22. Maximum Potential & the Scam of the Decade

Our first live promotion antics

Maximum Potential was a thing we briefly ran promoting live music by teaming up with our friend Barbara (a different Barbara to the one who came with us to Edinburgh).

She had been the main promoter at the Riverside Club on the quayside, booking all the bands.

Apparently some sort of underhand shenanigans had been going down & she had suddenly found herself out of a job. We saw an opportunity so we hooked up with her to start promoting live acts.

We dabbled a bit, promoting artists like Bob Mould from Husker Du, in the old Jesmond Cinema (now flattened) & Irish songstress Mary Black at the City Hall.


The Nirvana shakedown

The peak of this whole caper though, came when we booked Nirvana to play the Mayfair Ballroom (Boo! Hissss..!! – but we’ll come to that…)

It was months prior to the release of Nevermind that we booked them, but as the show approached, that album was released & totally blew up.

Smells like Teen Spirit entered the charts at no 7 the week of the show, Nirvana were the biggest band on the Planet & we had them booked into a 1500 capacity venue…

Gulp…! As you can imagine it was total sold out madness & we had never seen anything like that before, or since.

The Mayfair’s door staff totally exploited the situation, collecting in all the tickets & then reselling them in the pub over the road.

Anyone without tickets, that had come to the door, they had sent over there to wait.

It was the biggest scam we had ever faced & we were busy inside the venue with the band, totally unaware it was happening & powerless to stop it until they had made a killing – of thousands…

By the time Kurt & chums hit the stage, there must have been over 3000 people in that venue & you literally couldn’t move.

People broke bones that night (well we knew a guy who broke his thumb at least).

We had worked so hard to put it all together & once we realised what had happened, it was a real proper kick in the teeth & hands down – the scam of the decade.



It wasn’t that we needed the loot they’d scammed by cramming so many people in, it was the feeling of being totally mugged off & exploited by such rectums.

We’d costed the show & we did really well on the venues legal limit of tickets that we sold anyway.

It was a done deal, cash banked, sold out days before the doors even opened. We should have been laughing.

But it was just so, so irritating, to see a bunch of sphincters like that, all smug, making such a massive fortune off our backs…

(far more than we & Nirvana made, as they had no overheads)

…without having to ever even lay out one single flippin’ penny. We felt like proper mugs…

It was just another of the many lessons we learned about how it feels as a promoter, to be ripped off & exploited by a venue’s management.

Up until that point we loved the Mayfair as a venue (now demolished to make way for the Gate complex), but we didn’t anymore & never promoted there again.

If you rip people off they don’t forget it.

You want proof..? – Look, it’s over twenty five years ago & here we are, still flippin’ banging on about it.!!


& The lesson is…

That’s why at WHQ we play everyone straight & play by the rules. We reckon if you can’t be professional & respect the people you work with & the kids who come to your shows – then don’t do the job in the first place.

Hustling people you are working with & putting the public in danger are rubbish looks…


The Concert

Here is some Youtube footage, which we have posted of the show for you. At least the camera seems nice & steady, as whoever it was that filmed it on the sly obviously couldn’t move an inch either side!

For your listening pleasure Smells Like Teen Spirit is about 14.51 secs in…

We hung out with the three Nirvana dudes & their Tour Manager, in the Trent after the show & somewhat humorously, they turned out to be much better rock stars than they were pool players… Ha!