Friday, 18 September 2015

Radio Review: 18 September

An era of woeful teenage kicks is brought to mind

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176It seems strange these days to remember music preferences were once ‘a matter of life or death’, but that’s how it was according to Paul Morley. He was speaking in Too Much Fighting On The Dance Floor (Radio 4, available on iPlayer), Adrian Goldberg’s rather good documentary on the violent tribalism of music fandom in the 1970s and 1980s. It was ‘ideological’, said Morley, who once got slashed with a knife, while leaving a gig, by skinheads who mistook him for a Mod.

Skinheads and Mods liked a lot of the same music, but couldn’t stand each other, Goldberg noted. Many of the skinheads were National Front, actively despising black members of their favourite bands. Pauline Black of The Selecter recalled skinheads discounting all but the single white member of the band by describing them as ‘The Selecter plus six’. Not nice.

It wasn’t just the slapheads and the tonic-suit boys. Pretty much any gig was ‘more likely to end in a punch-up than a party’, Goldberg observed. Why should it have been so, and why did it (thankfully) decline? Bob Morris, a music fan, noted that the 1970s were ‘violent times’ with blokes punching their girlfriends in pubs passing off without a murmur.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the assertion that rave culture killed it off, preferring the idea of the calming influence of women. Audiences here were largely male, and bands noticed that American audiences, which contained more women, hardly ever kicked off. Peter Hook, formerly of New Order, also noted that parents now take their children to concerts, and remarked it was unthinkable that his mum would ever have gone to a gig with him. Garry Bushell agreed, noting that ‘culture is very feminised now’. However, he seemed sad about this, preferring the good old days of the ruck. Bless him.

Louis on Twitter: @LF Barfe or email:

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