Cramps? Best Brum gig evah?

Birmingham Music Archive is teaming up with BiNS to find out What has been the best gig ever to take place in the city and what was/is the best venue. Jez from the BMA is kicking things off, argue the toss here and in the forum.

My favourite gig was The Cramps at the Birmingham Odeon. My memory is not what it was but the gig was either April 25th 1984 or April 30th 1986, I’m tending to go for the 86 one due to me age, but anyway.. For those of you who don’t remember the Odeon before it became a 400 screen cinema, selling 2 tonne bags of sugar to kids who need no encouragement whilst showing Rambo 55, it was a fabulous art deco music and cinema hall.

For the gigs, there was a huge orchestra pit which doubled as the mosh pit (well not if you were watching Ultravox or The Thompson Twins), then those lovely plush velvet seats and above, a balcony were assorted punters would cover the crowd below in piss and beer – luckily they were often indistinguishable from one another!

So there I am, fancying myself as a bit of a psychobilly, knocking around at the Barrel Organ, Powerhouse, Zig Zags and all the others when news comes through of The Cramps coming to town to play at the Odeon. Immediately it’s THE ODEON! Who on earth has booked The Cramps to play there? Have they not seen or heard of the mayhem that normally occurs when the play. This reputation was justified. For me The Cramps remain one of THE live music bands. Raw, threatening, chaotic but always brilliant.

As I say above, my memory is no longer functioning as it used to, but this night The Cramps were late on for some reason and literally ripped through the set. Main man Lux carried around the entire audience, climbing right to the top of the pa system, Poison Ivy machine gunning the crowd with her guitar, legs akimbo, hardly, if any, talk by the band and then 30 minutes later they were gone.

Now I wasn’t in the mosh pit that night for some strange reason but they were going wild, calling for encore stamping their feet and so on. But as it became clear The Cramps weren’t returning they had nothing to really vent their anger on. For us in the seats it was different.

I’d never felt such adrenaline or emotion or basic wildness in a live crowd before. As the shouting got louder I can just recall a shower of seats reigning down towards the stage, missing it by some distance and nearly decapitating several hundred pyschobillies (or at least their quiffs). It was over in minutes but seemed like forever, even as everyone filed outside it was as if the whole crowd had become feral.

For the music but mainly for the crowd I think this has to rank as one of my all time favourite gigs in Birmingham. If anyone else was there and would like to dampen my recollection or even agree with it then get it on here and at, and then add your own best gigs/venues

Nirvana at the Barrel Organ, Oasis at The Jug Of Ale, anyone remember the Birmingham Rock festivals of the mid 70’s, saw the Pistols or Dexy’s at Barberella’s or Rum Runners, Eek-a-Mouse at the Porsche Club anyone?

4 comments for “Cramps? Best Brum gig evah?

  1. MidgeD
    10 April 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I still have the ticket dated MAY 30th 1986, it was when Poison Ivy took a hell of a swing at a stage invader with her guitar and Nick Knox did the whole gig unflinchingly gazing into the middle distance from behind his shades while not missing a single tribal beat :).

  2. George_Daley
    11 April 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Nowhere near the best gig musically, but a great piece of street theatre – The Clash at Barbarellas in 1977. There was supposed to be a punk festival at the Rag Market but it was banned when all the row started after the Pistol's appearance on teatime telly. Me and a mate went along anyway to see if anything was going to happen. It was a Sunday afternoon so it was either that or the Muppet Show. A crowd of people of varying degrees of punkiness with my mate at the lowest end of that cos he had hair like Robert Plant. Loads of Old Bill looking for somebody to nick. Car pulls up, out pops Mick Jones – 'Barbarellas later' he shouts and gets back into the motor. Barbarellas later is a weird mixture of heavy metal fans, punks and the curious. There was a local punk band called Shag Nasty playing in the Pose. A metal band whose name I can't remember played the main stage. Fair play, they let the Clash use their gear but there was no sound check and it was rough, gloriously rough. Their set was most of the first album. London's Burning became Birmingham's Burning. Strummer was berating the gobbers as he would do each time i saw them, twice more at Barbs.

  3. 25 September 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hi George. Straka Starr – Bass Player from the reformed 1977 SHAG NASTY here. Check us out on and drop us a line. Good to talk.

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