04 July 2011

My Career as a Teenage Rock Photographer

From the archives, these handbills and related photographs from my aborted career as a concert photographer. I never was serious and asked for no special favours. In fact, these were all taken using an old 35mm Canon (with broken light meter) that was smuggled into each show in a friend's purse.

Gang of Four's Jon King at Montreal's Beer Garden, 4 July 1981. thirty years ago today. I've since seen the band three more times, but have never once heard them play "5:45", my favourite of all their songs.

Dave Allen, Hugo Burnham and Andy Gill. It's my understanding that this was the last time Allen played with the band until the 2005 reunion. Here it looks like he's packing up:

Durutti Column with American Devices. Véhicule Art, Montreal. 2 April 1982. With an audience of twenty or so, it was much harder to go unnoticed at this show. Still, no one seemed to mind. Damn that light meter.

The great Vini Reilly.

Montreal was their first ever Canadian gig, squeezed between New York and Toronto on a three-date North American tour. They've never been back – no return of the Durutti Column.


A bootleg recording of the Véhicule Art show is out there under the title dcmtl 1982. It includes this, for three decades my favourite Reilly composition:


  1. Great pictures. Funny- I'm a fan of Pylon and The American Devices. I'd love to see pics of them.

  2. My thanks for the kind words. Sadly, I didn't take any photos of Pylon or The Devices. What did I know - I was just a kid.

  3. I'm pretty sure Gang of Four and Pylon played again that night in Ottawa. I was there - just not sure I have the right date. A wily promoter decided he could piggyback on the Montreal shows that summer and ran a Midnight concert series at Ottawa's Rideau Theatre. Pylon hit the stage at midnight - having left Montreal after opening the show there. Gang of Four finished after 3:00 AM. Great show - have always tried to confirm the date but I think this is it!!!!!!

  4. Hullo. Cool pics - so young!
    I vaguely remember playing twice in one night; so 'Anonymous' is probably correct. We played a bunch of shows back then with Pylon (who we loved) and REM.
    Staying up late was never a problem in those days...


  5. Thanks so much HugoB! Here's to vague memories! I know I saw at least one or two more of those midnight shows that year but can't for the life of me remember who was on the bill and can find no reference to them anywhere. I do confirm I got to see Gang of Four again in Ottawa in March 1983 - slightly different lineup, I'm pretty sure it was Sara Lee by then on bass. Both Great Shows!
    Same Anonymous

  6. HugoB, My thanks for the compliment. Amazing to think of two shows - 200 kilometres apart - in one night.

    SPG, Yes, here's to vague memories. I can peg the next Gang of Four Montreal gig as having taken place March 1, 1983. Still have my ticket and a taped interview conducted in the dressing room (more of a large utility closet, really). No longer a teenager, I was all of twenty and was far too green. Ah, the student press.

  7. thanks for the photos - caught G04 and Pylon in Toronto. Missed Vini in Toronto.