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Keef

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Does anyone know for sure the venue for this gig on 21st Feb 76. Someone at my work claimed it was in The Cherry Tree Pub but I've also heard that it was at the college. The inter web is not giving me much in the way of hard evidence. Any help appreciated.
PatTeasdale

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Interestingly, the rather wonderful 'God Save Sex Pistols' book - which contains a whole load of unseen photos, memorabilia, info on every gig etc  - doesn't list the venue for Welwyn Garden City (one of only two gig entries in the book where the venue is not confirmed ... so there is obviously some outstanding query here) 

In the text beneath that gig entry, it lists quotes from Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto ... who advise that they saw the Pistols at High Wycombe and Welwyn the day after ... both of which were college gigs, supporting Screaming Lord Sutch and Mr Big at these gigs ...

Looking online, I see that the Cherry Tree pub had a separate ballroom out the back and put gigs on there in the late 60's ... Led Zep, Freddie King, Nice etc played there :  http://www.coda-uk.co.uk/60's_music_scene.htm

If the Cherry Tree ballroom was still running in the 70's, it certainly looks feasible that it could have hosted Screaming Lord Sutch (or Mr Big) and the Pistols ...perhaps even used by / promoted by the local college ?

Does your work colleague have any more detail / background info ?
Keef

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Thanks for your reply Pat, and research. The colleague I spoke to wasn't the one that attended but she knew of an ex colleague who did and claimed it was at the Cherry Tree but I have also seen a post by someone who claims to have been there and says it was at the College. As you say it seems a bit odd that the venue seems to have got lost in the mists of time. My interest was further enhanced because I hadn't realised that this was the gig that spawned the idea of getting them to play the Lesser Free Trade Hall.

There is rumoured to be a tape of the gig apparently made by the future Buzzcocks?
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Cheers Keef.

Its a crime that the rumoured live recording of Welwyn is still yet to surface after all these years ... someone is sitting on an important historical document!

A few other Pistols books refer to the Welwyn gig as being as support to Mr Big  ... for whom there seems to be little info online regarding their mid 70's incarnation?
It does appear that they headlined a UK tour in '76 ... and were on the front of Record Mirror in Jan '76 ... so perhaps there is tour advert from the music press circa late Jan / early Feb '76 out there somewhere that aligns with the Welwyn date and finally confirms the venue ?

Those early Pistols gigs in late '75 and early '76 must have been incredible ... the band looking like they are from another planet, playing the music that they want and not caring whether the audience love them or not, shaking things up ... it must have such a shock to the system and to the status quo. If ever that time machine gets invented .... 


lee

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I could ask Mark of The Astronauts about this Welwyn gig - he was the guy who put the gig on!
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PatTeasdale

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Originally Posted by lee
I could ask Mark of The Astronauts about this Welwyn gig - he was the guy who put the gig on!


Great stuff Lee, please do !
lee

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Right - first things first - the venue was not the Cherry Tree pub. The place may have changed its name but Mark Astronaut (or Mark Wilkins as he was known at the time) is pretty certain the venue at the time was called the Mid Herts College - and it took place in the Mid Herts College Main Hall. Mark was not a member of the Student Union but hung around the Student Union building a lot and used to help them get gigs. Posters advertising the gig would have displayed Mr Big, Masque - and he is almost certain that the opening band were called Godzilla. It was too late in the day to replace Masque with Sex Pistols on the posters. Masque (who later went on to become Johnny Curious & The Strangers - and from which two members later appeared with Mark in a group called Restricted Hours) had pulled out because their guitarist, John Phillips had gone to the US. A few days before the gig a phone call came through - Mark says it could have been McLaren but he wasn't sure - it was "a voice" - as the Sex Pistols were not known in Welwyn at the time - saying- "We're a new band, can we come and play a gig" -  "Can you play Saturday" - "That's Alright". So basically the band were enlisted to fill in a gap - they rang the venue at the right time. Mark wouldn't have known who Shelley and Devoto even were at the time - so no knowledge of any recording. Mark told me he was in touch today with people who were around at the time who told him - "We didn't bother going to the gig because Masque had pulled out - we were all hanging round the Cherry Tree!" His memory of the audience numbers he admits is unreliable - possibly 75-100 - but he says - "It wasn't chocca". Most of the audience were either there for Mr Big - who around this time had a hit called "Romeo" (not sure if it was before or after the show) or - as Mark puts it - "It may have been part of those halcyon days when people turned up because there was something on as opposed to wanting to see a particular band". The gig itself - Mark was "quite intrigued by them". He only remembers the covers - "Substitute", "Stepping Stone" and "Watcha Gonna Do About It" - he particularly remembers the last one because he noted the lyric change from "love" to "hate". They appealed to his mischievous side - especially when he saw a couple of Student Union officials getting annoyed by them! He says they sparked off a similar reaction in him to when he saw Third World War supporting Stray in the early seventies - Third World War stood out against the other hippyish bands because they came over as being quite aggressive.  The general audience reaction to the Pistols was "Mild indifference - people didn't know what to make of them - I didn't to be honest". In the dressing room Mark approached Johnny and asked him "Did you used to have long hair and hang out at the Roundhouse?" Johnny glared at him and Mark took that to be a "Yes". When Mark saw his early pics in his autobiography he knew for certain that Lydon was the same bloke he has seen before. He remembers the management having a row with Mr Big because they played a short set. Mr Big pulled out their own contract which "some idiot" from the Student Union had signed - the band had cleverly put - "Mr Big will play for a MAXIMUM of 45 minutes" - meaning if they had played 2 minutes they would still be within the contract!!!  Mark also remembers someone had "taken a big shit in the dressing room, Whoever was culpable of that - who knows?" - anyway - next time you hear the Astronauts are playing - go down to see them and check out their frontman Mark - he's a great performer and very approachable.  Hope this is enough Pat!!!!!
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PatTeasdale

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Incredible info Lee - sounds very definitive - well done and many thanks

Also, you really should send that info through to Phil Singleton at the God Save Sex Pistols website ...  godsave@sex-pistols.net     ... im sure they would love to add that to their site 
Keef

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Firstly, Lee, can I just say, if you are going to bother doing some research can you make a bit of an effort! :-)

Fascinating stuff. Curiously enough the person I spoke to said that their friend had mentioned people outside the Cherry Tree on the night. Maybe they went there and the College and confused the venues. Mid Herts College subsequently changed it's name to De Havilland College and then to Oaklands. I am not sure if the original hall is still there.

What I find intriguing is the fact that for some, seeing the Pistols was literally a life changing experience and for others , it was just another night out. Of course the same could be said about a certain quartet from Manchester.

Thanks again both for your input.

lee

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Reply with quote  #10 
(((Firstly, Lee, can I just say, if you are going to bother doing some research can you make a bit of an effort! :-)  )))

LOL - well it only took one phone call! I saw the thread and remembered Mark saying something about it to me at a gig a while back. I did it as an interview because I wanted as much detail as I could get. Mark has an amazing memory and boy can he talk! Solid gold to any interviewer!

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