Sunday, 20 August 2017

Saturdays: Syd’s, City and Spiders (or Sil’)

Three pillars of past Saturdays have been brought back to life in #Hull2017

Hull's UK #CityOfCulture year keeps taking me back to my own #CityofSubCulture years – and that’s before I’ve even got to visit Les Motherby’s “Tiger Rags” exhibition of historical Hull City shirts at the Streetlife Museum. 
Various events have been organised over the past twelve months that have revived memories of the three great pillars that played such a big part in my Saturday routine “back in the day”. To be completely accurate it's atually four if you separate the two nightclubs that provided the climax to the day's activities. But as I'm barely touching on Hull City during this particular post, we'll keep it at three for now...

During my earliest times following The Tigers, the match itself would be the climax to a day that began much earlier and involved shopping for rockabilly singles in Sydney Scarborough, or Syd Scarbs as we referred to it back then. We’d then carefully store them in the lockers in Paragon Station, after lunch at The Gainsborough fish restaurant – we were so sophisticated back then (well, actually, it was the place my mate always arranged to meet his mum and see whether she needed hand with her shopping!). From there, we'd hop on the shuttle-train to Boothferry Park.

As time went on, the Syd’s trip became more of a logistical challenge, not least because my record-buying potential had increased due to the working wage that had replaced my weekly paper round income. Initially, it meant an early morning service bus from Easington, fifteen minutes spent in the company of Steve Rowe and his jump-suited beauties at Classic Salon (in order to get the flat-top trimmed) then a mad dash to Syd’s and back home by eleven. Records ditched it was then back on the bus for the game in the afternoon.

Getting my own wheels eventually made the logistics easier, as did getting a city centre-based job, which meant my visits to Syd’s were no longer restricted to the weekend. This took on greater significance when home games became as much about the pre-match in Trog Bar and Cheese as the actual football – carrying a Syd Scarbs carrier bag full of goodies with you was no longer practical.

I was reminded of these halcyon Saturday mornings last month when I got to visit the Sydney Scarborough exhibition in Princes Quay, organised by former member of staff Varenka Allam. It was a lovely tribute to the store that had been housed under the City Hall from the early 1900s until its closure almost a century later in 2001. Looking at the various displays took me back to my own in-store “education”. From about 1979 to the early 1990s, this took me from the “Rock ‘n’ Roll / Rockabilly” section just inside the door at ground floor level, to the “cool” dark basement, before returning whence I’d come, this time to explore my new-found love of Northern Soul and R‘n’B. I can’t imagine how much of my hard-earned dosh was spent over the various counters therein but the weight of those purchases has already forced the collapse of one cupboard in my house!

Of course it was downstairs where all the cool kids hung out and one’s real musical education could begin. It was here that I discovered the joys of new wave, indie and the 12” remix, as well as being introduced to the previously undiscovered Hull music scene, courtesy of the various posters and flyers adorning the walls. Names like Quel Dommage, The Luddites, International Rescue, Hoi Polloi and of course The Housemartins were first introduced to me that way. Fanzines like 'Kindred Spirit' also helped with my education. From 1989 onwards, Syd’s was also a major sales outlets for the various City fanzines I became involved with, also helping shift the first compilation cassette “There’s Something Stirring In King Billy’s Bogs”.
Not that Syd's was my only port of call music-wise. The likes of Shakespeare Records in Station (suppliers of records to HCAFC no less - cheers Melvyn Marriott!) was another, while Sheridans on Anlaby Road could often be the source of a second-hand gem or two in those early days. Andy's Records and HMV were other ports of call as well as the magnificent Offbeat Records down the old town. But Syd's was my mainstay, my go-to when it came to vinyl. Saturdays were simple: Syd’s, City and Spiders, with Syd's very much the aperitif for what was to follow. 

With City the meat in the Saturday sandwich, Spiders was the place to bring the curtain down back then (after a trawl of the pubs beforehand of course - a trawl I won't go into here due to (a) its evolution from city centre to old town and even marina, and (b) the fact that many of the pubs are no longer with us!). And I’m not going to go into detail about what Spiders means to me, partly because I’ve already contributed a piece for Andy Roe’s forthcoming book on the club; and partly because others have already done it much better than me (see Mike Robbo’s piece for the Freakscene blog).

The Spiders book has come about by means of Crowdfunding  and the idea was formed following rediscovery of a superb set of photographs that Andy took in the club “back in the day” (some of which I'm sure he won't mind me using here). Publication of these pics in the Hull Daily Mail and on social media led to an official 'Spiders Reunion', which was held last October and proved a brilliant night (as can be seen from the other pics on here - even the drinks are still (relatively) cheap!). It was quite surreal to be in the same place as many of those who could easily pass for your own sons or daughters but, as was always the case, nobody batted an eyelid at these strange "old fogeys" recapturing a part of their misspent youth. And when "Temptation" came on, well, you should have seen us move! There is talk of another reunion possibly being arranged to coincide with any publication date/book launch. A 2017 date, as part of #CityOfCulture would appear very apt and cap things off nicely.

For those who want the music of what we’d regard as Spiders’ halcyon era but without requiring the venue itself, former deejay Chris Von Trapp hosts a monthly event called “Cleveland Classics” at The Halfway House pub on Spring Bank West. I first attended back in March 2016, as part of a multi-pronged 50th birthday celebration, and visited the event again recently. It’s a brilliant night, one that will appeal to any sad old soaks like me who for just a few hours want to take a trip back to those wonderful, carefree days of yore.

Similarly, The Silhouette Club is another “lost” venue from the past that has come back into focus as part of #CityOfCulture year. Back in April I was one of the 250 lucky punters who managed to secure tickets to the official Reunion event at the club’s second home on Park Street. Event co-organiser Mike Robbo again does a better job of putting the padding on things in this piece he wrote for Freakscene. Suffice to say a wonderful night was had by all of us and again another one at some time in the future would be more than welcome.

Similar to Mike, I didn’t frequent the original Silhouette on Spring Bank. If I recall correctly (and here for once my fairly reliable diaries from the time let me down) I went there just the once. It was a Thursday night as I recall, possibly Easter time as I seem to think I had the Friday off, and it was following a gig at The Adelphi. I can still remember the “fear” (for want of a better word) as I first entered the club and the sheer unfamiliarity with the toilet etiquette required therein! My only other memory is of dancing to New Order’s “Love Vigilantes” down in the basement!  
I graduated to the “new” Sil from Spiders shortly after its opening in February 1990. For a time our usual Saturday gang combined the new club with Spiders, sometimes splitting the night in two. Eventually, though, Sil became the first choice; I suppose it was deemed that bit cooler and dare I say more contemporary in the way it embraced all things baggy. Some of the nights there during Italia 90 for example were particularly memorable. My diary would suggest my regular Sil-going ended sometime in 1993 – meaning April’s return was my first in almost a quarter of a century. But similar to the Spiders reunion, I only had to step through the door to have the memories come flooding back. And when The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”just about brought the curtain down, I suspect I wasn’t the only one struggling to pull myself back into the 21st century.

My Saturdays nowadays consist of dog walking, a “big shop”, a bit of local football, ‘Dads Army’, ‘Match of the Day’ and bed. If I really feel like pushing the boat out I’ll perhaps have more than just a drop of red with my pizza and bust a few moves to John Kane’s Northern Soul show on the wireless before settling down to some Scandi-Noir on BBC4. 
You can perhaps see why those Saturdays of yore have taken on such a magical feel...

Thanks to Andy Roe’s dedicated Facebook page, I’ve renewed contact with a few of the “old crowd” and enjoyed plenty of wonderful reminiscing over the past few weeks and months. One such conversation centred on our respective choice of favourite Spiders floorfiller of our time there (1985-89 in my case). I’ve never been very good at narrowing things down so I had to extend mine to a Top 40. Obviously some of the recordings pre-date these parameters but they were played there at least once as far as I can recall. So, here they are - I’d be interested in seeing yours...
(PS: And yes Jo, I did nick a couple of yours – thanks for the memory jog 😊)
40: Frank Sinatra: ‘New York New York’ (trad)
(The regular end of the night song. Always had me up…if I was still standing by then!)

39: Killing Joke: ‘Love Like Blood’ (1985)
(A great reminder of my first Spiders nights)

38: The Surfaris: ‘Wipeout’
(One of the few tracks you were allowed to “wreck” to in the early days)

37: The Mission: ‘Wasteland’ (1987)
(Always loved seeing the charge for the dancefloor when this came on)

36: New Order: ‘Love Vigilantes’
(Spoilt for choice with NO but bounced along to this at both Spiders and the old Sil’)

35: Grandmaster Melle Mel: ‘White Lines’ (1983)
(One of those tracks that shouldn’t have sat well at Spiders…but did!)

34: Jesus & Mary Chain: ‘Never Understand’
(Noise, wonderful noise!)

33: The Primitives: ‘Crash’
(Ah, Tracy Tracy and a “choon” to swoon to)

32: The Tams: ‘Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy’
(Always popular with the departing/returning students)

31: Ciccone Youth: ‘Into The Groove(y)’ (1986)
(The nearest you ever got to having Madonna played in Spiders in the summer of ’86!)

30: Joy Division: ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
(Could have been ‘She’s Lost Control’ or ‘Transmission’ but played safe)

29: Sister Of Mercy: Temple Of Love
(Another of those early memory makers; Goth Heaven!)

28: Dinosaur Jnr: ‘Freak Scene’
(Just screams “S-p-i-d-e-r-s” at me despite being somewhat later than the others - 1988)

27: The Specials: ‘Too Much Too Young (live)’
(A pre-Spiders ‘old skool’ gem, regularly played for Jimmy Withers & his suedehead crew)

26: The Cure: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’
(One of those bands I’ve come to admire much more in later life; proper catchy “choon”!)

25: Jackie Wilson: ‘Reet Petite’
(Wouldn’t be my first choice of Jackie Wilson track – that would be ‘Because Of You’ – but it formed part of the “R’n’R Segment” afforded us by Chris back then)

24: The Cult: ‘She Sells Sanctuary’
(In all my years at Spiders I never saw this track fail to fill the floor)

23: The Meteors: ‘Graveyard Stomp’
(Banned from the playlist – I remember the night they finally brought it back: Carnage!)

22: The Redskins: ‘Keep On Keeping On’
(A proper stomper!)

21: The Housemartins: ‘Happy Hour’
(Who didn’t rush to the dancefloor to this in the mid-80s?)

20: Nitro Deluxe: ‘This Brutal House’
(My first taste of house music – a rarity in Spiders back then)

19: Spear Of Destiny: ‘Liberator’
(Our chief wrecking “choon” during The Meteors’ ban!)

18: Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five: ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’
(One for the flat-tops/grease-backs among us to strut our stuff to…and a long one!)

17: Dead Or Alive: ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’
(The second song I heard on my Spiders debut in Feb 1985. Loved it ever since)

16: The Pogues: ‘Sally MacLennane’
(Perfect for a drunken jig)

15: The Cramps: ‘Human Fly’
(Wonderful to “slither” to!)

14: Pink Noise: ‘Thin End Of The Wedge’
(From ‘ull, Adelphi regulars, a John Peel fave & should’ve been a hit)

13: Johnny Todd (aka Sammy Masters): ‘Pink Cadillac’
(Pure rockabilly – a staple track of the 10-minute slot afforded us Hepcats back then)

12: King: ‘Love And Pride’
(Ditto Dead Or Alive – this was the first song I heard that night. Loved it ever since)

11: The Jam: ‘A Town Called Malice’
(Still regularly aired. I’m like a geriatric Billy Elliott when this comes on)

10: The Wedding Present: ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’
(The Weddos could be in here many more times; opted for this due it representing the brilliant “George Best” LP & classic Gedge lyrics)

9: The Soup Dragons: ‘Hang-Ten’
(From their pre-Baggy days; proper power-pop guaranteed to make you sweat!)

8: New Order: ‘Perfect Kiss’
(Both 7” & 12” versions were my original NO floor-fillers. Superseded by…  see below)

7: The Wedding Present: ‘Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm’
(Safe choice perhaps but a guaranteed dancer. Again the lyrics are belting)

6: The Smiths: ‘This Charming Man’
(Another safe option and also probably the finest guitar intro in the history of pop music)

5: The Cure: ‘In-Between Days’
(Can you ever listen to this song without smiling…or dancing? I can’t)

4: New Order: ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’
(Another song whose intro immediately has me rushing for the dancefloor)

3: The Lotus Eaters: ‘The First Picture Of You’
(Confession time: I hardly ever heard this aired at Spiders but Chris recently ended a Cleveland Classics night with it and it filled the floor. Plus it’s my funeral song so it’s in!)

2: The Smiths: ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’
(A masterpiece. Perfect for dancing with tears in your eyes when you’re a sad old soak!)

1: New Order: ‘Temptation’
(This could really have been a Top 40 NO floor-fillers chart; As it is, this one gets the No.1 slot due to it being the first track to really switch me on. 35 years on it remains a timeless classic)

* Thanks to Andy Roe and Mike Robbo for use of some of the pics in this piece. 


  1. Don't forget the B-52's, Planet Clare and Rock Lobster.

    1. Good shout and I did consider 'Rock Lobster'. Then again I considered about 20-30 other tracks that on another day would've ended up in that Top 40!

  2. great read Richard, some very fond memories's good to keep them alive.. glad you enjoyed the S S exhibition

    1. Thanks Varenka and congrats on the exhibition. It was superb.