the audience at the first show was art student and Ramones devotee
Philip Adrian Wright (pictured right, born 30th June 1956),
who lived in the building in which the group rehearsed and worked
in an ice cream van around nearby Wakefield.
"We accidentally picked up Adrian" (as he became known)
"after about the third show, 'cause we were totally boring
on stage. We didn't do anything." Although at the
first show, the League were able to use video equipment which
an acquaintance had happened to bring along, they were without
visual accompaniment at their second and third shows.
"They said 'We hear you've got this slide collection...
we're pretty boring on stage - why don't you come and project
your slides behind us and liven us up?'"
agreed to this and was appointed Director Of Visuals in the
group, making his debut at a show at Sheffield's The Limit.
His slideshows immediately made a huge difference to the group's
up to four screens at a time, Adrian initially mixed up images
at random, but later began using them more strategically to
complement the songs. His slide collection included hundreds
of photographs taken from television, such as Star Trek, Batman,
Captain Scarlet and Doctor Who, and it would later expand to
include many other images from popular culture, including films
and other musicians, such as Gary Glitter, Iggy Pop and the
Bay City Rollers.
"As soon as we started doing shows with him, with pictures
of people's heads blowing up, or Jesus crying from an early
woodcut, the gigs started to go well!"
group's first London show took place at the Music Machine on
August 17th 1978, two months after the release of Being
There they supported The Rezillos, who were managed by Bob Last
and whose guitarist, Jo Callis, would join a future incarnation
of The Human League in 1981. Concerned by stories of the violent
receptions afforded other bands that dared to use instruments
other than guitars and drums before a London punk audience,
the League originally planned to perform in motorcycle helmets,
but decided against this at the last minute.
following month, at a free show at Sheffield's Limit Club, they
shared the bill with Graph, featuring Ian Burden, who would
also later join the group in late 1980. Also on what was clearly
an eclectic bill that night were future stadium rockers Def
Leppard...! Martyn: "I remember turning round to Ian and
saying, 'This is unbelievable, it's so bad. They've got no f---ing
chance of selling anything... ever.' They had just the
worst songs imaginable."
this show, the League dressed in white boiler suits emblazoned
with the group's initials, HL. Martyn: "I wanted
to start the gig off with a lecture and slideshow.... saying
'This is the kind of music we are going to play. Now, we'd like
you to move in these certain sections here', you
know, with, like, a pointer and everything, before we started
group returned to London in November for a show at The Nashville,
which was attended by one of the League's biggest musical heroes,
David Bowie, who was greatly impressed. Adrian: "He was
very complimentary, and very nice. When he saw our visuals,
he said something like, 'Oh bugger, I was going to do something
like that on my next tour!'."
a support slot with Pere Ubu, the group were then asked by Siouxsie
& The Banshees (vocalist Siouxsie Sioux pictured right)
to support them on a December tour of Britain, along with new
wave band Spizz Oil. The League, although slightly apprehensive,
accepted the offer, fearing that the punk element of the Banshees'
audience would shower them with spit and beer bottles.
for the worst, they constructed special fibreglass 'riot-shields'
to protect themselves on stage, and after the first few shows
dropped many of the unpopular instrumental tracks in favour
of crowd-pleasing material, such as a cover of Gary Glitter's
Rock 'N' Roll.
it happened, the riot-shields proved unnecessary; the tour was
a great success for the League and brought them many new admirers
from the Banshees' audience. However,
many of the League's new fans were to be disappointed by their
next Fast Product release, The
Dignity Of Labour,
which was purely instrumental and not at all in the pop vein
their new fans had come to expect.
EP's release was preceded by a short headlining tour in February
1979, supported by Fast Product band The Scars on certain dates.
However, their planned concert together with The Transmitters
at London's Notre Dame Hall was cancelled just two hours before
the show was scheduled to begin, "on moral grounds".
The hall's vicar had apparently demanded the show's cancellation,
refusing to "allow any of these punk rockers in my hall".
London appearance was also cancelled two months later; the League
were scheduled to support one of their old heroes, Lou Reed,
but the former Velvet Underground leader decided shortly before
the show that he didn't want a support band after all...