Dead Kennedys, The Damned, The Undertones, Cocteau Twins, Killing Joke, Stiff Little Fingers, and my band, Janes Plane. What do we all have in common? We played at the Ace, Brixton, in 1982. (So did, uh, Kajagoogoo, but we don’t admit to that. Though in my defence of coolness I will point out that this was before their pop hit, “Too Shy.”)
To be precise, twenty-nine years ago today I sang in front of a sell-out crowd and four TV cameras. I had a blast. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll was not a metaphor.
If you’ve read my memoir, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party, you’ll have heard some of the Janes Plane songs. You can read an exerpt about the band’s formation, and how singing brought me to writing, here. Or, ah fuck it, just listen to “Bare Hands”:
It was recorded in August 1982, when the band was still together–and when the following video (for a UK TV show called Whatever You Want) was recorded.
I’ve been sitting on this video for a long, long time. It makes my toes curl. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to edit video when you can’t actually look at it??) I was 21, trying to hard to look laid back and world-weary, but so stressed out about that kitten. (And with a wicked hash hangover–the night before was the first time I’d smoked Nepalese Temple Ball. I smoked a lot.) Note that my nose looks different: it was a couple of years before I got it broken in a fight.
While I’m throwing caution to the wind, here’s video of part of that Ace gig, filmed December 9, 1982. We were woefully under-rehearsed (we’d split up not long after that August interview, and reformed for this one gig) and this was the song we’d played least. (You won’t find this one on the CD in the memoir. It was the last song we wrote.) Also, Jane’s guitar was horribly out-of-tune. It was always out of tune; even pooling our resources, we couldn’t afford to replace the machine heads.
We were incredibly poor. That white shirt I was wearing cost 20p in a jumble sale and I cut the collar off with a knife (ditto that shirt in the other video). The waistcoat was knitted for me by a lover’s mum. The pink trousers were hand-me-downs that I wore all the time. I was reminded just the other day that on the day of the gig I didn’t have tube fare to get there and had to borrow it. But, hey, we got paid in cash–union rates–right after the show. That night we partied. The only snag is, I don’t remember a thing about it :) Eh, I was 22; I thought I ruled the world. I remember that young person fondly.