In 1976 punk music exploded into the UK music scene, and - as a city who has always been keen to ‘do different’ (which is also the motto of the city’s University of East Anglia) - Norwich certainly embraced it!
Image: West Runton Pavilion, © Syd Shelton
The Norwich Lanes’ distinctive and trendy network of streets, alleyways and open spaces were once the stomping ground of local punks; rewind back to the 70’s and you’d see the Lanes just as vibrant as it is today, but with a more punk-centric feel. Filled with record shops, pubs and fashionable outlets ideal for putting together some outrageous outfits, the area was ripe for the uprising of punk subculture.
Norwich has produced a variety of great punk rock bands over the years including The Aborts, The Brownies, The Collective, DEKOY, Hotwires, The Pits and many, many more – for such a small city, it’s nevertheless produced a plethora of bands which included many punk groups (or those with a strong punk-rock influence). The turn of the century saw a significantly more ‘mainstream’ offer gaining popularity with the rise of bands such as Green Day and Blink 182, and similarly Norwich produced local pop punk bands
Though there were various pubs in the Norwich Lanes which were great musical venues, St Andrew’s Hall was also a key venue for punk gigs; punk giants The Undertones, The Ruts and The Stranglers have all played this venue!
If you feel like being transported into this decade – at least for a few hours – then the Lanes’ Punk in the East event, which celebrates 40 years of punk in Norwich, will be right up your street! It’s a great chance to discover some new tales from our City of Stories. There’ll be gigs, films and talks, put together by, and sharing memories of, people who were actually there – making it a really unique event which is very different to its national counterparts.
The timing proves to be truly nostalgic; Punk in the East opens on Saturday 22 October, which was 40 years to the day of the release of the first UK punk single, ‘New Rose’ by The Damned, and it will close on 3 December, which will be 40 years to the day that the Sex Pistols were banned from playing Norwich at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Don’t miss the exhibition’s hundreds of previously unpublished photographs, which give visitors a great chance to see venues as they were many years ago, as well as rare posters, tickets and fanzines on display at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Also, make sure you keep an eye out for original clothing in window displays and photographs from local gigs that haven't been seen for many, many years! Music lovers are bound to love the whole event but will particularly delight in the brilliant exhibition trail, as will anyone interested in the punk scene in Norwich as a whole; its pieces offer a great commentary on the social history of the city – fascinating stuff!
Of course, there’ll also be plenty of amazing gigs to enjoy as part of Punk in the East; head to The Waterfront to see The Buzzcocks (26 Oct), The Undertones (13 Nov), The Damned (23 Nov) and, over at Norwich favourite The Owl Sanctuary, see The Subhumans (7 Nov).
Punk In The East kicks off on Saturday 22 October with a real bang – as well as the start of the exhibition trail, Ruts DC (originally The Ruts) take to the stage at Norwich Arts Centre that evening supported by three local punk DJs from back in the day. Tickets for the launch party are available here.
For more information about the Punk in the East exhibition and to see all the planned events visit their website: http://www.punkintheeast.co.uk/