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Richardson's Social Club in Belfast, Ireland
December 13, 1991
Other Acts:
Unsound, What's Right?
  • Andrew Griswold: "GREEN DAY, Richardson's, Dec '91 (they were selling LP's out of a box)."
  • Christy Colcord: "I know we played at Richardson's on 12/13. Looks like we got paid £200, so somebody must've shown up!"
  • Bing Bong: "Whilst staying in my house back in Belfast rumor has it acid was dropped, a milk delivery truck plundered in the early hours and my Soundgarden records defaced."
  • Aidan Taylor: "Yep, me, Tre, possibly Mike with Dougie and a buch of other good people had a great night. Took some acid and wandered around Belfast. Avoided a few scrapes!"
  • danbastard: "Green Day at Richardson's for £2.50 including kick in the bollocks is no the Dangerfields at Kinky Ray's Saxmundham Sex-Mayhem for £0.00 including severe loss of will to live."
  • Hot Press: "The band’s first Irish foray also included a Belfast gig in Richardson's where they pulled a hundred people and Billie Joe, as was his wont in those days, ended up stark bollock naked on stage."
  • Rick Christie: "I cooked for Green Day in Belfast that night, they had chili at my flat, then we went down to the gig. I remember Billie Joe slept in my flat after the show, whilst I went to Dougie's house in Carmel Street where we smoked hot knives until the early morning!"
  • News Letter: "Green Day return to the Province tonight as the biggest punk band on the planet, with a sold-out show at Belfast's Odyssey Arena. The Californian trio have shifted tens of millions of albums, won three Grammy Awards and packed out concert venues worldwide. In May, the group's new record, 21st Century Breakdown, entered the UK and US charts at number one. But it hasn't always been this way. Eighteen years ago, during Green Day’s first European tour, they played in a Belfast bar to around 100 people. On December 13, 1991, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool - the same line-up that trots the globe today - pulled into a car park on the outskirts of Belfast city centre and began loading into Richardson’s postmen’s social club on Victoria Street. Situated between the now-closed Nambarrie tea factory and what was the Dunbar Link Inn – now Mynt nightclub – Richardson's was a popular venue with concert promoters of the early Nineties. Green Day were booked to play by the Belfast Gig Collective, an autonomous group of punks who had previously brought the likes of Fugazi, NoMeansNo and Snuff to Northern Ireland. While the acts may not be household names, these underground acts did have a dedicated local following. The Collective were more concerned with bringing the bands they liked to Belfast than making a profit, and making sure costs were covered was the main aim. On the poster, which featured the cartoon characters Calvin and Hobbes being chased by movie monster Jason Voorhees - the show date was Friday the 13th - Green Day were described as 'California hardcore'.Former Belfast Gig Collective member Gary Sloan, 37, laughed at the memory: 'We probably could have been more accurate, but it may have helped pull a few more people in.' Despite a lack of media interest in the Collective’s events, there was a healthy turnout on the night – though, amazingly, the gig wasn’t sold out. The door price was 2.50 – there were no advance tickets - and, as Gary told the News Letter, Green Day were paid no more than 'a couple of hundred quid'. 'We never guaranteed a band a set amount of money for performing,' he said. 'We’d tell them we’d do our best to get as many people in as possible and they could have the majority of money after we covered expenses. Usually, all the bands wanted was ferry and petrol costs, some food and a floor to sleep on.' By December 1991, Green Day had released the 39/Smooth album on the independent Lookout Records, as well as three seven-inch vinyl singles on various underground punk labels. Concertgoers at Richardson’s were accosted by bassist Mike, selling hot-off-the-presses copies of the Kerplunk LP - which wouldn’t be officially released until January 1992 - out of a cardboard box. It was a true do-it-yourself operation, with none of the comforts or personnel that the band takes on the road with them today, as Gary confirmed: 'We didn’t do riders and there was no dressing room. They were in a small, Transit-type van with the back converted to keep all the equipment and to have a bunk above. I think there were three or four people with them. I doubt they’d be considered ‘roadies’ as such, but they’d give a hand with loading gear into the venue.' Local groups Unsound and What's Right? were recruited as support acts - and they even used the headliners' equipment. 'It was common practice,' said Gary, who performed with Unsound as well as organising the show. 'I do remember my drum kit was there, though, because my name was on one of the drums and Tre Cool picked it up and started asking aloud for me - he wanted to borrow it.' Touring punk bands often stayed at promoters’ houses to avoid the expense of a hotel. Gary, who was 19 at the time of the gig, happily put Billie Joe, Mike and Tre up in his Carmel Street flat in Belfast’s Holylands area. 'It was always a 'help yourself' deal in our house,' he said. 'We bought some extra bread, milk and tea, but after that they would have had to fend for themselves.' Gary said the members of Green Day were 'really nice' - but revealed he missed out on a major moment to tell the grandchildren. 'They noticed all the band equipment that was kept in my room at home and wanted to play a gig for us at some ungodly hour,' he said. 'I firmly refused and in retrospect gave up what would have been the best part of the story.' According to Gary, there was 'some partying' at his flat, though he said Green Day mostly spent the night watching horror films on video. 'I also remember them watching Rab C. Nesbitt, and finding it hard to believe he was speaking English,' he added. Green Day frontman Billie Joe has spoken fondly of the band’s early tours, though he has admitted not being able to recall much about Belfast. Earlier this month, he told Fate magazine there had been 'a lot of booze involved, so my memories are slightly hazy'. At Green Day’s 1998 Ulster Hall show, the trio thanked the Belfast Gig Collective from the stage and gave a shout-out to anyone who had been at the Richardson’s gig. Considerably more than 100 people raised their hands. Belfast-born musician Michael Branagh, who now plays with ex-Snow Patrol bassist Mark McClelland in the Edinburgh-based Little Doses, remembers the Richardson’s gig having 'a great energy'. He said: 'The second the band took to the stage people started actually running towards the front. It was a non-stop sweat-fest after that – a great adrenaline rush.' Michael said he felt Green Day were destined for bigger and better things: 'They had a lot in common with bands before them like the Ramones and Husker Du. That was the appeal - great songs, great choruses, with a simplicity that was very endearing.' BBC producer Chris Lindsay, who attended the show with some punk-loving friends, remembers the night less fondly. 'Green Day were no different from the rest of the dreadful, two-bit punk bands I saw in places like Richardson's,' he said. 'They were nowhere near metal enough for my 19-year-old self.' Green Day’s 1991 tour also included low-key dates at venues including the Attic in Dublin, the Forum in Tunbridge Wells – a converted public toilet – and the Den in Wigan. YouTube clips have surfaced of some of the performances, but, as far as Gary knows, there are no videos or even photos in existence from Belfast. 'I'll make do with my memories,' he said with a smile. Richardson’s closed in the late Nineties and, since 2000, the building has housed a branch of Northern Bank. As for Green Day, despite being a fan from the beginning, Gary was surprised to see them go global. 'They’d released great records and were a great live band,' he said, 'but that’s not usually what makes a band 'big'. It's more about label clout and marketing. I wouldn't buy the records they release now, as I prefer the rawness of the early ones, but I wouldn't turn the radio off if they came on. They certainly still know how to write a catchy song – fair play to them.'"
Photos from Belfast, Ireland
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