Venue History

Over thirty years of music history


The first band scheduled to play at the venue were Iron Maiden, who were on their way to becoming the biggest metal act on the planet. Sadly the gig had to be postponed as the electrics were not finished. So instead The Undertones, led by Feargal Sharkey, stepped up and finished the fist ever Rock City gig with a rendition of Teenage Kicks – officially the best song ever according to a certain Mr John Peel (RIP).

During the 1980s the place became a haven for music-lovers from Nottingham and beyond. It would be rammed out with new-romantics one night as people flocked to see Duran Duran, The Smiths or The Human League then hip-hop heads would descend upon the place another night to see the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. But the  place always kept its balls-out rock credentials too and the likes of The Ramones, Faith No More, Guns and Roses, REM and The Pixies played some of their first UK gigs here.

Like all good venues it moved with the times and the nineties saw appearances from grunge and punk royalty like Nirvana, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Janes Addiction, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Foo Fighters and The Offspring. Then just as Brit-pop kicked off the likes of Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Ian Brown, Supergrass, Ash, Black Grape, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and The Charlatans used it as a regular pit stop too.

Since the turn of the millennium things have become even more eclectic. During one five day period in late October 2002 DJ Shadow, Death in Vegas, Doves, the Coral, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Libertines, The Vines, The Streets and Blackalicious all played back to back. On some nights you might walk in and see Thin Lizzy, Motorhead or the Rollins Band, but on others you catch The Flaming Lips or Lee Scratch Perry, Basement Jaxx or Scissor Sisters.

Basically Rock City is all things to all people. There’s never really been a golden era, because it’s continued to evolve all the way through the years – keeping in touch with new music trends as they happen – while also inviting old friends back to play every now and then. I’m no longer a teenager, but I still feel like one every time I walk through those hallowed front doors on Talbot Street. Here’s to another 30 years of great nights out in Nottingham.