Sade Adu: Celebrating An Icon

I can remember picking up a red black & white poster advertising Sade playing live at Fagins in 1984, which was a nightclub situated on Oxford Road in Manchester, not far from The Palace Theatre. The date of the gig was Tuesday, 21.2.1984.
By Gladstone Minzie | Mar 2018

Fagin’s night club was a rather small ‘chicken in a basket’ nightclub, where you sat at your table and ordered your rubbery chicken and chips and lashed on the ketchup as you ate and watched bands such as The Drifters, Paper Lace or even The New Seekers perform.

At the time no one blinked an eye at the venue choice, as we didn’t know then what we know now. Anyway the promoters were called Northern Foundation who are still a complete mystery to me. It just so happened this was the same time I had taken up photography having bought a Russian Zenith camera (it used camera film). I learnt the basics with the help of the father of a now ex-girlfriend and I am eternally grateful to her dad (she was nice as well but it wasn’t meant to be).

I do know that Sade was one of my first photography gigs and being an absolute beginner I shot using flash something I’d never do today. I was basically stood right in front of her shooting with a large flash and she never said a word about it, bless her.

Sade at Fagins Nightclub, Manchester (21.2.1984)

There were about 250 people watching her so the place was pretty full but we didn’t fully know who she was despite her being mentioned possibly in The Face magazine. All I know was that she was someone I had to go and see, after all tickets were only £2.50. The drummer with her that night was a certain Blair Cunningham who at the time was also the drummer for Haircut 100 who’s only 2 albums I have in my collection. Aaah things were oh so different back then on the UK pop scene but that’s another story.

Sade wasn’t much of a talker but she was a beautiful looking singer with scraped black hair, black mohair jumper, large waist belt, black leather gloves and black ski pants. She looked like a jazz singer and she had a husky kind of voice that caught your attention, whether singing or on the rare occasions she spoke to the audience. She didn’t say much then and she doesn’t say much now, however I do remember her mentioning that this next song gets released later this week and went straight into ‘Your Love is King’.  I would see her on Top of The Pops in about a month's time when the single would be No. 9 in the charts.

The photos I have of her have remained in my negative folder for about 30 plus years or more along another set I took (no flash) when she came back and sold out The Ritz about 18 months later. I intend to exhibit them somewhere in Manchester in 2018, so keep an eye out for that ‘Sade the Early Years Live’ photo exhibition (title subject to change).

I have always been a big fan of Sade as I have all her albums on CD and vinyl along with some 12’ singles and CD singles. One of her albums helped me get through a breakup many years later (no I’m not telling you which album as that’s between Sade and l). I can laugh at it now but I didn’t back then and I wonder am I the only one who owes Sade a debt of thanks, maybe that’s another article for someone else to write about ‘The Break up album’.

Did I mention that I saw the global icon Sade perform in a nightclub just before her first single was released?