The Click! Club ran at the fabulous Burberries venue in Birmingham from 1986 to 1990, along the way taking in performances from a huge array of artists including James, Jane’s Addiction, Blur, The Sugarcubes and Felt as well as multiple appearances from local heroes such as The Mighty Lemon Drops and Pop Will Eat Itself.
Is There Anyone Out There? (Documenting Birmingham’s Alternative Music Scene 1986-1990) is an exhibition in Birmingham City University’s Parkside Gallery that features memorabilia and photos from that golden four year period. Most (if not all) of the photos were taken and supplied by Dave Travis, the photographer-turned-promoter who founded The Click! Club alongsise Steve Coxon.
Burberries was an unusual venue in that it had a very low, mirrored ceiling and a shallow stage set in the middle of the dance floor, meaning that for well-attended gigs such as James or Primal Scream, the audience surrounded the stage. Sometimes, as was certainly the case for James, the audience would good-naturedly block the band from leaving the stage at the end of the gig, which increased the chances of an encore substantially.
The exhibition is named after a song by locals Mighty Mighty, who featured on the legendary NME C-86 compilation and released a string of indie hits in the period featured here. Happily, the band played a well-received five-song set at the exhibition’s launch (‘All our hits’ jokes singer Hugh McGuinness).
As well as featuring a myriad of concert tickets, posters and some really wonderful ‘live’ photographs, there are slide shows (soundtracked by songs by the Felt, The Mighty Lemon Drops and more) and a blackboard where attendees can help map the historical musical landscape of Birmingham, adding names of old record shops (Frank’s Wild Records, anyone?…sigh) and venues like The Powerhouse and Edwards No. 8.
There are also fascinating photographs of Broad Street (then home of Burberries) from the period and a 10-minute film showing the street in 1987. It is truly staggering to see how it looked pre-regeneration, with lots of derelict areas and old shops in an area that now houses The Symphony Hall and the iconic Birmingham Library building just yards away.
Is There Anyone Out There? is an intoxicating look back at a truly brilliant club night in a fantastic and unique venue. Burberries (and the building that housed it) may sadly be gone forever but its influence and memory lives on in this excellent exhibition.
Is There Anyone Out There? Documenting Birmingham’s Music Scene 1986-1990 runs from 4th – 28th May 2016, at Parkside Gallery, Birmigham City University (next door to Think Tank). Admission is free.