Bands to honour tragic ‘80s star on night of punk

Laurence Brewer (top left)
Laurence Brewer (top left)
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John Robb has led the tributes to fellow Blackpool punk singer Laurence Brewer, who has died at the age of 46.

Brewer was in Sign Language, one of the leading bands on the punk-new wave scene in the 80s, along with Robb’s band The Membranes.

He died after a battle against motor neurone disease, but he fought it with courage and tenacity - even reforming Sign Language after being diagnosed and playing gigs at Beat and West Coast.

An evening of punk at West Coast Rock Cafe tonight has been dedicated to Brewer’s memory.

“There is a saying that the best get stolen from us too soon and that is certainly true in the case of Laurence,” said Robb, from Fleetwood, who went on to form Goldblade and become a successful music journalist.

“I knew him from my days in the Blackpool punk and post punk music scenes when he was the lead singer of the very youthful, but very accomplished Sign Language.

“He was about five years younger than us, which seemed like a century in those days, but somehow bridged that gap because he was far too smart and had fully formed world views and a liberal attitude that was years ahead of his time.

“He was also a very good lyricist and I even put out a track of the band on the Blackpool Rox EP number 2 in 1982 on my Vinyl Drip label.

“Their song, The Killing, sounded far better than it should have done for a young band who must have been 14 or 15 at the time.

“There was so much potential there, but it all unravelled like it did for so many great young bands trapped in small towns in the post punk period.

“I saw him in May.

“His condition had deteriorated and he was now confined to a wheelchair but he still seemed undiminshed and his face was radiant.

“We chatted for some time and it was thrilling.

“It was great to have known him.”

Laurence, who grew up in Thornton and went to St Mary’s RC School, will be celebrated tonight at West Coast on a punk night which includes performances from Lizzie & The Banshees, Pink Hearse, Sedate, 90s legends Crackousrocknroll, and local favourites The Cobras.

The latter have organised the night and are old mates of Laurence’s.

“That is why we’re dedicating the night to him,” said Cobras drummer Si Green.

“We were in awe of Sign Language in the 80s and we used to go to their gigs.

“They were really good and massive on the Blackpool scene.

“I think we all modelled our early bands on them and it was so sad to find out Laurence is no longer with us.

“We are dedicating tonight to him and hopefully at some point we will arrange another night with all the proceeds going to the Motor Nuerone Disease Association.”

Laurence’s fellow band members in Sign Language released a statement, saying: “We have lost a good friend and great spirit.

“We were lucky to have him amongst us.

“His verve and talent are evident for all to see and hear.”

Doors open for tonight’s gig at West Coast at 8pm, first band on at 8.30pm.