Nico – All Tomorrow’s Parties

24th April 2024 · 1980s, 1982, Music

When The Adverts invited Nico to play her first gig in four years in April 1978 not everyone was excited as me to see the Velvet Underground’s iconic chanteuse in the flesh.

By then punk had already begun to attract an unsavoury crowd, lured away from the football terraces by lurid tabloid headlines of violence.

I’m not sure these lagered-up lads with shaven heads and bovver boots had heard of the Velvets and their patience soon wore thin with her repertoire of cheery tunes like Janitor Of Lunacy, Purple Lips and My Heart Is Empty.

They had come for buzzsaw guitars and thunderous rhythms to jump about to. What they got was just Nico onstage at a wheezing harmonium – a gift from Patti Smith – singing her dirge-like songs in a deep monotone trembling with foreboding, as if the end of the world was nigh. Which it nearly was for her.

Before long beer cans began to be lobbed at the tiny vulnerable figure onstage. Full beer cans. And people – men, obviously – were shouting at her to “get off.”

She doggedly carried on regardless, head down, crouched over her keyboard, seemingly immune to the hostile element in the crowd.

Suddenly – shockingly – a shaven-headed oaf scrambled on to the stage itself and leant over her keyboard to offer some unsolicited advice to Nico.

I don’t know what he said, or how she responded, but after a few seconds he took an almighty swing at her. As I recall, she fled the stage in tears with the cheers of her attackers ringing in her ears. I may have misremembered that.

Anyway, that was the time I saw Nico. And this is her take on All Tomorrow’s Parties – B-side to a characteristically cheery song called Procession – that she recorded in 1982 with the almost-as-legendary Martin Hannett and The Invisible Girls.