The Midlands of England are the epicentre of global heavy metal – the boring endless miles of urban sprawl that gave us Black Sabbath among a plethora of head banging bands. So it’s little surprise that in the early 80s, punk and new romantic bands played gigs in Birmingham at their peril.
In 1981, a couple of punk bands took their lives in their own hands and played a gig before the huge crowds at the People’s March for Jobs concert. This was a trade union organised event to protest against the massively high levels of unemployment which Britain was suffering at the time.
The result for these courageous musicians was dire. Leather clad, long haired greebos flattened their beer cans, took aim and lobbed or frisbeed them at the stage. Cut, bruised and bleeding the punks ran for their lives.
This wasn’t an uncommon incident. I was at the Lyceum theatre in London when heavy metal fans inflicted similar punishment on an experimental combo called the Androids of Mu. The Reading rock festivals, populated by thousands of air guitar playing teens, became known as the ‘can festival’ because of the shower of lager tins on unsuspecting punk and new romantic acts.
Thankfully, we’re a little more tolerant these days.