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Discovery is snapshot of fledgling popstars in '80s Cardiff.

Byline: owens Reporter

INCREDIBLE, never-before-seen images of U2 and Depeche Mode playing a venue in Cardiff in the early 1980s have been unearthed by an amateur photographer.

Music fan Martin Briggs carried his Nikon camera everywhere with him - including to shows at venues across south Wales.

Among his recent discoveries are photographs of U2 and Depeche Mode at the Top Rank on the capital's Queen Street.

Martin Mr Briggs said the pictures of U2 playing the venue on October 14, 1981, and Depeche Mode on February 12, 1982, may well have stayed hidden if it wasn't for his husband Francis' persistence.

"Francis suddenly decided to scan all our photos," he explains. "God knows how many pics there are. He's currently working though boxes and boxes of pictures. There must be around 5,000."

The Top Rank, a key venue in Wales for emerging bands during the '60s, '70s and '80s, has long gone - a Wilko store now occupies the site - but the brilliant pictures Martin took will live on, documenting both bands as they honed their craft.

The 66-year-old, now a keen painter exhibiting work at St Canna's Ale House in Cardiff, recalls that both bands had star quality even then.

The U2 gig was part of a tour for their second album October, and was their first show in Wales in front of an audience of hundreds. Six years later they would headline The Arms Park as part of the Joshua Tree tour in front of 50,000.

"U2 were incredible performers," said Mr Briggs. "Bono was a star from the off. He had the ability to emotionally move the entire audience. It was almost messianic. Very few artists I've seen can do that." Depeche Mode's appearance at the venue in 1982 was their second in Cardiff, after a tiny show in 1981 at Neros nightclub, which housed a seminal and influential live music night called The Funktion Suite.

Their show at the Top Rank came at the height of the New Romantic era - and among his pictures Martin has taken some great shots of the crowd perched on the balcony at the venue, bedecked in the identifying fashions of the day - as well as shots from a New Romantic era club night at Mels in Cardavid diff in 1981, featuring the band Classix Nouveaux.

"Depeche Mode had just released their debut album Speak and Spell, which included the hits Just Can't Get Enough and New Life," said Martin.

"Singer Dave Gahan looked very fresh-faced and there was lots of dancing. Everyone was dressed up and ready to party.

"There were big shoulder pads, high collars, bow ties and high waistband baggy trousers on show."

He said he laughs now at how instant pictures are on smartphones and how long he used to have to wait to get his pictures back. "You had to put your roll of film in an envelope and send it off to places like Bonusprint and Truprint, who were the main film developers back then, and wonder what sort of images you had captured when they posted the pictures to you and they landed through your letterbox." Mr Briggs hopes more incredible images will emerge.

"I saw lots of shows at the Top Rank," he said. "I remember seeing Echo and the Bunnymen, Secret Affair, Robert Plant, Marillion and Public Image Limited, so there could well be more on the way."

A young U2 on stage at the Top Rank in Cardiff on October 14, 1981 PICTURES: MARTIN BRIGGS


Depeche Mode at the Top Rank in Cardiff on February 12, 1982

Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan gets close to his fans at the Top Rank

The audience at the Depeche Mode gig

U2 at the Top Rank on October 14, 1981
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 7, 2017
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