|A Guy Called Gerald / 808 State / Tackhead Sound System / Neneh Cherry, On The Wire Christmas Ball, Ritz, Manchester, England
24th-31st December 1988
ON THE WIRE CHRISTMAS BALL
ROLL UP! Roll up! all you freaky people! Outside the tinsel-strewn Ritz ballroom are parked coaches boasting the name of such far-away towns as Chester, Colwyn Bay, Wigan and Rochdale. From all over Northern England hundreds have travelled to pay tribute to the God of BBC Radio Lancashire, Steve Barker. Tonight is the Christmas knees-up for his On The Wire programme. And it's an extravaganza of hippness and insanity.
Welcome to the lunatic asylum. Home of Annie 'Anxiety' Sandoz. The Crass-girl shambles on to the stage with hair cropped, fag hanging out her mouth and black fingerless gloves concealing her hands. The Liza Minelli of One Little Indian Records, she bursts into a rendition of her single 'As I Lie In Your Arms', like the eccentric old lady who buys her 'glamour' from Oxfam. But this is nothing compared to the eccentric nature of the audience... This is On The Wire's three-way listenership. One third gang anarcho hippies, one third youthful homeboys... and one third dope-smoking, middle-aged civil servants!
Dungaree-clad 808 State and Brylcream boy A Guy Called Gerald are next on the bill with a hour of live House mixing. There is not a 'real' instrument anywhere, just wires, keyboards, microphones and tables of jiggling computers until they are joined by rap crew The Spinmasters to liven things up. This is where the dancing really begins.
Finally it's Tackhead tape time! Looking like a fat, ex-con bouncer Gary Clail begins the megatrip, rapping out the words of 'Half Cut For Confidence' with the balding genius of Adrian Sherwood at his side. The world is visibly shaken, Steve Barker grins and scenes of madness and hysteria continue late into the night.
[Reviewer: Sarah Champion]