My top five Wedgewood Rooms gigs – from over 30 years of watching bands at iconic Southsea venue

Photographer and music lover Paul Windsor has been going to the Wedgewood Rooms for many years. Here’s his recollections:
The Hives at the Wedgewood Rooms,  January 2002The Hives at the Wedgewood Rooms,  January 2002
The Hives at the Wedgewood Rooms, January 2002

I’ve been going to the Wedgewood Rooms for over 30 years. My first gig was Red Kross in 1993.The first gig I photographed (smuggled camera in) was Gil Scott-Heron in 1994. One of the first I photographed, with permission, was probably Oasis the same year.

It’s an almost impossible question to ask – what are your top ten gigs from the Wedgewood Rooms?

It’s like asking someone to rank their top ten albums.

Bellrays at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2020Bellrays at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2020
Bellrays at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2020
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However, there certainly have been some outstanding moments over the years.

So, my initial top 5 are as follows:

1. Kasabian, 2004

If asked what would be number 1, it would certainly be this. As I recall it was a warm-up show for the IOW festival. I was surprised and delighted to get a photopass and it was a very hot night. The band were being annointed as inheriting Oasis's crown (never did quite come off) but, as was shown last Saturday at Victorious, they remain one of the best live bands in the country.

The Darkness Picture by Paul WindsorThe Darkness Picture by Paul Windsor
The Darkness Picture by Paul Windsor

2. The Hives, 2002

A mate had seen them support someone the previous year where the bar was full and most people ignoring them; within 10 minutes the bar was empty, with the lead singer announcing ‘We are The Hives, the greatest rock n roll band in the world’. He wasn’t far wrong. As a sell out show a year later, it was rammed as the band were now the hottest ticket in town. Alan Magee (the man who signed Oasis) was in the audience, and he signed The Hives too.

3. Alabama 3, 2002

I have been a fan ever since the first album, with their insatiable mix of country, rock n roll and techno. A fantastic live band who would go on to play several sold out shows. Sadly, for reasons not fully explained, the band stopped coming to Portsmouth for many years, so it was great to see them at Victorious last weekend.

Alabama 3 at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2002Alabama 3 at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2002
Alabama 3 at the Wedgewood Rooms, 2002

4. Darkness

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Every so often a band comes along completely against the grain. There couldn’t have been more than 150 people in the venue that night but the band played as though they were at Wembley Stadium. It was thrilling stuff. Needless to say, it wasn’t long until they were selling out The Pyramids.

  1. Bellrays, 2020

Lead singer Lisa Kekaula is probably better known as the sometime vocalist for Basement Jaxx. We were excited to see her garage/punk band The Bellrays rolling into town for what turned out to be the last show I saw before the pandemic hit. Sadly, ticket sales were low – perhaps due to the impending Covid meltdown, but the band agreed to transfer to the smaller Edge of The Wedge. Consequently it was pretty packed. When the band started and Lisa began to sing her incredible soulful, gospel punk rock, there was a collective jaw-dropping moment as we realised we were witnessing something very special indeed,