Boy Tour Leg 1: 1980, Europe

Sep
19
1980
Stroud, GB (Marshall Rooms)
Marshall Rooms
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Show Report
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COMMENTS

1
23 May, 2011
I Get By With A Little Help From My Frie
It was nearing the end of the summer in 1980 when I got a call from our singer Mark Smith (Miff) informing me that there might be the possibility of our band gate crashing a gig at the Marshall Rooms in Stroud Gloucestershire with a band from Ireland touring the UK. The Marshall Rooms was one of the best live act venues in Gloucestershire along side Witcombe Lodge. Gate crashing gigs was something Demob did frequently due to the fact no promotion booking agent or management company would get involved with the band due to the notorious following we had called “The Demob Riot Squad”. We had just released our first single “Anti Police” and were in the throws of recording our second single “No Room for you” both with Round Ear Records. We were in desperate need to play anywhere we could to try and promote the band and its music. Problems started from the onset as our drummer Johnny (Ringo) Melfah was an up and coming boxer and had an event planned that day with the boxing establishment, we weren`t sure he would be back in time to have the whole band together to play that night. None the less we three embarked on the journey over to Stroud Marshall Rooms with the riot squad in tow. When we arrived at The Marshall Rooms Miff started negotiations with the event organisers and things weren’t` going too good, Miff informed the promoters that a lot of our followers had come over and paid to get into the gig expecting Demob to play and if we didn`t he could not be responsible for their actions. The night was picking up, the venue was getting full, the audience was getting pissed and rowdy, a few scuffles broke out and this started to make the promoters think twice about letting Demob play. After about the 3rd incident the promoters agreed to let us go on stage to play a couple of our songs after the support bands Midnight and The Lemon Boys had finished their set. Shit where was Johnny? Panic stations started, there were no mobile phones to use in those days so it was the case of trying to locate him by landline. We thought this gig was an opportunity not to be missed so we asked to loan the equipment from one of the support bands on the understanding we took care of it and we asked our roadie “Clunk” to stand in as drummer. Just as we started to play the first song Johnny arrived and took over. We were allowed to play “Anti Police” and “No Room For You”; the audience went mental and did not want us to get off stage. We were happy we had accomplished what we set out to achieve. No one had heard of the main band U2 from Ireland and the whole place was on a real high of alcohol and other substances. I thought it would be good to chill out a bit and go and meet the guys in U2 to find out what they were about so I went to their dressing room upstairs, I had to blag my way through their security, yes security at that stage in their career! When I got into the dressing room it was a familiar site, 4 nervous guys waiting to play to an unknown audience. I introduced myself as the guitarist from Demob who had just played and Bono held out his hand and said “that was great songs you played, why didn`t you play some more” I explained we weren`t on the bill to play but were glad to be able to play a couple of our songs. I recall Bono asking me to sit down and join them, he said our songs were very similar to theirs and asked me what made the band write a song called Anti Police, I explained about the new SUS law (Stop & Search) that had been introduced and it was enabling police to be heavy handed with kids on the street, he told me they were having similar troubles with the army in Ireland but people were getting killed most weeks. He said something like “you have to express what you feel is right and if you can do it through music it will reach a lot of people then we may be able to make a change”. He introduced me to the band and asked about Demobs` future plans? I told him about our second single No Room For You and that it was again about kids being oppressed by the Tories who were shutting down all our local concert halls and we were trying to play wherever we could. Just then their security came in and said I would have to leave as they were nearly ready to go on stage. I shook Bonos` hand again and the rest of the band got up and did the same, it was all very gentlemanly like. I said “have a good gig” and left, about ten minutes later U2 came on stage and started to play their first song and the audience were booing and chanting “Demob Demob, Demob”. At this stage I could see the band were finding it difficult to play, a few pints of beer were thrown in their direction at this point I said to Johnny “come on let`s do something about this they`ve come all the way from Ireland and shouldn`t be treated like this”, they weren`t your run of the mill punk band and I`ve seen similar situations where gigs would erupt into a mass brawl, so me and Johnny jumped up on stage and said to the crowd to cool it and show some respect as they had allowed us to play on their show, this seemed to work and U2 played their set without anymore problems. I remember watching, listening to them and thinking they had a unique sound. Edge had a guitar sound I had never heard before and Bono sung with passion and emotion. At the end of the gig I just left to go off to a party with others not realising the band I had just seen, had the pleasure of playing on the same show and meeting, would become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. If you research the history of The Beatles you will note a very uncanny similar occurrence happened when The Beatles started their touring career. They too played in Stroud at the Subscription Rooms (a stone throw away from The Marshall Rooms) and similar to U2 they too were booed off stage. Bono and the boys, you owe me one. With respect, Terry Elcock Demob Guitarist
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