Nottingham

In pictures: 35 years of live music at Nottingham's Rock City

The Undertones performing at Rock City Image copyright Rock City archive
Image caption The first band to perform was The Undertones, ending their set with Teenage Kicks, once described by John Peel as the best song of all time

In December 1980, Rock City opened in Nottingham. David Bowie, Guns N' Roses and Nirvana have all performed there, earning it a reputation as a leading music venue. Thirty five years after it all started, BBC News looks back at some of the highlights.

Following the opening gig by The Undertones, Echo and the Bunnymen, UK Subs and The Stranglers performed at the 2,000 capacity venue.

When David Bowie performed at Rock City during his 1997 Earthling Tour, Nottingham's LeftLion magazine reported that he had four couches and a Persian rug brought to his dressing room.

Image caption David Bowie played Rock City in 1997 - touring his Earthling LP
Image caption At the time, Bowie told the BBC he enjoyed the freedom of performing at smaller venues

The magazine said Axl Rose, of Guns N' Roses, was another big name to have left his mark.

In 1987, the American rockers played Rock City as part of their first European tour.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Guns N' Roses played Rock City in October 1987

It was reported that vocalist Rose arrived alone at the front doors, dressed in only a bathrobe, and was refused entry.

He was let in later when he returned with his security pass.

Anton Lockwood, promotions director at Rock City, said: "At the time, Guns N' Roses didn't even sell out.

"They were the hot new band, but we only knew a little bit about them."

He said he heard Axl Rose was wandering around in his dressing gown because he had locked himself out of the tour bus.

Image copyright www.dhpfamily.com
Image caption The New Musical Express welcomed the opening of Rock City - saying it was mystery why a city the size of Nottingham was without a large music venue
Image caption An advanced ticket to see Nirvana at Rock City cost £6.50
Image copyright AP
Image caption Nirvana played Rock City shortly after Smells Like Teen Spirit was released

Nirvana was arguably one of the biggest bands to play Rock City, with the gig in December 1991 attracting a sell-out crowd and national and international media interest.

Mr Lockwood said: "There is something very special about Rock City and the bands really want to come because of the atmosphere."

He said: "As well as the rock acts, the venue was a Mecca for the hip hop, funk and soul scenes.

"Some people think about Rock City and think metal, but it never has been just that, and never will."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNirvana performing at Rock City in 1991

In 1987, Public Enemy debuted rap anthem Bring The Noise in Nottingham. Chuck D said: "The crowd went bonkers."

The breakdancing scene was huge in Nottingham in the early 1980s, and Rock City provided a place for tracksuit-clad youths to showcase their latest moves.

Drum 'n' bass DJ Goldie, who made the trip regularly from his hometown of Wolverhampton, described the club as his "second home", adding: "You heard about the infamy of it all before you actually went there."

Image copyright NG83
Image caption People flocked from miles around to attend Rock City's weekly breakdancing nights

Mr Lockwood said the venue's enduring popularity was largely down to the variety of acts and different genres of music on offer.

Michael Bond, from Nottingham, said he and his friends were frequent visitors to the venue.

He said: "Saturday nights were the highlight of our week after spending the previous days planning what we would be wearing."

"[Rock City] was a place where I found myself amongst the other freaks and uniques of Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and sometimes London," he said.

Image copyright Michael Bond
Image caption Michael Bond was a regular visitor to Rock City in the late 1980s and early 1990s
Image caption He went to see bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees
Image copyright Michael Bond
Image caption As well as the music, many Rock City fans followed the fashion set by Siouxsie Sioux and other performers at the venue

Other well known acts to have performed at Rock City include The Libertines, Ian Brown, Supergrass and the Happy Mondays.

Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays told LeftLion magazine the venue had a "great crowd" but admitted his recollection of his performances over the years was a bit hazy.

Image copyright www.dhpfamily.com
Image caption Hundreds of bands have played the venue over the years, including Supergrass (pictured)
Image copyright www.dhpfamily.com
Image caption Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown performed at Rock City to mark the venue's 30th anniversary
Image copyright Other
Image caption The Libertines are another big name to have played the venue
Image copyright Anna Allatt
Image caption American rockers Clutch are one of the more recent bands to have performed at Rock City

As well as attracting some of the biggest names in music, the venue has also played its part in providing a stage for up and coming artists, including Nottingham's Saint Raymond.

Image caption Saint Raymond is one of the local acts to have been given the opportunity to perform at Rock City

He said: "I have seen so many artists here and have always aspired to play on the stage.

"Everyone loves this place."

Rock City is holding a number of events, including an all-nighter on Saturday.

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