Any list of all-time classic, biggest-and-best record stores on Earth would rank Tower Records’ store in London’s famed Piccadilly Circus at or near the top.
The Red Devils’ legendary 1993 run crossed streams with Tower Records at the height of its fame. The boys played an in-store show on July 16, 1993, and a recording of that gig has surfaced on YouTube.
The band was there ostensibly to promote “King King” (still available for purchase through Tower Records online!), but the recording shows them playing only one album cut, and already looking ahead with the rest.
The performance sounds like it was taped on a cassette recorder from the crowd: Paul Size’s lead guitar is low in the “mix,” while Lester Butler’s voice small and tinny. But there is Dave Lee Bartel rhythm guitar for days!
The four-song set begins with a sluggish “She’s Dynamite,” with Bill Bateman working overtime on the drums to inject power into the shuffle, which finally picks up steam during Butler’s harp solo.
“We wanna do a song that is on our album, for a change of pace,” Butler announces before launching into the driving live version of “She’s Dangerous.” Maybe it was the intimate setting or the but Butler plays with the vocal melody, singing and not shouting the song. Size is equally inspired with a cutting, shards-of-glass solo.
“The Hook” ends abruptly, just when the jam was getting going, but the Devils make up for it with the showstopper “Backstroke.”
Martijn den Besten in Holland shared some of the details of the show with No Fightin’:
I can tell you that The Red Devils did a promotional in-store gig at Tower Records, Piccadilly Circus, London on Friday 16th July 1993. I was on holiday with a friend of mine when we saw the announcement posters. We went there after first seen them on Pinkpop a couple of months earlier. Again we were completely blown away by them. There were about 25 people watching them in the corner of the basement. After the gig we talked for quite a long time with the guys and we had a good time with them.
The Piccadilly Circus Tower Records store was sold in 2003, and went through various owners and name changes until it was closed for good in 2009.