Sunderland punk rocker’s memories of infamous Boomtown Rats concert

Punk rocker Michael Patterson aged 15, left, and in 2018.
Punk rocker Michael Patterson aged 15, left, and in 2018.

Theatre bosses could be forgiven for exclaiming “I Don’t Like Mondays” as they surveyed the damage following The Boomtown Rats’s Sunderland show.

Yet the concert on Monday, October 23, 1978, still ranks as one of the greatest nights in the life of one proud punk rocker.

Michael Patterson was just 12 when he took late advantage of a spare ticket to join his older brother, Tony, then 19, at his first concert.

Michael, then living in Houghton-le-Spring, remembers: “It was fantastic for someone so young as myself to get to see one of the top bands in the country here in Sunderland.

“The atmosphere outside was buzzing with everyone dressed up in their punk gear and people selling badges for different bands.

“We were at the back so couldn’t see what was happening to the seats at the front, although I can remember Bob Geldof telling the crowd to stop spitting at the start of the show.”

I Don’t Like Mondays, of course, would become the band’s most famous hit the following summer although there is no suggestion it was based on the Empire’s reaction to the mayhem.

And as for the vandalism in the toilets, Michael recalls: “I didn’t get as far as the toilets.

Also read: The night punk rock was banned from Sunderland Empire

“My brother was under strict orders from my mum to keep an eye on me so held my hand throughout the concert. I just had to cross my legs.”

The concert had such an influence on Michael that he eventually became a singer with local punk band The Sadistic Slobs.

Sunderland City Council worker Michael, now 52 and living in Newbottle, said: “At first my mum would try to stop me from sneaking out with all my gear on and hair spiked.

“But eventually as I got older I went for the full look and got myself a Mohican haircut, the Dr Martens boots, leather jacket and tartan trousers. I had the lot.”

The Sadistic Slobs have now reformed and Michael is convinced that “punk is getting stronger” more than 40 years after its mid-1970s birth.

He said: “I think a lot of original punks have seen their children grow up and now have time on their hands so are reforming.

“It’s not just the local bands, it’s famous bands like The Skids and then you have The Stranglers who have never really gone away.”

The Sadistic Slobs appear with fellow 1980s punk bands The Proles, Uproar and The Carpetts in a charity concert at Philadelphia Cricket Club, in Bunker Hill, Philadelphia, on Saturday, December 1, from 7pm.

Entry is £10 on the door with proceeds to be divided between a number of local causes.