PART 4: THE NINETIES
The ’90s decade sees Entec move to its current Northolt base, become early adopters of d&b audiotechnik equipment, work on era-defining TV shows such as ‘The Word’ and ‘TFI Friday’, and enjoy a major role in the growth of two musical phenomena: BritPop and the tribute band.
As Entec (and the Pendletons) sign off their last Reading Festival with Nirvana’s legendary performance, the company begins long-standing relationships with The Bootleg Beatles, Björn Again and The Australian Pink Floyd Show, and shares an incredible journey with a band called Blur.
The first annual Fleadh festival is staged in Finsbury Park with Entec’s support. Promoted by Vince Power’s Mean Fiddler Group, the Fleadh is the capital’s celebration of Celtic culture and is launched with headliner Van Morrison. Entec’s involvement will span the festival’s first three years.
Thanks to Harold Pendleton, the WOMAD festival successfully finds a new home at his old Reading Rock site at Rivermead, where it will thrive for a further 16 years.
24 Hour Productions’ ‘The Word’ launches – it is the latest popular culture TV series to benefit from Entec’s sound and lighting. Broadcast by Channel 4 in the time slot previously occupied by ‘The Tube’, the series runs for nearly five years and is presented by Terry Christian. ‘The Word’ is screened live from LWT Studios before moving to Limehouse Studios.
With The Cramps, Inspiral Carpets, The Pixies and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ruling the roost, the 1990 edition of the Reading Festival is a deeply indie affair. An unknown Noel Gallagher, then a guitar tech with Inspiral Carpets, also makes his first headline appearance… as half of a pantomime cow.
Entec ventures out on its first tour as sound and lighting provider for the up-and-coming Blur, who are promoting their début single, ‘She’s So High’. The tour includes dates at Brighton’s Zap Club, The Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh, Essex, Aldershot’s Buzz Club, JB’s in Dudley, Manchester’s Hacienda, The Princess Charlotte in Leicester and numerous polytechnics. Entec is introduced to the band through working with them at the Marquee Club.
Other projects in 1990 include tours with Curiosity Killed The Cat, Soup Dragons, Jesus Jones, The Stranglers and Pop Will Eat Itself.
After leaving Shepperton Studios to make way for a new film stage, and then briefly occupying office and warehouse space in Ashford, Middlesex, Entec moves into new premises in Yeading Lane, Northolt where it remains today.
Supported by Entec, Bob Geldof takes his Vegetarians Of Love tour around the UK and Europe.
Founded by Peter & Chris Coyne in 1985 after the demise of The Sid Presley Experience, The Godfathers are one of Entec’s most regular touring clients of the ’90s. In March, Entec’s sound and lighting teams accompany the band as they begin their Unreal World tour.
Aberdeen’s Music Hall hosts the launch of Roachford’s Get Ready tour.
The Reading line-up is populated by a number of Entec’s regular clients – one of them is Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, whose warm-up MC, Jon ‘Fat’ Beast (a successful indie music promoter), cuts a larger than life presence both onstage and backstage.
In the first half of the year, Entec services Barclay James Harvest’s 25th anniversary tour and the live itinerary that follows Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine’s 1992: The Love Album.
After the end of a three-year agreement with The Mean Fiddler Group, NJF/Marquee goes it alone for one last Reading Festival, the 30th in the series and also the last to be wholly supported by Entec Sound & Light.
Featuring memorable sets from Public Enemy, The Wonderstuff, Manic Street Preachers, PiL and Smashing Pumpkins, the festival’s most legendary moment arrives when – a year after making their Reading début – Seattle grunge icons Nirvana headline the Sunday line-up with a performance hailed as one of the finest moments of their career. Following weeks of rumours of a band split and frontman Kurt Cobain’s ill health, the show starts when Cobain enters the stage in a wheelchair, wearing a medical smock and a white wig.
Within a year and a half, Cobain is found dead. This final UK appearance by Nirvana is officially released in 2009 as an album and DVD.
On a show with The Sundays, Entec works for the first time with Matt Butcher… a sound engineer with whom the company has been closely associated ever since.
In a feverishly busy year, Entec’s clients span all musical genres. Among them are The Pogues, The Mission, Jools Holland, D:Ream, Mica Paris, The Isley Brothers, Elastica, The Cramps, Sleeper, Killing Joke, The Divine Comedy, Gene and The Alan Parsons Project whose Try Anything Once tour is a great success for Entec’s sound and lighting departments.
As Entec services live events at Alton Towers, it also begins a long relationship with pioneers of the tribute phenomenon, The Bootleg Beatles, when the band’s company manager Raj Patel contacts Noreen O’Riordan to enquire about developing the band’s production with sound and lighting.
Work on The BRIT Awards at Alexandra Palace is a highlight early in the year. The event is notable for Rod Stewart’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a reunion of the Faces.
Previously known as Think Floyd, The Australian Pink Floyd Show play their first UK show, at a Wembley convention, and will later team up with Entec to expand their production. Entec continues to support ‘TAPFS’ today.
Written and presented by Chris Evans, Channel 4’s weekend light entertainment show ‘Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’ screens its first episode. Entec is onboard for the show’s year-long existence.
The Bootleg Beatles play their first concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
‘Showtime’, a film documenting Blur’s October 1994 performance at London’s Alexandra Palace, is released on VHS video to the domestic market.
Dick Hayes joins Entec to head the company’s sound department. Within a few months, a ‘shoot out’ is arranged between a number of PA brands at HDS Studios in Southall, resulting in Entec’s investment in its first d&b audiotechnik system. “As soon as we turned on the d&b, we knew it was the perfect solution for us,” said Dick.
Broadcast live on BBC Radio 1, Blur’s Mile End Stadium concert is a milestone of the BritPop era. Entec is once again proud to be at the heart of the action, supplying both sound and lighting services.
Comprising dates in coastal towns such as Cleethorpes, Eastbourne, Clacton and Great Yarmouth, Blur’s Seaside Tour is Entec’s first project to feature its new d&b investment. These show precede visits to North America and Japan, and a full length UK arena tour in November-December.
Entec supplies a monitor package for The Boo Radleys’ Europe ’95 tour. It ends a month later with a sold-out show at Shepherds Bush Empire.
Lighting and sound from Entec loads into Brixton Academy for two days of production rehearsals with Pulp, whose Different Class UK tour begins at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom three days later.
On the same day, Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, fresh from releasing her multi-platinum selling début album, Jagged Little Pill, arrives in the UK ahead of her first UK tour. Entec is chosen as production supplier.