King Kurt On the Road – Franc’s Club, Colne 1983

Colne – 1983

Level of Drunkenness : Bladdered
Gig rating : ****
Arrests Made : *
Messiness : Unknown
Bootleg Available : Probable

A one-off gig and a return visit to Franc’s one of the best Northern England clubs west of Barnsley. Barnsley himself would not be returning for this gig however, since he was still a wanted man in Lancashire after the first gig.

Jump in the Van

For this gig I traveled up in the newly acquired King Kurt van. I had gone up to Brixton the night before and kipped with Kurt in Rory’s front room. King Kurt, the rat after which the band took their name, was on “best friends” terms with the Onions after I had recently bought him three well-groomed virgin lady rats and let them loose in his cage overnight. That was the day when the Destination Zululand video was recorded, and I had been tasked with supplying live rats at the Stiff Records recording studios in North London.

The band were late arriving at the studios from the on-location shoot, problems with the light, and I spent a rather memorable two or three hours waiting for them in the Stiff Records’ official archive, with unrestricted access to “Gold Master” copies of every recording the studio had ever made, along with broadcast-quality playback devices. Even the sexual advances of a rather attractive slag record company executive couldn’t get me out of there. After the video was completed and the tape sent off for editing, the record exec again tried to entice me back to spend the night shagging at her posh Chelsea apartment rather than sleep on the rat infested floor of the Brixton shitehole that Rory dossed down in. But I had rat-fanny for Kurt with me, and he hadn’t had a shag in months.

Kurt remembered my kindness such that now, about three weeks later, we got a good night’s sleep – a rare event in Brixton. Rory and I set off early the next morning, picked up the rest of the group from whichever strip-clubs, opium-dens, squats, or jail cells they had spent the night in and together we set off up North. We stopped for a comfort break around half-way up the M6 where Maggot and Smeg spotted a large heap of cow dung and suggested we play “Vietnam”. A contact sport in which friends and acquaintances attempt to beat each other up in a pile of shit. Think of Fight Club on acid. That kind of thing. After Vietnam we gathered up as many plastic bags as we had between us, and loaded them up with fresh manure to take to the gig.

We arrived stinking, and as this was to be the final self-organised gig before the Stiff-Approved National Tour, we were to publicize the first gig of that forthcoming tour: The restricted entry King Skurt at the Brixton Fridge. Wearing dresses we had entertained the crowds in the town centre by throwing bags of flower at each other. The local traders were pleased with our antics since it was keeping the crowds around, and they were supplying us with bottles of water and the occasional beer.

Then, after the shops had closed and the crowds had gone home, Grimsby and I were sitting on a wall at the rear of the shops smoking cigarettes and getting ready to go into the club through the stage door just across the street. This is when the cops finally decide to show up and they promptly arrest The Onions, who was covered in flour and wearing a red dress with low cut neckline and shoulder straps and matching hob-nailed boots, on the ludicrous charge of being drunk and disorderly. A charge subsequently dismissed by Nelson Magistrate’s Court as being “baseless”.


Had Barnsley been busted that first time around he would have found, as I found, that you can hear the concerts quite well from the Colne & Nelson Jailhouse. Acoustically it’s a bit bassy, and if there are any wailers in the drunk-tank it can drown out some of the higher notes. The Colne jail experience is a routine affair where one is read one’s rights, deprived of one’s boots, finger-printed, and banged up. As our group had been accompanied to Colne by members of the press I was spared the customary kicking. Another stroke of luck was being the first detainee of the night, which got me a private cell all to myself. Through the bars in the window I could just make out the stage door and saw the band stubbing out their spliffs and about to go on stage.

As soon as the gig was over I was released, and by running barefoot at full speed – didn’t even bother putting me boots back on – I was in the club in time for the encore, and the boys even honored my arrest by coming on for a rare second encore when they’d heard, partially incorrectly, that I had escaped jail and was back in the club. The misinformation apparently derived from the stage-doorman who saw me running from the jail barefoot and, presuming me to be an escapee, held the door open for me.

It was a good encore, one of the best I’d seen, and the guys assured me the rest of the gig had been just as good. Franc’s was looking pretty messed up and there was manure everywhere inside. Franc himself told me that he had encouraged a messy gig this night since he was closing for the summer afterwards and having the whole place renovated. So why not make a night of it, he thought, although he hadn’t expected so much dung. Indeed. And I missed it. It sucked to be me that night, a situation that was more or less completely reversed an hour or two later at the party we all gate crashed afterwards. As the night’s top boy I was granted privileged access to women and pretty much took my pick, who as it happened, would turn out to be my favorite too.

The party was held in student’s private home while parents were away, and we were for once relieved that Barnsley wasn’t with us, recalling the last time when he’d made an Apple Pie Bed in the party host’s parent’s bed with a Cleveland Steamer inside. This one turned out to be a better party with plenty of happy girls, a reasonable amount of free flowing booze, and a bottle of whiskey in the washing machine that everybody could see and nobody could get out.

Related Links
Tidy Old Turn Out
Pumping in Colne
Rotterdam ’83
Destruction in Durham
Woolwich Tramshed Riot
Franc’s Club, Colne
Scouse Headcrunchers
Official King Kurt

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