Live History 1


25/01/89 - International, Manchester, England

Review: "'Letter You Know' is Monkees and mescaline, a mouthy mouthy resuscitation utilising chuckling cheekbones and illicit lipstick traces to connect with previous, glorious contra-bands - New York Dolls, Stooges, Stones - whilst parrying catty 'copy!' sloppy slander." [Paul Lester - Melody Maker 4 February 1989]

22/05/89 - Knights, Chester, England

Setlist: Crystal / Gotta Get Away / Sugar Blood / Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

25/05/89 - Sugarhouse, Lancaster, England

Review: "And the blonde moptops whirl like windmills. Birdland are majestic tonight, a shrill assault, a weird confrontation. They make me wonder, for all their set, why other punky bands even bother setting a toe on stage. They blow us all away. It's like being seduced by an earthquake, or won over by a riot. This sort of show can't deal in half-measures, it has to be total. And this is. ... We get 30 minutes, at a push, and it seems like 30 seconds. But the thrill is there. They couldn't have done more. After Birdland, every band on the planet are lazy bastards. Oh, an ideal for living, on speed. Trash as an art form. Birdland are superbly ragged, truly aesthetic and don't even contemplate playing an encore. ... White punks on hops, contrived, natural, and very wonderful." [Ian Gittins, Melody Maker, 10 June 1989.]

23/06/89 Calton Studios, Edinburgh, Scotland

Setlist: Paradise / White / See No Evil / Stay / Hollow Heart / Crystal / Gotta Get Away / Sugar Blood / Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

Review: "Come oan, ya bunch o' fuckin' cunts!" Ah, the Scottish sense of humour. My first live encounter with the band. I had travelled the 50 miles to the show alone, fully intending to wander the streets for the rest of the night until the first bus home. Incidentally, this was potentially a great bill because Spacemen 3 had been booked into the Venue up the road and the promoters must've realised that they were simply competing for the same audience. Spacemen 3 were just coming off the back of their only 'hit' ("Revolution") so there was quite a buzz. In reality they were far too loud and apart from an occasional venture in to check them out I sat in the bar watching the Sean Penn movie, COLORS. Birdland were great. In less than 30 minutes they completely reaffirmed my faith in punk rock - as opposed to the confetti-scattering, hippie nonsense I'd spent the last few years listening to. During the last track, completely overwhelmed by the experience, I upset Lee's microphone stand, instigating a chain of events that climaxed in instrument smashing, general chaos and various equipment people having to be physically restrained. Oh, rock'n'roll. I got to sleep at the sister's of someone else who'd travelled up from home. Except I didn't sleep because they had a fraternal argument all night. I got a tape of this show from a guy I saw recording an Under Neath What (remember them?) gig a few weeks later.

Images: flyer | ticket

Birdland Zap Club

Zap Club

11/07/89 Zap Club, Brighton, England

Review: "White white white, the speed of light. ... From the moment I looked around me, trying to commit this atmosphere to memory, thinking, Jesus, this is the one. The greatness. The blinding holocaust Birdland were born to deliver. It's that unreasonable, that emphatic and irresponsible and narcissistic and electric and thrilling. Birdland are taking the twin fantasies of rock music - the death wish and the lust for life - to new extremes. ... Oh yes, tonight they annihilated doubt. Slaughtered it. Massacred it. One of the most breathless, exhilarating and frightening white noises I've ever heard. Birdland, waving the magic, blonde. Catch them while they're as high as stars. Gospel. [Chris Roberts, Melody Maker, 22 July 1989]

20/10/89 Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, Scotland

Setlist: Wanted / See No Evil / Paradise / Sleep With Me / White / Gotta Get Away / Hollow Heart / Sugar Blood // Crystal / Rock 'n' Roll Nigger.

Review: I remember absolutely nothing about the circumstances of this show. Can't remember where we stayed or anything. According to notes I wrote at the time (...) I enjoyed this gig even more than the last time, which I thought was "much more energetic and frenzied." I obtained a set list but they didn't play "Everybody Needs ..." A pretty good video of this show (shot from the balcony) was made but, criminally, you can't see me at all despite the fact I can point you out where I was bouncing up and down exactly.

26/10/89 Charing Cross Road Astoria, London, England

Review: "Just as the smoke-screen reaches saturation point, four emaciated baby-faced ruffians pounce from the wings and proceed to destroy those foolish accusations of play-acting that have been levelled at them. Birdland don't know the first thing about acting; what they do know all about is the act of going berserk. And, at this moment, nobody does it better." [Paul Mardles, Sounds, 4 November 1989]

Birdland Astoria
Robert and Simon at the Astoria

11/01/90 - Old Trout, Windsor, England

Review: "For Birdland to be any good at all they need to operate amidst rowdiness and disarray. As the terminal logical extension of that strand in rock which says that you can never be too thin, loud, fast, careless or pretty enough, they have to stir up a rumpus or forget it. The myths that they latch on to, the debts they owe to Iggy, Clash, Ramones, Mary Chain, Cope, glamour and anarchy have to be honoured. ... A cuban heel stomps down on an effects pedal, the screaming strobe-a-sonic, sherbert riff machine explodes into life and three frontline Bird boys bounce upwards towards the ceiling. They are barely in control to the extent that the songs are unrecognisable, each one a toy-boy spurt of glucose overdosed (s)punk. ... So Birdland are a white riot then, but it's a riot acted out by Milky Bar kids. In so far as they are The Clash they are mostly Paul Simonon's cheekbones. Not that any of that matters though, because even as mere moths to an old flame that is fuelled by speed, youth, chaos and narcissism, they are still hugely captivating. A silly but gorgeous adjunct to an old myth, they are in fact the pretty young blonde thing that The Rolling Stones should have married." [Roger Morton, NME, 20 January 1990]

Birdland Windsor
Windsor Old Trout

12/01/90 - Town Hall, Maesteg, Wales

Review: "It was on the 'Sleep With Me' tour. Not many people turned up: there must have been about 150 there. They just started smashing everything up, and beating up the security in front of hysterical screaming kids. It was just great: I felt a bit like Joe Strummer seeing the Sex Pistols or something ... not quite that far maybe, but it but it made me feel like I wasn't so far out of place. We used to play in our school shirts and things and it gave us the confidence to think that if we got any shit, we were still cool." [James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers; 'Best Gig I Ever Saw' NME, 10 September 1994] (Note: according to one-time Birdland associate ... the Manics were big-time Birdland fans, following them to shows and pestering for autographs)

18/01/90 - Syndrome, London, England

Review: "The whole atmosphere inside the Syndrome shoebox spells out Classic Happening. The audience is a bizarre but excitable selection of 14 year old girls, Birdland wannabes, hyped-up journos, and 'mature' gentlemen here to see the new Beatles. ... Energy is something Birdland have in abundance. They also have a great rock ' n roll name. But coming across like an amalgam of the entire history of pop to date isn't really enough - moreover, thay have only written two good songs and I'm convinced that one of them ('Wanted') is unconciously stolen from someone else. They need to channel their energy, they ought to get angry about something." [Bob Stanley, Melody Maker, issue unknown]

Birdland Syndrome
Watch the zip! - Syndrome

07/02/90 University, Leicester, England

Setlist: Real Good Time / Wanted / She Belongs To Me / Everybody Needs Somebody / All Over Me / Paradise / Shoot You Down / Sleep With Me / Gotta Gettaway / Hollow Heart / White / Sugar Blood // Crystal Injection / Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

12/02/90 - The Network, Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: We stayed at JM's in some kind of student accomodation up near the Commonwealth Pool. I remember the floor was very hard. Again I had a great time. The place was really rammed.

31/03/90 - Brixton Academy, London, England

Setlist: Paradise / Wanted / Everybody Needs Somebody / She Belongs To Me / All Over Me / Don't Hang On / Shoot You Down / Hassles / Sleep With Me / See No Evil / White / Sugar Blood // Hollow Heart / Crystal Injection / Gotta Gettaway // Rock'n'Roll Nigger

invite to Lazy party, Brighton - 9 July 1990

16/04/90 - Philipshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany

Setlist: Paradise / Wanted / Everybody Needs Somebody / She Belongs To Me / All Over Me / Shoot You Down / Sleep With Me / See No Evil / Hollow Heart / White / Sugar Blood // Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

31/08/90 - Boardwalk, Manchester, England

Setlist: Everybody Needs Somebody / Twin Sons / Wanted / She Belongs To Me / All Over Me / Protection / Paradise / Don't Look Back / Shoot You Down / Sleep With Me / Hollow Heart / White // Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

28/02/91 - University, Liverpool, England

Review: "The LP shows the Midland Ramones desperately trying to widen their scope, moving off their narrow base and even slowing things down on occasion. But live these experiments are virtually forgotten as they plough on with their ridiculously outdated, cliched brand of power punk. It all fizzes along at quite an invigorating rate without ever threatening to rise above the gaudily superficial. Indeed, it's doubtful whether their audience actually wants anything other than the cheap, juvenile excitement generated by their adrenaline post-punk thrash." [Kev McManus, NME, 16 March 1991]

11/03/91 University, Cardiff, Wales

Setlist: Hollow Heart / Wanted / See No Evil / Shoot You Down / Paradise / Wake Up Dreaming / Letter You Know / Exit / Sleep With Me / Beat Me Like A Star / Don't Look Back / White / Sugar Blood / Everybody Needs Somebody / Rock 'n' Roll Nigger

??/05/92 New Cross Venue, London, England

Review: "The Birdies have dropped the synchronised formation pogoing and sprouted a balding keyboard player. Lee's dyed his hair black (sacrilege), and - horror of horrors - Robert's in baggy trousers. ... The new songs are so feeble (aimless melodic jangle) that even the dismal support Family Gotown shine in comparison. ... When Robert takes trouble to position his maracas right next to the microphone (eager to mimic Jagger as perfectly as possible), I'm inexplicably reminded of George Orwell's Burmese prisoner who steps to avoid a puddle while being marched to the gallows." [Simon Price, Melody Maker, 16 May 1992.]

04/03/93 - Riverside, Newcastle, England


Review: I quote from a letter S. sent at the time: "Last night I witnessed the death of Birdland. It was a messy end. When the band came on there was an audience of about 100. Two songs in and it was down to 30, with a group of about 6 hardcore fanatics pogoing about. New drummer (probably likes U2 and Big Country) and bassist (The Mission and Hawkwind). New songs. Very crap. The singer was shaking with nerves. The guitarist lost his temper with a heckler: "Why don't you just fuck off!" I felt really sorry for them - once they would have packed a place like the Riverside. ... Did an encore. Nobody asked for a second."

09/03/93 Joiner's Arms, Southampton, England

Setlist: Change The Painted World

Review: "For a band that once personified cocksure confidence and rock 'n' roll arrogance, tonight must be the ultimate comedown. Even the band's arrival on stage - once the cue for mayhem - provokes the sparse crowd into nothing more than a desultory shuffle down the front. ... Birdland 1993 is strictly an exercise in going through the motions, despite the mildly surprising presence of lots of new material. Rather less surprisingly, it's all crap, with only the Ramones-esque surfpunk of 'Change The Painted World' approaching palatability. ... Birdland have (stifle laughter) turned down the treble and gone grunge and this risible move has robbed tham of any merit at all. ... At least they used to mean it. At least they used to be funny. At least they used to inspire a reaction. The only emotion anyone is likely to feel for Birdland now is pity." [Mark Sutherland, NME, 20 March 1993.]