THE GROWING punk revival is proving a lifeline for independent promoters working outside the major cities.
That is according to Stephen Stanley of Grimsby-based Solid Entertainments, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
“In the past few years a lot of the acts who played in the late ‘70s are starting to tour again, and that’s really changed things,” says Stanley, whose first sold-out show was at the Winter Gardens (cap. 900) in Cleethorpes in 1979 with the Skids, who are returning to play Grimsby Central Hall (750) for him in August.
Other forthcoming shows include Dr Feelgood at The Yardbirds Club (230) on 10 July, 40 years to the day of his first show at the Winter Gardens, which featured Monochrome Set, Pragvec and Manicured Noise.
“The bands were signed to Rough Trade at the time and the label gave us them for £300,” he remembers. “Tickets cost £1.25 and we sold 312. I made a loss of 72 pence.”
Stanley’s second gig at the venue was with the Ian Gillan Band, before the promoter moved on to putting on punk, rock and blues acts in cities such as Scunthorpe, Leeds and Middlesbrough through the ‘80s and ‘90s.
“John Giddings [then at TBA, now owner of Solo Agency] called me up and said, ‘I’ve got this American artiste who’s looking for a show in Sheffield, could you get him a date’?,” recalls Stanley. “I offered Sheffield Polytechnic [1,200] so that’s where we put Iggy Pop. John even came to the gig.”
While there was lull for Stanley through the Britpop years “SJM Concerts had everything signed-up at that point and then the arrival of Live Nation in the early 2000s changed things for ever.
“People like me could never compete, so we were really forced to specialise, but over the past 10 years, things have come around again,”
Other acts the promoter has worked with in the past include The Stranglers, Def Leppard, The Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers
“I’m hoping to organise some Q&As in clubs in Cleethorpes with artistes in the future,” he adds. “I think there is a market for that – people up on stage talking about how things were first time round.”