1980-04-17 Scamps, Southend-On-Sea, Essex, England, UK

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Notes

Composition Of Sound supported "The School Bullies" (featuring Perry Bamonte and Paul Langwith) at Scamps. Daryl Bamonte tells us: "I was still at school at the time [when this concert happened] (I left on 23rd May 1980). [F]or some reason I remember [this concert being on] a Thursday and late in April, but I cannot be sure." On Southendpunk.com, The School Bullies are stated to have played at Scamps in 1980 on April 17th, thus this seems to be the most likely date of Depeche Mode's performance as their support act.

Steve Malins wrote in his Depeche Mode biography in 1999:

Everyone knew each other but a less familiar face was the guy mixing French Look's sound during a rehearsal at Woodlands School - a skinny ex-punk, Dave Gahan. He caught Vince Clarke's attention when French Look were rehearsing one day and Gahan started singing along to a cover of David Bowie's 'Heroes'. [...] Clarke invited him to come and see the band at a gig in Scamps, Southend, headlined by one of Perry Bamonte's outfits, the School Bullies. Composition's performance didn't start too well when Fletcher, who has a reputation for clumsiness, tripped over and kicked the plugs out of all the amps except his own, leaving the bassist to play a solo set for the first couple of numbers. Perry's younger brother, Daryl, remembers the gig: 'This was about April or May 1980, just as I was leaving school, and Perry gave Depeche Mode the support slot when they were known as Composition of Sound. At this point they hadn't become a full synth band yet. There was Fletch on bass, Martin on keyboards and Vince on guitar and vocals. Dave Gahan was actually at that gig, watching them, and that's when I first got to know him. They did a lot of songs that they ended up recording as Depeche Mode.'

School Bullies bandmember Paul Langwith said to Simon Spence in 2011:

[CoS] didn't go down particularly well but they were brilliant. We were loving the style of music but not everyone was into their thing. I remember they did an absolutely fantastic version of 'The Price Of Love', the Everly Brothers song. A few of the punk/new wave crowd came to see the Bullies and they didn't appreciate what CoS were doing. But they were so fantastic: they were miles ahead of anything else. We were just playing for the fun of it, but you could tell from that moment that CoS were really going to be something. Vince was taking a real serious note of it all. At that gig Dave was there just to help them lug their gear around.

From Dave Thomas' Depeche Mode biography, published in April 1986:

Although the band never used a regular name, Composition Of Sound is how they are best remembered. It was under this name they played their first gig, supporting Film Noir[1] at Scamps, in Southend. A short while after they played a party thrown by a friend.[2]

In 2006, Depeche-mode.com interviewed Daryl Bamonte:

"I first helped Composition Of Sound with their equipment in April 1980, and then I left school in May 1980 [...]. Composition Of Sound supported my brother Perry's band at a place called Scamps in Southend in April 1980 and I was 'the roadie' for Perry's band, so I helped out Composition Of Sound as well, because Perry and I knew Martin and Fletch from school, and Vince lived on the same estate as all of us."

In 2018, Daryl also told Depechemode-live.com:

"I was already on nodding terms with Dave (I already knew the other three [members of Compostion Of Sound] from growing up in Lee Chapel North) but it was at Scamps that we first really spoke for the first time and he gave me his phone number."

The Composition Of Sound members recalled this gig in June 1981, when Smash Hits reported:

The three instrumentalists were old hands at [performing prior to 1980-06-14 Nicholas School], having played all of two gigs as a trio of bass and two synths – once at Scamps in Southend and another at "[This gig and Deb Danahay's party]". Vince isn’t going to let anyone ask a fool question like "What were they like?" "They weren’t even minor successes," he says. Andrew puts Vince’s reassessment in context: "The crowd didn’t react so Vince lost his temper with them – plugs were kicked out." "There were a lot of fourteen-year-olds," adds Martin, “who’d never seen a synth before, so they were fiddling with the knobs going 'What does this do?'."

Former Nicholas School pupil Brian Denny said to Jonathan Miller:

Perry's band was basically an early tribute band that played a set of Damned covers, mostly from the Machine Gun Etiquette period, plus original songs such as 'I Don't Agree With You' and 'Third World War'. They also did a version of 'Ballroom Blitz' known as 'Great Big Tits'! The audience was made up of mainly hostile hippies who heckled or said nothing. When one hippy slagged off the Bullies for ruining a Sweet song, the band simply shout, 'I don't agree,' and broke into 'I Don't Agree With You' - quite clever for some teenagers, don't you think? 'Composition Of Sound's song list included a version of 'Then I Kissed Her', and also a Roxy Music song - I think it was 'Virginia Plain'.

Brian Denny also talks a bit more about this gig in the unofficial documentary 'Random Access Memory':

I knew [Dave Gahan] outside of school, so I knew him, in a sense, more when Dave Gahan had joined [the band] and things had moved on. They played Southend; that's the first time I saw them, it was [as] the Composition Of Sound, and they supported the School Bullies. Yeah, you know, very Roxy Music, very 'Price Of Love', very simple, very engaging, very disarming. It was quite an honest, charming persona they had.

References

  1. This is plain wrong, seeing as they supported The School Bullies. Film Noir's first gig was on 1981-11-10 Raquels, Basildon, England, UK.
  2. In 1991, a retrospective on Speak & Spell appeared in Bong magazine issue #14, and this retrospective was ironically mainly compiled from Dave Thomas' Depeche Mode biography, and while it contains some errors it does echo this claim: As Composition of Sound, Vince, Fletch and Martin played their first show together supporting The Bullies at the Southend bar, Scamps, in May 1980.