THE LIMIT CLUB – SHEFFIELD
Never mind the Sex Pistols, here’s the story of The Limit…
Whilst it wasn’t uncommon for local councils to order venues to cancel gigs by the Sex Pistols in the media storm that followed their infamous appearance on Bill Grundy’s Tonight programme in 1976, one northern venue was forced to go further – much further.
The chair of Sheffield licensing magistrates refused to let the city’s legendary Limit club open at all unless it agreed to never to book the band in its lifetime.
It wasn’t the best start for city’s first official home of punk.
The story is told in ‘Take It To The Limit’ – the new book chronicling the life of the city centre venue that ran from 1978 to 1991.
Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock who did end up playing the club in the guise of the Rich Kids said: "I look at it as a bit of a back-handed compliment really. He was probably a very wise man. People often think they know best but they invariably don’t."
The Limit was Sheffield’s answer to The Hacienda but whilst its Lancashire counterpart famously lost a fortune, The Limit became a licence to print money with its management living the life of rock stars.
The club went on to host virtually every other punk band under the sun bar the Sex Pistols – Siouxsie and the Banshees were the first out of town band to play. They were closely followed by the likes of Adam and the Ants,
Generation X, Rezillos, Skids, Slaughter and the Dogs, Punishment of Luxury, Chelsea, Cockney Rejects, UK Subs, Ruts, Undertones, Dickies and scores more.
Bands performing at The Limit:
Sheffield, bizarrely, didn’t have much success in producing any hit punk bands in the seventies.
But whilst the club was promoting punk bands from out of town it also became pivotal to Sheffield’s electro revolution of the early ’80s staging seminal gigs by the likes of Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Comsat Angels and Vice Versa (who went on to become ABC).
Neil Anderson said: "The venue was a true one-off. It helped break bands that went onto national and international domination – everyone from U2 to B-52s played landmark shows there.
"It was also subject to one of UK nightlife’s biggest, ever undercover Custom and Excise raids, with every member of senior management arrest in dawn raids in a bid to find a missing £250,000 – a huge sum of money in the late seventies/early eighties."
The Limit machine was untouched by the Winter of Discontent, the early ’80s recession and the miners’ strike and went on to host 13 years of club nights from early punk, mid-eighties goth to early rave and dance.
It was so successful that it bankrolled the transformation of Sheffield Lyceum from derelict eyesore to state-of-the-art live music venue staging shows spanning The Clash to The Damned.
A sell-out Limit reunion took place in Sheffield in November 2009 that attracted scores of musicians from local bands that started out at the club including members of Human League, Pulp, ABC and many more.
A second reunion night is planned for Saturday, May 1, 2010 at the city’s Casbah venue.
More book/reunion information at www.takeittothelimit.info