Top tips for great nights out in Leeds
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Does anyone know of any other well known (signed) bands that played at The Duchess (other than Nirvana)? Chumbawamba seemed to be there all the time, especially the Shelter gig all dayers.I heard that Metallica played there at some point as well (?) (possibly pre-Duchess days). Elastica did, The Almighty did I think, but I have also heard Oasis and Blur as well!? (Sorry if someone has already said this in a previous post?) :-)Zodiac Mindwarp! but I won't mention what he was up to upstairs!!!
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Foz wrote: Does anyone know of any other well known (signed) bands that played at The Duchess (other than Nirvana)? Chumbawamba seemed to be there all the time, especially the Shelter gig all dayers.I heard that Metallica played there at some point as well (?) (possibly pre-Duchess days). Elastica did, The Almighty did I think, but I have also heard Oasis and Blur as well!? (Sorry if someone has already said this in a previous post?) :-)Zodiac Mindwarp! but I won't mention what he was up to upstairs!!! Not only did the Almighty play, they were still only a support band (they were opening for Gun).
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Had some great nights at the Duchess, but the memory is somewhat hazy for most of them. I was at the Nirvana gig and they were the support with, if I remember correctly, Tad & Mudhoney alternating top spot on each show of the tour.The Henry Rollins Band gig was one of the best I remember. Absolutely packed and the loudest gig I have ever been to or at least it felt like it at the time.I was gutted on my return to Leeds after a couple of years the other side of the Pennines to find that it had closed down. A suit shop doesn't quite cut it as a replacement.
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Blur certainly did play The Duchess on their first national tour - the gig even gets a mention in their offical biography by Stuart Maconie.The story goes that after a couple of songs Damon introdues the band to the crowd. Damon says "hello we're Blur and we're from London". A heckler in the crowd instantly shouts "well f**k off back there you c**ts".I can remember it pretty well, mainly because it's probably the only time I've seen Damon Albarn speechless.I wonder if anyone knows the mystery heckler who's now got a place in history?
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I posted this in Facebook, but thought it also relevant to this thread:Initially, in 1986, was asked by Mick Longbottom to put some bands in his pub, The Robin Hood (I’d just finished promoting the Fforde Grene, which Tetley’s had made into a pool hall). The place had a tiny, semi-circular platform raised about nine inches off the ground. I told Mick I couldn’t put any bands on there because the stage wasn’t big enough. He agreed to pay for the materials if I built the stage. So, along with Mick Fletcher, Pete Smith and John from Transylvanian PA, we worked overnight to construct a solid stage made from railway sleepers and 8x4 sheets of board. We put sandbags under the drum area and painted the whole lot black. The frame from that stage lasted right to the end, about 14 years.Mick, against advice from me and practically everyone else, decided to change the name to ‘The Marquee’. I called my nights, The IF Club at The Marquee and put on acts which included names such as Nico and Roy Harper. Unfortunately Mick would let groups of football supporters into the side room, their constant chanting would often ruin the evening, so I decided to exit and became a partner in The Astoria Ballroom. The Marquee didn’t last long as the London venue of that name threatened to sue Mick Longbottom.Subsequently, Mick called it ‘The Pub with No Name’, eventually it began to struggle and John Smith’s, the brewery, asked me to take it on. I transferred from The Astoria to The Duchess of York, which was a name the brewery had insisted upon. Not being much of a fan of the lesser Royals, I only ever used the shortened form, ‘The Duchess’, in all the publicity.Down to details: I took over the lease and license of the Duchess of York in March 1988. I employed Robin Dover in the summer of 1990, but not as a manager... Rachel Scordos and Andy Mattacks were dealing with that. I relinquished the lease in February 1991. At the time I had two pubs and a restaurant on the go. My solicitor had assured me he had dealt with a v.a.t. problem, but obviously he hadn't (that’s another story). Consequently, I have paperwork, which is why I can be sure of the date. I made hurried arrangements with the brewery to hand over the lease to Mick Longbottom, so I could keep the place running as a venue. Mick made Robin the manager and eventually left for Germany towards the end of 1991. Robin was thereby offered a short lease, by default, and was the tenant from autumn 1991 to March 1994 (about two and a half years) that’s when The Fibbers Group took on the full lease.Miranda McMullen was credited as being the Licensee from the beginning of March 1994 to the end of 1999 (even though she had left in 1998 to manage The Jazz Café in London). Andy Youle took over from Miranda until March 2000, the closing date.Throughout the 12 years I was at The Duchess, right until the finish, I was the booker, programmer and main promoter. I gave early gigs to Nirvana, Oasis, Radiohead, Coldplay, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Blur, and lots of other breaking acts. Earlier on in the late ‘80s I had let Simon Moran (SJM) put in a few shows, but stopped doing so when I realised he wanted to take over everything. In 1989 I handed over some nights to Flame In Hand, a DIY co-operative (some of the members worked at the pub) which aimed to promote mainly punk and hardcore gigs. I personally promoted Nirvana and their headline act, Tad, plus bands such as The Jesus Lizard and Bolt Thrower, but Flame In Hand put on other acts of that ilk, like Snuff, Leatherface, Green Day and The Offspring. In the mid-90s, because I had a small daughter to take care of, I gave up a few nights a month to Steve Kind, Paul Cooke and Flatnose John Trueman. These consisted of local packages featuring 3 or 4 acts.The last gig was Chumbawamba. I put in an appearance as Elvis and sang a couple of songs with the band. At the end I jumped onto the stage in my ‘civvies’, made a small speech and broke into ‘Duchess’ by the Stranglers, the crowd sang along with the chorus. There were tears in the eyes of many people in the audience… to this day I don’t know whether it was my singing or the fact that they were genuinely sorry to see the place go.Otherwise I’m pleased to say I was responsible for holding together the eclectic mix that provided a little bit of something for everyone and made the Duchess into an iconic venue. It is encased in its own time capsule to be cherished until the next generation takes over and those memories become lost in the mist.John Keenan 2008
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Greetings to everyone! Hi, John. Great to hear from you again.I believe the time frame is about right. It seems like I came in around the Summer of 1990... Although in reality, I was hired as a Manager. As I came into the pub the first day to enquire about a job, Rachel Scordos let me know that she thought I just may be in luck as their Manager, a chap named Mark, had just left traveling somewhere. They had no idea if or when he was to return. So, she notified John that someone was here looking for a job. She showed me upstairs to John‘s office. I sat down, we talked. We got along great and he hired me. He specifically let me know that he needed someone he could rely upon with cashing up, banking and the lot. Rachel Scordos and Andy Mattocks were juggling this task together… along with everything else. I walked into The Duchess the next night and started to work immediately behind the bar. It was chocker-block… 4 to 5 deep at the bar. They were short-handed for the night so I stepped in and pulled pints, changed kegs in the cellar, took money from customers for the till… the lot. Rachel was happy working the bar, etc. and shortly after I began working, Rachel moved to The Grove Inn at Holbeck… another incredibly awesome pub where Rachel shines like a star taking the bull by the horns and has kept it alive to this day. Andy Mattocks, RIP, stayed on as my Assistant Manager. We shared responsibilities until the day that John surrendered the lease. At that time, it was discussed if I would be able to accept the lease, but I didn‘t have the money to purchase fixtures and fittings, the remaining monies and stock left in the premises, therefore, Mick Longbottom took back the lease of the pub once again. As I have mentioned in a previous thread, six months after Mick Longbottom took the lease back on The Duchess, Mick found himself in a similar situation that John Keenan had been in and Mick was forced to surrender the lease. Mick left for Germany shortly thereafter. But he didn’t simply walk away because everything was hunky-dory. It was a similiar set of financial circumstances. I know. I had many confidential conversations with Mick, God bless him. At this point, after a year of functioning as Manager, I was offered the lease, fortunately had the money to make the purchase and became the new Licensee and Landlord. From the beginning, I funneled the majority of the money that The Duchess made back into the business. I had a new dance floor installed, built a barrier for the front of the stage, had a new lighting rig installed and had an enclosed barrier built around Geoff Bell, RIP, to protect him and his rig from damage. I hired Kevin Wright to strip the wallpaper from the inside of the pub and new paper and paint done. In fact, almost everyone who was working in the pub at the time joined in with the refurbishing of the inside of the venue. It was a genuine team effort. We all loved The Duchess. I must say that it would have been impossible for me to have continued without John Keenan‘s experience as a Promoter. I know John was pushed into a corner by VAT vigilantes and alleged incompetence of his accountant which caused him to relinquish the lease, but he remained with me, as the primary Promoter of The Duchess throughout my entire time there. I promoted the odd gig… made a little money… lost more. I took over the weekend free Saturday afternoon gig schedule.Here is a great quote from Patsy Matheson, who is such a lovely person and extremely talented musician now performing with Waking The Witch,“Ey up again RobinHope you're well. This is a really cool site. I have a million stories from the Duchess from around 1986-87. The one that I hold most dear is when I supported Nico and the Faction. Sat 17th May (and I have the ticket here which I will scan). Unfortunately the year isn't on the ticket. I have worked out that it had to be 1986. Bit wierd, as clearly I must have only been about 4 at the time It was a JFK promotion and the first BIG INTERNATIONAL gig at the venue. (Just prior to that it had been called the Robin Hood and was frequented by women of the night who used to sit on high stools at the bar with price tags stuck on the bottom of their stilletos) The previous night, Mick Fletcher and a few others were in all night building the stage. I called in (with the very lovely and talented Jon Strong - we were both too drunk to be of any assistance or to drive home, which is how come we ended up there) at about 1am when they were filling the stage with sand. Brought in by wheel barrows. No-one thought it would be ready for the next night. But it was. This stage was to last for about the next 10 years! (at least!). I remember being reasonably good at the Nico gig. She was a complete cow. (!) She had possibly the most awesome percussion player that I have ever seen playing with her. Too long ago to remember his name. Did you know that I worked there for the first year booking all of the local bands? JFK did Fri and Sats and I did the rest of the week. This was when we were called the Marquee. The Marquee in London threatened to sue us, so Mick Longbottom came up with 'Pub with No Name', which subsequently became the Duchess of York, cos the loathesome Sarah Ferguson had just arrived on the scene. At the time, I begged him not to call it this...!!! Anyway, there you go. Lots of fun was had.Hope you're still keeping your torch stashed with ginger biscuits.Have a good Christmas. Pats I hope everyone enjoyed Patsy’s comment. Thank you Patsy.It was essential for John to continue promoting in keeping the momentum that he had already gained with the Duchess. It was a relationship in which I needed John and John needed me because The Duchess was the busiest live-music venue in the north of England. It was John’s bread and butter… and mine, too. I believe John was juggling events at The Toby Jug and was attempting to launch the Blue Mood Café. My opinion is that the economic climate in the city centre of Leeds and in Yorkshire in general just wasn’t conducive to so many outside investments. I believe The Duchess needed everything it could take to keep going on it’s own besides anything else on the side. With the combined effects of an absolutely demanding VAT plus unrelenting bills, bills, bills BESIDES VAT accumulating at The Duchess and the sheer demand because of these combined circumstances requiring a BUSY night at The Duchess as often as possible… it just didn’t happen. And the rest is history. I admired John for the exercise of his faith and sincere hopes of survival with the potential success of the other two businesses. But it just wasn’t to happen. There just wasn’t enough time. Maybe if we had had more time. We all wanted to see everything work. I remember going down to the Blue Mood Café on it’s opening night. Rachel was there. We wanted to see it work. But it didn’t and sadly, The Blue Mood Cafe was forced to shut, and gigs from the other pub wasn’t enough to sustain the nights which were less productive at The Duchess. I held the License for The Duchess for around 3 years rather than 2 ½ years. I was there for around 4 years… and was also found frequenting her thereafter through the years. The Duchess was my best experience… which is why… around 13 years after I relinquished the License for her, that I decided to bring her memory back to life in MySpace. I actually stood inside of the gutted interior of The Duchess in April of 2001 while workmen were stripping her out… before there was ever a Hugo Boss sign up. Tears came to my eyes as I stood inside where I once lived. As for The Duchess on MySpace…I want to do something a little more than just bring her memory back to life. I want to see her old community come back together again… and also cause a new community of supporters, believers, fans, musicians and friends to have a place to come to for reminiscing as well as for creating a series of new experiences, too. I love what I am doing with her and I feel like I walk through her doors every time I come into the site. I hope it is the same for all of you. As far as who was there first, or the longest, or who was there last or who was the best at pulling a pint, booking a gig or cleaning the beer lines… and it all matters in some way… but let’s be honest. The most important thing of all is that through our efforts and what we are doing, we have already brought The Duchess back to life… have given her a new Lease on Life. The Duchess is a place that welcomes all of you. I miss The Duchess deeply and I know many of you do, too. By the way… I have heard John Keenan sing. I‘m sure when he was singing on that final night, that the tears in the eyes of John and everyone else there was genuinely due to the doors shutting on the most beloved venue in the north of England… The Duchess of York. The Duchess is alive. I agree with John… The Duchess is an iconic venue. It became this way because of ALL OF US who made The Duchess what she was. Not just because of John Keenan, or myself, or Mick Longbottom or Geoff Bell RIP or Tigi or Andy RIP or Rachel or Iain or Youngy or Flat Nose John RIP… the list goes on FOREVER. It is because of all of us. John so elegantly stated that “It is encased in its own time capsule to be cherished until the next generation takes over and those memories become lost in the mist”. I am saying that the next generation is here, right now. And that we will always hold the memory of The Duchess so that she will never become lost in the mist. We will create new memories and we will reminisce with the rest. Thanks to John, and Tigi and everyone of you. Together… we are The Duchess.Cheers. Robin Dover - Virtual Landlord - The Duchess Of York - Leeds
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What a great thread, never went to the D.O.Y but thats been a great read.
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Ah the Duchess,so many memories especially around the mid eighties. Gawd i saw some rubbish there. Liza Dominique ,at the time Kerrangs weekly poster girl. Body of a supermodel,voice like a broken fridge possessed by the tormented spirit of Arthur Mullard. Tigertailz anyone?No i thought not seeing muggins here was one of only three paying customers on a wet Wednesday night.The lead singer resembled John Merrick with a bubble perm and had the charisma of an introverted toastrack.
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