The Groundhogs Sunderland Old 29 1984 – 1987

The Groundhogs Sunderland Old 29 1985 – 198
groundhigold29a The Groundhogs played Sunderland Old 29 on at least three occasions in the mid 80s. In this case, and for me, the venue itself is as memorable as the gigs. The Old 29 was demolished many years ago, but many of us of a certain age (and older) hold fond memories of the old place. It was a lovely old traditional pub, nothing special, but with a certain ambience, sited in High Street West, close to the Empire Theatre. The 29 hosted regular gigs from the late 70s onwards, and was a haunt for local rock and punk fans. Local bands such as The Toy Dolls, King Crabs (featuring Jimmy Nail) and the infamous Angelic Upstarts would play there. Gigs would be on a Saturday lunchtime and some evenings. groundhigsold29b I remember seeing The Upstarts there a number of times (must blog on them one day) and Jimmy Nail jumping around the tables during a King Crabs gig. The Old 29 was a proper spit and sawdust town centre pub; your feet would stick to the carpet and there would a strong smell of stale beer in the air. The tickets show that the entry price to see The Groundhogs was £1.50; a true bargain. Two of the tickets show the year as being 1985 and 1987; I think the other could be from 1984 (Nov 7th fell on a Wednesday that year). Two of the tickets have the band billed as the Original Groundhogs, which wasn’t quite correct; yes they were original in the sense that Tony was in the line-up, but that was as far as it went. The actual line-up for the Old 29 gigs was Tony McPhee (amazing guitar and whammy bar), Alan Fish on bass, and Mick Kirton on drums. groundhigsold29c The place was packed for the first couple of gigs. I think by the time of the third gig everyone had seen the band a few times, and I seem to recall it being only half full. The band would play on a tiny stage near the front of the pub, and if you came in during the set you had push your way through the crowds. The music was loud, to the point of being deafening, and could be heard on the street outside. The pint glasses were real glass (no plastic in those days), and when the gig finished and the pub cleared you could see that the floor was strewn with broken glass. This was another chance to see Tony up close, and at the time he was playing as well as he ever did. Happy days. Bring back the Old 29.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on January 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I was at the 7/11/84 show. Strange place. The stage was actually an extension of the front window sill ! There was no support and the set was Split P1, 3744 James Rd, Eccentric Man, Strange Town, Groundhog Blues, Soldier, Born to be with you, Light My Light, Garden, Mistreated. Encores Split P2/Cherry Red.


  2. Yes, I was at at least two of these gigs, possibly all three. Still have the tickets somewhere. Must try to dig them out and check. Fond memories of the Old 29!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: