Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)

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1. Introduction

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. The Beautiful South were another band that were based locally and were formed in 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. 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.

Fractal Games

After The Housemartins, Paul needed a drummer. 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. I was 23 and offered a new opportunity with The Beautiful South. 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. 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.

Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason's in Country () -

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. 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. Furthermore, wider opportunities for other musical forms to play at the club came about in the shape of World Music. 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 s.

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.

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  • HERITAGE – The Adelphi Club in Hull.

That is except one band, a band who came forth in , 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. 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 They went on to tour supported by bands like Suede, Elastica and Radiohead. We had played much bigger venues by the time we got to fill the Adelphi. 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.

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  5. 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.

    Did they feel, I asked them, that they could take on the world at that point? We non-local music journalists called it the Hull Adelphi, to mark it out from all the other Adelphis. 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 , 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.

    So local. So Hull. In the Adelphi, they really scraped the ceiling. 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, capacity Tower Ballroom.

    Did they feel they could take on the Top 40? Yes, and they felt they had taken on the Hull Adelphi. 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.

    Understanding Bobbie Ann Mason (UCAL)

    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.

    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.

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    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. Phibes and the House of Wax Equations. 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?

    To cut a long story short, I fixed them up with management and the band were duly signed to EMI Chrysalis. 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. I think these early songs still stand up as some of her best. Remember talking to the bass player about boring muso stuff — he was more boring than me! Harvey played twice here. 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. 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. At the end of May, , 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. 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. 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.

    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)
    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)
    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)
    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)
    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)
    Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985) Blurring the Boundaries in Bobby Ann Mason’s In Country (1985)

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