Crass / Poison Girls – Manchester Mayflower – 17/10/80

Uploaded this November 5th is an exclusive Kill Your Pet Puppy post helped along perhaps not by a cast of thousands, but certainly by the following kindly folk.

Pete Millen who during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s recorded many Crass and Poison Girls performances with the use of several microphones hanging strategically around the halls that the two bands were invited to perform in.

Lee Gibson who got most of the original cassette tapes (and reel to reel tapes) from Pete Millen and then sent three of the cassettes to me here at Penguin Towers. Thanking Lee also for allowing the use of one of the Crass / Poison Girls extracts from his book ‘A Punk Rock Flashback’ which is well worth getting hold of (details below).

Pete Fender for professionally restoring and remastering the audio in his home studio to a quality that is worthy of sharing this cassette to the Kill Your Pet Puppy browsers.

Joseph Porter for allowing the use of one of the Crass / Poison Girls extracts from his book ‘Genesis To Revolutions’ which is well worth getting hold of (details below).

Richard Famous, Penny Rimbaud and Pete Wright for sharing a few stories with me on the Manchester Mayflower and  Middlesbrough Rock Garden gigs, and for the permission to use the Poison Girls and Crass audio.

Craig Hornby for the original 1982 Crass Middlesbrough Crypt flyer.

Bradley Hall for the scan of the Crass patch below (still attached to a pair of trousers he found in a box recently) and for the Poison Girls flyer. Found in another old box.

These two recordings from the Manchester Mayflower were the best of the three cassettes that were recorded by Pete Millen that I was sent by Lee Gibson as a ‘taster’.

I was sent Huddersfield October 1980 and also the Isle Of Wight July 1981.

Sadly the Huddersfield recordings of both Crass and the Poison Girls suffered massively from recording cut outs due to, I can only assume, a dodgy lead in-putted into the recorder on that night. Shame.

Even worse, the Isle Of Wight recorded performance by Poison Girls was split in two (although reasonable quality) and the Crass recorded side was mainly the interlude after Poison Girls and a bit of Annie Anxiety. The Crass performance that made it onto the cassette tape lasted four or five tracks. Shame.

Never mind that though. The Manchester Mayflower audio from both bands is clear and has also been professionally restored and remastered by Pete Fender, making the audio sound wonderful.

If you listen carefully you will hear the grim sounds of smashing glass throughout various parts of the Crass set. Hope those pint glasses were not being thrown towards the stage but instead just falling off tables with the amount of heaving sweating bodies flowing back and forth throughout parts of the Crass performance.

Both sides of this cassette tape gives a decent account of both Crass and the Poison Girls at the top of their game. An excellent and intense listen that’s for sure.

CRASS – MANCHESTER MAYFLOWER OCTOBER 1980 <<<DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO>>>

FROM ‘A PUNK ROCK FLASHBACK’– BY LEE GIBSON.

There were three bands, apart from the Sex Pistols, who gave me a kick start in my teenage rebellion years; The Fall, Crass and Poison Girls, all discovered at random.

On the rather desolate upper level of Stockton’s indoor market, a friendly hippy guy ran a little store called Green. He sold T-shirts, booklets on anarchism, vegetarianism and hippy comics like ‘The Freak Brothers’. He got a bit of hassle from the cops. I liked the guy, and when I wrote a poem about the bombing of Hiroshima (which I wrote in Stockton library one rainy afternoon when all my mates were glued up and not really worth talking to), he pinned it on the wall.

It was at the Green store that I noticed the first single by Crass ‘Reality Asylum’. Noticeable in the shop due to the iconic Crass symbol, designed by Dave King which displays the Cross entwined by a two headed serpent, Ouroboros, suggesting that all power will eventually consume and destroy itself. Ouroboros is traditionally depicted as swallowing its own tail. I picked it up for (pay) no more than 45p. Shortly afterwards, I also bought ‘The Feeding of the 5000’ an eighteen track, 12 inch 45rpm vinyl EP. I bought it by mail-order from Rough Trade Records in London. A few months later, I started writing to Crass.

The first time I saw Poison Girls and Crass play was at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, October 11th, 1980. I was keen to attend the gig and through mail correspondence I’d arranged to do an interview with Poison Girls after the gig was over.

Things didn’t quite work out as planned because that particular gig was even more violent than ‘The Fall bloodbath’. As usual, it was the skinheads knocking fuck out of people.

As always with the Rock Garden I attended the gig alone. I got there early and chatted briefly with Vi Subversa before the gig started. Vi was friendly, witty and somewhat culture shocking to me, she was about the same age as my mum! That night, both bands received a hostile reception from the mass of skinheads who frequented the Rock Garden. Poison Girls managed to get through their set, but when Crass started playing all hell broke loose. Due to their stance as anarchists, the neo-nazi contingents made every effort to disrupt Crass gigs and to intimidate and assault Crass fans. The skinheads tried to storm the stage and I recall Pete Wright, bass player with Crass, jamming the end of his bass guitar straight into the chest of a skinhead, sending him flying.

It was a very scary gig and I’d had enough. I eventually kicked open the emergency exit doors just to get the fuck out of there in one piece. Stockton is only a few miles from Middlesbrough, but sometimes it could be a long walk and felt light-years away.

Afterwards, I wrote a letter to Poison Girls explaining why I wasn’t around at the end of the gig. They wrote back to me and suggested that I send them some written questions in the post, which I did. At their house in Leytonstone, East London, they recorded their responses to my questions and recorded them on tape cassette and sent the tapes up to me. I always thought that was a very generous act, plus the fact that they took me seriously, despite my young age and my relative naivety. I published their interview over two issues of my fanzine, the first part coinciding with the second part of my interview with Mark E Smith in Protesting Children Minus The Bondage #2, and in Anathema #1.

After the violent gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, I also wrote to Crass and arranged to visit them at their communal headquarters in Dial House, Epping Forest, to do an interview.

As I was skint and on the dole, I couldn’t afford a train ticket or a National Express coach ticket, so I decided to hitch down to London, a journey of about two hundred and fifty miles. I only had a few quid in my pocket – not the best way to go travelling around the country – it was a shit or bust situation.

When I arrived in London, after a fluid six-hour sequence of lifts from complete strangers, including a stoned, long-distance heavy-goods vehicle driver who was actually driving barefoot like some kind of hillbilly freak, I was dropped off near Oxford Street in central London.

I then realized that I should have paid a little more attention to planning my route. I was about twenty miles from Epping. I only had a few quid in my pocket. I rang Dial House and was advised to just ‘bunk’ the tube, and so I did. I just jumped the barrier and when I got to Epping, the station was unmanned.

I stayed with Crass for a few days, half mesmerised; it was like a different world and made quite an impression upon me. Crass were very organised and focused on what they were doing, whereas I was still making things up as I went along. The people in Crass treated me so kindly, without any fakery or bullshit, I felt like I’d stepped into an alternate universe. It kind of flipped me out. It was the first time that I really glimpsed the possibilities of alternate ways of living, something different from the usual family set-up and all the restrictions that invariably come with that package.

I did the interview with Penny Rimbaud, Andy Palmer, Eve Libertine, Pete Wright and Steve Ignorant (who only made one comment, although it was a humorous one). Eventually, it was just me and Penny chatting as the other band members drifted away to get on with other things. Recorded on a cheap cassette recorder, we talked for over two hours – Penny talked a whole lot more than me, I just threw him the odd question and he would get right in depth, and we kind of worked it from there. If anything, I was young, naive, curious and questioning society and I found his conversation enlightening. After that, I started following them all over the country whenever they did a tour – often going from one gig to the next, all over the UK, sometimes on the road for a few weeks at a time.

In total I only ever did five interviews for my fanzine; Mark E Smith, Poison Girls (once by mail, once face to face), Crass, and Andy T. Looking back I see that I only wanted to interview people with integrity; people who might teach me a thing or two about a thing or two. Though I wish I’d interviewed The Mob as well.

I hitch hiked all over the country to see Crass and Poison Girls play. Places like Leeds, Bradford, Wigan, Swansea, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Cambridge, Liverpool, Nottingham, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Irvine on the West coast of Scotland and across to Perth on the East side. I always hitched alone, usually carrying little coin in my pocket, with a rucksack full of fanzines (actually getting by from selling them in order to buy food and beer), a small tent and a sleeping bag, a bit of food, and, of course, a pen and a notebook. I loved arriving at a strange town and finding somewhere to sit down and write.

Irvine was my favourite trip. I got there several hours before Crass and Poison Girls were due to play and walked out of the town. I found a crumbling, rickety-old timber built pier, and settled down, the waves beneath my feet, the sun in my face, writing whatever popped into my head. The coast of Irvine used to get a warm oceanic drift from the Gulf Stream; it had palm trees growing along its shoreline – Palm trees in Scotland, how weird and wonderful is that? Man, just sitting there on that ramshackle pier, it was so much better than writing on toilet paper in the crummy toilet cubicles of the scummy Factory. Yes, I was skint, so what? I was about to see two bands that I really dug. I felt free…like time had stopped…time was irrelevant and I totally got the Zen flow of the whole moment. I sucked it deep into my soul and because of that solitary, magical afternoon, writing, with the gentle wind, the warm sun and the lulling waves for company, I will always love the Scottish town of Irvine.

After the gig in Irvine, people who were hitching on the tour made their separate ways across Scotland, heading for Perth. I had some difficulty hitching all the way to the east coast and had to take a coach for some of the journey.

The Crass Perth gig is as infamous as ‘The Fall Bloodbath’ at Middlesbrough Rock Garden. It took place at the Lesser City Hall on July 4th, 1981.

Trouble started almost as soon as the gig began when about thirty NF skins turned up with nothing but confrontation and physical violence on their minds. I recall that there were at least two police officers standing at the back of the Hall, ‘keeping an eye on things’. Yet when the skinheads started wading into the crowd, kicking and punching men and women alike, the police did absolutely nothing to intervene. I recall me and Andy T asking the police to leave, saying that we’d take care of it. The officers were only too happy to oblige. Talking to Andy recently (June 2013) he said he recalled the fact that their leader wore a red Harrington jacket. I don’t remember that specific detail, although I’m sure it’s spot-on. I recall seeing Nil (Poison Girls) sat on the edge of the stage with a bloody, broken nose. I recall seeing young punks getting punched to shit. I recall seeing punkettes getting nutted. Andy T and I decided to take some direct action.

The atmosphere was very heavy, and very threatening. Crass repeatedly asked people (the skinheads) to stop fighting. In reality it was more of a co-ordinated gang assault than a fight.
By the time Crass started the second song of their set ‘Nagasaki Nightmare’ things really exploded (excuse the pun). Eve Libertine halted the song and shouted ‘Stop it!’ Steve Ignorant said ‘Stop fighting, please, stop. Stop fighting. Stop fighting.’ The song resumed for about fifteen seconds before the band stopped playing for a second time.

Steve Ignorant shouted ‘Stop fighting. Stop it. You’ll ruin it for everyone.’ The song resumed for a third time but again it was stopped after about twenty seconds. ‘Pack in the fighting or this gig’s gonna get stopped,’ said Steve, ‘I don’t want that, you don’t want that. I don’t want the police, you don’t want the police. So let’s just have a good time, hey? For fuck’s sake.’

NF skins were shouting ‘You want anarchy.’ Steve replied ‘I just want a gig, alright? Let’s stop fighting, fucking hell, for like, an hour.’

The fighting continued. Penny Rimbaud grabbed a microphone, ‘If you want anarchy, mate, go out on the street and start it. We’re in here for our form of anarchy; you go outside for your form of anarchy. Now fuck-off out of it. Just look at what happened in London last night, mate, if you want anarchy, just you wait for to come to you and then you’ll learn a little bit of what the word means, wise guy.’ A riot had taken place in London – riots also happened in Birmingham and Liverpool. The NF kept shouting and Penny continued his outburst, ‘Mouth and trousers will get you nowhere, so fuck-off out of it.’ One NF guy in particular was very vocal, and Penny concluded with ‘Ah, balls you twat! I’ve got a feeling these guys have to go.’

Eve Libertine shouted ‘Those that don’t want the gig, get the fuck out!’
The punks who’d turned up to see Crass play started chanting ‘Fight war, not wars’, then Penny started drumming, the chant grew louder and then Crass finally managed to finish playing ‘Nagasaki Nightmare’.

Crass played a seventeen song set, but trouble was still happening by the twelfth song, ‘Big A Little A’. Steve shouted ‘Pack it in. Pack it in’ Then he started to sing ‘Fight war, not wars’, joined by the crowd and then the song got underway.

Andy T and I set to work from the back of the hall and slowly but surely worked our way toward the stage where Crass were playing. Every time we saw a skinhead hitting someone we stepped up behind them, and then punched them in the face from two sides at once. Generally they dropped like the sacks of shit they were. We hit a lot of NF guys that night and handed out black-eyes like they were free fanzines.

After the gig, when we’d kicked the NF out, they were waiting outside for us, ready to fuck us up, knowing that we were a long way from home.

I remember helping Poison Girls to dismantle their gear and then help to carry out their equipment. When I reached the back door, a gang of about fifteen to twenty skinheads were lurking, waiting for their moment. They all had at least one black eye. I might have seen the glint of a knife, but I can’t swear on my oath that I did. I nipped back inside and explained the situation.

Poison Girls saved a lot of people from getting a serious beating, or stabbed or even killed, that night in Perth. They got each person who had travelled to see them and Crass who didn’t live in Perth, to carry various items of equipment into their tour van (the old white ambulance), and then to remain on the van.

They filled the van and stacked us in like sardines, and then they drove us safely out of Perth, denying the battered NF skins their vengeance and retribution.

The Poison Girls drove us down the A90 for about thirty miles and took us across the River Forth on the Forth Road Bridge, and then pulled to a halt. We all piled out of their tour van before a police patrol car caught them severely overloaded, and we made our way toward the next gig, cloaked by the stars and safe in the distant light of an Edinburgh night.

In 1982 I decided to organise a Crass gig in Middlesbrough to compensate for their last violent gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden. I wanted to create a better scene. Crass were keen to return to the area and I maintained phone contact with Andy Palmer as I started to set things up. I have to say that Andy was a chilled out guy and he really helped me to get things organised. He knew that I’d never done anything of this sort before, on such a scale, and he really walked me through it. He never laid any pressure on me and when I needed to front money to book a place he sent it straight to me – all based on pure trust – I’m glad to say that I didn’t let him down. It did feel strange receiving a cheque from Crass to pay to Middlesbrough town hall Crypt to book the gig, but everything about that gig played true; for me, that was what the whole anarchy-scene was about.

I was determined to set-up a Crass gig that was the very opposite of the bloody Rock Garden fiasco. I wanted it to be a safe place, not just for the band, but more-so for the people who wanted to see them play, and I wanted younger kids to be able to experience Crass as well, stepping beyond the bogus twenty one year old age restrictions of the Rock Garden, without people getting head-butted in the face because they wanted to see a band play live or because they were cursed to come from the wrong impoverished estate.

I had to find a suitable venue that was controllable, but without bouncers. I had to find a decent sized PA system, and I had to find somewhere for Crass (eight of them), D.I.R.T (five of them), and Annie Anxiety (just one of her) to stay after the gig. Set that little lot up, and then all I had to do was publicise the gig. The latter, I knew, would be the easiest part, word of mouth would quickly see to that. A lot of kids wanted to see Crass, and other bands, but many of them were too young to get into the Rock Garden with its twenty one year old age limit.

For the venue, I needed somewhere that could hold up to three hundred people and give access to kids from the age of fifteen upwards. I decided to approach Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt. I found out how much it would be to book the Crypt. I didn’t have that kind of money so Andy Palmer, sent me the money in good faith. I booked the Crypt, along with a PA system. I didn’t make a single penny out of that gig, nor did I want to. The gig was my mission, my simple goal.

Fuck the violence; let’s have a rocking gig where people can be free to switch on.

I then held a little group meeting with my friends who lived at The Gables, some of whom were not overtly keen on Crass, although Andy M. And Pete M. had already travelled all over to see them. They were carpenters so they could afford to travel, not hitch, but they were totally into Crass and Poison Girls. Anyhow, despite musical / political differences, everyone in the house agreed to let Crass, D.I.R.T and Annie stay over for the night and invade our space. Once that was settled, we arranged to have plenty of hot food prepared for them for after the gig and everyone got involved in trying to make it a comfortable and welcoming stay for them. It was a strange time for us all.

As for advertising, I designed simple photocopied A4 flyers that I photocopied at Stockton library and stuck them on a few walls, in Green (thanks to the hippy dude who first displayed my poem), and in the local HMV, thanks to Blank Frank out of Blitzkrieg Bop.

Word spread quickly. Tickets were only £1.25. Half price compared to any gig that was taking place at the Rock Garden at the time. This was deliberate. In my view, the Rock Garden was wrong all over the place. They allowed rampant violence and they over-charged. Stockton and Middlesbrough were in real need of an alternative, safer venue, although most people didn’t know it. I thought I’d put on one gig as a light in the right direction.

The gig took place on April 29th 1982 and sold out, thus all the overheads were covered and the bands got paid for their fuel costs and everything else it entailed getting them from London to the Middlesbrough. We had no security, I just picked out a handful of pals who could look after themselves, pals who were secure enough in themselves that they didn’t need to step-out and prove anything, guys who knew how to play it cool and calm things down should anything happen.

The crucial thing about the gig is that I opted to have no bar, that way we reduced the chances of sporadic violence, and more importantly, younger kids could get in to see the bands play and pogo to their hearts content.

For me, the fact that there wasn’t a single fight or act of violence throughout the entire gig made it a successful venture. All those phone calls to Andy Palmer on a pay phone and the basic energy it took to make it happen made it worthwhile.

I’ve never organized many gigs, but usually when I’ve made the effort, they have rocked.
After the gig, when Crass, D.I.R.T and Annie piled into The Grange there were people everywhere. We had food prepared for them and it was a fun and friendly night, if a little chaotic, especially in the morning as we only had one large bathroom.

The next morning, the band’s drove off to their next gig, no doubt also organised by someone else like me. That’s how Crass tours worked; it was the only way that they could happen.

Lee Gibson

A few memories of Middlesbrough Rock Garden from Penny Rimbaud and Pete Wright:

The Rock Garden was a dump, very dark and intimidating. There were large glass doors near the stage and a small dressing room at the side of the stage.

Some of the violence on the night was directed at Crass due to a Crass follower who was from Middlesbrough died. His name was Melvin. He was found drowned in the river Thames. Incredibly tragic. He had a Crass symbol on his jacket and the local boneheads used it as an excuse to start trouble at the gig.

There were chants of “You killed Melvin, you killed Melvin”.

I remember Melvins mother being there at this gig standing behind the stage near the dressing room. This was very upsetting for her and for Crass.

Pete aimed his guitar at some bonehead who had clambered onto the stage trying to get to Vi Subversa and Eve Libertine who were at the side of the stage. Pete fortunately missed the bonehead by inches with the bass guitar (fortunately as Pete might have seriously injured this stage invader who fell off the stage in any case) and hit the wall instead, bending the headstock completely. He then had to buy a new headstock. Pete was seriously reprimanded by the rest of Crass after this incident on stage after the performance.

After the gig, Phil Free was sitting in the van alone for a moment and a bonehead punched him through the open window and run off. Phil started the engine immediately and drove the van after the bonehead who we can only assume had fears for his life with this van driving so close to his heels. Phil Free had made his point, slowed the van down, turned the van around and returned to the venue with a sore face and with the bonehead, again, fortunately uninjured.

POISON GIRLS – MANCHESTER MAYFLOWER OCTOBER 1980 <<<DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO>>>

FROM ‘GENESIS TO REVOLUTIONS – THE CURSE OF ZOUNDS DYMYSTIFIED’ – BY JOSEPH PORTER.

The first of the three shows took place at an unlicensed community centre in Winsford. The sight of spiky-haired anarchists, some of them surely as young as eleven or twelve, doing the conga round the hall to the malevolent strains of ‘So What’ and ‘Banned from the Roxy’ remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. This to me was typical of Crass’ approach to anarchism and music: taking pains to play to the under sixteens, in a venue where glue and brew were not on hand to disrupt the proceedings. The atmosphere was considerably more pleasant as a result, and I was able to enjoy my first live impressions of Crass without fear of being knocked into a puddle of sick by the ‘grown up’ anarchists.

They looked and sounded like La visage de la Guerre: stark, black and white, flanked by video monitors showing scenes of oppression and atrocity and looming large with menace in front of the collection of flags and banners,. Everything was perfectly stage managed; everything was just right – they were even more daunting onstage than on acid at Camden market!

The banners were particularly imposing: the all-powerful cross-and-snake symbol predominated, sitting in the middle like a fat black spider in the web of subversion; ‘Man made power Man made pain’, ‘Fight war not wars’, ‘Anarchy Peace and Freedom’. Poison Girls’ black and red crow flew proudly, like the sail on some ancient dragonship, and heroic demands to ‘Abort the System’ and ‘Take the toys from the boys’ hung alongside. High up and to the right of these battle flags, painted in black Dulux on a pink fitted bed sheet was Zounds’ contribution to the show: incongruous but impenitent; Mickey Mouse caught in the crosshairs of a gun sight.

I thought he looked rather cool up there myself.

Crass always hired in the same P.A. company on their British tours, and so in Winsford we made the acquaintance of Alex, the monitor mixer, who shared our allegiance to a combustible god and was otherwise oblivious to the great affairs by which he was surrounded. For this leg of the tour, all the bands, the sound engineers, and sundry camp followers, stayed in an empty house in Sale, Manchester, that belonged to the brother of one of Crass’ guitarists. Late that night, in the privacy of our allotted chamber, Alex introduced us to his ‘portables’ – a sawn off milk bottle, a tiny camping stove, and two dinner knives, blackened with use. We consumed ‘hot knives’ far into the night, in the company of certain furtive Poison Girls, while downstairs in the drug-free atmosphere of revolution, the talk was no doubt of anarchy.

By contrast to the Winsford gig, the following night in Manchester was a seething pit of all the worst aspects of the punk scene at the time. The Mayflower was a vast old cinema, and on this occasion was filled with a brutal heaving mass of humanity bent on both inebriation and destruction. By the end of the night the toilets were demolished, and three feet under water; people were standing on the top step and peeing into the dark interior, into which the occasional lost soul would trip with a splash and an oath. When Crass played I got the impression of seeing human bodies piled up towards the front of the stage to an impossible height, breaking in waves and crashing down in tangled heaps of thrashing limbs.

And they gobbed! Oh how they gobbed! This media-inspired innovation of the 1977 punk explosion was still revered by the arse-ends of punk in Manchester. Zounds walked on stage to a furious shower of phlegm, and were bombarded throughout their set with snot of a greenness and elasticity that I have never since encountered. Drumming at the back, I was more or less protected. Only those hurled with considerable projectile force reached me. Of course any lumps that did make it that far were generally pretty big, and the drumkit became festooned with great dangling ribbons of the stuff; it would glance off the cymbals and ricochet off into the wings to my horror and appalled fascination.

Up front, Steve had it pretty bad. Grolleys scored constant direct hits on his face, his hair, his guitar, and even in his mouth as he sang – an inevitability in the face of such a sustained fusillade. We walked off the slippery stage after forty five minutes disillusioned and disgusted with our supposed comrades in the great struggle.

“Never mind blowing up the houses of parliament,” grumbled Steve, wiping the slime from his bass strings. “I wish they could learn to blow their noses in a nice hanky like normal people!”

I hope that night had something to do with anarchism. I was just intent on survival. Somehow one of the girls from Crass sustained a black eye, the place was trashed and the whole event seemed to me to be a pointless, nihilistic exercise in futile vandalism. Manchester null point!

Crass shunned the use of drugs – although alcohol in moderation seemed not unacceptable – so we tactfully confined our smoking excesses to either the upper reaches of the house, or outside ‘behind the bike shed.’ Lawrence, emboldened one evening, skinned up in the living room in which the twenty-five or so members of the entourage were gathered drinking tea, smoking roll-ups and talking sedition in the aftermath of the Manchester gig. True to the demands of dope etiquette, Lawrence smoked his share and then shuffled round the room on his knees offering the fuming reefer to the whole company in turn. Fully twenty times his offer was politely declined until he returned, abashed, to where we crouched, below the salt, in the corner of the room nearest the door. Shamefacedly and treacherously, myself, Steve and the secret dope-fiends in the Poison’s camp declined to smoke in the presence of our masters. No one bogarted the joint, and Lawrence was obliged to smoke it down to cardboard.

Shortly after we slunk guiltily upstairs to reacquaint ourselves with Alex’s portables.

I myself had committed a similar gaff that afternoon. Huge quantities of tea were consumed in that great circle of black-clad dissidents, and to this end a teapot of daunting capacity was employed. To my terror, Penny announced to general approbation that “It’s Joseph’s turn to make the tea,” and my doom was sealed. Being then a coffee drinker, I knew little of the ways of tea beyond an old adage which claimed one should employ one spoonful per person, and one for the pot.

Weighing up both the size of this vessel, and of the thirsty company, I decided to err on the side of caution, and applied eighteen generous spoonfuls of tea, plus one for luck, to the king-sized china kettle.
Crawling around the living room in a series of hectic manoeuvres I eventually managed to furnish all twenty-something persons with a cup of tea, correctly milked, sugared and stirred. There was an expectant pause as Penny, undisputed master of the tea ceremony and chairman of the board, lifted his cup to his lips and sipped at the steaming treacly brew.

“Joseph”, he pronounced. “This tea is undrinkable! What on earth do you think you’re doing?”

“I did put in one for the pot…..”

“Take him outside and shoot him!” decided Penny, to general assent. “I forbid you ever to make tea again!”

The entire company threw their tea away, and I, to my immense relief, became the subject of an ordinance denying me further access to the teapot. The mental scars have never healed.

The last of the three shows was in Liverpool, and passed off comparatively peacefully after the shameful scenes at the Mayflower. For me, one of the most interesting and ironic spectacles was that of the audience fighting for badges at the end of the night. After their final song, members of Crass would return to the front of the stage and, like medieval sowers of seed, throw out handfuls of slogan-toting pin-on buttons to the frenzied horde, who would scrabble and trample on each other to collect this largesse.

Zounds woke up to find themselves alone late the next morning. Crass and Poison Girls had set off early to cross the Pennines for the next gig. We ate a leisurely breakfast, smoked a few guilt-free spliffs for the road, and set off back to London.

Joseph Porter

A few memories of Manchester Mayflower from Richard Famous:

This gig was part of a “Northern Tour” (7th – 19th Oct) with Crass that took in Rochdale, Halifax, Hull, Huddersfield, Middlesborough, Bradford, Winsford, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cleator Moor. Both bands were based in a house in Manchester.

From the gig diary:

Friday 17th Oct Mayflower Manchester

Nice place, good sound but since the last time we were here it’s obvious how vulnerable the stage is. Large gobby crowd, very brat boy – with lots of little fights and a very violent atmosphere all through the evening. We played really well but were disgusted by the gobby brats at the front. Do they really think we like it Joy and Nil get hit by bouncers for trying to break up fights! Zounds played and were disgusted by the gobby brats too. Set list: Waves (Promenade Immortelle), State control, Persons Unknown, Old Tart, Bully Boys, Hero, Hole in the Wall, Other, Daughters and Sons, Polly, Dirty Work, Alienation and Cry

Interesting that I noted that we all got throat infections during this tour. All the dates have ‘fights broke out’, and there was an undercurrent of violence at all these gigs. Seemed to be par for the course in those days. Also seemed to be the height of the ‘gob’ era (which was disgusting).

Richard Famous

A few memories of Manchester Mayflower from Penny Rimbaud and Pete Wright:

There was a short ‘matinee performance’ for the persons in the hall who did not want to be filmed as a documentary film crew was in attendance. A few songs were performed by Crass and then the cameras were turned on and the whole set including the earlier songs were repeated.

Steve ‘playfully’ dived at one of the cameramen filming at the side of the stage. The cameraman fell off the stage as he avoided Steve! That was not the only injury of the night. Penny was testing a light socket and foolishly fiddled with the light socket a little too roughly and was thrown twenty feet across the stage prior to the Mayflower opening to the public. Joy was punched in the face by a Mayflower security guard so had a bruised eye. After the performance was finished Penny got up from his drum stool and managed to bang his head on one of the metal screen support bars.

As an aside Irish Ray who lived in the same village as Phil Free had done some years prior to Crass forming, was enlisted as security for Crass at many gigs across the country after the situation at Middlesbrough and Joy being hit at the Manchester Mayflower. Previous to these gigs in 1980 there was also violence at the Conway Hall, Aklam Hall and in Waterloo the year before.

Irish Ray was a large man who had several fingers deep into the London gangster underworld. Few people in their right mind would dare take Irish Ray on. In the 1960’s Ray had driven a car through the window of the Soho cafe that the Krays owned to make some sort of a point. On another occasion Ray had entered a cafe in Kings Cross that owed someone that Ray was ‘working for’ a fair amount of money. There were plenty of customers in the cafe at the time. Ray went in and demanded the money owed to the pleas of the cafe owner. “What you going to do about it? There are customers here hearing you threaten me”.  As one, all of the customers got up off their seats and destroyed the cafe. The customers were there with Ray as back up.

Ray being pushed around by teenage boneheads was not going to worry him too much and he tended to calm things down a little if any trouble was brewing at any of the venues that he was in attendance at.

The book by Lee Gibson, ex Brougham Road resident, writer / editor of Anathema fanzine and contributor / editor to many others.

Lee moved in the same circles as The Mob and the Kill Your Pet Puppy Collective for some years. Here in black and white print throughout this immense 214 page A4 book are memories of Lees early years from 1976 all through to around 1986.

Lee takes the reader though countless Crass and Poison Girls gigs, some pretty rough nights along with various visits to both Crass and Poison Girls HQ’s. There seems to be dozens of pages relating to The Mob, Brougham Road and various houses that the Puppy Collective would be just about surviving in. Lots of squat horror stories, Stop The City runabouts, drug abuse, The Apostles, Crowley magick and plenty more.

As an added bonus some of Lees original interviews from his fanzines are carefully reprinted half way through this book, massive texts of the thoughts and feelings of The Fall, Crass, Poison Girls and Andy T from the very early 1980’s.

This book seems to be the real deal for anyone who may be interested in reading one persons account of the early anarcho punk culture which was an important, and sometimes scary, time for many of the young people involved.

Absolutely insanely cheap at £8.50 – but having the quality of a £20 book.

A must for anyone interested in this era of the anarcho punk scene.

You may purchase Lee Gibsons book HERE

Downwarde Spiral in association with Bedsit Press present this tome by Joseph Porter ‘Genesis To Revolutions – The Curse Of Zounds Demystified’.

This beautifully presented book is an excellent read.

The book is  Joseph’s story from growing up in the Somerset countyside, getting into punk rock, the Yeovil scene with The Mob, Stonehenge, joining Zounds and stories of touring in the UK and in Europe. There are stories of various recording sessions, Crass, the Mob, Brougham Road, Rough Trade and the Black Sheep housing co op – It’s all in the book.

It is an extremely well written book. It is also one of the most amusing books I have encountered.

You can get the book by sending Joseph £10 (UK orders) via paypal to the following email address 56134@blythpower.co.uk.

The cost of the book is a little more to send to places not in the UK. £13.62 (Europe orders) and £16.06 (other parts of the world).

There is a kindle version from Amazon for £5.13.

Purchase the officially sanctioned Poison Girls ‘Hex’ album HERE

Or from All The Madmen distribution while stock last HERE

Purchase the officially sanctioned Poison Girls ‘Chappaquiddick Bridge’ HERE

Or from All The Madmen distribution while stock last HERE

BUY BUY BUY THE DAMNATION OF YOUR SOUL!

And again thank you Pete Fender for the patience and the offer to restore and remaster the original cassette tape exclusively for Kill Your Pet Puppy!

Published by

Penguin

1985 - 1988 All The Madmen Records and Distribution 1988 - 1991 King Penguin Distribution 1989 - ???? Southern Studios / Southern Record Distribution

13 thoughts on “Crass / Poison Girls – Manchester Mayflower – 17/10/80”

  1. So that Manchester gig was the one with the film crew, after all?
    It wasn’t the Mayflower where Penny messed with the broken light, that was Trucks in Wigan. I don’t remember Joy getting hit there either, I thought that was the Poly. The Mayflower didn’t really have traditional ‘security’ per se.
    Nearly 35 years ago though so memories get confused fairly easily x

  2. HA! Yes Andy a long time ago. I spoke to P & P separately and the way I wrote the snippets above makes it look and feel like a one person answer. Bits were from Penny and bits were from Pete but I joined them both together and wrote them on the post in the way it is displayed. Ditto Middlesborough.
    Whether they are correct or not correct is unknown to me. Obviously the band played a lot of gigs in many similar venues. I did give them both a few days notice on my line of questioning though as opposed to just coming out with this stuff out of the blue! One thing though. Joy with the black eye by somebody at the Mayflower did happen as Joseph Porter in his essay above also mentions this occurring on the night Zounds performed with Crass and Poison Girls.

  3. fantastic in depth article by the people me who were there thanks a lot, will check out josephs book.

  4. No Riku, that’s not from the Manchester gig, more likely a live studio performance. There are no Crass banners with the red crow Poison Girls banner, also a straight camera angle that Vi looks deep into several times. Added to that there seems to be no evidence of spitting, moving to avoid spitting, beer being thrown everywhere or any smoke floating around. This I believe includes footage from Manchester although it states Conway Hall which is incorrect as far as I know. Conway Hall was a mainly wood paneled hall. the Youtuber has stated that this footage has been edited and the Pied Bull Islington gig is the sound track. One of the sides from ‘Stations Of The Crass’…

  5. The mayflower gig in Manchester was one of the most violent gigs I ever went to,those sounds of breaking glass you mentioned Penguin,some people had the old style thick pint glasses with a handle ended up being smashed around peoples head and faces,there were too many gigs like this in Manchester full of idiots fighting,then for some unknown reason it all seemed to stop in the late 80’s,gigs became a lot more less violent,maybe those skinheads went somewhere else,wherever it was I am glad they went away,was scary seeing some of the stuff they did to young kids,the skinheads that came into that mayflower gig were a lot older than us.
    Last thing I remember of the gig was hiding under a table when a whole load of cops came in,we were then more scared of being caught for being under-aged than by the bonehead thugs.
    The toilets never did get repaired after that night,we still had to stand at the top stair and piss into the dark pool below.
    Look forward to listening to this and hopefully getting a copy of Lee G’s book.
    Thanx for the upload.

  6. I saw Crass at Trucks that month rather than go to the Mayflower gig: there was often trouble at the other Mayflower gigs I went to. Kinda makes you wonder who those skinheads were, causing shit all the time. We were only 15/16 at the matinee gigs and didn’t realise it wasn’t normally like that at gigs!

  7. think most of the boneheads came from the satellite towns around Manchester,used to get hassle from them in Oldham whenever we went to a pub there where most of the punks used to drink,got chased through the streets by them a few times at night,if it wasn’t skinheads it was perry boys,one night a whole load of guys from a rugby team chased us for what seemed like miles,my lungs were a damn site healthier in those days thankfully.I wouldn’t recommend going for a night out there if you look a bit different.

  8. The security at the Mayflower Andy was basically one guy called Ossie,a big guy who was also a Man United footie hooiligan,don’t think he stood much chance against the mob of bonehaeds at the mayflower that night,most i seem to remember were in their late twenties so we were easy pickings for them,big men.

  9. Ossie was a security guard at Virgin Records in town as a day job (I often wondered what became of him). He also used to DJ and MC the gigs at the Mayflower.

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