Futurama 1 - 1979 - Futurama Festival 2022

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Futurama 1 – 1979

FUTURAMA 1 Queens Hall, Leeds Saturday 8th and 9th September 1979

The first Futurama was billed as the ‘World’s First Science Fiction Music Festival’ and it combined John’s Keenan’s love of Sci Fi with some of his favourite bands. Many he had put on in Leeds, giving many of them their first gigs in the city. The name came from the NYC World Fair of 1939 which had a Futurama Exhibition complete with a 7ft robot. It was a vision of the future that proved surprisingly accurate. With the first wave of punk dying there was a need for something new. Many of these new bands were experimenting with keyboards, reel to reels and synths and it all fitted together perfectly for the Futurama Festival. It became the sound of the crowd in a dystopian world! 

The Queens Hall in Leeds was an old taxi and bus shed that was cold and had unforgiving concrete floors that smelt of oil and diesel. This was to be the site of the first, second and fifth Futuramas. John Keenan had spent months planning the event but Queens Hall let him down badly and there was no staging so John, his mates and members of the F Club had to build the stages the day before to get them ready for 10am Saturday morning. Not only had John just come up with the idea of first indoor alternative music festival but also the much now copied idea of two stages. The idea being as one band finishes another starts at the other end. The Saturday will always be remembered for Joy Division, a band at the peak of their powers. It was an incredible performance and for Guardian journalist Dave Simpson it changed his life “I went a Sham 69 fan and came out inspired by the power and genius that was Joy Division”. Public Image Ltd were on after JD at 1am. It had been a long day and both band and audience were tired and moody. Most fans knew Public Image by PiL but still in 1979 most were hoping for the odd Sex Pistols track. What they didn’t want and what they got was the brilliant but slow tracks that would later appear on Metal Box. It was an awkward performance with John Lydon turning his back on the audience for most of it! 

Futurama 1 was beset by many problems but the weekend saw some remarkable performance and helped launched the careers of many fledgling post punk bands. Ian Curtis and his unique style of dancing was famously captured by Joy Division’s unofficial photographer Kevin Cummins. Hawkwind with their acid fuelled space rock finished the Sunday night with a powerful laser show as a fitting climax to what had been an incredible, life changing and life affirming weekend.

Saturday 08/09/1979: Headliner PIL with Joy Division and the following acts A Certain Ratio / Cabaret Voltaire / OMD / Spizz Energi / Punishment of Luxury /Fischer Z /Stranger Than Fiction / The Chapter / Expelaires / The Edge ( not the guitarist out of U2)  / Tymon Dog Invaders / Pragvec  / The Tunes / The Void / Vincent Units and Tony Wilson compered the show.

Sunday 09/09/1979: Headliner Hawkwind with Robert Calvert / The Only Ones / The Fall / Scritti Politti  / Echo and the Bunnymen / Teardrop Explodes / Nightmares in Wax / Nik Turner’s Inner City / Monochrome Set / Roger Ruskin Spear/ Manicured Noise / Agony Column / Screens / E2R / Teenage Werewolves / Revelations / Twist

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