Neil Anderson - Take It to the Limit 10th Anniversary Edition

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 7 / 4 / 2021

Neil Anderson - Take It to the Limit 10th Anniversary Edition

Nicky Crewe reads this rollicking tale of The Limit, the legendary Sheffield club.


Neil Anderson’s new edition of his tribute to Sheffield’s legendary music club the Limit includes photos of the original launch of this book ten years ago. It looks like a great time was had by all, and there’s also an extra chapter about Richard Edwards, a former regular who back in 2007 created a hugely popular Facebook group to share memories and photos. The style of the book is similar to a fanzine – it’s close to pocket-sized A5, with an eye catching title font and an intense photo of Siouxsie on the cover. While it’s Neil Anderson’s book and it includes his own memories and his discussions with the people who went to The Limit and worked there, he makes good use of direct quotes from club regulars. Chapters are set out in themes and the text is in columns with plenty of photos. It filled in a few gaps for me: I can now follow the story of Sheffield’s nightlife from the 70s through to the early 90s (the book takes us from the club’s opening in the 1970s to its 1991 closure), taking in the shift from national chain venues such as Top Rank, with a strict dress code, through to live music venues with no dress code and the rise of the DJ night. The Limit was a purpose-designed club, the business venture of Kevan Johnson and George Webster, which gave new bands somewhere to play, local acts a place to develop an audience, and for that audience a club to identify with and to make their own. In 1978 the club scene in Manchester, especially for punk and new wave, was still based on using existing clubs on their quiet nights. Over in Liverpool Roger Eagle was running Eric’s, booking the same bands. In each of these cities there was a parallel live music scene based on student unions, with restrictions on who could buy tickets. The book includes an amazing list of the bands that were booked to play at The Limit. There’s also a fantastic 1978 playlist from DJ Paul Unwin. There are some great anecdotes and claims to fame too. The B52s played their first UK gig there, and Sheffield bands Def Leppard, Human League, ABC, Pulp and Cabaret Voltaire played early gigs there. Woven through the story are references to Sheffield’s Stringfellow brothers, sticky carpets, over-eager bouncers, attempts to diversify and a certain amount of debauchery. The proximity of West Street to Sheffield’s City Hall meant that the club often got major artists popping in for a drink after their shows. Huge sums of money were lost when Johnson and Webster bought the Lyceum Theatre to restore and develop as a live music venue. Over the Pennines in Manchester, the Hacienda and Factory maintained they weren’t in it for the money, but the business partnership behind The Limit had been very successful until this point. This book is packed with memories, with reminders of why a place where you could be who you wanted to be, dress how you wanted to dress and see the bands you were desperate to see is so important, especially when you are young and are seeking your tribe. The Limit became home to many different tribes too, even within the same week, depending on what music was on offer. If you were part of this Sheffield scene you will really appreciate the book. If you were part of a similar scene in another city, it will trigger some great memories of your own.

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