Vicious violence at Newport's Rotten night of punk

December 23, 1977 – the night punk rock icons the Sex Pistols came to Newport.

And while Newport survived the experience, at least one concert-goer had a sore head.

For those who feared that the Public Enemies Number One would trash the place it was a relative anti-climax.

Extra police, including dog handlers, were brought in to keep the crowds under control. Four people were arrested for offences which Chief Inspector Doug Powell of Wellington police described as “abusive or insulting words or conduct”.

Our reviewer at The Village that night was Trefor Patten, who wrote: "Now that the Sex Pistols have been and gone, many people in Newport and the surrounding area may ask 'What was all the fuss about?' and the answer just has to be – nothing."

Lead singer Johnny Rotten, he wrote, sneered and screamed and there were the expected foul-mouthings from the band.

"The hordes that 'pogo-ed' to the sound of Pretty Vacant were simply enjoying themselves, not organising a revolution.

"Punk rock may not be to everybody's taste, but neither is grand opera, but it certainly is not a threat to society...

"The concert on Friday was one of the most enjoyable, if unmusical, concerts seen in this area for a long time. What the Pistols lack in musical expertise is more than compensated for by their sheer exuberance."

In fact, if one or two memories of that night posted on the internet are accurate, things were not as tame as the review suggested.

A post by "Albie" talks of seeing a random act of violence during the gig, meted out by bass guitarist Sid Vicious.

"Sid and a bloke down the front had been getting into it for a while, then the guy apparently spat in the face of Sid, so Sid unstrapped his bass, swung it over his head, and hit the spitter with it. No more spitting."

Corroboration comes for a post from ROBERTS 88HK on YouTube, which features a recording of part of the concert that night.

"I was there! I lived in Newport in Forton Road. I was up on the balcony. Sid Vicious was stripped to the waist. Johnny Rotten was lying on his back wearing tartan trousers. People were spitting, the band didn’t like it.

"Half way through, Sid Vicious brought his bass guitar down on the head of some poor guy who was spitting. Split his head open, paramedics hauled him out, band continued playing the gig never stopped. After the place was surrounded by police and dogs. Great night, will never forget it."

Another post may or may not have come from Sid's victim, as under the name Les Davies, it reads: "I was there – had fight with Sid. What a t*****!"

And according to 616foxy: "I met them all in the Swan pub in Forton up the road from Newport, and afterwards my mate's dad changed the wheel on their van when they had a puncture."

There is at least one picture of the band playing The Village on the internet (we're not using it for copyright reasons).

"Albie" also talks about the worst gigs ever, and points the finger at Motorhead and their appearance at The Village, which was on January 27, 1978.

"Just terrible, dreadful sound, rubbish. Instead of shouting for an encore when they went off, several in the crowd were yelling '**** off' and 'put a record on', that sort of thing.

"A roadie came on and yelled 'show some ****ing respect you ****s" but we didn't. No encore that night, and still the worst gig I have seen from a 'name' band.

"Same venue, later in the year, Little Acre, a Brummie band, had played a fantastic gig, as usual, right at the end someone went on stage and attacked the two girl singers and the bloke singer. I think they were glassed, can't remember, but there was blood.

"A guitarist or bass player put a stop to it by hitting the miscreant over the head with his instrument. Horrible end to a great night."

Of course if you have any similar memories of "eventful" concerts at The Village, we'd love to hear them.

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