Continuing the series of looking at locations that were significant in the history of The Clash we move North to Sheffield.This was the site of the first ever live appearance by the band. July 4th is a date most obviously associated with US history but in 1976 The Clash, still a band that were only really at the rehearsing stage made their live debut. Sheffield is a long way from their home turf of West London but it was to be in South Yorkshire that the band would first face an audience.
I’ve always liked Sheffield, a city of 550,000 that sits between the M1 and the hills of the Peak district. The city is forever associated with steel and the industrial revolution but there is more to it than that. I used to go there on business and studied there also. Over the years I met many residents and Sheffield certainly becomes part of who you are. Sheffield boasts a rich musical lineage of it’s own, in fact for a city of it’s size it is pretty remarkable. ABC, Arctic Monkeys, Cabaret Voltaire, Comsat Angels, Human League and Pulp to name the bigger acts. None of these bands had even formed when The Clash pulled up in a transit van to support the Sex Pistols in the summer of ’76. So what of The Black Swan?
Located right in the heart of the city centre the pub and the area around it have changed greatly over the years. Central Sheffield is a maze of narrow roads surround by 3-6 storey buildings that snake around Arundel Gate, Sheffield Cathedral, shopping and civic buildings. The area has been slowly rebuilt over the decades and now boasts a (light railway) Supertram system
Just North of the major shopping precincts lays Bank Street and Stig Hill and where these two roads meet is the location of The Black Swan. The Black Swan was also known as the ‘mucky duck’ and has hosted live music since the late 60’s and still does. It no longer goes under the name The Black Swan however and is now The Boardwalk. Before The Clash acts such as Joe Cocker, Nick Lowe, Dr. Feelgood, Genesis, Mud, Sweet and more.
In part 2 I’ll look more at the history of the venue and the very short set that the Clash played 33 years ago. If anyone knows what year the building was added to (offices above as current) please let me know as I’m keen to know if it essentially looked as it does now in 1976. Beneath is an image of the pub in 1965.
Incidentally to review other posts in the Clash Landmarks series click on the title of this post and then scroll to the bottom of the post where you will see most similar posts.