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06 June 2006

Live at Leeds - again

19 June 2006 - STOP PRESS: Read some of the coverage of this historic gig

Thirty-six years after the Who recorded their seminal album – Live at Leeds – the band will again take the stage at the University of Leeds’ legendary Refectory venue, it was announced today. The Who will return to play at the Refectory on Saturday, 17 June. Doors will open at 7pm and the band will be supported by mod rockers Casbah Club, featuring Pete Townshend’s younger brother, Simon, as guitarist and vocalist.

Tickets are limited and go on sale to the general public in Leeds University Union (CTS) on the University campus on June 9 at 9am on a first come, first served basis, with a maximum of two per person (no telephone bookings).Tickets cost £37.50 plus £1.50 booking fee for card purchases – no fee for cash bookings.

Details on tickets for Leeds alumni can be found at

Released in 1970, Live at Leeds is still the definitive live rock album and has just been voted ‘greatest live album of all time’ by Q Magazine. Students queued for hours to get tickets for the three-hour concert on 14 February 1970 and many who failed took to the roof of the building that evening to hear and feel the music.

The seeds for the Who’s 2006 return were sown in a conversation between University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur and former Leeds University ents secretary and BBC Radio 3 presenter, Andy Kershaw, when Andy came to Leeds last year to accept an honorary degree. As they stood on the Refectory stage after the graduation, Professor Arthur told him of plans to celebrate the venue and commemorate the historic concert with a blue plaque.

Andy Kershaw said: “By sheer coincidence, just two weeks after speaking to Professor Arthur in Leeds about their plans, I met the band’s manager Bill Curbishley backstage at WOMAD. I told Bill I thought it would be great if we got some members of the band to unveil the plaque. Then I said, ‘and while they’re there….’ Bill finished my sentence: ‘they’ll do it’, he said. And so the idea of a concert began.

“With the band deciding on a world tour in 2006, everything fell into place. What better place to start the tour than the venue which cemented The Who’s reputation as the best live rock band of their time?”

Professor Arthur said: “Leeds has had its Nobel prize-winners and other eminent academic achievements, but the Live at Leeds concert by the Who is an equally important part of the University’s history. It’s a real tribute to the Refectory’s reputation that this legendary event is to be marked with a repeat performance.”

A Civic Trust plaque commemorating the historic concert and venue will be unveiled on June 17 – more details to follow.

Sir Peter Blake is also creating a new artwork to celebrate the return Live At Leeds concert by The Who. Peter Blake was the art director for The Who’s Face Dances album which is included in the Sir Peter Blake Music Art Gallery at the University’s School of Music. This unique collection also includes Sergeant Pepper, Live Aid and all of Peter Blake’s other key music art. The Live At Leeds 2 artwork will be added to the gallery collection at Leeds, as will Peter’s recent Live 8 artwork.

Pete Townshend is a longstanding friend of Peter Blake and an admirer of his art. Peter Blake is a life-long fan of The Who and he will be in the audience for the landmark concert at Leeds on June 17.

Live at Leeds – the venue, the booker and the audience
Live at Leeds cemented the Refectory’s reputation as the most celebrated university music venue in the country, which continues to this day. It boasts an incredible roll-call down the generations from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, the Kinks and Black Sabbath to Elton John, Queen, Roxy Music, Bob Marley, Santana, AC/DC, the Clash, the Jam, Ian Dury, Motorhead, the Pretenders, UB40, Simple Minds, the Stranglers, the Smiths, James Brown, Ian Brown, Embrace, Manic Street Preachers, Franz Ferdinand, KT Tunstall and the Arctic Monkeys …

The concert came hot on the heels of the band’s success at Woodstock and included the last complete live performance of the rock opera Tommy as well as many of the band’s best known songs. With its distinctive brown cover, designed to look like a bootleg, the original album contained just six tracks from the gig. The full concert is now available on double CD, but a mint original vinyl copy can sell for up to £150.

The University ents secretary who booked the band in 1970 will be travelling down from his Scottish sheep farm for the gig. Simon Brogan had first seen the Who live at the Marquee Club in London in 1965, when they smashed up their equipment at the end of the set in true rock fashion. He was a bit concerned that if the band decided to do the same at Leeds it could put an end to future gigs in the Refectory.

Simon Brogan said: “As the temperature rose during the concert and Pete Townshend yelled to his roadies to get him some air, I had visions of smashed windows, but luckily managed to persuade them to wait till I’d got my keys out to open them.”

The band’s fee for the concert was £1,000 but they didn’t even cash the money. “I had to give them another cheque when they came back that November to play at Leeds again,” he said. Tickets for the Leeds gig cost 11s 6d (equivalent to about £6 today) and were sold out almost as soon as they went on sale.

Another concert in Hull failed to make it to the live album because a technical hitch meant the equipment didn’t record the bass track. Similar problems nearly put paid to the Leeds concert as well. “During the afternoon, we realised that the recording would need double the electricity that was available,” said Simon. “Luckily, two students on the ents committee, Michael Jennings and Peter Hart, were technical whiz kids and got the problem sorted in time for the show.”

Mike and Brenda Rigelsford, two Leeds students who got engaged just before the Valentine’s Day concert in 1970 will also be returning to Leeds for the 2006 gig. Still avid Who fans, they both remember the evening as one of the best of many they shared at the Refectory. “The band attracted a predominantly male crowd,” Mike recalls, “but there were a few enthusiastic female fans. The Who’s untraditional rendition of Tommy was just outstanding.”

For the band, the venue and the audience obviously helped to make the performance something spectacular. Quoted in the student union newspaper after the gig, Keith Moon said: “We fed on the audience as much as they feed on us … they were just too incredible.”

Further reading
Who booked the Who? Interview with Simon Brogan
Love at Leeds - Interview with Mike Rigelsford
Whatever next? How the Who made Leeds come alive again - Essay by Simon Warner

Page owner: | Updated: 09/11/06