosser developed a reputation in the area as a fighting, fucking, no-nonsense, ass-kicker with a particular penchant for female alsations and rottweilers.
“Yosser had a lady friend you know! ‘Our Lass’. He picked her up in the street somewhere.” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
We don’t think Yosser was a particularly faithful beau though. He was a bit of a ten-timer. He strutted about the local area like he did about the club – as if he owned the place, which he did really:
“Yosser, patrolled the pool-room making sure no one was sat in his seat and took a chunk out of your arse if you were.” (Chris Elliott, ex-Gargoyles)
“I was trying to create an atmosphere of feedback/wall of sound only to nearly fall over Yosser asleep in front of my amp.” (Mark, ex-Suffocation)
Over the years Yosser liked to get about a bit:
“He turned up at my house in Cottingham in the early hours of one morning. He must have sniffed me out. He’d come from The Adelphi and found his own way, about 4 miles. I was asleep and I heard just one bark, and thought: ‘That’s funny’, just one bark, not very loud, as if to say ‘It’s me’. So I let him in. The next morning the car was covered in paw prints, where he had been looking to see if I was in the car.” (Joan Jackson)
“On several occaions Yosser would follow band members to Spiders. He became a bit of a regular (although he was never made a member). Paul would get a call in the early hours from Spiders saying ‘We’re putting him in a taxi’.” (Joan Jackson)
Over the years, as he got older, Yosser’s speciality was his eye-watering farts. He didn’t need to bite anyone anymore to get them to move. He just offered a little bit of gentle persuasion. As age caught up with him the years took their toll:
“Yosser stole my heart the moment I saw him even though he was deaf, blind and lame, and my hand would smell something terrible after having pet him” (Stefanie Wilson, US exchange student)
This all culminated in an incident when Yosser, patrolling the roof patio, spotted a butterfly fluttering around the plants and flowers up there. Taking a giant leap he misjudged it and fell ten feet onto the car park below, breaking both his legs. He survived, but was never the same after it. He lived a bit longer, but eventually succumbed to fate in 1995.
As well as a change in live music, there was a change in the music played on the turntable. This ranged from Paul Heaton’s soul night, DJ Steve Smith’s 50’s Rockabilly disco, Midge’s 60’s night, Matthew ‘Coyote Trap’ Hogg’s Disco, through to the hilarious Mike and Eddie’s Disco:
“Paul’s freedom loving nature allowed me and my pal Mike Montez to treat the Adelphi customers to Mike and Eddie’s Disco. Every Thursday night, Adelphi would be alive with the Mike and Eddie song:
We’re Mike and Eddie
We’re Mike and Eddie
We’re here to have a laugh with you
We hope that you are ready
Mike’s the tall and handsome one
The lumpy one is Eddie
Here! Here! Raise a cheer
We’re Mike and Eddie
Paul Jackson would begin to look concerned as me and Mike barged onto the stage with a collection of albums, 45s and a few 78s. All the records were old and unlooked after. The rule of holding vinyl by the label and edge was broken with spectacular relish. You had the Sex Pistols and Bobby Vee or folk music followed by Motorhead then George Formby. We would deliberately put the arm of the record player down so that it bumped and scratched the record. The loud sound of the records being vandalised would pour through the speakers. Paul Jackson could only look on in dismay, as another stylus would be ruined. We would make rude announcements and give out false information regarding up and coming bands. Part of the night would be given over to bands and before they took to the stage Mike and Eddie would encourage the crowd to boo and heckle (it’s amazing how many took it in good spirits). Towards the end of the bands’ sets we would pass round a Viking helmet and generous customers, bar staff and criminals on the run would donate a few coins for the upkeep of the band. It was always a source of hilarity when Mike and Eddie announced how much money the band had received. It would be so much fun to see their disappointed faces as they received a tiny amount of money for a large amount of time. Some of these bands would have crossed the Pennines in a cold shitty van only to receive about £1.70. After the bands had finished we would sing the Mike and Eddie song and get back to the hi-jinks. I fondly remember Mike running out of the club, climbing on to Paul’s low roof-garden and nicking a pair of underpants from his washing line. Mike was such a sight to see: his gormless face would be twisted into an ecstatic grin as he thrust his crotch into the faces of the customers. Laying down on the dance-floor he would slowly peel off Paul’s dark red underpants. We would end the night on a patriotic theme by playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ whilst thanking various people who had contributed to the evening, either a ridiculous historical figure, Jesus perhaps, or a bloke at the bar who contributed nothing. Me and Mike reclaimed a whole FIVE pounds, which we would waste on Hot Roasted Chestnuts. The fun of it, the constant disappointment and the sheer lack of talent would make you feel strangely alive. For a bit.” (Eddie Smith, ex-Gargoyles)
“My favourite nights were Thursdays, when Mike and Eddie used to DJ and entertain in between two or three local bands. The Viking helmet would be passed around and shared between the bands at the end of the night. I remember Mike chasing Eddie, both completely naked, with a rolled up newspaper to the Laurel and Hardy theme – Fucking Hilarious!” (Guy Gibson, ex-Vagrant)
PROMOTION (FLYERS / POSTERS, ETC
(To the tune of ‘My Favourite Things’, kinda…)
“Hand-written flyers on odd coloured paper,
Save me from calling the TV repairman.
There’s DIY ethics coming from it in spades,
The Adelphi is calling me down to De Grey.”
(Kenny Archibald, poet)
The Adelphi flyers first appeared shortly after Paul took over the club. During the next 14 months they evolved into the form they still are today. Different things have been tried occasionally, but the old style’s still the best. Similarly, there has been the occasional promotional poster introducing the club and its wares, some creative, some a bit sloppy, but all fit in with the Adelphi’s DIY ethos.
“A quick glance at one of the monthly flyers would leave anyone impressed by the sheer diversity of bands/acts that Paul invites to come and play, not to mention the regular ‘club’ nights which local DJ’s put on. From reggae to punk, folk to hip hop, funk to electronica, there really is something to meet everyone’s musical preferences.” (Lewis McNeill)
“I love the flyers. Personal touch. Never glossed or colour. I always read them top to bottom every month and marvel at the musical diversity.” (Andrew, Yo-Yo)
14 months after Paul had taken over the club some fundamental changes had come about then. The original clientele had largely departed. Gone was the pool, darts and dominoes teams and the Alternative Cabaret. The types of live music performed and the records played had changed. The club was on the Toilet Tour, had provided support to the Housemartins, and had its own unique club nights. Promotion and advertising was done on a shoestring. And a dog owned the place.
OVERVIEW – (1986-1995)
The period between 1986 and 1995 saw a diverse array of bands, local, national and international, playing at the club, as well as a variety of other related activities. In order to keep a grasp of this dynamic period we have broken it down into two distinct, if not strictly chronological, musical phases. Firstly, we want to consider 1986-89, widely recognised as the most dynamic phase of the club’s history. Secondly, we examine 1990-95, a period when some of the biggest name bands ever to play the Adelphi performed there, whilst, paradoxically, the club was in relative decline. Finally, we reflect on some of the other activities, musical, music-related, political and so on, that took place, or was established at the club, between 1986-1995.
A HULL IN MY HEART
[FOR FATBOY SLIM, HULL, MARCH 10, 2001]
Adelphi mid-eighties. A wonderful place
The Gargoyles, Pink Noise, and Jacko’s friendly face.
This poet, twice yearly, a touring Seagull.
And you, The Housemartins. ‘Fourth best band in Hull…’
So who was the best?, well you never let on.
[I liked Death by Milkfloat, now sadly long gone] But you upped and made it, and we knew the score:
It was there on the cover. London 0, Hull 4.
Then Heato went south with his tongue in his cheek
[though he’s seen at the Mainbrace a few times a week] And you and DH from the punk days in Kent
Now sponsor the Albion. Thanks money well spent.
Yes, we’re going places – with SKINT on our kit
This is our club culture and we’re proud of it!
Respect from someone who was there at the start.
Adelphi, De Grey Street. A Hull in my heart.
(Attilla the Stockbroker)
The local music scene expanded rapidly following the success of The Housemartins. Suddenly, everybody was in a band, everybody wanted to play at the Adelphi, and everybody was hoping to be the Next Big Thing. As well as some of the earlier Adelphi regulars, like The Velvetones, Coyote Trap and The Gargoyles, there were suddenly a plethora of local acts on the scene. Literally hundreds of bands formed and re-formed in Hull during this time. This newly-found enthusiasm, coupled with more and more national touring bands and the alternative influences they introduced, brought about the most dynamic musical phase in the club’s 20 year history. Virtually every musical form and genre appeared at the club – from indie, rock, punk, reggae, hardcore, noise, blues, folk, jazz – the list is endless. This enthusiasm and dynamism was reflected by the relative success of the Adelphi in financial terms. More importantly perhaps, a strong sense of musical community developed around the club, one that still exists, albeit in a less active sense, to this very day.
“All centred around that place. Like some sort of adult Byker Grove.” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
“There were some wonderful gigs: Pulp, The La’s, The Brilliant Corners, The Three Johns, Attila, The Housemartins, The Gargoyles and Death By Milkfloat. But best of all was the sense of being part of a community capable of making its own entertainment. That is why the audience at gigs by local bands was significantly populated by other bands.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“It was always packed out in the reign of The Gargoyles, Pink Noise and Death by Milkfloat.” (Sarah Collingridge, ex-bar staff)
First played – 1985 Times played – c.35 Last played – 1989
(Please note: Pink Noise actually first played at the Adelphi in 1985, including supporting The Housemartins’ signing gig, but are located here because they are more clearly identified with the period 1986-9 – oh, and we want to look at them in relation to their main rivals and friends, Death By Milkfloat)
“We ended up storing our gear there and using the club as our private rehearsal space. I don’t know how many times we played there or how frequently, but it was a lot and often.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“Pink Noise used to have The Beat’s ‘Stand Down Margaret’ playing before they came on stage. Hearing that song got the Adelphi crowd on their feet, out of the toilets, through from the front bar. There was always great anticipation before a Pink Noise gig and that song helped set the mood.” (Katy Noone, ex-Coyote Trap)
“Pink Noise, they were a really good band. When they first set off the guitarist was really shrill and loud, I really had trouble getting their sound right. Every time they turned up I’d mention it to them. Eventually we got there.” (Jim Nutter, mixer man)
“There seemed to be a bit of rivalry between Pink Noise and Death by Milkfloat. Both bands used to play regularly, both were trios, both were really good live acts, but for me Pink Noise just had the (thin end of the w)edge.” (Dr Ian Smith)
“Pink Noise were basically Hull’s answer to The Jam, The Redskins and The Neurotics and had the talent, passion, compassion, intelligence and drive to stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them. A great Hull band.” (Paul Jackson)
DEATH BY MILKFLOAT
First played – 1986 Times played – c.35 Last played – 1992
“Favourite song title: ‘Take that, you fucker!’” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“I managed to infiltrate the inner-most sanctums of the Adelphi Club,
generally by hassling Paul a lot. In 1986 me, Phil Dolby, and Steve Kelly formed Death By Milkfloat, playing our first ever show at the club (at the time it gained Paul’s ‘best ever debut gig’ award), and after an illustrious career of mass Peel plays, and Euro tours, we put a full stop to our art school spikiness with a ‘final gig’, again at The Adelphi, in 1992. What goes around comes around!” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death By Milkfloat)
“I’m not from Hull, but I know that it’s the mainspring of the local scene, the place where everyone started and everyone still does. Just to mention a few: 3 Action, the Gargoyles, Pink Noise, my old mate Swift Nick and the band with the best name in the history of rock n roll – Death By Milkfloat. It’s not for me to say what we sounded like on stage, but Attila the Stockbroker and Death by Milkfloat looked good together on a poster! Of course, it’s where the Housemartins started too, beginning the career of Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim.” (Attila the Stockbroker)
“Milkfloat’s last gig was a great gig for me and probably one of my all-time favourites at the Adelphi. First on, Think Tank, (one of their last gigs also), Kingmaker in the middle and, finally, Milkfloat. I was sad to see them go but pleased it was such a great gig. Raw talent, great big sound with minimum amount of fuss or equipment!” (Tony Peaks, ex-Kicks/New Day Rising/ Suffocation)
“Milkfloat – the best, the cream of the crop (excuse the pun) of all the Hull bands. Last ever gig was a real tearjerker, guitars on nooses and then outside to smash the trusty old van up!!” (Jon McArthur)
“Death by Milkfloat were here with me and even moved into No 69, a few doors away. They were an amazing live band whose recordings never quite ‘worked’ for one reason or another. They were, nevertheless, among the most music literate bands I have ever known, and a great set of lads too.” (Paul Jackson)
As well as a wide and diverse local music scene, the club played host to more and more bands from the national scene, including return visits from bands like Pulp, The Shamen and Manic Street Preachers, Kitchens of Distinction, AC Temple, James Taylor Quartet, Tommy Chase, Chumbawamba, Inspiral Carpets and so on. Adelphi’s role as part of the ‘toilet’ tour was firmly established during this period. As a result, there were lots of great live performances at the club, one’s that are still remembered to this day. Like the local music scene, touring bands and performers playing at the club covered a wide variety of musical forms and genres. Several local bands themselves became part of the tour, touring and developing relationships with some of them. The other main bands to play at the club during this era, who often developed a close working relationship and, indeed, friendship with Paul and the Adelphi, included:
First played – 1986 Times played – 3 Last played – 1988
The freaky factory dancers themselves appeared, somewhat controversially, on no less than three occasions.
“They seemed to be on every week at one point.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise, who perhaps confuses his weeks with his years!)
“I was really shocked the first time I saw them – they just smoked dope onstage as they played as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. They did some great shows though. Bez would be there dancing away – always an interesting distraction!” (Martin Deas)
“The Happy Mondays: friendly and high and pissed.” (Tony Peaks. Ex-Kicks/ New Day Rising/Suffocation)
“Happy Mondays… what a party, the like of which the Adelphi could not have been prepared for. Out of control madness, that somehow held itself together by the tiniest of threads. We all drunkenly danced the night away with a swagger. My memory is fuzzy, but just remember thinking ‘This is fucking brilliant’. Paul had to adjust a few clauses in their contract to try and tame their public chemical abuse on their Adelphi return.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“The Happy Mondays were dominated by both of their managers and the benign smile of a young, and extremely polite, Shaun Ryder, who always seemed grateful for what was given – which was nice. Manager 1, Phil Saxe, resembled both a manager and a gorilla, but was ok. Manager 2 was Shaun’s dad, Derek, whom I came to regard as one of the great characters of the live circuit. He was quiet, highly intelligent, polite and a real music nutcase but with a real serious maverick streak that I came to respect enormously. The Happy Mondays shows here were great.” (Paul Jackson)
First played – 1987 Times played – 3 Last played – 1987
The long association between the Adelphi and Liverpool bands The La’s, and their subsequent offshoot, Cast, began around this time:
“I’ve played the Adelphi about 15 times, lots of times with both The La’s and Cast. The Adelphi was the first gig that I ever did, that The La’s ever did, outside of Liverpool. Paul Jackson and the Adelphi came in with a gig for us. We didn’t have a drummer and the three of us drove over there with a hotchpotch selection of guitars. I borrowed one, a Mustang bass. I remember the gig well, like no drummer, but we seemed to have a good laugh. We drove home full of good ambitions and it was the beginning of something, the beginning of all our dreams coming into some kind of order” (Jon Power, ex-La’s/Cast)
“My band Coyote Trap supported The La’s at one of their first Adelphi gigs. They were breathtaking. Loads of people who’d never heard of them came through from the pool room to watch. Brilliant to hear the opening bars to ‘There She Goes’ for the very first time through the Adelphi PA.” (Katy Noone, ex-Coyote Trap)
“I missed The La’s first acoustic only set (think this was their first show outside of da’ pool), but got to see their next Adelphi gig. What a live band they were, these first few Adelphi shows were as good as they get. Paul used to play the demo version of ‘Liberty Ship’ over the Adelphi sound system, a psychedelic epic, which still sends shivers down my spine.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“The La’s: the best band I ever saw at the Adelphi.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“The La’s played their first ‘out of town’ show here, and we did them 3 times in total using the old Adelphi PA. They always sounded great despite the fact that the PA consisted only of a 4 channel mic mixer and some cheapo £7 microphones! Among the folk who saw The La’s here were significant numbers who had seen lots of shows before, and will have seen lots of shows since. Pretty much all of them will say that The La’s live show was the best, or among the best, they ever saw. All of which seems rather bizarre when you consider that chirrupy guitar based ‘Pop’ music is generally seen as something to avoid these days. The La’s were very special indeed and there could yet be a sting in the tail.” (Paul Jackson)
“Lee Mavers gave me his harmonica after one gig. I’ve still got it now.” (Graham, Hairdresser to the Stars)
“At one gig some guy blagged Lee’s harmonica off him. Offered to cut his hair for free or something!” (Jon Power, ex-La’s/Cast)
First and last played – 1987 Times played – 1
Stone Roses played just prior to making it big to a somewhat disputed audience size:
“They turned up – like most Manchester bands at about 9 o’clock – and demanded a soundcheck. All the kids, their entourage, were saying: ‘this band’s going to me massive’. At that time they were playing to about a thousand people in Manchester, but outside of that nobody had heard of them. They played to about 10 people, maybe. I remember Ian Brown going bonkers, running up and down the tables.” (Dave Stead, ex-mixer man, ex-Viscious Circle/Beautiful South)
“I was paid £4 plus free entry by Jacko for putting up posters for the Stone Roses, and saw Ian Brown jumping all over the punters.” (Guy Gibson, ex-Vagrant)
“My resounding memory of The Stone Rose were that they were really good, although there weren’t many there. A year later they were massive.” (Dave Bush)
“The Stone Roses, playing to the bar staff and a dog, all dressed in paisley shirts – the band that is!” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“The Stone Roses were booked to promote the first release of ‘Sally Cinnamon’ by their manager who assured me that the band were going to be massive. The product certainly walked the walk, though the gig itself was not great with a poor turnout of around only 30.” (Paul Jackson)
First played – 1988 Times played – 9 Last played – 1996
Carter USM developed a particular rapport with the club and some of the local bands who subsequently toured with them:
“Carter played nine gigs at The Adelphi, including one on our ‘Favourite Venues’ Christmas tour where we returned to places that we’d outgrown. We had to climb over the DJ booth – which was next to the toilets back then – to get on to the stage. I’d never seen so many people crammed into such a small place. And in the same way that everyone claimed to be at the first Sex Pistols gig, I’d like to think that everyone would say they were at that Carter gig at the Hull Adelphi. The difference being, of course, that everyone was at that Carter gig at The Hull Adelphi. And then returning to the Adelphi a decade later, to play to considerably fewer people on the ‘Who’s The Daddy Now?’ tour, to find Jim still doing the sound, the same pre-gig takeaway (choice between Chinese or a curry) and Paul Jackson with what may or may not have been the same piece of sellotape holding his glasses together. In a land of Barflys and Carling Academys that’s somehow reassuring.” (Jim Bob, Carter USM)
“Christmas Pudding Tour Diary. Hull – The Adelphi 1996 – The Hull Adelphi was one of the places that would book Carter when no one else would. We played supporting Thee Hypnotics and a few others before being given a headline spot and then going on to beat the attendance record. Someone had been doing a bit of decorating since the last time we were there, the bands didn’t have to climb over the DJ booth to get onstage anymore and there was a dressing room, so you didn’t have to wait in the men’s toilets before going on stage. Even though it had been five years since we last played there, it was a bit like we had never been away. Paul Jackson, the guy who runs the place was as generous and helpful as ever and Jim, the soundman, was apologising about the sound equipment as always. As the Adelphi only holds 250 people, the venue was packed pretty much from the word go. Walking through the audience I recognised quite a few faces from the distant past, slightly fatter and with less hair (and that’s just the women… boom boom!). As soon as we came on stage to do ‘Surfin’ USM’ the place was in chaos, with mic stands flying, monitor speakers disappearing and audience members falling onto the stage in vague attempts to stage dive (the stage is only about a foot higher than the floor so it was much more like stage tripping really). After being whacked in the face with my microphone I decided to play it safe a retreat to the back of the stage out of harm’s way. We had to stop half way through ‘Growing Old Disgracefully’ as some fool fell onto the drum kit and sent Wez flying. During our time on stage some fucker nicked one of our microphones, so if anyone knows who did it, tell ’em to send it back to us as we need it and they are bloody expensive. Despite all the damage, everyone had a riotous time and it’ll be a gig that I’ll remember for some time. The entire audience sang the intro to ‘New Cross’, it was a shame that it was in the wrong key, but never mind, it went a bit Jazz Funk there for a moment.” (Fruitbat, Carter USM)
“From ‘Surfin’ USM’ to ‘Sheriff Fatman’, Carter powered their way through ‘101 Damnations’. It was a glorious, torrential downpour of energetic anthems leaving a capacity crowd soaked to the skin. We walked home freezing in the night air with a smile on our faces, wringing our clothes out on the way.” (Chris Dimmack)
“The band had stopped their track and the singer was talking. I did a double-take as he said something along the lines of: ‘This next one’s for Martine, we really hope you made it to see us tonight’. I spun round and stared at the stage, but I hadn’t imagined it. We spent the rest of the set actually watching, as well as listening, and it was a memorable sight. When the band came off and headed for a beer, I introduced myself to the singer, in a ‘Hello, I’m the person you’ve just dedicated a song to, who are you?’ kind of way. Turns out his name was Jim Bob and I’d just witnessed Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine in action.” (Martine Otton)
“Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine! This was a band who’d split about five years before, but came back presumably because they liked the place, not because they could now play nowhere bigger. So one night I left other freshers to their pre-club party, going in search of this off-the-map ‘Music Capital of Hull’. Hardly an auspicious start to city gig-going: a reunion tour for sometime smash hits, and hardly anyone there. ‘Has everyone moved away from Hull?’ asked Fruitbat, inviting the meagre audience to join his buddies at the front of the stage. One pointed at me: ‘He’s from Hull!’” (Al Maceachem, fanzine writer)
“The ensuing friendship struck up with The Von Trapps and Carter USM (‘The north and south are divided no more’), is still ongoing to this day.” (Chris Hudson, ex-The Von Trapps)
“Carter shows were always great – like having mates around for tea. They made great music at the time and nobody could copy it. It started in front of 10 men and a dog, then rapidly advanced to 50, 100, 150 and a couple of sell out shows. The dog was there throughout and never quite knew what to make of Jim Bob and Fruitbat. He would stand in front of the stage staring at Jim Bob as he screeched out ‘Sheriff Fatman’ or something. He would then climb onto the stage and start barking before circling menacingly and snapping (not biting) at the frontman’s heels. Jim Bob’s axeman posturing and face solos during this period would have been the envy of any of our local guitar schools!” (Paul Jackson)
BOB, THIN WHITE ROPE AND MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Played: Saturday 15th October 1988
A number of contributors mentioned one particular gig which featured three headline bands, Bob, My Bloody Valentine and US band Thin White Rope, all on the same bill. Something to do with a double-booking or some such like. It almost became a ‘battle of the bands’ affair, such was the competition onstage. This gig is remembered as one of the best ever at the Adelphi.
“Bob were London boys, Peel favourites and Adelphi regulars. When they played the place would be packed every time. Then there was one gig in the late 1980s. Half an hour after opening, the Adelphi was absolutely heaving. Sheffield and Manchester accents at the pool table. Six deep at the bar. Bob were headlining, but so were Thin White Rope and My Bloody Valentine. All three on the bill, same night. Double booking? Good planning? Not sure but it was the best billing I ever saw. Richard and Simon from Bob, all melodic Indie angst and tight harmonies. They usually played with a determined intensity on stage but tonight they were jumping around like their lives depended on it. Thin White Rope’s Guy Kyser thrashing his guitar with that usual brooding tension and probably wondering why on earth their home American crowds didn’t react like this seething audience did. And My Bloody Valentine, NME front page regulars, playing that splintering rhythmic noise that didn’t always make sense, but this glorious night it hit you like some sort of revelation. All three. Any one of them could have headlined but you didn’t really care who did. Just to be there was enough. Condensation running down the walls. The bar staff standing on beer crates to see the stage. Members of every one of the local bands of the era in the audience.” (Katy Noone, ex-Coyote Trap)
“My Bloody Valentine / Thin White Rope. I love MBV, this was the first time I’d seen them since they turned noisy, the beginning of the golden years for the Valentines. 2 headline bands were booked in error on the same bill (a discovery made at the last moment), a double plus for music fans, but with both bands on large guarantees Paul kept a nervous eye on the takings that night.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“My Bloody Valentine sharing the bill with Thin White Ropeand Bob. It was a packed, noisy, exciting gig.” (Tony Peaks, ex-Kicks/New Day Rising/ Suffocation)
“It was said that Jacko double-booked them, that they tossed a coin to see who went on last. We knew it was gonna be another brilliant night at the Adelphi – three top bands for just a few quid. Bob came on. I could see everything over the ocean of bobbing heads (I’m 6’ 3”). Then My Bloody Valentine and getting lost in the ‘sonic cathedral of sound’ they used to have then. Last on, Thin White Rope. Lights go down, a hush fell. Very loud drum pattern, a bass rumbling into life, the speakers shook, the vocalist opens his mouth and wow! The shout for ‘last orders’ was ignored as the whole place bounded up and down. You couldn’t see the stage for flying sweat and mist. Fucking amazing, people looking at each other and smiling.” (Dave ‘Dinger’ Bell)
“My Bloody Valentine were brilliant. They blew everyone else out of the water.” (James Bell)
“Regarded by many as the greatest ever Adelphi show. It wasn’t, but loads of people were there, and it was fantastic – certainly among the top 10. The billing was a double booking & the fault was entirely mine. I had MBV down for Oct 15th and TWR for Nov 15th. Fortunately, the agents were cool about it, and the bands even more so. In fact, Kevin Shields seemed pretty elated to get the chance to play with this amazing band from Arizona. Guy from TWR felt pretty much the same way too. Bob, a superb band in their own right, still talk about the night on the odd occasion when I bump into them in London. Fantastic!” (Paul Jackson)
The Beautiful South were another band that were based locally and were formed in 1989 by Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway following on from The Housemartins. Their first release catapulted them to the top of the charts and immediate success. As a result, from the outset they were too big to play the Adelphi. However, several band members had played at the club in various other formations and some of them still socialise there to this day. Drummer Dave Stead indicates the ‘Adelphi connection’ in relation to the band’s formation:
“I knew Dave Rotheray to nod my head to because he was a part of the local musician’s scene at the Adelphi. I knew who Paul Heaton was because of The Housemartins and he knew who I was, a nod on the street corner, that kind of thing. Dave Hemingway, I knew, he was in a lot of Hull bands – The Newpolitans, The Velvetones and The Housemartins. After The Housemartins, Paul needed a drummer. He’d already recruited Dave Hemingway, Dave Rotheray and Shaun Welch. He asked Gary from 3 Action if he knew a drummer and he suggested me. Paul called and the rest is history as they say. So I guess Paul knew me because of shared friends at the Adelphi who played in bands. It’s the easiest place to recruit. I was 23 and offered a new opportunity with The Beautiful South.” (Dave Stead, Beautiful South)
MUSIC (1990-1995) – DECLINE
As the 1990s dawned, the earlier dynamism and energy of the local and national music scene of the mid/late-80’s gave way to one of relative decline. This decline wasn’t only in relation to the fortunes of the Adelphi, but more widely a part of the decline of live music itself as a result of important changes within the music industry.
Firstly, the indies music scene, with its emphasis on independence and originality, was effectively bought out by the major labels. The effect of this was to reduce the independence which bands had enjoyed under the indies scene, and to hand more control back to corporate interests and the profit nexus. The indies chart disappeared and indies culture, which had underpinned the Adelphi’s output, largely disappeared with it.
Secondly, there was a fundamental shift from live music in favour of the club scene, with its emphasis on DJ’s, club nights and raves rather than on live performance. Fewer people came to watch live music and, allied with this, fewer saw live performance as a route to success. This, of course, suited the major labels, whose priorities it was to reduce touring overheads, minimise risk and optimise profits.
At a local level there were two changes that had an important additional negative effect on the club. The Adelphi had always welcomed the local student population, many of whom had formed bands and become regulars at the club. It had also enjoyed a good working relationship with the Student Unions. However, in the early-90’s, the government changed the funding basis for Student Unions, effectively placing them on a corporate footing. Since then the Student Unions’ activities have been set in direct competition to other venues, like the Adelphi, rather than presenting complementary or contrasting events. The Adelphi can no longer advertise gigs in the Union bars without paying exorbitant advertising rates or facing £1000 fines (unlike at the Adelphi, where any other venue is welcome to advertise their events – including the Student Unions). Unfortunately, Student Unions have pursued a dumbed-down approach to culture, with profit as their main goal. Students have missed out on real culture as a result.
In addition, a new booking agency, SJM, came into being at this time, who, for reasons of their own, decided not to book clients to play at the Adelphi, but place them at larger, more salubrious venues instead. This too had a negative effect on the Adelphi’s fortunes
These factors explain the club’s decline during this period but, despite these setbacks, the club continued, through the good agencies of Charlie Myatt and others, to put on some of the biggest bands ever to play at the Adelphi. Furthermore, wider opportunities for other musical forms to play at the club came about in the shape of World Music. But, first let’s consider the range of music which came out of the Adelphi between 1990 and 1995.
The local music scene, which had been frenetic in the late-80’s, was suddenly much quieter, with fewer local bands and fewer local gigs taking place. This lull was reflected by a corresponding fall in audience numbers as well. While there were still several of the older bands on the go, as well as a smattering of new, none really emerged to the same extent as The Gargoyles, Pink Noise and Death by Milkfloat had done in the 1980s. That is not to suggest there were few or no bands of worth, but serves perhaps to illustrate the general apathy and indifference during the period in question. That is except one band, a band who came forth in 1990, began to attract more and more fans to the Adelphi each time they played, and then went on achieve greater national success than any other local band since The Housemartins – Kingmaker.
First played – 1990 Times played – 12 Last played – 1994
Paul Jackson helped Kingmaker find management and they subsequently signed, with EMI Chrysalis, the first major deal for a Hull band since the The Housemartins back in 1985. They went on to tour supported by bands like Suede, Elastica and Radiohead.
“Seeing people queuing up outside the front door of the club for one of our shows, before it had even opened, was a big moment. We had played much bigger venues by the time we got to fill the Adelphi. And I really mean FILL. The night in question saw the whole place so full that every last breathing space was filled with heaving, sweaty, breathless T-shirted friends, family and fans. It was August and it was hot. Sitting behind the kit all I could see was a wall of cotton, flesh and hair. Before our opening barrage the faces looked edgy and expectant, but there was a real sense that this was going to be shared experience, something special. Sweat ran in increasing trickles down my arms before we had even started. Once the battering commenced it all hurtled along in a frantic blur of crashing bodies, sticks so slippery they felt like ice-pops, sore hands, stinging muscles and a glorious noise, not only from us but the rest of the Adelphi throng. The bodies have never been piled as high as they were that night.” (John Andrew, ex-Kingmaker)
“My memories of the Adelphi are tied inextricably to my memories of Kingmaker. I’d been to Hull before – to interview Paul Heaton, of course – but here was a band whose ascent from local heroes to NME cover stars was seemingly played out at the city’s most iconic ‘smaller venue’. They began as Rain (first gig: the Sherlock Holmes pub situated, yes, on Hull’s Baker Street), then turned into Tombstone Graffiti, advertised for a drummer in a local music shop window with the words, ‘Wanted: drummer. Must be educated to A-level standard’, and Kingmaker were born. By the end of 1990, they had a publishing deal, a record contract, a London PR and a debut EP. Most significantly, they sold out the Adelphi on New Year’s Eve. Did they feel, I asked them, that they could take on the world at that point? ‘We felt like we could take on the Adelphi.’ I saw Kingmaker at the Adelphi. We non-local music journalists called it the Hull Adelphi, to mark it out from all the other Adelphis. We also called the Princess Charlotte the Leicester Princess Charlotte and the Old Trout the Windsor Old Trout. It made things easier as we very occasionally left London. Kingmaker often came to London, to visit their publishing company, their record company or their PR, but it was best to go to Hull. To the Adelphi. It must have been in 1991, the year Kingmaker broke free of the indie herd. Of course it was packed. Of course everyone had a Kingmaker shirt on. Of course I felt privileged to be there. Of course sweat dripped down the walls. Of course I could’ve been in any smaller venue in any town in Britain once the po-going started, but if I had it wouldn’t have felt so special. So local. So Hull. Their best-known song at the time was ‘Really Scrape The Sky’. In the Adelphi, they really scraped the ceiling. Kingmaker’s philosophy was to return. They gigged hard, 50 dates at a time, and instead of moving to a bigger venue when they came back to a particular town, they played the same venue again. And again. That said, the next time I came to Hull to see them, it was at the bigger, 700-capacity Tower Ballroom. Traitors. Did they feel they could take on the Top 40? Yes, and they felt they had taken on the Hull Adelphi.” (Andrew Collins, ex-editor NME)
“I hit the road with Kingmaker. I had an amazing time and loved being out on the road. The Kingmaker tours all started or ended (and sometimes both), at the Adelphi. This was in homage to Jacko for his hard work in helping Kingmaker get signed. He hooked them up with management and gave them all the best slots at the Adelphi. These gigs were tremendous. The band was tight and the gigs were rammed. I remember one Kingmaker night standing round the corner of the stage, not being able to see it, outside the old toilets. I was joined by the bass player’s family all dripping with tobacco stained punk sweat. It was mayhem of the finest kind. The drummer by the way was shit hot. I ended up learning a thing or two off him in the couple of years. But not about hairstyling!!! But mind you, the others two made up for that. They were always neatly presented with brylcream quiffs. The next few tours saw Kingmaker supported by Suede, Elastica and Radiohead. All of whom went on to more success.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, ex-Kingmaker/Elastica/Super Furry Animals)
“I first saw Kingmaker in 1990 when they were supposed to be supporting Dr. Phibes and the House of Wax Equations. Dr Phibes cancelled and Kingmaker were bumped up to headliners and played one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen.” (Priya, Yo-Yo)
“Kingmaker’s New Years Eve gig don’t get much better. John Andrews’ weird blue drum kit, Loz all Bob Dylan and Myles looking like one of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – didn’t keep that look for long!” (Mark, ex-Suffocation)
“I went to see some ‘Special Guests’ play a supposedly ‘secret’ gig. The band turned out to be Hull’s very own Kingmaker and they sounded amazing. This was my first experience of seeing a gig in a small venue. Apart from the sweat, energy and excitement of the night, I remember walking away, wondering how a dog had managed to remain fast asleep at the front of the stage for the entire gig (maybe it preferred dance music?).” (Martin Knight, ex-Mind Candy/The Favours)
“Kingmaker – nice bunch of lads and, dare I say it, some good tunes!” (Jon McArthur)
“The first Kingmaker demo was the most basic recording imaginable, but it had a remarkable quality and maturity and worked a treat. I soon found myself firing copies off to a few folk in London, getting a pretty much instant response from none other than 2 agents: namely Charlie Myatt and John Gammon. To cut a long story short, I fixed them up with management and the band were duly signed to EMI Chrysalis. For the next couple of years Kingmaker were the ‘happening’ band of the moment, alongside other emerging bands of the time, such as Radiohead, Blur & Elastica, before it all went pear shaped.” (Paul Jackson)
While Kingmaker became part of the national music scene, other national bands, some of who have subsequently become household names, came to play at the Adelphi. However, these were the exceptions in a period of progressive, and then suddenly rapid, decline in the club’s fortunes.
First played – 1991 Times played – 2 Last played – 1992
“PJ Harvey – she and her band sat on the same table as me and my mates when she supported Leatherface. I would like to say she blew them away… but she didn’t!” (Jon McArthur)
“Having a friend who was putting out her early records, I came pre-prepared for PJ (may have already seen her in London, can’t remember),
and couldn’t wait for the Adelphi gig. I think these early songs still stand up as some of her best. I guess this gig holds more of a personal significance (as gigs can), and represents a point in her career that I could relate to in terms of my musical advances, sort of ‘growing older with Polly Harvey’, if you get my drift. Remember talking to the bass player about boring muso stuff – he was more boring than me!” (Jonny Dawes, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“At the soundcheck she looked like a washed out bag lady, two hours later a screaming banshee.” (Paul Watts, ex-Suffocation)
“P. J. Harvey played twice here. The 2nd show accompanied the release of ‘Sheela Na Gig’ and sold out, which meant that there was little in the way of social contact or pleasantries. Great night though, as was the first show, in which Polly and band supported none other than Frankie Stubbs and the mighty Leatherface. She had found all this rather intimidating though the Geordies were always a pleasure to work with and the billing worked a treat.” (Paul Jackson)
First played – 1992 Times played – 2 Last played – 1993
Radiohead played twice at the Adelphi and were chosen to support Kingmaker during their subsequent national tour. They also supported them at a special gig, promoted by Paul Jackson, at the larger venue, The Tower, in Hull.
“We played twice at the Hull Adelphi and I loved them both. We’d never played in a terraced house before; we’d rehearse in the house we shared then in Oxford, which was only semi-detached. At the end of May, 1992, I remember rolling up in the rusty white van, and unloading our purple-boxed gear round the back, which was where the audience came in. We all marvelled at the pool table in the front room, and were grateful for a fiver each from Paul Jackson to eat out at a delicious local Thai restaurant. We even had a support band, called Think Tank, very cordial folk who were patient with our soundcheck. There was an old, deaf dog who sat directly between the mixing desk and a pillar of loudspeakers, and failed to respond to any of our noisy exertions. The second time we played, in February 1993, we had the beginnings of some success with ‘Creep’, but what made the night most memorable was that we were staying in the local Camponile motel, instead of the usual five hour slog back to Oxford. What luxury! Unfortunately, we shared the hotel with a visiting troupe of Chippendales, who were stalked by a posse of older women at the hotel gates. Tired from our show at the Adelphi, we were kept up by the sounds of screaming and vomiting from their floor. Truly rock and roll! The only consolation came the next morning when the hotel maid mistook Ed for a Chippendale, which he loved, obviously. We loved playing the Adelphi, for its quirks and hospitality, and the closeness of the audience. Now, I’m afraid, we could never do it, because there would be no room for our ‘ego’ ramps into the audience, costume changes and individual flight-cased purple wardrobes. Also, security would be a nightmare, because we’d end up talking to the fans… maybe we should’ve toured with the Chippendales.” (Colin Greenwood, Radiohead)
“Who’d have thought they’d turn into the monster they are now? Not me, but I’m glad they did.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“The Radiohead gig was superb. They brought their own light show. Well, 5 par cans with no gel in them, so it entirely lit up the room from the stage end. They had just started out as a small Oxford band and they were outstandingly tight and a real wall of sound. They even covered ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’! I have seen them many a time since, but that 1st time was special.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, Super Furry Animals)
“Radiohead had just released ‘Creep’ and they were on the brink of being enormous. I was completely blown away by the quality of their songs.” (Priya, Yo-Yo)
“I saw Radiohead just after ‘Creep’ was released as a single. A large group of people were sat cross-legged on the main part of the floor, preventing a huge queue of people from getting in. A message came up on the scrolling LED display saying something like: ‘This is not a student party. Get off the fucking floor’ – or words to that effect, and they promptly scattered. Once everyone stood up, I couldn’t actually see anything, but the music sounded great!” (Dr Ruth Graham)
“We supported Radiohead at the Adelphi. Talking to them in the front bar before the gig we found they were really polite, friendly and quietly-spoken. When they came on though they were so loud it was untrue. They were mesmerising. You could tell they were something special, but never expected them to be as big as they’ve become.” (Alan Jones, ex-Spacemaid)
“Radiohead played here twice and were like ‘best mates’ to work with. They told their agent Charlie Myatt that the Adelphi was the best show on the small gig circuit. I like to think that all this was because they were treated like human beings and were able to mix with music literate people like themselves. The shows worked on all levels. They also toured with Kingmaker, which must have left a ‘Hull in their hearts’. I regard Radiohead as one of the few genuinely great bands left on this planet, and among the all time top ten, while still retaining the potential to push boundaries still further. Have fully deserved everything they have got since.” (Paul Jackson)
First played – 1992 Times played – 8/9 Last played – 1994
Cast, John Power’s own band following the demise of The La’s, became a bit of a regular fixture at the club. He still plays solo at the Adelphi to this day:
“We were all really excited because John Power’s new band Cast were playing. John took up position at the front. I was a big fan of The La’s so I was nervous about how it would go. Any doubts were soon dispelled though because the new material was really good. No one was disappointed. Everyone went mad!” (Graham, Hairdresser to the Stars)
“The drummer was like Keith Moon. He had a really odd-sized bass drum and a wide-eyed stare. They sounded like a real 50’s Mersey beat with 4 part harmonies and drew a real big crowd.” (Mark Richards, ex-Suffocation)
“Cast – the Adelphi house band during the early-90’s – saw them more than I saw my cats!” (Jon McArthur)
“I saw John Power earlier this year at the Adelphi, playing an acoustic solo set. The performance was exhilarating, all the classic Cast, a few La’s, and a handful of new songs. Watching just one man and a guitar the audience were enthralled. Alone on stage, without interference from other instruments, the songs somehow stripped and pure. Power’s genius shone brightly through the small venue, warming the hearts of those who had ventured out on such a miserable night. He may have been to the Adelphi 8 or 9 times over the years in different guises, but I know he’ll be back. Musically there’s whole lot more to come.” (Chris Dimmack)
“The material John Power had written as the 2nd La’s album struggled out of the bag in the form of Cast: and what a struggle it was. No-one would put the band on, and Go! Discs seemed to pull off every imaginable, dodgy corporate trick to ensure that this was a career doomed to failure. I would think that between 1992-4 Cast played the Adelphi 8 or 9 times, during which time they progressed from the vaguely shambolic to something approaching, and almost equalling, the magnificence of The La’s. “ (Paul Jackson)
First and last played – 1994 Times played – 1
The original Oasis gig booked at the club was cancelled. By the time they honoured the gig, they had attained overnight success on the popularity of ‘Supersonic’.
“This guy was sat all on his own on the way out to the toilets. I realised that it was Liam Gallagher and told him that I liked the new single (‘Supersonic’). His response? ‘Cheers, mate’. But when the gig started they played one which I thought was a cover for ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’. I decided I wasn’t that keen anymore. I preferred Shed Seven – who’d been on the week before!” (Graham, Hairdresser to the Stars)
“I went down De Grey Street early one evening and saw a queue outside the club. I remember thinking that I didn’t know what was going on any more. I’d never seen queues there before.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“This was a gig of enormous rock ‘n’ roll proportions. People were squeezed in every available space. They were totally amazing!” (Priya, Yo-Yo)
“The best gig I’ve ever been to at the Adelphi has to be Oasis. It was probably only a week after they played ‘Supersonic’ on The Word and the venue was as packed as I’ve ever seen it. I remember standing at the front of the stage seeing Liam Gallagher swagger onstage and knowing instantly that this was going to be amazing. Hearing ‘Live Forever’, ‘Cigarettes and AlcohoI’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ and ‘Shakermaker’, played in front of 150 people was something I’ll never forget. After the opening song, we were forced to retreat to the back of the venue in fear of getting crushed by the crowd. I’ve seen Oasis a few times since, at places like Earl’s Court and the Leeds Festival, but none of these huge shows could touch the magic of that night at the Adelphi.” (Martin Knight, ex-Mind Candy/The Favours)
“Oasis played here the day before the release of ‘Supersonic’ and consequently sold the place out – substantially, though not excessively. They were actually nice to work with: seemed to love the Tropicana (now Java) curry, and talked incessantly about The Beatles. People think I hate Oasis but they are wrong. What I hated was all the bands, and endless streams of demos, that tried to emulate them. I used to have this nightmare vision of being an A & R man!” (Paul Jackson)
First played – 1994 Times played – 2/3 Last played – 1995
“This band started playing, really loud, with the most amazingly tight rhythm section you could imagine. Everyone in the front pool room suddenly stopped, looked at each other, and went to check out what was going on. There was this incredible looking, shaven-headed black woman, really going for it, with this astonishing wall of sound behind her. There was only a handful of people in there. But, you could tell this band were something special – really jaw-dropping, heart-stopping stuff!” (Dr Ian Smith)
“3 fifty year old blokes with a gorgeous young singer. I think they were promoting the tune ‘Selling Jesus’ or something. Intense full-on, energetic rock when live, unlike their chart hits which were more melodic ballads. Really tight with real stage presence.” (Mark Richards, ex-Suffocation)
“Skunk Anansie played here 2 or 3 times and we saw them develop into a huge professional outfit. Skin was a huge talent, a real person, and had the most amazing voice, which should always serve her well.” (Paul Jackson)
First and last played – 1995 Times played – 2/3
An incredibly youthful Supergrass performed at the club several times in quick succession:
“Paula & I refused to knock 50p off a pint for Supergrass, stating they were bloody lucky they were getting served. They only looked about 12!” (Carmel Kilbride, bar staff, aged 13)
”The band went on to play a storming gig. It was at the time when ‘Mansize Rooster’ had been released. Support came from an up and coming band called The Bluetones.” (Priya, Yo-Yo)
“They played a really short gig once, starting with ‘Alright’, followed by half a dozen others, culminating with an encore of ‘Alright’. A few days later they were on ‘Top of the Pops’, playing – you’ve guessed it – ‘Alright’, which had just entered the charts.” (Dr Ian Smith)
“Along with Radiohead, The Bluetones and many other bands, Supergrass came here through the good offices of Charlie Myatt. We got 2 or 3 shows out of them and they were a mighty fine band, and lovely to work with too. People say; as they invariably do, that the best shows they ever saw by Supergrass were those at The Adelphi.” (Paul Jackson)
The Adelphi continued to put on a variety of international bands in the early-1990s. One of these, Green Day, went on the achieve major international success.
First and last played – 1991 Times played – 1
“Being in a crowd of 50 or so, watching new US hardcore band Green Day, thinking they were brilliant for the first 7 songs, and then being bored (I’m still the same now!).” (Guy Gibson, ex-Vagrant)
“Went to see a new American band around this time called Green Day. New Hüsker Dü? We didn’t think so!!!!!” (Tony Peaks, ex-Kicks/New Day Rising/Suffocation)
“Green Day are Shit.” (song title, Santa’s BuggerBoyz)
“Green Day played here just before Xmas, on the back of an acclaimed, and profitable, first US tour. They were great to work with, slept upstairs and got on really well with the dog. This was despite the fact that one of them had actually been responsible for killing a Springer Spaniel a couple of years previously. Even at this early stage the accessibility and poppiness of their ‘hardcore’ shone brightly. I remember making several recommendations to various A & R reps which came to nowt.” (Paul Jackson)
WORLD MUSIC (c.1992 – Present)
As the Indies scene declined further the number of local bands and national touring bands similarly reduced. Towards the end of the 80’s the club had played host to Sierra Leonian performer, S. E. Rogie, on several memorable occasions, and these gigs became increasingly popular. The opportunity to present more World Music events came about in the early 90’s and helped to fill the ‘vacuum’ created by the reduced number of Indie gigs at the club. These concerts, which have featured wildly diverse music from across the globe, have come to be a significant feature of the club’s output over the years since and offers a unique cultural opportunity to the city and local region. The Adelphi has rightly become very proud of its associations with these highly talented and respected musicians, and the performers themselves, correspondingly, have developed a close affinity with, and respect for, Paul and the Adelphi. Paul reflects:
“We have been doing World Music for over 12 years now. A pretty comprehensive coverage of the various music genres and countries of Africa, throat singers from the Tuva province of Siberia, bands from Cuba, Brazil, India, Morocco, Torres Strait Islands, alongside much from Europe and North America. We love it and they invariably seem to love us too, which is just as well as I always seem to be massively out of pocket afterwards. Perhaps in another world I would have travelled, and this is just me bringing the world to the Adelphi in the absence of those opportunities. Perhaps it is alternately an integral part of the unique cultural agenda of the Adelphi, which works, and which is constantly regenerating itself. Yes, I enjoy bringing the world to Hull. I enjoy it when the world enjoys what it finds here, and when Hull folk enjoy what they find there through music. I enjoy it when the various ethnic communities of Hull interact with each other in peace and harmony and I like it when the world feels just a little bit smaller, and Hull just a little less claustrophobic. I like a room full of different coloured smiles, and friendship, and dancing and sweat running down the walls. When these shows work, as they invariably do, I see them as a cathartic celebration of our humanity. I love them.” (Paul Jackson)
“I’d never even considered I would hear such things except for being taught the shite that they pass off as World Music in schools. Here it was, in the flesh. A room full of people with different backgrounds and bands that couldn’t even speak the same language as them. The only way of communicating they had was song, dance, sweat, smiles and love.” (Matt Edible, bar staff, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“The Adelphi has always been a great purveyor of World Music nights and I have seen some great gigs there, Ifang Bondi for one was a wonderful experience – beautiful spiritually infused Kora music underpinned with rump shaking African percussion. It was completely different music from a different continent and its natural intelligence was spellbinding.” (Mark Young, aka Third Face, Full Cycle Records)
“One special moment which always springs to mind was seeing the West African band, Ifang Bondi. They came with an array of traditional Gambian instruments which they’d hand-crafted themselves and played an amazing gig. For the duration of the night, each member of the band wore the biggest, beaming smiles, which just spread through the crowd, creating the most amazing atmosphere. In any other venue, with a bigger hall or stage, the intimacy that made this atmosphere would have been lost, and that’s the beauty of the Adelphi’s dimensions.” (Lewis McNeill)
“I particularly have loved the African bands, especially some of the East African guitar-based bands, often at least eight or nine musicians who know how to make the most of the intimate atmosphere and get a real thing going with the audience. The Adelphi is transformed into a frenzy of dancing and grinning! There was one band, Bozi Boziana and Anti-Shock, who had about fourteen band members, including five part harmonies and four dancers – that was another electric evening.” (Frankie Banham, Mambo Jambo)
“Thomas Mapfumo‘s first gig was booked at only 8 days notice, so Jacko couldn’t publicise it properly. The place was still packed out, just on word of mouth.” (Andy Hodgson)
“There have been times when I’ve felt quite culturally isolated in Hull. Somehow, the Adelphi has come to the rescue with the most amazing acts from all over the world. Nights where EVERYONE would dance the night away, and then take the long walk home, shivering as the sweat cooled, but with the memory of the night’s performances still firing up the imagination.” (Audrey, ex-Back to Base)
“Yat-kha, some Russian throat singers, came on stage and as soon as they started I was rooted to the spot in awe. Big bears of men that looked like a cross between Eskimos, Triads and rockers, making the weirdest and most amazing sounds that I have ever heard. Think growl/belch/gargle (unbroken for minutes at a time, who knows how these guys breathe) accompanied by traditional instruments, but actually making a danceable rock sound. You could tell that they felt right at home.” (Dr Catherine Dobson)
“Sierra Maestra from Cuba drifted in one by one as they started out playing ‘Chan Chan’ by Compay Segundo, a strangely eerie and spellbinding song, totally unexpected, the first time I’d heard it, a real ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ moment. Then, over the next hour or two, they proceeded to roast the audience with their hotshit rhythms, tearaway trumpet and flamethrower vocals.” (Pete Jack, Mambo Jambo)
“Paul somehow double-booked Loyko, a Russian Gypsy folk band featuring a classically-trained guitarist and a virtuoso violinist, with some rock group. Both gigs went ahead, Loyko taking to the stage late on, such a marvellous contrast to what had been on before. This was music the like of which you rarely get to see.” (Martin Deas)
MUSICIANS’ NIGHT (1986-Present)
Adelphi’s famous Musicians’ Night, which is an Adelphi institution to this day, came about in early-1986. It was set up initially with the help of Matthew Hogg, singer/songwriter of local band Coyote Trap, who performed himself many times and actively encouraged others to:
“I first turned up with a guitar and an invitation from Matt Hogg to play Musicians’ Night. I’m still turning up to try out new songs, or play with new people, or just to listen to whoever’s turned up to play.” (Pete Jack, Mambo Jambo)
“These nights are so important to local musicians as they provide a breeding ground for creativity, and allow inexperienced musicians to become used to performing in front of a crowd. A handful of other venues in Hull have attempted to imitate the open mic nights, but have come nowhere near to creating the same atmosphere and following.” (Lewis McNeill)
“I’m now a professional musician and I love getting up at Musicians’ Night, especially if it’s a spontaneous thing with other musicians. There have been some very exciting and extraordinary musical moments you wouldn’t have missed watching or being involved in for anything.” (Frankie Banham, Mambo Jambo)
“Gone through our four, ‘life-changing’ indie songs until our noses bled. Now we are here. Now is the time. I whisper the name of the song and we begin. Feedback. A bass note out of tune. Words forgotten. My voice. Unsure and quiet. I try to fit my whole body behind the microphone. Soon the song is over and instead of more murmuring the crowd clap. Someone whistles. I detect a cheer. The next three songs disappear into the smoke and sweat of the room.” (Deeaay Harrison, City of Glass)
“I ventured to the Adelphi for an open-mic night. When I arrived, I wasn’t so sure of the place. Kind of small, cramped, dingy. I almost left. I am so grateful that I didn’t. I performed 3 songs, and the audience was astounding. I couldn’t believe my music was accepted with so much respect and appreciation. This energy fuelled and encouraged me to continue writing and playing voraciously while I was in England.” (Katie Haverley, US singer/ songwriter)
Just about every local musician who has played the Adelphi has done these Monday night sessions. Some have even played hundreds of times. All forms and genres of music are acceptable – although original stuff is preferred over straight covers. But, everyone gets a chance, however good or bad.
OTHER STUFF (1986-1995)
Between 1986 and 1995 the club played host to events other than live gigs. These included performance drama, poetry readings, club, disco and quiz nights:
“We had a DJ night called Backyard Mash as the ‘Deck Generals’ playing Hip Hop and beats on 4 turntables to a small local crowd when Hip-Hop had just started to emerge in the UK. To be honest we probably alienated half the audience as we were experimenting too keenly with scratching and mixing but you could say it was a formative experience in my DJ’ing career!” (Mark Young, aka Third Face, Full Cycle Records)
“Me and Eddie organised the Adelphi quiz on a Sunday night. They were ace
nights, you could win cash prizes or home-made wine as on-the-spot prizes. I
remember spending hours researching questions that Eddie would twist and re-word to sound absolutely ludicrous, ie:
My Q: How many feet from the penalty line………..?
Ed Q: How many feet has Seb Coe got?
The place was packed and Eddie was pure genius.” (Maggie Johnson, ex-manager, The Gargoyles)
“Eddie Smith made me laugh so much during his quiz night I sprayed beer over everyone at the next table!” (Ted Alkins, ex-John the Monkey)
As mentioned earlier The Unity Club had originally used the Trades and Labour Club as its base before effectively de-camping to the Adelphi. Its main purpose was political, was highly supportive of left-wing causes and strongly opposed to Thatcherite ideology. Nick Taylor explains:
“Myself and a group of friends from the legendary Hull band 3-Action were running regular events under the banner of The Unity Club, the basis of which was to ‘unite the tribes of the 80’s’, raise consciousness of the struggles and issues that we were all faced with. Consequently, the majority of our promotions were such things as Miners Benefits (in support of the great strike), Rock Against Rascism, CND, Anti-Nazi League, Womens Rights, Gay Rights, etc…” (Nick Taylor, The Unity Club)
The events held under The Unity Club banner were often overtly political gatherings often featuring performers well known for their left-wing political commitment and affiliation. Attila the Stockbroker’s long-term relationship with the Adelphi began largely under the auspices of The Unity Club:
ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER
First played – 1985 Times played – 20 Last played – 2004
“I must have done one of the earliest gigs at the Adelphi… I turned up, thought ‘bloody hell, this is someone’s front room!’ and was then blown away by the place. It was a brilliant gig.” (Attila the Stockbroker)
“Lib..yan Students from HULLLL!!!” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“I saw Attila playing on Remembrance Sunday and he played ‘The Green Fields of France’. Grown men were crying at the bar. It could have been because it was last orders, but what a beautiful song!” (Dave Bush)
“It seems to me as if Attila’s been on nearly every week for the last twenty years. And when he’s on you always know it! Couldn’t miss him if you wanted to! An Adelphi institution.” (Dr Ian Smith)
“I started off having some packed gigs, then they became more sparsely attended, and now we seem to have reversed the trend. When you’ve been going as long as we have, you get used to such things! But whether playing to a hundred or a handful, I always love coming back.” (Attila the Stockbroker)
“Attila the Stockbroker: stroppy motormouth Bard of Brighton. Never worked out quite what makes Attila tick but love his passion, intelligence and humanity. Never rated in ‘Arts’ circles because people actually like what he does, but a great friend and a great man to have on your side.” (Paul Jackson)
Since the days of The Unity Club, the Adelphi has always put on benefit gigs. There can’t have been many good causes, local, national or international, that haven’t had a night at the club over the years. These include Friends of the Earth, CND, Greenpeace, Hunt Saboteurs, Infant Death, Homeless and Rootless, Shelter, Musicians Exchange, Mind, RSPCA, Dock Benefit, Anti-Apartheid, Animal Rights, Anti-Vivisection League, Hull Music Collective, International Women’s Day, Amnesty (loads of times), Cuban Solidarity, Giroscope, and many, many others.
“I have organised or attended innumerable charity do’s, when Paul Jackson kindly provided the Adelphi as a venue absolutely free of charge, to the great benefit of people – both locally and internationally.” (Natalie Stove)
“Paul Jackson kindly allowed us to keep our bus in the Adelphi car park in the early 90’s. We were getting harassed by the local constabulary, who didn’t want to see our vehicle on the road. It was around the time of the anti-‘New Age Traveller’ hype, and there was quite a lot of prejudice against anything that looked remotely like a traveller’s vehicle.” (Danny Swift, Project Director, Charity People)
“One night after a charity gig for the Homeless, when all the instruments had been packed away, the stage was bare and time at the bar was a distant memory, none of the 50 or so people sat cross-legged on the floor had moved. Jacko said: ‘Come on you lot, haven’t you got homes to go to?’ They all turned to face him and collectively said: ‘No.’” (Dave ‘Dinger’ Bell)
HULL MUSIC COLLECTIVE
The Hull Music Collective (HMC) was formed in June 1988 and was made up of members of most of the local bands playing at, and centred around, the Adelphi at that time. It was set up largely in response to the issue of flyposting which had come into the public arena as a result of the local council’s attempt to prosecute Paul Jackson and the Adelphi for the illegal advertising of a gig at the club by a local band. The offending poster was discovered in a telephone box on Cottingham Road and, because it was then a municipally-owned telephone company, this provided the council with an opportunity to round on the Adelphi. There had already been a dispute with the council concerning sound levels and soundproofing and this incident provided them with the pre-text to attack the club in another way. As it was, when Paul turned up in court, the council withdrew the prosecution.
The HMC attempted to open discussions with the local council in order to establish legal sites across the city for advertising gigs, thus avoiding the excesses of illegal flyposting. Approaches were made to local councillors and representations made to the council’s Technical Services Department. Certain ‘sites’ were eventually designated and established, but were immediately abused by local club nights advertisers and others groups not associated with the HMC. In the end, little was achieved by this initiative.
As well as the issue of flyposting HMC was also set up to organise, support and encourage local bands and musicians to develop links with promoters, studio owners, music shops, music tutors, and with the local council itself – including the possibility of funding through the Inner City Grants initiative. Community links were also established between the HMC and the Warren, and with local Youth and Community Centres for the purposes of conducting music workshops. Benefit gigs for the HMC were put on at the Adelphi over the next year or so, with a series of events showcasing local bands involved in the collective, but in the end funding applications were refused, council assistance was minimal, and so the HMC eventually withered on the vine.
RESIDENTIAL HOME FOR THE ELDERLY
Other great ideas around this time included the proposal to site a residential home for the elderly at 60-68 De Grey St in 1990. In an area which also has an array of industrial and commercial outlets as well as the Adelphi, this ludicrous suggestion was opposed by nearly all the residents and businesses in the area. It wasn’t that the club, these other businesses and local residents were against old people, but just recognised that the area wasn’t suitable for that kind of development. A petition was drawn up over the course of a couple of weeks and over 1000 signatures gathered. The only support for the proposal was from the local Residents Association (significantly not based in De Grey), who had had a long-standing gripe against the club specifically and, it’s also suspected, against young people in general. They mustered their own much smaller counter-petition in response. Needless to say, the proposal was quietly and unceremoniously dropped. For once, good sense prevailed in the council planning department.
There now follows a short interlude while The New Adelphi Club is renovated and refurbished. The club will remain open for business as usual. Apologies for any inconvenience.
THE RENOVATION – (SEPTEMBER 1995 – FEBRUARY 1996)
Yosser had been put down the night before and Jacko was looking to the future. He asked my opinion about a pro-active design pitch that had recently been made to the club by GMP. It consisted of a lick of paint to the walls, a few frames and some stool covers – all for the generous price of £10,000! I knew that more much more could be achieved than that. The club was in decline at the time with very few punters, fewer bands and a diminishing profile. Something needed to be done.
The first thing was to survey the club. A few areas needed change: the bar (punters could watch the band through the hatch for free); the sound desk (which blocked a quarter of the main room); the toilets (non-paying customers had to walk through the main room, sometimes not returning); the stage/DJ console (the small stage was always scattered with vinyl). This layout had to be changed. Sketches were made, shown to Jacko and discussed and approved with regulars.
The aims were to:
1. Reposition and raise up the PA centrally at the back, and install (split) equal length multi-core down the central beam to the speakers.
2. Move the DJ booth to the new mixing desk.
3. Extend the stage to the full width of the club.
4. Create a band room with toilet, sink, fridge, tv, etc.
5. Block the old hatch and create two separate bars.
The renovation was achieved through a Brewery loan, including an extended loan for signage. Throughout the whole affair Jacko managed the finances and his ‘upside down’ attitude was prevalent. When things were going quite well, Paul would hold the purse strings tightly. In times of crisis, Paul would remain totally calm and more upbeat than anyone else. He would smile, laugh and raise morale and help solve the problem.
The main body of work took months to complete, mainly because the club never shut throughout the entire building work, alterations and decorating. There were many people involved in the club’s renovation: builders merchants, building control, architects and a ‘highly skilled’ team of volunteers (who changed from one day to the next). Most of the volunteers had never picked up a brush before. But they did the real graft: Paula, Myles, Mark R, Simon, Andy, Mac, Scarper, Jez and others. The only paid contractor was the builder, Phil Tomlinson, a music fan who had been to the club on many occasions, who worked long hours and remained extremely tolerant towards our makeshift workforce.
In order to unite the two rooms a small dog-legged corridor was built. The cellar piping then needed tunnelling under the floor and previously external plumbing had to be re-routed. A hole cutter was used to access and connect the downpipes from upstairs. A memorable highlight was carrying a piece of the waste pipe around and asking the volunteers to sniff it and guess what it was. Most of the morning was spent running away from victims brandishing an assortment of dangerous tools when they were told it was Jacko’s shit and that microscopic particles now lined their nostrils
During these chaotic months the club was a bombsite. The punters still entered through the front door and were not put off, or even surprised, to pass the pool room, segregated from the rest of the club by a mucky bedsheet, or to arrive in the main room and climb over a small wall only to stand around a pedestal with 10 beer pumps screwed dubiously around the circumference. A wry smile perhaps and then on with the music!
Thirty miles west of Hull, in Sherburn in Elmet, lies the biggest bus graveyard in the region. Armed with oxy-acetylene equipment we paid a visit. The day was actually spent painfully cutting through the thick fibreglass body of a 70’s Bristol VR, with hacksaw blades, in the pissing rain. Oxy-acetylene my arse! We took the entire front of the bus, registration JAH400L, complete with concertina doors, running rails, mirrors, bells and steering wheel for the grand sum of £20. The bus was then re-assembled in the front bar of the club. Its three main panels were attached to a new frame, fibreglassed, filled and sprayed.
It’s always interesting to see people impressed when entering the front bar to see a double decker bus and the ‘Roland’ Grafascope. It’s less pleasing for them when they put eye to the viewfinder only to see Jim the mixer man’s pert buttocks dancing gently like pensioners’ breasts recoiling from a bingo win. We’ve asked him to shave his gusset and wear a thong, but some people’s commitment to the club just isn’t 100%.
In the end we achieved most of what we had set out to do. Inevitably though, we ran out of budget and never quite added the final touches. (Chris Dimmack)
While we’ve still got a minute, let’s just spend a penny in the infamous Adelphi toilets:
“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” (Dave Lee)
“I knelt in piss and god knows what in the gents changing the urinal traps and water pipes. I still shudder to this day if I think about it.” (Mark Richards, ex-Suffocation)
“The toilets are frankly awful and wet underfoot. In fact, I’ve always imagined that advanced dysentery would be required before anyone would voluntarily sit bare-cheeked on the toilets in the gents.” Nick Clay (ex-Pink Noise)
“Toilets that could kill!” Chris Elliot (ex-Gargoyles)
“The toilet was the one out of Trainspotting.” (Schneider TM)
“Some speak of a legendary log laid by the bass player of the Blubbery Hellbellies in the cold winter of ’86. So fearsome and voluminous was this behemoth stool that neither coat hanger nor drumstick nor guitar string garrotte could break it down into flushable chunks. So there it sat, almost a living thing. Its insidious influence soon spread out of the pan, along the floor and up the walls until all sign of hygiene was obliterated.” (Dave Lee)
“So everyone likes to moan about the toilets. It’s all part of the experience, no extra charge. What do you want? McToilets? Sanitised corporate urinals? Wake up – it’s ‘the Toilet tour’. I remember in the 80’s when there was rarely a lightbulb in the matt black bogs. You’d walk into pitch blackness and hope you weren’t pissing on that Yeti Psychobilly’s leg, whilst a family of spiders dived into your kegs. It’s all about tolerance and your immune system. That’s why you get a cold every year and I don’t… dysentery, maybe!” (Chris Dimmack)
“Over the years I’ve witnessed peoples’ sudden and mysterious disappearances from the Adelphi front bar. They’d be gone, say 15, 20 or 30 minutes, only then to sheepishly re-appear. Nothing needs to be said. We’ve all done it – gone home for a quick shit rather than go into trap one of the gents!” (Dr Ian Smith)
KING RAT “What about the Adelphi? I have fond memories of that place.”
THE SILVER FOX “Me too – rekindled whenever next doors’ drains are playing up. Aah, I suppose I’m being a bit churlish. There’s more to life than plumbing, after all.” (Cracktown)
“It’s a bit like being at Glastonbury without the luxury of paper. There’s a small cigarette stubber about 2ft long crossing near the 3 urinals. It looks like there used to be a picture frame that someone has ripped it off the wall leaving only the bottom edge. It holds about 20 fags. The same 20 fags from 15 years ago. You can tell because they’re John Player No 6, which have not been in circulation for some time.” (Andy Dimmack, Roadie for Kingmaker/ Elastica/Super Furry Animals)
“The toilets are shit. Grade 2 listed shit. Weapons grade shit. I’m talking really shit here. In fact, if youre going out for the evening and you know you’re going to need a shit, you don’t go to the Adelphi. Most people wash their hands before going to the toilets there. During a ‘save the Adelphi’ meeting, attendees were asked for ideas to save the Adelphi. ‘You could get some bog roll’, chipped in plucky Jon Nelson. ‘If you’ve got nothing constructive to say, you’d better leave,’ came Jacko’s response.” (Paul Banks and Bruce Hitchcock, Santas BuggerBoyz)
“I have no idea what the ladies’ is like. It may be sparkling, spotless, festooned with soft toilet paper, lavender pot pourri and bottles of fancy cologne. I doubt it though. I’m sure it’s just as horrific as the men’s. A place were women hover, terrified, 6 inches above the bowl and then scrabble in their bags for a tissue or an old lottery ticket to wipe the lily.” (Dave Lee)
“I have the knack for flushing trap one and getting rid of an entire evening’s waste with a bit of brute force and timing.” (Jody Brearton, bar staff)
“I have turned out to ‘muck out’ each week for the last fifteen years. I think that’s probably as loyal as one can get.” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
Needless to say, we could have written a book solely about the Adelphi toilets, such are their allure.
Over the years the club has played host to some bands who have been well known in years gone by – underground legends across all musical genres from the 60’s and 70s. But, these aren’t bands that are past their peak and don’t know when to stop. They’re still out there playing because it’s all they ever wanted to do, consummate professionals of the highest order. And the Adelphi provides the kind of small venue setting that allows the audience to get up close to them. Over its twenty year history, the club has played host to a number of gigs by these ‘legends’. They count among some of the greatest gigs ever played at the club.
“The Adelphi’s had its share of ‘legends’: Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix’s bassist), Carolyn Hestor (Dylan was in her band!), The Groundhogs (the crusty grunge band of 1969) and some guy from the Flying Burrito Brothers that I’ve forgotten his name! I’ve missed a few too: Arthur Brown, Edgar Broughton and Townes Van Zandt.” (Eddy Bewsher, Promoter/DJ)
“Some incredible gigs – legendary bands that you could never imagine playing at so small and intimate a venue: Daevid Allen and Gong, Hugh Lloyd Langton and Robert Calvert (both ex-Hawkwind), The Rhythm Sisters (Bruce Foxton and Bill Nelson), Sonja Kristina (ex-Curved Air), War, Arthur Lee, Chris Farlowe, Tony McPhee (ex-Groundhogs), Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack, Man, ex-Henry Cow, ex-Can, Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix’s bassist with Aziz from Stone Roses for Christ sake!) and the Mothers of Invention re-inventing themselves as the Grandmothers (twice) – the guitarist playing with them the double of Zappa himself! Amazing nights. Like walking into the twilight zone!” (Ian Smith)
“It was a rare night opening up the club for the band. Tonight ex-Strangler, Hugh Cornwell, will be riding solo. He may have played Wembley Arena and the Alexandra Palace, but he’s never been to the Adelphi before. He’ll probably love it, after all it’s nicknamed ‘the dark place’, nice ‘n sleazy. The usual fist on the loading doors announces their arrival and a small crew empty the contents of their splitter into the club foyer. The flight cases glide into the club followed by the man himself. Tall, dark, well dressed, black shirt, black trousers, black waistcoat and silver tipped black cowboy boots, he blends into the surroundings with consummate ease.
‘Alright mate, can you show me the main venue?’ he asks. ‘You’re stood in it mate,’ I reply. A glazed expression falls over his face. Had he thought he was booked into the Adelphi Theatre? I felt he wanted a little more so I furthered:
‘… the stage, the band room, the bar.’ There was no need to point, nothing too distant, a glance in each direction was sufficient. And then I fucked off into the back room. Needless to say the room has always been deceptive in size. It looks tiny when empty and massive when full. The place was packed… he fuckin’ loved it. Nice fella!” (Chris Dimmack)
“Eddie Tenpole asked me: ‘Where did you get them jeans?’. I said ‘They’re only canvas! You can buy them in the market.’ Me and Eddie Gargoyle saw him in town the next day buying a pair! Honest! Ask Eddie!” (Gary Prendergast)
“I can remember this portly, sleazy looking grey haired dude, late 50’s, all in black, strolling onto stage (Tim Rose). Looking more like a strip club owner in a bad 70’s American film than a ‘folk’ singer; he did not look like a guy to mess with. He started to play and his presence demanded attention. He sang loud, just one guy and a wooden guitar. Murder ballads, tales of death, being in jail, sleeping in his car when he was homeless, and so on. He was good. He was in the Adelphi. It was real.” (Eddy Brewsher, Promoter/DJ)
“I had seen the band arrive for soundcheck, a strange group of teenagers, pensioners and everything in between. They had long since disappeared upstairs. Surely nobody takes 2 hours to get changed! At ten to nine the door opens from upstairs, elegantly descending a sequined superstar and entourage. They sit quietly beside the pool table for a few moments until prompted that the their time had arrived. ‘That fella must be 70 if he’s a day,’ someone whispers. Tonight’s a very special night, one of only two UK performances by the legendary Ann Peebles, most famous for ‘I Can’t Stand the Rain against my Window’. A teenager on drums, a pensioner on saxophone (72 actually and an original member of the Memphis Horns – this fella played with Elvis!) – keyboards, bass, Gospel Singers, the full compliment. How the hell had Jacko booked Ann Peebles and her band? What followed will never be forgotten, over two hours of pure genius holding the audience, of all ages, races and sexes, in the palm of her hand. Encore after encore, until at midnight the band had to politely decline the requests by the audience. The crowd would have stayed all night and so would the band if they had been a few years younger.” (Chris Dimmack)
“My big disappointment was when Paul Young cancelled the Adelphi date on his comeback tour. Jacko had asked me and Bev to organise the rider. We were the envy of our Hessle mates and had arranged to take a week off work and scrub the upstairs at the club. By the time we’d got ‘Wherever I Lay my Hat’ off to a T – he’d cancelled!” (Maggie Johnson, ex-manager, The Gargoyles)
Despite having a better stage and much improved sound since the renovation of 1995-6, the club has continued to struggle against the increasing corporatisation of the national music scene and the dampening and negative effects this has had on local music. One album deals by major record companies have further undermined the creative urge that underpinned much of the indies scene in the 1980s and its residue in the 1990s. As a result, there continues to be fewer national touring bands hitting the ‘toilet’ tour (particularly now that most of the other ‘toilets’ have been closed down), and fewer local bands joining it either, although one or two have made this transition. That’s not to suggest that there are no national bands on at the Adelphi, just less of them and fewer big names. Correspondingly, there have been fewer local bands formed in and around the club. However, on a positive note, it should be pointed out that among those that have there has emerged a new sense of independence. Similarly, there have been some interesting developments at the club in terms of its international output. The next part of the book then will look at the entire musical output at the club since 1996, and then move on to consider the other activities that have taken place there as well.
(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 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.” (Paul Jackson)
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 mainman genius, Simon, with his unique understanding of the dynamics of the perfect pop song.” (Paul Jackson)
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 27th 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-PRESENT)
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.” (Paul Jackson)
NOT SO HOT GIG – THE FALL
Nearly played: Tuesday 13the 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!” (Paul Jackson)
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. In the last few years or so 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.” (Chris Dimmack)
“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 then is the history of music at the Adelphi over the last 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.
There has been a wider range of DJ/club nights at the Adelphi since 1996, with events like Easy Skankin’, Pork, Jollity Farm, Full Flava and Payback.
“My main relationship with the venue is holding a monthly club night ‘Payback’ there. The Adelphi is legendary as a live venue but is also a fantastic venue for intimate specialist club nights. I moved ‘Payback’ to the Adelphi in September 2002 after visiting ‘Easy Skankin’. I saw the potential to hold a much more relaxed and intimate night of music here. After years of playing the back rooms of larger clubs and dealing with the fact that a lot of punters would turn up just for the usual ‘night out clubbing’ I realised this is what my night needed. Playing to a dedicated crowd at the Adelphi is a fantastic experience. Every one turns up knowing it’s the kind of night they like, or if they are newcomers, that it is a night they at least might like. It is without a doubt the friendliest, most hassle free venue I have dealt with.” (Paul Snell, Payback)
As well as these nights there has been a wider array of things artistic in general, from drama performances, poetry readings, short-film festivals and, on a couple of occasions, gigs that formed part of the Hull Jazz Festival (including one great performance by Ifang Bondi in 1998). A successful Comedy night was established, which lasted for a couple of years, and several art installations have been placed in the club, including performances set up by Hull Time Based Arts.
“The Adelphi audience was always ready to react, and to enjoy themselves. Certainly, of the comedians that performed at the venue during The Red Telephone Comedy Club’s lifetime, a significant number cited the venue and the audience as the best they had ever played. It ticked every box for the basics: good sound, good lights, bar at the back of the room, intimate size, good stage. It also offered a rare atmosphere that comedians ranked very highly, and a smart, literate and reasonably well-oiled crowd that welcomed them with open arms. It was comedy paradise. A bit like the Fringe at the Edinburgh festival: totally independent and it allowed them to take risks. The Adelphi hosted fresh, quality, metropolitan club-circuit comedians and was providing that which was taken for granted by comedy audiences in other cities: an alternative to the mainstream. Comics that played the Adelphi are often seen today on TV, touring their one-man-shows, or gaining recognition in newspapers and magazines.” (Chris Cagney, The Red Telephone Comedy Club)
“At one of the Red Telephone nights, when some latecomers came in, the stand-up roared: ‘THERE BE STRANGERS!!!’ and we all turned and pointed like rejects from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, going ‘ouuourgh…’, while the sound man stuck on the ‘Old Spice’ music. I suppose you had to be there really!” (Andy Hodgson)
“Musicians/artists are allowed room to experiment and know that Paul & the Adelphi staff value what you’re doing, that they know the importance of artists pushing themselves, that they would rather have 10 people watching something creative than become a slave to tribute bands” (Jez Riley, experimental musician)
“At a Hull Time Based Arts gig, featuring avant-garde artistes, the racket was awful. The regulars in the front room just ignored it all, played the quiz machine, played pool or smirked through the serving hatch. The gig – you know the type: a bloke with a cylindrical vacuum cleaner, with a funnel attached to the end, swirling the hose around his head. The headline act was this trumpeter, screeching away. I shouted ‘play one we know’ and all the berets turned round looking at me in disgust. Anyway, the trumpeter finished his ‘tune’ and said: ‘This one’s for all the people in the front room’ and proceeded to play ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’. Oh how we laughed and sang along.” (Dave ‘Dinger’ Bell)
“In the front room of the Adelphi hangs a 6ft metal road sign which reads: TWINNED WITH YOUR DARKEST THOUGHT. The sign is one of a series by Bill Drummond, produced as part of his role in the Intercontinental Twinning Association (ITA), linking places with ideas. The first city to be twinned was Belfast (TWINNED WITH YOUR WILDEST DREAMS), and the sign and its sentiment was embraced by the local council. Not so in Hull, where within a couple of days of fastening YOUR DARKEST THOUGHT to a ‘Welcome to Hull’ sign, the council had removed it. The sign was featured in the Hull Daily Mail, local radio and on BBC’s ‘Look North’ (who paid £38 for its retrieval from the council). It found its way to the Adelphi, where it sits in its new home amongst the more open-minded and creative of the city.” (John Hurst, Bill Drummond’s Yorkshire regional organiser)
There has been a number of local music schools, colleges and music collectives that have used the club to showcase new and emerging talent. These gigs provide young people with their first chance to perform on a real stage, through a real PA, in front of real people, in a real venue. The importance of this kind of opportunity to young aspiring musicians cannot be overestimated. The Adelphi plays a significant unsung role in both musical and social education. These showcases include Ron Hales Guitar School, Access to Music, the Hull Samba School and the Tim Keech School of Music:
“When I first entered the club my purpose was to check it out as a suitable venue for a concert featuring students of rock music at the Keech School. What I found was a dark room, rather unkempt, obviously being run on a shoestring, with a low ceiling and a small stage occupying about two thirds of the area of today’s stage. The stage was well lit with a variety of spotlights while the rest of the room was in darkness. The room boasted impressive P.A. speaker stacks, mixing desk and amplification. A band was playing on stage and the floor space was moderately filled with people of all ages chatting, drinking and having a good time with no sign of any trouble. I moved near to the stage on my one-man survey, stood next to it and turned round to get an impression of the feeling our students would get if they were performing there. My immediate thought was: ‘YES! Our guys will be really turned on by this’. The atmosphere, dark, noisy, slightly seedy (first impression this last – not really born out by experience) seemed to match everything that a rock club should be. I couldn’t think of another venue that could match it locally and I still haven’t seen one. As a school we have revisited it regularly for concerts and showcases ever since and the excitement generated among our students when there is an ‘Adelphi’ coming up is evidence of its popularity. I describe the Adelphi as a rock club simply because, on my first visit, that’s what I was looking for but it has played host to many different types of music in its time and long may it continue to do so. The city and its musicians owe Paul Jackson a great debt for keeping this valuable facility open so long. It is with great glee that I tell my students that such bands as Oasis are able to boast to their friends that they have trodden the same boards as the bands from Keech School of Music.” (Tim Keech, Keech School of Music)
“My everlasting memory of The Adelphi is one Sunday afternoon spent recording ‘Harder They Come’ by Hull Samba School. There was about 15 of us and I had to sing in the gents so that my mic didn’t pick up the drums. I sang the verses then ran back into the main room to drum on the rest of the song. And its still one of my favourite recordings. It was one of those times when the Adelphi fulfilled the role of arts centre.” (Lyn Acton, singer)
This is why it’s important:
“When I feel alive is when I play my instrument in the Adelphi. It makes me feel alive because it gets my adrenaline going, everyone starts clapping, my dad singing with me, it just really gets me going. It makes me really proud of myself and I just think ‘wow’” (Nathan Caprani, aged 15)
“I received my musical and social education at the Adelphi, an education I still rely on to this day. It’s only when you get out of Hull, as we were lucky enough to do with Whizzwood, that you realise just how unique and nationally renowned the Adelphi is. I’ve travelled the world as a backline tech and tour manager for BMG Records, but I still use the Adelphi as my basis for comparison for most venues I work in. I try my best to hold true to the basic lessons of consideration and respect for others that I picked up there.” (Dan Halen, ex-Whizzwood, ‘Punk not Profit Promotions’)
THE ADELPHI MUSIC AWARDS
The Adelphi Music Awards was instituted in March 1999, and came about as a result of a deal with Stella Artois. The deal involved them donating £100 of free stock per month. This effectively freed up £100 per month, which was then available as an award to local bands, solo artists and others, based on a range of decisional factors associated with songwriting skills, musical ability, innovation, promotional work, collaboration with others, promotion of the club, quality of gigs, number of attendees and so on. There were a variety of bands and organisations who won the award, or a proportion of it, while it lasted, including Fonda 500, Santa’s BuggerBoyz, Tim Keech School of Music and various others. After a year though the sponsorship ended and so did the awards.
THE ADELPHI AS A VENUE
A chance to play and a chance to witness,
A live ground nurturing the roots of music,
A room to meet and discover the incidental.
A closed door to judgement and expectation,
A mocking door to the competitive tie –
Openness to friendship and community.
Its true value lies hidden in virtue of what it inspires.
Its true value demands it remain obscure to the norm.
A room with a view. A place on its own.
Here’s a few more thoughts about the Adelphi as a venue and the kind of place it is:
“Whether you are a band with its 1st sniff of success, convinced you should be playing a bigger venue or an escapee from the local nuthouse, everyone is equal here. Every band that reads the Adelphi on their agent’s prospective gig schedule feels their collective face contort at the thought. But whether you’re heading up, down or across the country you know it has to be done. To help cover the costs and promote another region. Almost all the first time bands to the Adelphi get this fear as they pull down De Grey St and try to convince themselves they have taken a wrong turn. And when you’ve driven passed Hull’s premier car park you reverse to the cries of ‘Is this really it?’, and you’d be right. In the cold light of day when you load into an empty double living room knocked into one with a sticky floor, you look at the PA and are straight on the phone to the management. Not realising you are about to step into the best of company and have the best of nights. You become fearful of an audience of one man and his dog (Paul & Yosser). But by the time the kids show up, the lights go down and the speakers begin to fizz and crackle you get an extra special sense of being in the right place at the right time. Whether you’ve been cheered or jeered or possibly both, your thoughts are of returning again and confused agents are asked to re-book.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, ex-Kingmaker/Elastica/Super Furry Animals)
“It is a humbling experience for those whose egos have started to feed on the scraps of fame doled out by a fickle music press or indulgent promoter. I have seen bands arrive at the club agog at the location and the apparent lack of promise it holds.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“It didn’t matter if you couldn’t play very well or if you couldn’t play at all. It didn’t matter how old you were or what you looked like. It didn’t matter if you were a three-piece, four-piece, ten-piece or if you were just two blokes – one with a cymbal and another with a bass guitar – you got a chance. It didn’t matter that a dog slept soundly on stage next to you while you played. It didn’t matter that an old crazy woman danced in front of you, occasionally removing her teeth and blowing kisses at you. It was fantastic experience.” (Miles Howell, ex-Kingmaker/Waltzer)
“There were a few venues around Britain that Carter kept going back to: gigs like The Harlow Square, Oxford Jericho Tavern, Sheffield Take 2, Bradford 1 In 12, Liverpool Planet X, and the Hull Adelphi. These were places that not only allowed us a second gig, but welcomed us back. We felt more at home in those places than we ever did at London venues and the audiences were more fun to play to.” (Jim Bob, Carter USM)
“Having toured the country I do now realise that there ain’t many places with the Adelphi atmosphere. It’s a sort of one-off – and it’s ours.” (Jimbo, Freaks Union)
“Like all the best music venues, the Adelphi exudes all the characteristics of a place that’s been around with much love & affection. As far back as I can remember, the Adelphi’s interior has always been dark, slightly gritty but warm, intimate at the same time. Places like ‘Night & Day’ in Manchester and ‘Plastic People’ in London also share these traits & what makes these venues special is their emphasis on music & the people who attend them. Over the years, the Adelphi has become part of Hull’s cultural heritage. It has not only earned its reputation as a platform for independent music & up & coming bands but also as a hub for local musicians & music lovers alike. Without venues like these, there simply wouldn’t be any local live music scene.” (Wai Wan, London DJ)
“To the uninitiated, the venue is an unequivocal ‘dive’, the hang-out of teenagers with a penchant for black eye-makeup and trousers so big you could use them to camp at a festival. Undoubtedly, the Adelphi caters for rebellious youth, but also – praise be – for rebellious old age, intellectual ennui, rare groovers, good-time boys and girls, cheesy popsters and tortured souls. I intend to stand up and be counted as one of each.” (Natasha Hodgson, ex-bar staff, Fonda 500)
A venue the Adelphi definitely isn’t:
“I heard Mansun’s manager say to them: ‘Lads, if you wanna make it big, you’ve got to treat every gig like it’s Wembley’!” (Alan Jones, ex-Spacemaid)
This is what people make of Paul Jackson, at both a personal and professional level:
“He’s probably done more to encourage young bands in Hull than anyone else.” (John Peel, ‘Sounds of the Suburbs’, Channel 4)
“Jacko was and remains to this day one of the friendliest blokes on the planet.” (Attila the Stockbroker)
“Anyone who’s met Paul Jackson knows he’s a guy that does it just for love, and there never seems to be any trouble or anything. He probably puts bands on who never play anywhere else in their life, he’s got that sort of ethos” (Jon Power, ex-La’s/Cast)
“Very much like small Independent labels, Paul Jackson has doggedly provided a springboard for many bands’ careers, totally inspired my fragile mind for one” (Pat Fulgoni, Kava Kava)
“He’s quite an eccentric really. His passion for music and his anarchistic attitude towards the music industry is unique. He’s quite stubborn; it’s his way or no way. Money isn’t the issue, no matter how much is involved. His priority is putting great music on the stage. It’s admirable.” (Dave Stead, ex-mixer man, ex-Viscious Circle/Beautiful South)
“Paul Jackson is very supportive of people who are doing their own thing and developing their own sound away from the mainstream. Irrespective of how known/unknown they are. He’s also supportive to musicians with the DIY ethic of putting out independent records and arranging their own gigs. There aren’t many promoters like Paul around today as we see the live music network in this country follow the way of record labels and radio, who in turn follow the way of our society in becoming more homogenous and bland and less risk-taking as the corporate troll slowly but surely eats its way through our culture.” (Joe Murphy, Sergeant Buzfuz)
“In an era where the children would prefer their indie heroes to be on MTV and secretly funded by Sony, the Adelphi shines alone as a torch of truth. Paul Jackson is truly a man who grasps the real meaning of no sellout.” (Porky)
“Paul is the guardian of underground music and without him the city would have little alternative to a diet of pasteurised, pre-packed pop. Over the years I have seen bands and performers, big and small. I’ve seen musical legends. I’ve seen young bands learning their trade. I’ve seen local bands so exciting they took my breath away.” (Geoff Probert, Jollity Farm)
“Paul Jackson has sustained a music venue whose influence on the local and national music scene is immeasurable” (James Waudby, Salako)
“I came to know Paul Jackson at the Adelphi, who I feel was my first musical mentor. He offered me opportunities to play shows with the likes of Tom Robinson and others, and introduced me to record producer, John Rowley, who offered to record a 3-song demo with me at his studio. Paul even drove me there to ensure the recording would take place. 8 years later, I have 2 full albums, with a third on the way, and have been voted best female singer songwriter, and best female vocalist in the region of New York in 2002 and 2003. I am indebted to the experiences and opportunities this venue and Paul offered to me with no expectations of anything in return.” (Katie Haverley, US singer/songwriter)
“He is a diamond in an industry of dullards.” (Paul Thompson, ex-Lithium Joe)
“I love Jacko, with his enthusiastic pats on the back.” (Jodey Brearton, bar staff)
The Adelphi bar staff, who have come and gone over the years, have been a loyal and hardworking group of people, and many of them still retain close contacts with the club today – even from years ago. Many have been band members, whose bar work has helped to sustain their musical interests and ambitions, while many others have been visiting students, the bar work helping out with meagre grants (well, a bit anyway). These include many international exchange students, from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, from Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. Other bar staff have been friends of band members or came from the ranks of the regulars themselves. Nearly all of them have had a keen interest in music; it seems to go with the job. Many ex-bar staff and several of the current cohort have been keen to contribute to this book. Here’s what some of them have to say about the experience:
“I painted the toilets, changed barrels, cleaned pumps, mopped floors and pulled pints and mainly it didn’t feel like hard work. I also have fond memories of the end of shift pint and game of pool/post mortem of the night’s events with Paul and the other staff when everyone had gone home.” (Sharon Clay, ex-bar staff)
“I got to see numerous bands and it was quite a lottery as to what you’d end up working at, as the Adelphi did not just cater for one style of music – anything and everything was given a chance.” (Sarah Collingridge, ex-bar staff)
“I did some time (almost a five year stretch), as part of the ever morphing Adelphi bar staff, and apart from being a useful (and grateful) tool in providing funds for late night visits to Spiders or the Sill, I got to serve the good, and not so saintly members of the Adelphi community, and of course got to see hundreds of bands, giving me long lasting memories of some of the most unforgettable gigs of my life.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-bar staff, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“On one of my many visits up to Jacko’s ‘flat’ for my usual cup of coffee before shift, I heard Jacko in the kitchen chuckling to himself that he’d had a ‘break out’ and wondered if I’d come and help him. I found hundreds of maggots had escaped from his fishing box and were crawling all over the place. I refused to help and watched while he ran round his kitchen trying to pick them all up. Later, while serving pints, one customer asked: ‘ Is this a new addition to the Adelphi?’ I found she was pointing at a maggot wriggling around on the bar. I apologised but she thought it was hilarious. For the rest of the evening they popped up all around the place!” (Carmel Kilbride, ex-bar staff)
“A friend of mine asked Paul if there were any jobs going and added that she was enquiring on my behalf. Paul’s reply was ‘Of course Sharon can work here!’ I was chuffed to bits, as, not only did I have no prior knowledge that my friend was going to do this, but at the same time I was too scared to ask Paul for a job. When I was offered a job at the only place in Hull that mattered, it made me feel ‘accepted’.” (Sharon Coke, ex-bar staff)
“The bar job helped me out through college, and many doors have been eased open throughout my career due to a good education in all genres of music and the people I met there. As a student I convinced Paul after too much to drink that he should give me a job. I eagerly arrived two day’s later thinking ‘piece of cake’ ready to start my shift. Famous last words! Half an hour and almost a wasted barrel of beer later it was all too obvious that I had never pulled a pint in my life; thankfully he gave me a second chance!” (Kirsteen McNish, ex-bar staff)
“The bar-staff are there because they love music; they themselves are regular customers. It’s well known that the pay is shit, but everyone who works there can see how much the place struggles. You can probably get a story from every person that has worked behind the bar in the past five years about a night when they were the only person in the place until Paul came downstairs at eleven o’clock.” (Matt Edible, bar staff, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“Serving beer at the Adelphi was the worst paid job I’ve ever had, but also the best job I’ve ever had; my best memories are from the time I worked and played there.” (Signe T., ex-bar staff)
“I became a member of the Adelphi bar staff. I wasn’t taken on lightly. It wasn’t just a flutter of the eyelashes for me, or managing to be in the right place at the right time. I worked on Jacko almost daily, until he eventually gave in!” (Jodey Brearton, bar staff)
“I was left in charge of the venue for approximately 24 minutes and, overcome by my new-found responsibility, promptly smashed a lightbulb while trying to twirl a broomstick like a majorette. (Sorry Paul, I still owe you a strip – strip light bulb, that is!)” (Natasha Hodgson, ex-bar staff, Fonda 500/ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“Working at the bar was a joy and an honour to be trusted. Making friends, meeting friends and introducing other friends to the gem that is the Adelphi. It became part of my life. In it, I found love, and heartbreak, I found friends that will last forever. I found a place with a welcome that supercedes any from my own country – Ireland, the country of a thousand welcomes.” (Pat Collins, bar staff)
“I can definitely say that’s the best work experience I’ve ever had. Even when I couldn’t understand the northern accent or didn’t know how to pour a perfect pint! But everyone, from the customers to the staff members and Paul, of course, was willing to give me northern English lessons or pouring and drinking lessons!” (Sarah Stephan, ex-bar staff)
“It has been such a huge part of my experience in Hull, and certainly the best part.” (Katerina Radejovic, bar staff)
“The Adelphi has a soul, and is an incredible place.” (Tazeen Bari, bar staff)
Not counting Paul Jackson (who usually mixes on Musicians’ Night and a few other gigs), there have been four main mixer men during the 20 years of Adelphi’s history: Dave Wrack, Dave Stead, Danny Shackleton and, since 1988, Jim Nutter.
“Dave Wrack was the first sound engineer. He used to wear a pair of industrial soundproof headphones and a pair of welly boots. It was a bit like having a labourer from a building site doing the sound, so it kind of fitted in with the Adelphi image I guess. He trained me in about two days. I’d never done sound before. The equipment was fucked, all second hand apart from the mics. When I first started doing the sound we didn’t have any monitors, it was just a PA with the vocals coming through it. You’d get a band that were playing so loud that we had to switch the PA off apart from the vocals. It was constantly breaking down and getting upgraded and repaired. We didn’t have any outboard gear, just a desk, no reverb or anything, no effects, just a few flashing lights. I remember Martin Stephenson and the Daintees. He was really popular at the time and would play a couple of times a year. The PA bust after the first song. It kept cutting in and out. The Adelphi was rammed and the crowd started booing and hissing. So I had to make out I was actually doing something. I got behind the PA and started pulling wires in and out so that the crowd would hear the clunks. I did that for about an hour and at the end of the gig it was a disaster. He was really pissed off. I remember saying to him: ‘You can always write a song about it, since you’re a folk singer’. He didn’t like that at all.” (Dave Stead, ex-mixer man, ex-Viscious Circle/Beautiful South)
The renovation of 1995-6 changed the position of the desk and improved the sound balance as a result:
“They have a pretty amazing PA-system there with all these little speakers. Good sounding.” (Arnold, Zea)
“During the renovation in ‘95 we put bricks under the stage which eliminated booming at the bottom end. The room’s easier now: the high backed seating helps the sound. If I was to change anything it would be the crossovers for more adjustment on where the speakers cross over at certain frequencies. At the moment, it’s pre-set and adjusting it is clumsy. What it needs is a slightly cleaner sound. We get touring sound engineers who can’t believe our system. It shouldn’t work, but it does and they can find a bloody good sound. Recently Remko Shoulten (ex-Pavement/Homespun) altered the EQ in a way I liked, so I kept it there for a while, but gradually had to move it because it’s an overall thing. We accommodate so many different types of music in the Adelphi.” (Jim Nutter, mixer man, illustrating his, er, keen interest in technical detail!)
“We used the in-house sound man – who is fantastic.” (Tom Hingley, ex-Too Much Texas/Inspiral Carpets)
At least the sound was always reliable. Jim never missed a note.
THE SILVER FOX
Though there were nights when I wished he had. (Cracktown)
“I’ve walked out on a couple of bands who had an attitude problem which I
didn’t like. One of them had a studio at home and decided to get real arsy, so I just walked off. The problem with bands is that they always come in at the optimum level and blast everything out the way. So you ask them to turn down, then ask them again. After a third time I just leave it and go for a beer in the front room. The worst people to deal with soundwise are the lead singers. They’ve got to have the vocal power. If they’re a weak singer and they play loud you just can’t get the vocals through. A good sound can be down to the band’s attitude. The other week a touring support band came in, looked at the desk and fucked off, saying ‘we’re not playing with that!’. Knobheads.” (Jim Nutter, mixer man)
“One thing any band who has graced that stage will tell you is that the sound coming back through the monitors is bloody awful. A curious mix of cymbals, feedback in frequencies that would have a dog running for cover and some tuneless idiot murdering your songs… I don’t know where they found him, but that bloke shouldn’t give up his day job! I sometimes think that poor old Yosser went deaf out of choice! We found that because our early gigs were such a struggle we rehearsed ways round it and learned a lot quicker as a result. We soon found that we could play anywhere through any gear and thrive, whereas other bands whinged about not being able to hear enough rhythm guitar – we have the Adelphi to thank for toughening us up. On our travels we met bands who would say: ‘The Adelphi is great, but man, what a stage sound’. To give you some idea of how notorious it became, here is a snippet of a genuine conversation… and this really did happen:
Sound Engineer: What do you want in the monitors?
Joeboys: Nothing. Turn them off. We don’t use them.
Sound Engineer: You’re from Hull aren’t you… “ (Paul Thompson, ex-Lithium Joe)
“You can’t improve shit” (Jim Nutter, mixer man)
“The Adelphi front room is the social hub of the club. Over the years the Adelphi regulars have come and gone, ebbed and flowed as they’ve grown older together. They sit around watching pool or watching telly (too old to stand), sharing political and philosophical observations at every turn, while slowly getting hammered. But they know how to comport themselves like apostles. No regular will be found face down in a pool of vomit. No regular will shit themselves when the six pints of Adelphi Guinness suddenly kicks home. No. Adelphi regulars build a tolerance and constitution second to none.
The Adelphi regulars look rough. Like kippers. So would you after nearly twenty years hanging out in the Adelphi smoke room. Those unspeakable fugs, where you can’t even see the other side of the room, the Adelphi ceiling fan venting directly into your lungs, leave a lasting impression on your physical and emotional being. And sometimes it really makes your eyes water. The Adelphi regulars are friendly, sensitive, intellectual, artistic, creative articulate and welcoming beings. And if you don’t agree, well fuck off mate. The Adelphi regulars don’t bang on about the ‘old’ days. It’s obvious the music was way better then. The Adelphi regulars do things together. Like sports. Or darts tournaments. Or fuck-off dangerous walks up the edge of mountainsides. Or equally dangerous visits to the Adelphi toilets. Oh, yes. And they all play pool. Brilliantly. Honest. Ask Dave Rotheray.
And they’ve spent serious money in the club. Invested their life savings on a daily basis for nearly twenty years. Me, the one who’s writing this bit, has spent about the equivalent of £60,000 in today’s money (18 years x 365 days x £10 per night = don’t tell my wife). But, I’m sure Paul’s invested it wisely.” (Dr Ian Smith, a very Adelphi regular)
“The front bar has always been the most uncomfortable place in Great Britain. People learn tolerance of each other in such a tiny environment: the huge pool table in such a small room teaches that our own personal space could be invaded by huge wooden cock-like structures. A valuable lesson at any stage of existence. The complete lack of windows allows it to be particularly un-festive despite the season.” (Eddie Smith, ex-Gargoyle)
“The Adelphi is like an old friend, welcoming you with open arms. I know that I can walk in there anytime and feel safe and at home. The Adelphi is like an extension of your family; the people who use the it are open and honest and have a common interest in music.” (Helen O’Neal)
“You will almost certainly meet some of the most inspired, creative, warm and funny characters in this venue and there is a real sense of loyalty to the place. Bands form there, good friends are made there, bar staff and regulars help each other out, relationships gel (and spilt up there!), and every topic from politics to bereavement get discussed with equal passion and openness.” (Kirsteen McNish, ex-bar staff)
“You can always bet that upon entering the bar, there will be someone you know. The Adelphi has always encouraged its patrons to bestow their experiences, traditions and personality upon the general environment of the club. Everyone who has entered has left their mark, from the ‘colourful’ graffiti in the toilets to the political banners. It is not only the music passing through the club that has contributed to the Adelphi’s character.” (Liz Parsonson, bar staff)
“The people that use the place wish to meet with equally interesting and socially-aware people. I was welcomed in the first instance by regulars who noticed I was on my own and offered me a place at their table. It’s the sort of thing that you hear evangelists barking on about, but this isn’t based on any fucked up religious moral ideal. It’s just the nature of the place.” (Matt Edible, bar staff, ex-Edible 5ft Smiths)
“From my first evening on, the Adelphi defined my undergraduate experience in Hull, and was one of the greatest things about living in the city that I have remained in ever since. Twelve years on, I’m now working as an engineer in London, but even now barely a week goes past when I don’t go to the Adelphi.” (Dr Ruth Graham)
“The Adelphi sports teams rate highly in my memories – netball, cricket and baseball (well – rounders really, but with a bigger bat) in Pearson Park at closing time every Sunday afternoon! Too many fags and alcohol for us to win any honours there!” (Maggie Johnson, ex-manager, The Gargoyles)
“A trip was planned to hike up Mount Helvellyn in the Lake District. Always up for a challenge, I signed myself up. However, being a student at the time I was out of cash, and therefore couldn’t put up the £10 subs straight away. Around the same time, I had spent time explaining a drinking game to some of the locals, and regardless of my explanations, they were reluctant to believe the rules of this game, which involved drinking three pints of beer through a straw out of an up-turned Frisbee. I offered to give a demonstration, on the condition that someone else take up the challenge and that the loser would pay £10 to the other upon defeat. Chris raised his hand. The rules were simple: three full pints, two straws, one Frisbee. I graciously stepped aside and allowed my opponent the first go. A strong and courageous effort, but unfortunately not enough to beat my subsequent 35 seconds. My victory was topped by the awesome views and tough hiking up Mount Helvellyn.” (Liz Parsonson, bar staff)
“It was nice to see people outside the confines of the Adelphi club. A lot who went had never been to the Lake District, or walked up mountains and faced the challenge of Striding Edge. Everyone enjoyed it. Great weather, great walk. A time to remember.” (Martin Deas)
“Some Observations on the History, Rules and Etiquette of the Adelphi Pool Table.
There are other aspects of Adelphi life – nooks, crannies and corners – which deserve at least cursory acknowledgement. The most important of these for me over the years, and many others like me, is the social whirlpool that centres around the Adelphi pool table. The pool regulars have been in a unique position – they attend the club irregardless of the type of music on offer. Thus we have played against representatives of every conceivable music ‘tribe’, both bands and fans. A straw poll of the bar yielded the following opinions:
The best pool players were agreed to be the following:
Indie/alt.country (US) – sharp, aggressive players, though vulnerable to snookers.
Hard rock – punters from the biker tradition are always competitive in tavern games.
Indie/pop (UK) – young and eager, but with suspect temperament.
The worst pool players, however, were agreed to be:
Goths – to improve at pool you need to play against superior opposition, but Goths always insist on playing each other.
Country/western – they lack the joi de vivre for cue sports.
Folk/world – too easily distracted by ‘serious’ conversation. No killer instinct.
Of course some music fans NEVER play pool at all (e.g. death metal, jazz) and are impossible to rate.
The rules of pool have always varied across space (between countries, counties and even between Bev Road and Newland Ave) and across time – often changing yearly at the whim of the local pool leagues. Some of these changes reflect refinements in the rules of the professional game, while others are cynical attempts to shorten games and increase revenue. As the Adelphi pool price has only changed once in living memory – from 30p (1 x 10p, 1 x 20p) up to 40p (2 x 20p) – we can discount this consideration here. The Adelphi regulars have stuck to the rules that suit them best. These may be summarised thus: 2 shots carry, foul yields free table, 2 shots on black, black any pocket, white ball placement is in D not behind line. Strangers to any pub are accustomed to negotiating a rule-set before a game, therefore rules have never been a source of significant dispute (except between wankers).
Adelphi pool has always been – in the best, non-gender-specific sense of the term – a ‘gentleman’s game’. Nobody enforces a foul for an accidental touch of cue on ball (unless the offence is repeated ad nauseum). Nobody plays for serious money, though playing for a pint is happily accepted. ‘Winner stays on’ is – as everywhere else in the civilised universe – the governing system. Students are forgiven for not grasping this immediately. Games are booked only by placing a marker coin on the table edge above the money slot (handy tip – in anticipation of argument, memorise the dates on your coins). Placing a second marker BEFORE you have been removed from the table is BAD FORM. Placing a huge stack of coins and attempting to book the table for the night is EXTREME BAD FORM. Students are forgiven for not grasping this. Once.
Greenhorns may be allowed to jump the ‘winner stays on’ system in order to play their spouse/lover/buddy. However, if this is merely a pretext for ‘teaching them to play’ (helping them hold the cue whilst slyly grabbing their arse-cheeks), then it is frowned upon. Laughing uproariously when you accidentally pot the black, and then playing a 20-minute ‘game’ with the remaining balls is positively glowered upon. People are waiting!
After a gig, ‘musicians’ often come through and join in the fun. Brilliant. Met some great people this way. Unfortunately, some bands always seem to bring acoustic guitars through, in an attempt to initiate some sickly ‘jam’ with the locals. Frowned upon.
Bringing your own cue is fine, but you should a) share it and b) be good. The Adelphi cues are notoriously rubbish, and sharing whichever happens to be the best one at the moment is all part of the camaraderie.
In summary, if you have only sampled the musical end of the Adelphi, come along and join us. Laugh at Paul Jackson’s crazily effeminate pool stance. Laugh again, as barmaids compete at drinking real ale from a Frisbee. Laugh again, and louder, as you realise that you can still buy a pint for several minutes after the concert room bar has ceased serving.” (Dave Rotheray, ex-Velvetones/Beautiful South)
THE ADELPHI COMMUNITY
Many contributors have referred to the notions of family and community associated with those who work in and use the club. This covers a diverse array of individuals all of whom share common interests in music, politics and the arts. Similarly, some people think of the Adelphi as a ‘second’ home, one which provides a surrogate family for people, especially those who come to Hull from out-of-town or overseas. These are a few of the things contributors say about these notions of family, community, home and people:
“To me the Adelphi means family and my cultural heritage. It’s a safe haven in the corporate swamp Beverley Road has turned into. I use the word ‘family’ carefully and I know Paul likes to think of the Adelphi this way. It has grown over the years on human warmth, warmth that is reflected by its members.” (Geoff Probert, Jollity Farm)
“Both times I was at the Adelphi it was clear that the place was not ‘just another venue’, but more of a collective of family, friends and members of Hull bands creating an atmosphere that made me feel at home instantly.” (Marcel Hermans, Dutch promoter/record producer, Transformed Dreams)
“I’ll never forget the first time walking in there, because of the sense of belonging and openness that hit me in a town I didn’t know.” (Pat Collins)
“Been given the opportunity to play music live holds a lot of importance to me, that and feeling a sense of belonging as part of a musical ‘scene’ was what the Adelphi, as a proactive club and community, gave to me. This was social integration, the common bond being MUSIC, any kind of music, and a sense of community around the venue.” (Jonny Dawe, ex-Death by Milkfloat)
“That was the thing about the Adelphi, people got involved – you weren’t just a member, you were part of a community.” (Maggie Johnson, ex-manager, The Gargoyles)
“From 1991 to 2001 the Adelphi was my second home, and when I say home, I mean it. I played my first gig there, recorded my first demo there, cemented all my friendships there and met my lovely wife there.” (Paul Thompson, ex-Lithium Joe)
“I discovered a new family and fantastic friends. Being far away from home, the Adelphi has been the perfect remedy to homesickness and loneliness. I found a place where I would always be welcome and where I could come for a drink and a chat whenever I felt like it. It was simple.” (Sarah Stephan, French singer/songwriter)
“Almost every single one of my current friendships and musical partnerships is a result of my association with the Adelphi. Many travelling bands and students passing through on the adventure of their lives leave us with friends throughout the world. As long as it is open we will have a place to play and to congregate and many who are lost will have a home.” (Jonee Kemp, ex-Edible 5 Foot Smiths/Fonda 500/Age of Jets)
“Some people call it a shit hole, some say it’s cool, others say diverse. I call it Home.” (Shane Mcmurray, Oracle)
“One of the few places in Hull where dole bums, students, musicians and ne’er do wells could gather as one. Paul Jackson has not only promoted all kinds of music, he’s promoted all kinds of people.” (Eddie Smith, ex-Gargoyles)
“I have met many interesting people while Paul has run the Adelphi, some diverse characters indeed over the years – all polite and have got used to being referred to as ‘Paul’s old lady’. I have never failed to be amazed at the diversity of the groups he has brought in. I am very proud of the good friends he has made and the impact on their lives.” (Joan Jackson, Paul’s mother)
ADELPHI FRIENDS – PROMOTERS
This is what a few promoters have to say about Paul Jackson and the Adelphi, and why the club’s important to them and musical culture in general:
“I started up a monthly showcase at the Adelphi. ‘Under the Influence’ was born and has gone on for 2 years now. The night is now fortnightly and has showcased bands such as Miss Black America, The Ordinary Boys, Mohair and others. ‘Under the Influence’ has given me the opportunity to fulfil a dream, but more importantly the Adelphi helped create that dream” (Dean Shakespeare, promoter, ‘Under the Influence’)
“No venue in the UK can match the Adelphi for one thing: knowing that you are dealing with a place where people go because they love the music, that is run by a bloke who loves his music and is run in such a way as to make it a genuinely fun and homely experience for everyone. This venue is not in a large city or centre of culture – it is a beacon for the people in the region who need it to be there. It is not a soulless venue, or one run purely for commercial reasons; it’s a kind of club and a hang-out where people of a like mind can come together.” (Doug Smith, Coda Agency Ltd)
“There is more to offer than top-down directed commercial music, and the Adelphi, with its like-minded ideas, has had a vast influence on my work (running a label, organising gigs) in Amsterdam.” (Marcel Hermans, Dutch promoter/ record producer, Transformed Dreams)
“I have a booking agency called 13 Artists. A booking agent has a charmed life. I get to work with bands. I get to choose the bands I work with too. My job is to plan their tours and sell shows to promoters. The majority of the bands I’ve worked with, including Supergrass, Shed Seven, Radiohead, Skunk Anansie, Manic Street Preachers and Suede, have all started out as young unknowns. It’s a bit tougher for unknowns. Why should a promoter book an unknown band? People don’t pay to see unknown bands. So the promoter doesn’t do it for the money. Must be for the love then. I’ve worked with Paul Jackson for fifteen or more years. I can’t thank him enough for the support he’s shown the artists I work with. I guess it sounds glamorous if you think that some of the groups become well known. But the majority don’t. Most of the time Paul has put in more than he’s got back. It’s strange that his efforts aren’t always recognised. I suppose part of the reason Paul doesn’t get a bit more thanks is due to the nature of the Adelphi itself. It’s certainly a unique place to play. It has a ton of character. Not every band gets on with the place. Whatever, I think it’s great. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed telling the bands that first impressions often lie… yes, it’s a converted end of terrace house, but trust me it’s great. 99% of the time they’ve agreed. I think it’s great Paul has made it happen and sustained it. I think it’s great that he champions live music and gives a chance to local and national bands. Even through the most difficult financial circumstances, when clubs seemed to spell the end of live music, Paul kept it going. Twenty years. Fantastic.” (Charlie Myatt, 13 Artists)
ADELPHI FRIENDS – LOCAL MUSICIANS
These are some of the reasons why local musicians value the club so much:
“There is respect, respect from the Adelphi for true creative musicians & artists, respect from those artists for having somewhere to explore in public, and hopefully always respect from the public for having a venue that takes risks, where you can hear music before it becomes old news, for having a venue that adds to their cultural environment.” (Jez Riley, experimental musician)
“The place is still a torch-bearer and a beacon for non-corporate, grassroots, free-spirited and radical music-making.” (Pete Jack, Mambo Jambo)
“The first band I played in made that monumental leap from bedroom noise merchants to a gigging band. The Adelphi offered countless musicians the first chance to play on a real stage with a real PA system in front of a real audience. I was so nervous I thought that I would pap my pants, the bass player broke two strings, knocked his amp over and the stage pyrotechnics used to start the set caused fear and mayhem amongst the four people that made up our audience.” (John Senior, ex-Aupheus and the Underworld/The Fabulous Ducks)
“The Adelphi was where my first real band played their first gig, where they rehearsed and partly wrote their songs. It was where most of the songs were recorded and where the necessary advice and support was sought and given. It was where arrangements were made, and logistics thought through. When I wanted to start my own band, and write my own songs, it was the Adelphi that provided the opportunity to perform our not-very-well-rehearsed music.“ (Ian Appleyard, Fonda 500)
“It’s given me the pat on the back, which we all need sometimes, to overcome doubts and given me the strength to be able to perform in front of an audience and openly express myself.” (Danny Caprani)
“The Adelphi is the only place in this city to give creative people a chance to do what they love doing. To play music, to sing lyrics, to begin and evolve and become. It is a place that has given me confidence and belief in myself and others.” (Deeaay Harrison, City of Glass)
“Although we have now split and we are all pursuing our own projects now, we still remember the stepping stone Paul Jackson gave us back then starting out in Hull and will always be grateful.” (iCARUS Smith)
“I remember the Adelphi as a place of enthusiasm, hope and optimism, where our dreams were nurtured, and encouraged to grow into reality.” (Sue Thompson, ex-bar staff, ex-Secret Garden/Idle Eyes/Motorcade)
“When I first moved to Hull I was already singing in a band, and it didn’t take us long to find the Adelphi: I became a member of the club on my second night in the city. Since then, I have propped up the bar, washed the glasses, broken some, swept the floor, and I’ve watched and played music on that stage with a number of great bands, some of whom have gone on to become great friends.” (Natasha Hodgson, ex-bar staff, Fonda 500)
“Hull might not be London, NY, LA, or even Liverpool but it has produced the archetypal back-street gig in The Adelphi. It’s not a theatre the rest of the time, nor is it a civic centre self-consciously giving up some space to the kids between tea-dances and Midge Ure concerts. Neither is it actually a disco hoping to boost an otherwise lacklustre midweek nights takings by sticking a couple of local bands on. What it is is a dedicated, seven-nights-a-week live music venue, where you can see your mate from college up on stage with his derivative and ephemeral band supporting tomorrow’s Next Big Thing. Its size and location means that it acts as a magnet to every wannabe musician (and fellow travellers) in the area. Here you can check out the opposition, make grandiose plans, and studiously ignore, or grudgingly admire, the main event. All, none or any of these things could be done whilst either playing pool or occasionally shifting to one side so that others could.” (Nick Clay, ex-Pink Noise)
“In all the venues around the country I have never met any one who seems to be so passionate about grass roots music and talent. I believe the motivations of the Adelphi are to nurture talent at home and inspire people to do their very own thing.” (Shane Mcmurray, Oracle)
“The Adelphi was the only place you could play that was a dedicated music venue and virtually was the Hull music scene. Everybody who’s ever been anybody has played the Adelphi.” (Tim, ex-FreeFall)
“The Adelphi inspired me to get involved with music, which has resulted in an 11 year career as a roadie.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, ex-Kingmaker/Elastica/Super Furry Animals)
ADELPHI FRIENDS – NATIONAL MUSICIANS
This is what several musicians from the national scene, past and present, have to say about the Adelphi and why it is important to them:
“Like most bands Super Furry Animals have an Adelphi story of their own. They played at the club and one cheeky Adelphi punter, left a note on the drum stool at the end of the performance. It read: ‘You were shit. Never come back again.’ The band recount this to me on regular occasions with seemingly great fondness.” (Andy Dimmack, roadie, Super Furry Animals)
“I have played at the Hull Adelphi at least four times, but I have never played there with the band that I am most closely associated with, namely Inspiral Carpets. The first time I played at the Adelphi was in the autumn of 1989. I was supporting Inspiral Carpets with my own band, Too Much Texas. The Hull Adelphi gig was one of the three or four we did supporting Inspirals when they still had their original singer, Steven Holt, and bass player, David Swift. The Inspirals were fantastic, very garagey, dark, aggressive and psychedelic, with their swirling keyboard, brooding vocalist and extreme Warholesque slide show. Too Much Texas were excited to be supporting an up-and-coming indie band like them and they had been voted number one in Peel’s festive fifty. Soon after supporting the Inspirals at the Adelphi, Steven and David left, and the band chose Martyn Walsh as their new bass player. They auditioned three singers: John Matthews, another friend of Martyn’s (whose name I can’t remember) and Noel Gallagher – who at that time was a friend of Graham, the guitarist. They had rejected these three as being unsuitable for the band and gave me a call and asked me to have a go.
“The second time I played the Hull Adelphi was in 1999 when I had just returned to playing music after a three year hiatus. This time I played as an acoustic artist, and the Adelphi was one of the first venues to offer me a solo gig. The next time I played there I was playing with Matthew (Hogg), a renowned local acoustic artist. I remember excellent music, a lot of drinking and the drummer from The Beautiful South being in the back bar – good times indeed. The last time I played there was with my current band The Lovers. We used the in-house sound man who is fantastic, and we really enjoyed the show. I hope that it won’t be long until we tread the boards of the Adelphi again!” (Tom Hingley, ex-Too Much Texas/Inspiral Carpets/ The Lovers)
“On a tour, the Adelphi show is less about the gig itself. There’s always something else, something peripheral and off-kilter shaken from the spirit of Paul’s ship. You know it’s coming, highlighted in luminous yellow on the date list. Last time, back in May, I did a solo show on a Sunday after driving down from Aberdeen. I was travelling alone and the gig was just a gig. But I’m still there in the small bar later on, finishing off curry and wine. There’s folks from Fonda, my friends Stephen and Jane, support band Persil from Amsterdam, and a bunch of friendly locals.” (Chris TT)
“So there’s no dressing room, no warm-towels or vol-au-vents! So what? This place has character like no other small venue, and the generosity of spirit(s) of Jacko and the Adelphi-ites has never failed to ensure wild fun-packed nights. For this reason we cherish it in a way that we will never cherish the Leicester Charlotte!” (Joe Bennett, Goldrush)
“When we finally played at the Adelphi again a few years back, I’m sure Paul informed me that he thought our debut was absolutely terrible! So full marks for giving us another chance!” (Pat Fulgoni, Kava Kava)
“We’d always heard about the Adelphi, but was never sure whether it was just a modern sticky gig myth or just a exaggerated quirky tale, but no, it was real. We woke up on our tour bus and wondered why the bus driver had parked in somebody’s back yard. Then realised that we were there and all the stories were true. It was an extended garage with a home-made stage and a bar made from the front of a old bus. We soon got over the confusion when we were greeted by Paul, an instantly likeable bloke in a funny hat who owned, lived in and booked the bands at the Adelphi. The gig was legendary for us, it was packed with sweaty shouty gig-goers and the atmosphere was great. And we were given a great curry for dinner. I’d say every young band touring the UK should play the Adelphi at least once” (Steve, Athlete)
ADELPHI FRIENDS – INTERNATIONAL MUSICIANS
Some international musicians and performers have some points to make about the Adelphi and why it’s important to keep it the way it is:
“The Adelphi is that quintessential rare venue where young DIY acts can get the proverbial foot in the door, and one of my favourite venues to play in the whole of the UK” (Thomas Truax, US singer/songwriter)
“In our day of corporate control, it is shameful that warm audiences and staff like those at the Adelphi are far and few between. Decade after decade I see unique, iconic, entertainment facilities demolished in the name of bigger, better, ‘more profit’ rooms. As most artists know, the larger the room, the less connection one has with the audience and the less connection the audience has with the artist.” (Todd Lumley, aka Mr Lonely)
“Most important is that I’ve always felt at home in Hull, and that not always like that when you’re on the road.” (Bas Pfaff, Seedling/Pfaff)
“The Adelphi has this particular feel that places which have a soul get. You can feel the life in them, the memories, the promises. And you can also feel a deep love for music. This kind of place was totally new to me. In France, musicians need to have at least two or three records out before being able to perform on a proper stage. When you’re starting out, all you get is the creepy pub where music doesn’t seem to be the most important matter. There’s no in between. That’s why places like the Adelphi are so crucial in the development of music.” (Sarah Stephan, French singer/songwriter)
“It will be a gloomy day in Hull if the Adelphi’s doors ever close. I can only imagine the limitless number of musicians and audiences this venue has touched, and how they will be left behind without this haven for them around the corner.” (Katy Haverley, US singer/songwriter)
“I hope you won’t mess with this Adelphi. It’s a perfect grass roots environment for music. We need small clubs for the eccentrics and originals that fly under the media radar. A place where you might actually hear something transcendent and moving. Or an accent you can’t understand.” (Steve Malkmus, Pavement)
“Living in Manchester as I do, it seems I have an abundance of highly fashionable bars and nightclubs to choose from, but alas no Adelphi. Further to the point, does anywhere have an Adelphi? Twenty years ago, when I started off in music it seemed every decent sized town had a good smaller Adelphi-type venue. Most of these venues are now closed down. The difference was they didn’t have Paul Jackson at the helm. Over the years, Paul has probably given more opportunities to local and smaller national acts than any Radio D.J. or record company executive could ever hope for. In Brighton they name their bus routes and buses after local celebrities. In America they walk and talk like their heroes. Other parts of the world name streets after their stars. Hull City Council should make the Adelphi a Grade One Listed Building and erect a sizeable statue of Paul on Newland Avenue, preferably with Yosser by his side and beret tilted slightly to the right.”
(Paul Heaton, ex-Housemartins/Beautiful South)
One Man and his Bog – (The History of the Adelphi) is available to buy from the club priced at £15.
The beautiful 180 page book is accompanied by 2 free CDs with 39 songs by 37 artists including demos and live recordings at The Adelphi.
Edited and written by Dr. Ian Smith. Produced by Chris Dimmack.
Special thanks to Ami Barwell www.musicphotographer.co.uk/ and The Adelphi Team.