(suggested by Simon Murray)
So, lets jump on the virtual Mega Bus in Bristol, head up the country, cross the pennines and stop off in Leeds.
I’ve always lived within a hop skip and jump of Leeds and as a child my mum and dad would take us every Christmas to visit the big department stores and see Father Christmas. As a teenager I would venture there on my own, not to see Santa but to Jumbo Records in the Merrion Centre. I remember my first trip, one school holiday, bus from Barnoldswick to Skipton and then the train to the ‘big smoke.’ I remember my first purchases as well, ‘Standing up Straight’ by Wolfgang Press and ‘Treasure’ by Cocteau Twins both on vinyl. Still got them and still play them. Jumbo moved from the Merrion Centre to the bigger, brighter St Johns Centre but is now back at the Merrion Centre. Jumbo has to by my favourite record shop, I’ve been visiting for 36 years and now my children visit. I’d hate to think what I’ve spent there but it was / is the goto place for all your indie, jazz, electronica, noise, drone, punk…well everything really. Not just records but gig tickets, books, fanzines etc. And now you can even get a brew. Due to indie record shop loyalty I’ve never really ventured to other record stores but have heard good things about Crash Records.
Leeds has always been on every decent bands list of places to play. Back in the day we used to visit the Duchess of York on Vicar Lane (now some mega expensive designer store). The Duchess was tiny, grimy and put gigs on 7 days a week. Not sure what the capacity was but it always felt cramped. Memorable gigs for me were Shellac, Godflesh, Girls against Boys and one of my top five gigs-Bongwater. Early 90’s. Supported by AC Temple and Dogbowl. Happy days. The Brudenell Social Club has been around for a long time and its current custodian, Nathan, has created the most amazing space, not just for gigs (3 separate rooms) but just a place to visit. Where else do you get locals mixing with students mixing with gig-goers about to see Boris (Japanese psych metal drone band, not the PM)! Memorable for me was seeing Mogwai a couple of years ago and taking my nephew to his first Fall gig. Most memorable though was seeing same nephew perform there in the main room with his band Shakamoto Investigation. Just to remind you all, this is my take on Leeds so apologies for no enormo dome type venues. Next on the list is workers co-operative space Chunk. This is a great venue and rehearsal space and gallery owned and run by local bands. It’s a bring your own beer type of place. Famous for the first ever gig of Pet Sick, a 20+ collection of musicians improvising some of the best noise around. Entry fee was a donation to Accessible Arts and Media (local disability charity close to my heart) and you were encouraged to bring a piece of art to display. Other places worth a mention are Belgrave Music Hall (Sun Ra, Richard Dawson, Michael Head) and Headrow House (Hen Ogledd). There are so many great venues in Leeds, far to many to mention but I’ll finish with Wharf Chamber. Another workers co-operative. Amazing beer and great venue, most memorably for me was seeing Richard Dawson with a band called Bongaleroes (not sure of correct spelling) supporting them. Imagine a group of middle age men, dressed as morris dancers, with black tights on their heads and ‘brasses’ tied to their waste-coats. Guitar, drums (with cymbals made out of Fray Bentos pie tins) – just your average support band in Leeds!!
As well as the many great venues, there are many great pubs, again, to many to mention but Whitelocks is a favourite as is Mr Foleys Cask Ale House, The Social and the Fox and Newt (also doubles as live music venue). It would be wrong not to mention the ‘Spoons’ at the train station as after a gig and waiting for the last train back to York we often find ourselves in here with a pint of Shipyard.
Wedding Present – ‘My Favourite Dress’ (The boy Gedge doesn’t get better than this)
Sisters of Mercy – ‘Temple of Love’ (bit of eyeliner, flour on the face….)
I Like Trains – ‘The Truth’ (I used to work with someone who used to babysit the bass guitarist out of I Like Trains dog when they went on tour)
Chumbawamba – ‘Heres the rest of your Life’ (anarcho punk pioneers who created the biggest rock n roll swindle by getting signed to a major label and then using the money they made to highlight the evils of major labels and the links to the arms industry)
Bilge Pump – ‘The Passion of the Kid’ (dirty noise, dirty name)
Shakamoto Investigation – ‘Take It Or Leave It’ (one of, if not the best, garage punk bands around (not that I’m biased))
Vibracathedral Orchestra – ‘The Midnight Motorbike’ (improvised drone. Not everyones bag but I love it/them)
Pet Sick – s/t (more beautiful improvised drone and they have a stand up drummer who also sings)
[retreat] – ‘Like Fingerprints’ (haunting song capturing life in the North)
Mik Artistiks Ego Trip – ‘David Bowie was a Funny Man’ (John Shuttleworth meets John Cooper Clark, whats not to like)
Jellyfish Kiss – ‘Regular Folk’ (West Yorkshire psych makes it to Shimmy Disc Records in New York)
Hope you’ve enjoyed my whirlwind stop in Leeds, where will the virtual Mega Bus take us next?
To suggest the next musical city stop for Martin please leave a comment in the box below.