(Main photo c/o Paul Gibson – used with permission)
19th January – 16th July 1983
38-46 George Street
The place to be in 1983. Dingwalls was one of a chain of six regional clubs owned by the manager of the London Dingwalls, Peter Gross along with top promoter Harvey Goldsmith. With an audience capacity of 470, this was easily Hull’s largest venue at the time outside the City Hall and New Theatre. Under the management of Paul Mayo, Dingwalls took over the former Hofbrauhaus underneath (what was then) the Oddessy Club on George Street, and originally opened for four nights a week, Wednesday to Saturday.
Being part of a nationally-financed venture, it was able to attract several big names to the city, such as The Undertones, The Damned and Orange Juice. More importantly, it featured several upcoming bands who would be in the charts within months: Eurythmics, Big Country, Aztec Camera and The Sisters Of Mercy (twice) all played here.
The local scene was not ignored, and Dingwalls provided the best venue around for homegrown bands, both as support acts and on the Monday and Tuesday “local nights” when the club started opening six nights a week in early February. A Wednesday reggae night started in March, and although at first poorly-attended, continued (with a couple of weeks off) until June.
The opening act, Beano, was an odd choice seeing they were a cabaret band, but the club’s first sellout occured on the fourth night with a gig by the Farmer’s Boys. Note however that the usual “Hull Cancellation” policy was in evidence: three major acts cancelled within the first eleven gigs. (In actual fact, Wilson Pickett didn’t turn up to any of the gigs on the tour). Paul Young cancelled twice!
The club did have its problems, such as the Oddessy Club complaining about the volume. Magistrates continually refused to extend the club’s licence past pub hours, (reputedly under pressure from rival club-owners), which severely hampered its plans and profits. Eventually, Wednesday night gigs were scrapped in June, and less major names were booked from the same time.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t lack of audiences that suddenly closed down the club within seven months (although they could have been much better). The whole chain was placed in the hands of the Receiver, putting 13 people from the Hull venue out of work. Ironically, Hull was apparently one of the only regional Dingwalls clubs to be making a profit; the Liverpool branch for instance had been put out of business as early as April.
Two of the bigger concerts (Killing Joke, The Meteors) were moved to Spring Street Theatre, but most were abandoned altogether, including Paul Weller’s Respond Tour and what would have been the Hull debut of The Smiths.
Hopes that the venue would re-open in a similar fashion were never fulfilled, nor was the idea to find a new venue for the club. All the other regional Dingwalls clubs were sold off to the Bierkellar chain, but the Hull club lay empty until a fire at the Oddessy Club destroyed both venues in February 1984. Within seven months, Hull and gained and lost what was one its best ever medium-sized venues. Ironically, its main contender for the title in the 80s, The Tower, lasted the same length of time before meeting the same fate.
A full gigography for Dingwalls can be found over with our friends at 45Worlds.com – this list was originally compiled by Tim Joseph and has been logged on 45Worlds by us here at Hull Music Archive.
Photos from the Eurythmics gig can be seen on the Ultimate Eurythmics site here.
Photos of the Sisters Of Mercy at Dingwalls (and some interesting thoughts on their two gigs) can be seen on the I Was A Teenage Sisters Of Mercy Fan site here.
Many thanks to Tim Joseph (words, press cuttings and gigography) and Paul Gibson (Dingwalls photograph).