The truth about Galaxie 500's UK debut

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Window notice from Galaxie 500's first UK show (photo: Bob Stanley)
Window notice from Galaxie 500's first UK show (photo: Bob Stanley)

I, and it seems two thirds of the band, had long considered Galaxie 500’s first UK show to have been at the ICA in London on the 26th September 1989. In Black Postcards Dean Wareham wrote:

Our first English gig was at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, a show sponsored by Time Out London. A big stage. Lots of people.

He then goes on to mention the secret gig in a pub in Tulse Hill - at some point that had arrived in my database on the 28th September but Dean does say it was a Saturday night and the 28th was a Thursday - so something was clearly amiss.

This evening Bob Stanley (of Saint Etienne) tweeted:

Galaxie 500 fans! I know their first UK show was on Sep 23 1989 at a pub called the White Hart, somewhere in London - but does anyone know where the White Hart was/is?

This opened the can of worms:

  • The date suggests it was before the ICA show and therefore the bands first UK appearance.
  • I finally had a name for the pub - and could furnish @rocking_bob with a location - Tulse Hill.

There certainly was (and still is) a White Hart in Tulse Hill so things were coming together - but Damon replied

That was after the ICA though, I think? I think I remember the ICA being the first London show - anyway I remember being very jet-lagged and disoriented there!

At which point Bob posted the above window notice

I took this out of the window before the show and felt quite brave. Glad I did it.

Which seemed to unequivocally confirm that the show was indeed on Saturday 23rd September and was therefore Galaxie 500’s first show.

Damon consulted with the third band member who seemed to have clearer memories:

Earlier I asked Naomi if ICA was first and she said, “wasn’t there a warm-up gig?” - so at least there’s one vague corroboration from the band!

So finally, I have a venue a correct date for the secret gig.

23rd September 1989 - Galaxie 500 - The White Hart, Tulse Hill, London, UK

Galaxie 500 at The ICA
Galaxie 500 at The ICA three days later

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On Fire 30 CD sleeve (design: John Conley)
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