The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

There’s a moment in an episode of The Simpsons when Homer says he remembers when the 60s ended – then pauses – and sighs, “the 31st December, 1969”.

One momentous gig at the Lyceum theatre in London in 1979 was hailed by the NME as the end of the 70s. It was a post-punk, new wave, synth pop kind of line up. More of a transition out of the 70s to the beginning of the 80s.

Stiff Little Fingers, Gang of Four, Human League, The Fall and The Mekons were hailed by an excited journalist as being the future. As ever, the NME got it about half right. In fact, that line up tells us more about the late 70s than the decade ahead.

But the Human League – with a changed line up – would indeed bestride the early 80s like a mighty musical colossus. I saw The Fall at Eric’s in Liverpool around 1982 – quite amazing – and Gang of Four were brilliant in their time. The Mekons were an American outfit and purveyors of something called “cowpunk”.

The night the 70s ended - says the NME
The night the 70s ended – says the NME

2 thoughts on “The night the 70s died – at the Lyceum in London

  1. The Mekons weren’t American. They came from Leeds, and were originally a fairly ramshackle punk outfit. Over the years they went in all sorts of musical directions, including American-influenced country music. If that’s the sort of stuff they played at this gig, quite possibly they did come across as an American band. It must’ve been a very early manifestation of their country influences – they didn’t make a country album until 1985.

    1. I stand corrected – always good to be informed. You’re right – I did detect the American flavour but drew the wrong conclusion. I’ve got a distinct feeling I saw them two or three times in the early 80s so maybe caught different manifestations.

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