Tom Limbers up for a gig at the warehouse.
some beads members going nowhere fast.
TOP: Original ZATCB line up gig at Croydon Warehouse circa 1983 and a flyer for it.
Onstage at Vines Cross Festival 1983
Steve, dignified onstage at Warehouse 1982/3
The early line up limber up for gig at St Augustines Church Hall, centre of the rock n roll universe. Perhaps '83?
Hairdressers gig, cloth ears.
Cottage of Content, supporting the near-legendary Barnimagrew.
A party at a squat in Rothschild Street. We lived here (honestly!).
Mik relaxing at the Pullens Festival, Elephant and Castle. 1989.
Bing Organs Beastly Scrapings. Simple folk fuelled by scotch and cider.
Graeme 'Squealer' Neale, superfan.

These are the ZATCB gigs we can remember: were you there?

Croydon Warehouse 1982(?)
SA. Two gigs, the first our live debut, with the first relatively stable line up - Zag, Steve, Mik, Tom. Seminal - like the Velvets, only 50 people heard us. but all of them formed a band, or some other such bollocks. A primitive tape exists, complete with between-song comments from Bob White and Nick Davy.

MT: The venue was conveniently situated above The Dell. Anyone suffering with nerves, band or audience, were cordially welcomed to a game of pool or defender.
   The material had emerged out of jamming, noodling, wandering in the evenings and varied loitering. Many more people than played in the first gig had been involved in this process.
    On stage the personnel were dressed in accordance with Tom's summary of the members' characters as follows: handsome, artistic, enigmatic, witty. As far as I can remember Zag was looking pretty cool and I wore a snorkel coat.
   We played on a flat area in front of tiered seats that seemed wide and huge. Lonely also but once we started playing it was a done deal - we had to carry on even though I felt that I couldn't move. There was a healthy sized audience (it was probably the biggest we played in front again for a year). Our material went all over the place reflecting our many influences and tastes. All the way from some delicate folk to heavy bluesy dub, jazz, funky psychedelic all finished off with the extraordinary wasp. I remember the playing was erratic but that may have been a valuable denotation of spirit and adventure.
The watchers were receptive and seemed loud in their approval. Whether this was genuine delight at the material or an act fealty to celebrate the eventual conclusion of each song, who can say, but it was good to hear.
The point of being in a band suddenly became more apparent.

No recollection of the second Warehouse gig.

Church halls various, including: one on Purley Oaks Road which was visited by the filth following noise (or musical taste) objections; one on corner of Grovelands Rd/Grove Hill in Purley/Coulsdon er...

MJT: Zag and the Revolutionary Beads. One of our earlier gigs in 1983. It was held in a leafy suburban, very dark, Church Hall. We played with Trotsky and the Goats. A small audience dribbled into the place. Before long however, the police arrived and pulled the plug. I wonder what the Vicar had expected, but of course they eat All Bran when in need of relaxation. We were modest revolutionaries as a little playing continued, diffident and quite, until there was no more point. There followed mumbling and rumours and a walk home through orange streets.

Vine's Cross, Autumn 1983 - 1st line up. Available on tape, but no record exists of the jam with Nik Turner...
MJT: At Vines Cross on 6th August 1983. For all involved a very good day. The Enid were headlining. We had many of the same songs as at the first gig with some notable inclusions delving into space waltz and ambling diddley dub amongst many others.
   This was a day like an exodus from our habitual environment with many friends helping us to get there and giving a running start in terms of crowd. Alpha Road were also there and the band upon whose stage we played.

   We played two sets, one early mid afternoon, one late at night. The first was much, much better for reasons I will explain.
   We had a sponsor in these early days and at Vines Cross this involved free access to a very large pile of amphetamines. This meant that we played with extraordinary verve and at even more remarkable pace. This is why we ran out of steam later in the night. The effect was pretty powerful even given the sound which was virtually drum free with awesome guitar sound and very heavy bass. We did some rehearsals on stage with riffs like motown and la la getting an airing. In terms of flight of fancy and improvisation this was a good gig.
   The dose of confidence led to some of the best audience interplay on record with some timeless one liners "we're back but out of tune", "requests? F**k off!", and some challenging lyrics.
Many other magic moments including audience member being mounted by a hungry pig, being told to turn down by worried country types, a growing audience clapping a lot and Alpha Road having a jam with Nic Turner.

St Augustine's Hall (1985?) With several other bands. Acoustics criminal. Photos exist of Mik, taken around the back beforehand. No wonder he felt really ill at this one.

Cottage of Content (17th August 1985) supporting the legendary Barnimagrew.

The Star, Croydon 1987 - Done as a four piece, as Bob was gigging with Ring on the same night. A tape exists and it has its moments particularly 501 and a cacophonous Hot Garrotte. Was this the gig where we had the re-name ZATCB competition with the prize of breakfast with the band?

Milton Keynes 1988 SA. This was a good one apparently but I have little memory of it. (PH. Booze had something to do with that).

MJT. There was a feeling that Milton Keynes was desperate for any kind of entertainment, a feeling that we, being from Croydon, understood and were happy to oblige.

TR. The thing I remember was The business with my top hat. I was wearing it at the start of the gig , then it found its way into the crowd . I saw it on various heads while we were playing , occasionally flying through the air, but afterwards it was not found. Then the miracle – Ring played the same place a week or two later and somehow they got my hat back ! (and I’ve still got it)

SA. Perhaps there is a tiny outpost of ZATCB fans there to this day?? (2005 UPDATE - there was. They found this site and got in touch - hurrah ! )

The George Robey, North London (April 15th 1988?). Same band and material, but under the name Ming and the Fods, supporting Culture Shock. TR sick with "nerves" beforehand. But big crowd. going really well, 5 songs in...MJT takes up the story " Indeed it was the high water mark of the beads. The wave broke about 20 seconds into "Urinal" and receeded swiftly to less familiar shores. I wonder if that would be well received today? I think it might." ('Urinal' was an instrumental so named for its atonal pungency).

Some bar on main road in West Croydon - in fact an old hairdressers - we played out the back, and sideways, so to speak. Mik wore the teddy bear hat at this one.

The "Trees gig" May 1987? somewhere in Camberwell. Supported by Squall.
PH I seem to remember we played a blinder at the trees gig, because no one had any money to get drunk. The venue was an exceedingly run down, dingy space in the Old Kent Road. It was organised by a big guy with long curly hair, a bit like a tree himself. I also recollect Mik & Naomi having a barney after the gig (she had a little money, you see).
SA The screeching telecaster-based cacophony of the aptly named Squall is is not easily forgotten, surely. It is seared into my memory like a third degree burn. I would trace any subsequent hearing problems to the trees gig (though they were later compounded by the "10 guitar orchestra" jam at Rockbottom). A tape exists of the trees gig. we did play well. but tragically on a v. cheap low quality tape.

Squat Gigs We played a couple of gigs at partys in a squat in which we lived in Rothschild Street, West Norwood. These cooked (quite literally).

MJT At Rothschild Street we had two houses joined together and had broken through the back wall of the garage to claim a large area that was previously used as a garage. It had a lot of outbuildings and one covered open area in which a stage was constructed. This was a house which the last left standing in the whole street as all other residents had been removed by Lambeth Council. It had been painted in garish colours and the road outside was addressed by the mystery quote "Bonnie Langford Langford" proof that road graffiti is best started at one point.

Leslie and others had built the stage earlier in the day. A small pond had been dug and arrangements made for lights. I remember arriving drunk and taking speed, wearing tight trousers and going through the assembled mayhem, which justifiably seemed the main event. The gig was a good one, or so it felt. The lights, fires, fights, loving and drinking were an ideal front to confident playing. It was good to play at home. Parochialism is rightly derided but one realised that a place like Croydon did have spirits outside the norm of call centre culture, crap pubs and frightened people. Many places I have been to since could do with an injection of some of this.

Rothschild Street was knocked down in 1988, depriving many people of nice houses. It remains rubble, filled with ghosts and the smell of the factory that has persisted.

Pullens Centre (20th Feb 1987?) (Pullens was a mass-squatted block of flats area nr Elephant and Castle, with a playing field outside. A magnet for alternative types in the 80s.)

MJT The Pullens estate (off of the Walworth road) had two distinct venues. There was the green in between the imposing old flats and also the Pullens centre inside. Paul and his sister Rachel and I had played in the centre before as "Bing Organs Beastly Scrapings", a good performance of rearranged English and American folk tunes with great voice spoiled only by impromptu and uninvited intervention from someone playing a soprano saxophone.

The Beads played there with some new material which was tricky even by our usual standards. There was a very good vibe about the preamble, not too drunk for a start. We dressed up in some fine threads, more toy box than Chelsea but cool. It was the first time we attempted 7 beat thing in public and it was a success at least insofar as we managed to make the audience look a bit nonplussed. There was some argy bargy as one friend in the audience threw a bottle at Graeme who was on stage at the time. As usual we ploughed on more or less regardless and did some good versions of many of the later songs. Elongated thing must have been good as an old rasta did a very cool dance to it.

TR A really good one as I recall. Graham Neale did a guest vocal (I don't mean that was why it was good). I caught a missile intended for him - a full carton of Quosh if memory serves - right on my head.

Pullens Festival MJT The time we played outside I remember with less fondness. There was something odd in the air that day and we played a fairly dreadful gig. I think it may have been one the last ones we did and maybe there was a negative sense of fin de siecle.

SA. I had travelled back from Rick and Rachel's wedding in Bideford that morning, for a mid afternoon slot. Felt v rough. Had to borrow amplifiers. Couldnt get a decent sound. If the Pullens centre, with the quosh incident, was our Altamount. this one was definitely my Isle of Wight festival. The final ZATCB gig???

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