London’s Borderline club forever tied to Red Devils’ myth


In a few cases, the myth of The Red Devils crossed streams with legendary venues or situations.

One of those stages forever tied to The Red Devils’ story is the famed Borderline club in the trendy SOHO district of West London.

The Devils played at the club in 1993, and one of those sets — on April 5 — was captured in a fiery bootleg, one of the key live recordings that built the band’s fame.

Available in several sets and configurations, the show is best captured on the disc simply titled “April 5, 1993 — The Borderline — London” (from YouTube, above).

The show captured the band in great spirits, road-tested and confident.

Most readers have probably heard this set by now, as it was one of the very first live RD recordings to pop up during the early days of the internet.

But it still offers surprises: An extended “She’s Dangerous,” an additional rap at the end of “Blackwater Roll.” On “Who Do You Love,” Paul Size and Lester Butler dance around each other in an amazing call and response, with Bill Bateman punctuating the phrases. There is an amazing moment where the song becomes a wall of sound — frenetic guitar and harp.

Everything comes to a head on the closer, “Backstroke.” Size offers a Godzilla-sized guitar solo, running up and down the fretboard, totally different from the infamous Pinkpop version. He’s outdone only by Butler’s soulful singing, a strong performance after a night shouting out the blues.

But just so you don’t forget it’s Lester, he offers this goofy introduction of Dave Lee and Jonny Ray Bartel: “They’re bad boys … and they’re single!”

West End story

Mick Jagger and The Red Devils at the Borderline 1993
Bill Bateman, Dave Lee Bartel, Jonny Ray Bartel, Mick Jagger, Paul Size and Lester Butler at the Borderline club.

The Red Devils on April 5, 1993, were riding high on a couple of other recent London gigs.

At the Borderline in late March, Mick Jagger watched the band perform. Days later, on April 1, he jumped onstage with the Devils, this time at Roberto’s in Chelsea, also on London’s West End. They performed “Checkin’ Up On My Baby” and “Who Do You Love.”

In a burst of irony, reconstituted Red Devils concluded their 2017 reunion tour at — you guessed it — The Borderline. Many who were in attendance at those two 1993 gigs were back 24 years later, on July 30, at a refurbished Borderline club.

Two years later, on Aug. 31, 2019, the Borderline closed for good, after a more than 30-year run, closing a chapter for London, and for The Red Devils.

The Borderline club, 1997. Photo by

Borderline, April 5, 1993, setlist

  1. She’s Dynamite
  2. Your Turn to Cry
  3. Cross Your Heart
  4. She’s Dangerous
  5. Mary Had a Little Lamb
  6. Commit a Crime
  7. The Hook
  8. Blackwater Roll
  9. Who Do You Love
  10. I Wish You Would
  11. Backstroke

More from London

Top image: Detail of a photograph of theatergoers at a 3-D movie, from Life Magazine. This image was used on bootleg recordings of The Red Devils’ “April 5, 1993 — The Borderline — London.”

Published by J.J.

Drums and barbecue ribs. Blues music.

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