Paul Webb remembers the early Talk Talk gigs alongside Mark Hollis
Paul Webb, the English musician most recognised as the bass player of synth-pop group Talk Talk, has been reminiscing about the early days of the band alongside the late Mark Hollis.
Webb, who was an instrumental and founding member of Talk Talk, remains a key figure of the band’s legacy and helped forge the early formations of the post-rock subgenre until he left the group in 1988. Webb, and the band’s passionate cult following, were rocked last year when frontman Hollis passed away in February after “a short illness from which he never recovered” aged just 64.
A new light has since been shed on the group’s material following Hollis’ death and, as the one year anniversary oh Hollis’ passing closes in, Webb has been reminiscing about Talk Talk’s formative years and the shows that helped establish their reputation.
Below, see Webb’s full story of a show Talk Talk played at the London ‘Blitz Club’ in Covent Garden.
“At 10.30pm on the 16th September 1981, we took to the stage as a fresh, unsigned band, to play a set at the London ‘Blitz Club’ in Covent Garden,” Webb wrote. “The venue was famous for being at the heart of the New Romantic movement, but ‘Steve Strange’ and the dedicated ‘Blitz kids’ had long gone. The only remnants of the buildings former glory, was the blue neon lights that spelt the clubs name outside, and a ‘Human League’ 7 inch single that had been left behind in the DJ booth.
“This of course didn’t matter to us. Even though we were a band centred around keyboards, with not a guitarist in sight, we saw ourselves having more in common with the early psychedelic movement of the mid-’60s than the fashionable electronic music of the time.
“In the preceding months, in-between rehearsals leading up to our first gigs, Lee Harris and I would often stay at Mark Hollis’s flat in Muswell Hill, frequently listening to records like ‘7 and 7 is’ by Love or ‘I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night’ by The Electric Prunes. We all came from different musical backgrounds but agreed the darker side of psychedelia was a good point of reference as far as early ‘Talk Talk’ music was concerned, hence the beads, paisley shirts and patterned waistcoats, we all chose to wear for those early gigs.
“The Blitz night went well considering it was only the third time we’d played in front of an audience. There was a slight hitch, as no one had thought to book a warm-up DJ or bring any music to play before we went on stage. My friend ‘Snowboy’ managed to get the clubs decks working and then went on to spin the ‘Human League’ single we’d found in the DJ booth half a dozen times. It was an odd way to set up the vibe for a Talk Talk gig, but it didn’t really matter in the end.
“Our mates made up 90% of the audience, and they were all up for a good night out. In fact, when we came on stage, it felt extra lively, almost triumphant, due to everybody being so relieved they didn’t have to listen to the double A-sided ‘Human League’ single on a loop anymore.”