Welcome to the latest Squire Fan Club newsletter, where we look back at the story behind the Mods Mayday 1999! We’ve been busy for the last couple of weeks rehearsing and playing at the recent Mods Mayday live dates in London, Leeds and Margate! We have thoroughly enjoyed getting back on stage and performing Squire songs again! Next week we will present ‘A Splash of Squire’ with a look back at our Mods Mayday 2022 dates, but this week we cast our minds even further back!
The annual coming together for Mods Mayday has reminded us of the pivotal Mods Mayday 1999 concert! Although the original ’79 mod scene later inspired regular Mods Mayday style events overseas, for instance, an annual Mods Mayday has been held in Japan since the 1980s, in UK the original 1979 Mods Mayday era bands soon moved on to other projects, so as new ‘mod’ bands emerged mid 1980s and beyond, the original era receded into history, with only the legacy of the Bridge House ‘Mods Mayday’ album and the film ‘Quadrophenia’ remaining as totems of the period. Although there were many ‘all dayer’ concerts held during the 1980s and into the 90s, we are not aware of any UK based annual Mods Mayday celebrations between 1979 and 1999, specifically referencing the original event.
However, we became aware during the mid 1990s Britpop era how influential the original revival period had been, and alongside an atmosphere of nostalgia that pervaded the end of the century / new millennium turning point, reflecting back on the historical significance of the original mod revival era became part of an overall cultural reassessment of the post 1950s rock and pop music era, where every prior genre and style seemed to return momentarily as we collectively said goodbye to the past and looked forward to some unknown ‘space age’ music to come.
Indeed, it was perhaps no coincidence that Britpop which emerged mid 1990s, not only took elements of Mod culture as its touchstone, but also contrived to create a new authenticity by eschewing modern digital sounds and technology, instead using valve amps, vintage guitars, hammond organs etc to create band centric ‘live in the studio’ recordings, in contrast to more forward focused electronica emerging at the time such as Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Air etc.
In hindsight, twenty years seems a good time period to pass for previous eras to be rediscovered, evaluated and adapted by a new wave of interest alongside nostalgic audiences. And so the idea of a 20th Anniversary Mods Mayday concert was also proposed to end the 20th Century!
As the idea moved from dream to reality, Squire were the first band to be approached to play! In 1998, Dizzy at Detour Records contacted us with an idea floated by Paul Robinson and Dave Porter from Chelmsford, Essex to reform and headline the event! Looking at documents now, Squire had already started rehearsing for the show in November 1998, for a proposed one day concert to be held on May Bank Holiday, 3rd May 1999, at the Garage in Highbury, Islington.
As we confirmed, so the promotors started to approach other bands. The Garage flyer already shows Squire, Small World, The Killermeters, Back To Zero and The Circles on the bill. As word spread, so other bands decided to reform and take part, and the concert was even initially floated as a two day event at The Garage, before being transferred by the venue owner Mean Fiddler, who were seeing the advance ticket sales, to the much larger Forum in Kentish Town to be held on Sunday 2nd May 1999.
In the end the show expanded to include The Purple Hearts, a short performance by The Chords, Ed Ball of The Times, Ian Page of Secret Affair, Small World, The Killermeters, The Circles and Long Tall Shorty, while the final ‘on the day show’ found Long Tall Shorty, Back To Zero and Ed Ball had pulled out, replaced by Rosko.
Memories of the event are often shared on forum posts, and a special Scootering issue documented the concert. The concert was recorded in full on the day by James Perrett for Detour Records. Much like the original 1979 concert, the bands later visited his studio, Watershed in Portsmouth, to mix and approve the recordings. The album was released on Detour Records, on Double vinyl in Black, and also Yellow/Green, and on CD.
Of course, Squire closed the show, which ran over time, and we were afforded the entire side-4 of the vinyl release for our efforts! The band on the day included the four-piece ensemble of Kevin and Anthony, with Paul Bevoir on Bass and Richard Fairclough on guitar / keyboards. Indeed, Anthony and Paul had played together on the last Squire show in San Francisco in 1986, and were back together for the very first shows since then, so connecting the two eras together again.
Squire were augmented by a three piece brass section of Chris Lawrence on Trumpet, James Knight on Saxophone, (who was Kirsty MacColls partner - another historic Squire connection) and Steve Rinaldi on Trombone, who is not only an artist in his own right but now plays with Secret Affair! We finally added Anna Namiki and Francois Nordmann (from 90s mod band Quant, and now owner of a super vintage emporium in Camden Market!) as dancers on specially hired in podiums! The Squire performance was designed to resemble a 1960s Motown Review. We managed to capture some of the show on film. For example, ‘I Don't Get Satisfaction’ is on YouTube where you can see and hear the full band with horns, and dancers in full flow!
Before the actual show, we played a special’ warm up date’ in Chelmsford, to try out an expanded repertoire, and decide on songs and set order. The whole Chelmsford concert was filmed! For the first time you can enjoy a glimpse of Squire playing ‘I Know A Girl’, which didn’t make the final Forum set because of time constraints, but appears here! We will revisit this era again soon to share some more clips but until then, here is an unseen clip of Squire in 1999!