A literal legion of music fans will march on a Chester venue this weekend as they celebrate one of Britian’s most-popular youth subcultures and the film that helped revive it.
This Is Quadrophenia, taking place on Saturday at Chester Live Rooms, will feature all sorts of Mod-related action including live music, DJs and excerpts from the 1979 film Quadrophenia starring Phil Daniels and Sting.
Along with the music of The Jam, Quardophenia is credited with bringing the Mod staples of clothes (often tailor-made suits, Fred Perry polo shirts); music (including soul, ska, and R&B); and motor scooters (usually Lambretta or Vespa) back into fashion.
Organiser Drew Stansall, an in-demand saxophonist who has played with The Specials, is hoping the night can bring together all sorts of music fans.
“The concept and vision of this night was not to jump headfirst into the Mod scene, but to bring in folks who are not necessarily Mods or rude boys but who just dig the film and the music,” he says.
“Of course this appeals to Mods, Rudeboys, Soulites and people that like ‘60s music and that’s what we want, but we are not pretending to be anything other than a good night out for like-minded people who dig the coolness, music and clothes of this iconic film.”
Based loosely on The Who’s 1973 album of the same name, Quadrophenia tells the story of Jimmy (Daniels), a young London-based Mod who escapes from his dead-end job as a mailroom boy by dancing, partying, taking amphetamines, riding his scooter, and brawling with the motorcycle-riding rockers.
After he and his friends participate in a huge brawl with the rockers at the seaside town of Brighton, he is arrested and his life starts to spiral out of control; he loses his girlfriend (Leslie Ash) and discovers his idol, the popular mod ‘Ace Face’ (Sting) is a bell boy at a hotel.
“I know what this film means to people just like I know what The Specials means to people,” says Drew. “I just want to put all this connected section of good folk in the same room and give them a Quadrophenia experience.
“The film talks about Mod being ‘a way of life’ and it really is. It’s an iconic film and for a lot of people of my generation who saw it, it left a huge impact.
“The music and the fashion go hand in hand and they’re equally important for me. We want to encourage the ladies to put on their short dresses and boots and the men to put on their three button suits.
“There’s a scene at the beginning of the film where Jimmy pulls up on his scooter at a club and there’s a band called the Cross Section playing and that’s what I wanted to really recreate.”
The Atlantics will play many of the songs from the film including Louie Louie, Hi-Heel Sneakers and Da Doo Ron Ron and Drew will play his saxophone or shaking his tambourine at every opportunity before manning the decks with all the classic tunes from the era.
“When I DJ I put a lot of Specials on and the Mods love it, especially the old ska tunes,” adds Drew who has played with a number of original musicians from the ‘60s ska scene including Prince Buster.
“We like playing in the North-West – Liverpool is always a cracking night and we’ve played Wigan before which is where Phil Daniels actually turned up and joined us. We’ve never played Chester before, but we’ve heard tickets are doing well so we can’t wait.”
For Chester Mod David Buckley, Saturday night is a chance to turn back the clock and relive the moment he saw Quadrophenia on the big screen in 1979.
“I watched it at the ABC Regal in Chester which is the Primark now,” recalls David, 53, who claims to have seen Paul Weller 170 times in concert.
“I was 15 years old and it was brilliant and it got everyone into being a Mod.”
David, who helped organise The Chester leg of the March of the Mods last year which raised funds for Teenage Cancer Trust, will attend the night alongside members of the Chester Legion scooter club – one of many similar clubs in the region.
“The scene is great nowadays,” adds David. “There’s more people into it now than there was even in the early ‘80s.
“There’s a lot of younger people really enjoying it and a night like this is a chance for us to really go for it.”
See full story in the Chester Leader