Cabaret Voltaire member performs in unique gig at the lecture theatre site of the band’s former recording studio
The University of Sheffield’s John Pemberton Lecture Theatres stand at the site of Western Works
Evening of live music will celebrate the building’s past and present
A member of former Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire will perform as part of a unique ‘super group’ at the site of the band’s legendary recording studio – now a University of Sheffield lecture theatre.
The John Pemberton Lecture Theatres in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) are as close as it is possible to get to site of the former Western Works, where Cabaret Voltaire and countless other pioneering Sheffield industrial and post-punk bands made their mark on the music scene.
From 1978, Cabaret Voltaire rented rooms on the top floor of Western Works, which stood at the corner of Regent Street and Portobello. Having private recording and rehearsal space was unusual for bands of that era, which led to the building becoming a magnet for like-minded groups including Clock DVA, New Order and Lydia Lunch.
But the building was demolished in 1993 and now has a very different use as the home to ScHARR and the University’s Department of Computer Science.
Cabaret Voltaire vocalist Stephen Mallinder will return to the same space for No Lectures from Western Works – an evening celebrating what the building was and what it is now.
He will perform with members of Clock DVA and In The Nursery as part of new band IBBERSON. The name is a throwback to a sign which hung outside the former Western Works recording studio.
Stephen Mallinder said: "I don’t think we ever considered the notion of heritage at the time, Western Works was simply our home, workplace, hangout, and often a convenient location when the pubs closed.
"But I think we were aware of how much of the music from friends, like-minded outsiders and ourselves we’d managed to capture.
"We always appreciated how hard it was for people to get some recording done in the early days unless you had a record deal and Sheffield didn’t really have commercial studios back then. We also didn’t have many rules, so if we weren’t busy bands came round and we recorded them.
"We didn’t have facilities so you had to go to the sandwich shop on West Street, but there was free use of the kettle. So in fact it was a very Sheffield studio – a repurposed industrial hulk, few frills but a good vibe.
"It will really good to reconvene with some old friends for the night. I will just have to close my eyes and remember the two rooms of the studio."
During a night of live music from bands including Blood Sport, Juxtavoices and BHS, contemporary musicians will draw on the material recorded at the studio while writers and academics will discuss some of the ideas that travel associated with the site then and now – including art and Sheffield, music and technology and health and disease.
Dr Matthew Cheeseman, of the University of Sheffield’s School of English, said: “This is not a celebration of the past, but an investigation of the echoes and ripples that occupy and represent a working space.”
The event at the John Pemberton Lecture Theatres on Friday 16 May is part of In the City – a series of events across May and June, organised by the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, celebrating and exploring urban existence, heritage, forgotten places, activism, musical heritage and personal narratives.
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