The end of the Armoury Show

I had met up with the Armoury Show a couple of years earlier, and had an interview published. I loved the bands music and decided I would like to do a follow up. That is when the problems began, the interview had been postponed several times. I finally got it confirmed with the labels Press officer to happen on the same day of a gig at the London Astoria in early March 1987.

I was let into the Victorian theatre by the back door, to find an extremely agitated Richard
Jobson striding up and down, and in the midst of an argument with the sound man.

Seeing me, he came over and we sat down to chat in the back row of the stalls, but Jobson was in no mood to talk. Of course I knew the band had imploded in the middle of the previous year when John McGeogh and John Doyle had left, but I was unaware at the time of the serious problems with the label, EMI America, leaving the band in financial turmoil.

Jobson seemed most upset about the ticket sales for what would be their last ever gig, “We are
going to lose at least eight thousand pounds on this and we can’t afford it”.

He sat thoughtfully for a while, and then told me “The Armoury Show has changed a lot.
Improved in fact. McGeogh and Doyle have left, to pursue their respective careers with P.I.L
and Pete Shelley. There was a terrible tension in the band, particularly between McGeogh
and Webb. The new guys (Dave Lockwood and Ray Weston) are doing well.”

Did you consider changing the name of the band, with 50% of the original members

“We did consider this, but thought about the work we have done to date and what a
waste it would be to throw it all away. Russell and I have been working together for a long
time and have decided to continue and make a better record than ‘Waiting for the Floods’”.

Would this be still on the same label?

“Yet to be seen. There are people in EMI England who had always believed in The
Armoury Show, but the Americans are so intransigent and causing us.... look, I know we
have been trying to set this up for a while, but I can’t do this at the moment. Can we continue
at another time?"

And that was that, Jobson headed off backstage, and I grabbed a pint before the gig. The
band, with its new members, were tight and the new songs such ‘When Monkeys Cry’ and
‘Love in Anger’ sounded good live.

Jobson though was right to be concerned about the size of the audience, the theatre was only about a third full, and lacked any atmosphere.

We continued the interview via letter, from which I learnt Jobson loved design and style in everything he did with the Armoury Show. I always looked forward to the release of the new records by the band, not just because of the music, but to see the covers, which were always a thing of a beauty. 

The letters he sent were written on high quality vellum paper, with a corner cut, and an embossed green band logo in the right corner.

I asked further about the departure of McGeogh and Doyle. He was brief in his response.

“We were friends, at least when we all formed the Armoury Show. But that did not mean we should ever have been a band. Different intentions obviously bring about a very different outcome.”

Not something he clearly wanted to dwell on. I asked about the new songs for the next album.

“As you would have heard at the concert, we have some tremendous new material. The last single, Love in Anger, is so simple, but so good. It was written by Russell Webb, a string section was the only thing added to his original construction.

We have songs like ‘Monkeys Cry’ which are fierce, and the direction I want the band to move in.

And then something different, New York City. With the John Robie mix, it sounds unlike anything else we have done. It was written about a person involved in the fast moving life of a city which has many different scales.

Looking for a future, a promised land, the narrator soon finds himself subject to migraines, being homesick, and gets a severe beating, which leads to a personality change. Big cities anywhere do not have time for the broken hearted or lost and lonely people. The bigger they are the worse they are.

If New York is the promised land than Glasgow must be heaven.”

There were some other short answers about critics, “I never read them”, tour plans and the like, but I got a sense that whatever happened this would be the last album of the Armoury Show and that Jobson wanted to do something else. He talked about his love of writing and performing poetry, even adding a poem to the end of one of the letters as an answer to a question.

In fact the album was released as a solo record for him a few months later, and the Armoury Show name, and the band, was dead and buried. The Armoury Show, particularly in its first incarnation, was an unforgettable live experience, and had some great songs which still stand the test of time today. It it is one of those sad quirks of the music industry that they never got the attention or success they deserved. 

(Unpublished previously, possibly the last interview with the Armoury Show).

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