The TJM Story Book Launch
Stoller Hall, Manchester
It was clear from the off that although this had been a long time coming it was well worth the wait. Just seeing the attendees arrive at the Stoller Hall to celebrate the launch of Tony Davidson’s The TJM Story was something special. Amongst the 300 who snapped up tickets are musicians, journalists, authors, photographers academics and illustrators. The audience seems to be a mix of old friends, albeit ones that hadn’t seen each other for maybe up to 40 years, and those who had been brought together through Tony via social media, meeting up for the first time.
Several of the bands that had practised at TJ Davidsons or released singles on TJM Records are represented, Slaughter and the Dogs: Ed Banger and The Nosebleeds: Fast Cars and The Drones to name a few (apologies to all those I’ve missed!)
Wayne AF Carey talks us through Cold Water Swimmers
“Every time I see the Swimmers I get a different experience. Mid set at the Peer Hat after a disappointing Shame gig, then legging it across town, The Castle Hotel for a rip roaring night with Pagans S.O.H. and Tinfoils (later re-created at The Salty Dog Northwich), a piss up around the campfire in Levy in the woods (I fell in the campfire…), a blinding acoustic set supporting Mark Burgess by Bridgett and then this. Probably the poshest venue they’ve played and they fit right in. Chris, Carrie and Selina look cool as fuck and they present a short set to a crowd of old school music heads that will surely earn them respect and more sales of their perfect debut album reviewed here. The sound quality is spot on due to the acoustics in this wonderful building and they shoot through some crackers like the country tinged Motorhead riffed Love Is Insane, Falling Apart, Everything We’ve Ever Had, a brilliant Replaced By Robots and an even more brilliant Summer Breeze (I hear someone in the audience say “I love this one”) which gets a great response from a hopefully converted bunch of old punks and writers. It’s a sweaty ending that finishes with a new one I Love You I Hate You which rocks out with Carrie and Selina doing their set piece of swapping drum and bass roles. The banter from Chris keeps it all going and he leaves the stage looking like a cross between Witches Of Eastwick era Jack Nicholson and Father Ted. Onwards and upwards for the best band in Manchester right now.”
Following the sublime Cold Water Swimmers, we’re presented with a video that begins with Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. This is one of the few pieces of evidence, other than black and white photographs that the fabled TJ Davidsons actually existed. Then we have video messages from some who can’t be here in person, Alan Adler, Mark Radcliffe, Mick Rossi and Billy Duffy and finally, Lou Macari. All profits fro the event and book are going to the Macari Foundation. In all honesty, the legend may have preferred to be here at the event rather than carrying out his ambassador role at Manchester United and watching them crash out of the League Cup to West Ham just a couple of miles down the road! It’s clear from the messages how much Tony is appreciated, be it encouraging and facilitating others, through the rehearsal rooms, record label or supporting and raising money and awareness of the Macari Foundation tackling homelessness in Stoke.
We’re then on to ‘the main event’ as Master of Ceremonies, John Robb takes the stage with Tony Davidson himself. They are quickly joined by Peter Hook and Mike Sweeney. I think this may have been one of the easiest nights of Mr Robb’s career. The stories flow effortlessly, for a Mancunian music lover you couldn’t ask for better raconteurs.
Hooky is on fire as always with a number of tales. The audience erupts as he recalls the first time he met Tony, “a jeweller in leather pants with a mullet and a flash car”. He later reveals that Ian Curtis got piles from sitting on the small electric heater in their practice room and confessed to how he and Bernard disposed of several copies of Mick Hucknell’s debut release in the canal after the Frantic Elevators frontman had put them down whilst going to the loo.
The highlight though has got to be the tale of the time Ian Curtis climbed into the new flight case with Bernard’s crash helmet for protection and proceeded to be pushed down the stairs and then out into the car park where he was spun round and round. The image certainly dispels some of the myths created by the sombre photos and legacy he left behind.
Whilst Hooky and Joy Division were new kids on the block, Sweeney was a relatively old hand at the time, having first played in bands in the 60’s so had a slightly different perspective from that of the up and coming punk / new wave bands. For Salford Jets, the £1.50 an hour room charge was a bargain, and whilst they may have been getting bookings on TV they weren’t the ones being written about in the Music Press. Thanks also to Mike, I woke up this morning with Gina (I’ve Got A Cortina) going round my head!
The audience may have been familiar with many of the anecdotes but each one hits the spot. Looking around the crowd, nodding heads compliment the laughter, with occasional knowing looks passing between individuals across the auditorium. If The Drones weren’t aware of Joy Division ‘borrowing’ their equipment for gigs 40 plus years ago, they were tonight.
For me Hooky’s last comment summed it up, encapsulating why Tony Davidson deserves the recognition. He built the place for the bands to meet and practice. If it wasn’t for him Factory/New Order wouldn’t have been able to build the Hacienda for the kids of Manchester a few years later.
The event runs so smoothly I must pay credit to all involved behind the scenes, including Tony who has worked tirelessly alongside Georgina Robinson organising and publicising and LTW’s own Nigel Carr, responsible for putting together all the audio/visual elements including videos and photos, which really helped bring the history to life.
Long after the event has ended the audience stick around the bar area, catching up, reminiscing and renewing friendships. The opportunity to celebrate the launch of the book and offer thanks to Tony was most welcome; for what he’s done for the Manchester music scene there should be a blue plaque and a civic reception. For now, a few bottles of beer and an evening with a partisan crowd will have to do.
Thank God he didn’t buy that house in Wilmslow in 1978 and chose to buy a crumbling Georgian Mill instead!