The Clash that sparked Belfast’s punk movement…

IT’S 30 years since the Battle of Bedford Street kick-started the punk movement in Belfast, well, according to the legendary Terri Hooley anyway. Terri’s organised a gig in Lavery’s Attic tonight to celebrate the anniversary of the time the Clash nearly played in Northern Ireland. However, the council banned the 1977 gig, resulting in a riot outside the Ulster Hall. “It was the night that kick-started the punk revolution,” said Hooley, the founder of Good Vibrations records (see video) who signed the Undertones and Rudi.

  • dewi

    When they knock on your front door how you gonna come? With your hands in the air or on the trigger of your gun?
    That brings back memories….

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Ah – and the good old Pound club – levelled now I believe.

  • billymac

    I was there. It wasn’t a riot. Hooley wasn’t there. He is and always has been only interested in making money.

  • A.N.Other

    What about the day Crass played the Anarchy Centre, and the punks were attacked by both the RUC and a posse of National Front skinheads from the Shankill (allegedly including the young Adair). Memories include local band The Defects doing their rendition of SS/RUC and Crass handing out magic mushrooms on toast!

  • Paul McMahon

    Was there on both days A N Other. Saturday was an absolutely terrifying experience with the Peelers batoning anyone they wanted whilst we were trying to defend ourselves from wee Johnny and his mates.

  • pauljames

    The battle of Bedford Street was a bit of a laugh with everyone trying to take out their frustration at Belfast Council for canceling the concert. We all walked round to the Europa to try and meet the band but couldnt get through the security fence. An interesting aside was that shortly afterwards there was a vote by the students union at Queens whether to allow punk acts to appear at the union which was substantially defeated and it was a few years before any such acts could appear there. As far as Terri Hooleys part in all this the fact that he set up and ran the punk scene at the Harp bar for no reward was enough to make him a hero to me (even if he was an old hippie.) Thanks for the memories Tel.

  • darth rumsfeld

    yep, Terri took much of my little student grant on such largely forgotten gems as Ruefrex, Rudi and the Outcasts, when Queen’s SU was putting on rubbish. I know Malcolm told us never trust a hippy, but Terri is a top bloke- introduced me, and many others to reggae

    couldn’t get to the Ulster Hall that night- too young to travel up to the big city, but its amusing to see the News Letter now putting out supplements for something that at the time they were telling the Godfearing people of Ulster was little short of Armageddon.

    And re the clip from the Tube on this thread- how amazing now seeing someone smoke in a shop.

  • billymac

    “set up and ran the punk scene at the Harp bar for no reward”

    Nice to see that revisionism doesn’t stop at the political posts here. The bands and their audience (often these were one and the same) ran the “scene” at the Harp until Hooley and others moved in and assumed control.

    It’s in the nature of these things that we tend to romanticize, but once punk rock as a cultural movement began to be absorbed by the mainstream, some people saw it as an opportunity to make money and moved in. Similarly, there was no riot outside the Ulster Hall – some of those who were there may tell you different, but you’ll see far worse outside the Odyssey on any Saturday night.

    They were good times and they have influenced music, fashion and attitude ever since, but please -let’s keep it in perspective.

    No More Heroes Anymore

  • Charlie

    If Terri was so money-focused, how come the fella has been skint all the years I’ve known him?? The best thing about the punk scene in Norn Iron was the utter contempt it had for squares, spides, hoods, peelers, paramilitaries and all the usual sectarian ballix that made life so unbearable here in the 70’s/80’s – it was our way of telling all the ****s to **** away off!!! …it was also pretty classless – whether you were a working-class hallion or a grammar school underachiever, if you were genuinely into the music & rejected the aforementioned ballix, you were accepted & the best Ulster characteristics (humour, irreverence, distrust of authority, openness) were allowed to flourish without religious/political baggage getting in the way…Good Vibes on Great Victoria Street was a great after-school hang-out for teenage ne’r do wells like maself and many others and Terri gave us a lot more respect than we ever got from teachers etc…okay, a lot of the music hasn’t aged very well but punk was incredibly liberating for non-conformist N. Irish youth of the late 70’s…god bless oul’ Terri and the Norn Iron punk scene!!!

  • I was there that night as well and it was indeed a moment of musical history owing to the lack of music!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    David – you do realise this love of heathen music means an eternity of damnation?!

    And darth? A rebel?

    All these unionists with anarchistic tendencies, it’s enough to make you scratch yer head and wonder what happened to them later!

    OK, don’t say it – they grew up, forgot their roots (man) and got a job. ;O)

  • So Gonzo would you tend toward the opinion that nationalists are more likely to retain an adolescent political outlook?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Only the ones that don’t grow up. There’s even hope for Ogra SF members.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Gonzo
    perhaps we’re still the radicals- y’know, pursuit of ideals like truth, justice,that sort of stuff.
    It’s the rest of you that compromised.

    Mind, I’m seriously impressed with Vancers’s confession. Never saw him as a punk either….

    and for us wrinklies the Jam – minus pofaced prat Weller- are in Spring & Airbrake next month- watch you don’t rip yer jeans trying to bop to the new wave’s finest

  • Belfast Gonzo

    darth

    That’s what punk was about – high-minded values? What about sticking two fingers up at the establishment, forming a band and excessive drug abuse? :0P

  • Former Idiot

    Paul James said ‘The battle of Bedford Street was a bit of a laugh with everyone trying to take out their frustration at Belfast Council for canceling the concert. We all walked round to the Europa to try and meet the band but couldnt get through the security fence. An interesting aside was that shortly afterwards there was a vote by the students union at Queens whether to allow punk acts to appear at the union which was substantially defeated and it was a few years before any such acts could appear there.'(end quote)
    I was there that night and after the Befford St gathering, we went to the QU student’s union building. A rumour had spread that the gig would happen there instead. When that didn’t happen, we trooped off to the Europa.
    Regarding the ‘ban’ in the student’s union, when The Clash came back a few months later, they played in the SU basement (I was there that night also).

  • darth rumsfeld

    That’s what punk was about – high-minded values? What about sticking two fingers up at the establishment, forming a band and excessive drug abuse? :0P

    well ok it was about sticking 2 fingers up, forming a bad and excessive alcohol abuse (you couldn’t get drugs in the country apart from Uhu in a paper bag)but the important thing was you were pretending that you were motivated by high minded values- y’know, like Jake Burns would say “Get out get out be what you are”

  • Gonzo,

    Sure I know the Devil has all the best music! The Clash were at their best in those few years and whilst they lacked the verbal dexterity of Mr Costello, they created a real buzz, like the Ramones and Undertones.

    PS I remember buying an Outcasts single and thinking it not bad!

    The punk remains underneath my exterior, maaaaan.

  • One of my major regrets is that I was born 15 years too late. I love punk and the anarchy behind it. I’m a child of the 80’s, Nirvana and other grunge bands where my companions as I grew up, but through them I learned about punk, real punk not corporate punk like Green Day. While I still enjoy listening to The Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash etc, I feel I’d enjoy them there if I was there in person.

  • pauljames

    FI
    queens definitely voted to ban punk and I thought the return gig was in the Ulster Hall? I could be wrong I was too pissed at the time.

    Billymac
    The best nights I spent at the harp were organised by Hooley often vainly trying to collect a few bob at the top of the stairs, god bless him!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    And I thought unionism was all about rules, hierarchy and tradition. Punk’s anarchy was all about ‘no rules’. You’d think never the twain would meet!

  • Cadiz

    I wasn’t in Belfast, I was working in the record industry at that point.

    I had a lot of nostagia in me for PYE & DECCA. I wasn’t pleased to see them signing punk bands.

    I didn’t mind Virgin, Island, or Stiff etc. doing it. I just didn’t want it on companies I wanted to work for.

    I had the same thing about Brit motorbikes, I hated radical innovation, you know, like reliability & electric start etc.

    If a good band is going to fall apart, it needs to do it early and to keep falling apart.

    The Stooges playing on home ground in Michigan was good falling apart stuff.

    Raw Power and Gimme Danger, by the Stooges, they were a train wreck, they were just so good,

    they were also something Lou Reed & the exploding plastic inevitable wasn’t, …

    they were actually fun.

  • DaithiO

    Would have been great to see all you post punk unionists, especially D Vance in August, on the Falls Rd. to see The Buzzcocks during An Féile an Phobail. A great support in Combat Rock, a great Clash tribute band, and of course Jim Reilly’s Alternative Soldiers.

  • darth rumsfeld

    So wanted to go daithio, but sadly was in Londonderry with my other cultural fix , the Apprentice Boys parade, and couldn’t get down in time…

    Never too sure about old punks still playing songs of teenage anger, but you’ll still see me trying to pogo at the Damned gig in the Empire in December :0)

    “And everybody’s smashing things up
    I said eveerybody’s smashing things down,
    Yeaaah”

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Just watch yer collarette doesn’t fly off!

  • Former Idiot

    Paul James
    I’m almost 100% the follow up Clash gig was in Queen’s – ‘Complete Control’ had just been released. The Ulster Hall gig was the next time they were here, just prior to the 2nd album being released (I was lucky enough to roadie for the band at the UH gig, and they played a tape of the new album while setting up. It was the first time I’d heard it).
    Taking my anorak off now.

  • billymac

    Former Idiot,

    You’re right – Mandela Hall at QUB. I was detained (briefly) by the RUC after an altercation in Elmwood Avenue, but released in time to get to the gig. Complete Control was their opening song that night (the Clash, not the RUC) – still the best opening to any gig I’ve been to. Don’t lose that anorak!

    Paul James

    Fair enough. But I still think the place was a better place before the Terri exerted his influence. Anybody remember the name of the barman (Tony sticks in my mind) and the landlady whose catchphrase was “You’re f***in barred!”?

  • Daithio,

    The Buzzcocks were another great band. Never saw Pete and the gang live but have all their stuff. I think the Assembly should adopt “Everybody’s happy nowadays” as its theme, myself!

  • dewi

    Magazine ever make it over there? Or Penetration? Wonderful…. Started a punk band here called “Rhyw Byw” got booed off stage at Bangor Uni … My sister tried to dye my hair blond but ended up a straw like yellow colour..them were the days eh!

  • dewi

    And the best song of the lot – a little post punk but never tire of “Another girl, another planet” Only ones…. Up there with “Galway Shawl”

  • dewi

    …And we had a similar gig here – the Pistols in Caerffili – Mam wouldn’t let me go and the local chapels had a “Cymanfa Ganu” (hymn singing session) outside the venue (can’t for life of me remember what it was called).
    Never really rated them though – Anarchy a turgid slow dirge… Now “New Rose” that was a song!

  • Dewi

    Kind of related (ie Wales, dodgy music), one of the best concerts I ever saw was Sheep on Drugs playing at Lampeter where my sister was studying at the time.

    Went out about 11pm hoping for revolution and the village had closed for the night.

  • dewi

    Thelogical tradition I suppose – but those Cardi girls ….

  • Dewi

    Best ever though Joy Division – “Love will tear me apart again” – heart breaking

  • darth rumsfeld

    slightly later than punk “Wardance” by Killing Joke was a cracker- on which subject, Paul Raven sadly died last week

    Oh no I feel a top 10 coming on

    “New York” -the Pistols
    “Five Minutes” -Stranglers
    “Harmony in my head” -Buzzcocks
    “Sound of the Suburbs” -Members
    “Shot by both sides”- Magazine (which was also Lipstick by the Buzzcocks, so 2 for the price of one)
    “Big Time ” Rudi
    “Mars Bars” the Undertones
    “EMI” the Pistols
    “Radio Radio” Elvis Costello
    “Holiday in Cambodia” Dead Kennedys

    I’ll get me safety-pin encrusted sash