Angelic Upstarts show some Solidarity at centre of Polish uprising

Mensi and Neil Newton of the Angelic Upstarts at the ESC in Gdansk, Poland.
Mensi and Neil Newton of the Angelic Upstarts at the ESC in Gdansk, Poland.

A veteran North East punk band have showed some Solidarity with a very special performance of one of their best-known songs during a visit to a Polish city.

The Angelic Upstarts, who were formed in South Shields in 1977, were invited to visit the European Solidarity Centre (ESC) in Gdańsk at the weekend.

The city was the centre of the Solidarnosc movement, the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union.

Led by trade union activist Lech Walesa, Solidarity, as it was known in English, was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government.

It was initially outlawed in Poland, and martial law imposed, but Wałęsa was a key figure in the establishment of the agreement which led to semi-free parliamentary elections in 1989 and a Solidarity-led government.

The Upstarts, who are known for their staunch left-wing working class views, were due to play several shows in Poland back in 1981, but they were cancelled when martial law was declared.

The Upstarts talked to fans and answered questions after playing the anthemic track.

The Upstarts talked to fans and answered questions after playing the anthemic track.

The band went on to record two songs supporting Polish workers, Solidarity and Victory To Poland, which became international anthems.

On Saturday, the band visited the ESC, and singer Mensi - a former coal miner - and guitarist Neil 'Newts' Newton played the song Solidarity in front of 60 people.

They also gave a copy of the Solidarity EP to the director of the museum archive department, met with fans and answered their questions.

They said it was "a privilege and a pleasure" to be invited to the Solidarity Centre, which marks the birthplace of the movement.

Mensi and Neil Newton presented the ESC with a copy of their Solidarity EP after performing the title track.

Mensi and Neil Newton presented the ESC with a copy of their Solidarity EP after performing the title track.

A spokesman for the ESC said: "It was something special for a working class band to visit the place where Solidarity movement was born."

The Angelic Upstarts are due back on home soil on Good Friday, when they will be playing their classic debut album Teenage Warning in full for the first time ever at Independent in Sunderland.