with only 3 things already booked for this new year I figured I might take a look back at all the times I stood around in dark sweaty rooms trying not to look like someone’s dad but failing miserably last year to try and pick out a few highlights and lowlights like that woman’s hair that just walked past.
as it happens, the first thing I booked for this year isn’t in a small sweaty room at all but in a huge park in the summer sunshine in london which will be crammed full of people just like me wondering whether to stand just here, or here, or maybe go right over there and which piece of technology I’ll look at next to see how much battery life I’ve got left and I wonder what the train home will be like and, oh, there they are. that’s right, I only paid 8 voluntary quid for the download album, but I shelled out an enormous 100 quid for 2 tickets to see radioh_ead in victoria park or wherever it is. I could say that I saw them back when pablo honey just came out and there were 17 of us in a pub in camden shuffling around in front of his royal eye-wonkyness or something by way of establishing some kind of ‘before they were dead famous’ credentials, but that’s not quite true. but you would probably have believed me. as neil says, 50 quid for a ticket = payb_ack time for : free al_bum. I will also be going mental at the futureheads at the waterfront in january and stabbing ryan from the cribs with a knitting needle at the NME tour in february so there are already some guitar loudness calamities in the diary. I almost bought a ticket for the enormous NME gig at the O2 but as I’d seen all the acts last year in <1500 capacity venues (apart from the kaiser chiefs, but I feel like I've seen them a million times already even though I haven't actually seen them), I decided against another 40 quid and the whole O2ness of it. I’ll go to the arts centre and see some kind of techno nose flute opera or something instead.
so that’s it for this year’s calendar so far. I’m sure there’ll be a couple of big band coups at the UEA to hustle tickets for and undoubtedly the waterfront will book somebody who will turn out to be enormous by the time the gig arrives but they can’t transfer to the UEA because due to phenomenal demand, a led zeppelin tribute act are already performing the entire knebworth set there.
but what of last year, I hear the 25 people who read this and have actually read this far cry, well, kind of moan a bit. you’re resigned to it now, you might as well read on. you might even have been to some of the gigs I mention later so you can disagree with me once you’ve worked out whether I liked it or not even if I give that much away or don’t get distracted by the person in the phone box over the road and start talking about pies or something for no reason when you thought I was talking about gogol bordello.
to be honest, I can’t remember what I saw last year, so I’m going to spend the next 10 minutes looking at a calendar I only started on june and various web sites that don’t have archives either just to work out what I did. nothing new there. I think it probably averaged 4 or 5 things a months, which is something like, erm, 50ish events. maybe. the easiest thing to do is to hand out the “crushingly awful can’t even be polite let’s leave” award, which goes, in a fanfare of bored one-hand clapping, to black rebel motorcycle club. oops. shame, as I was taken out by a friend who really wanted to go and see something and was pleasantly surprised to get tickets for something. but now we know why she could. it’s the first time I’ve walked out of a gig since I was trying to watch robert cray in a half empty UEA in about 1985 while extraordinarily drunk and I didn’t really walk out. I think the term is ‘expelled’, but I think it was for my own good.
as highlights go, if I’d written this a month ago, it would probably have been, um, I’m From Barcelona, who managed to make the waterfront seem like christmas in september. no, it was probably the Manic Street Preachers. except I got there late after a meeting and couldn’t get down the front. no no no. it was The Enemy. they were good. mind you, so were The Twang. and Editors, kind of. and Bloc Party, well, the were alright. ah, I know. it was the Pigeon Detectives. they were right good, and at the waterfront. hmmm. I did actually go and see Genesis in july…
an admission, if needs be needy be, that, as you know, even if you don’t, I’m mostly looking like someone’s dad who’s mistakenly wandered into a venue when I’m supposed to be waiting outside in the megane scenic at most of these gigs. but not at twickenham. having done a little bit of ebay negotiation with the 2 tickets I originally got direct, for ‘great view (behind pillar in the loft)’ and getting instead the pitch seated variety for 1, I did indeed proceed to corporate nirvana, past concessionville and into the midsummer middle-aged middle earth that is a genesis reunion concert. I have to say I became completely anonymous in that crowd immediately, which was fine. someone might have seen me. for the record, I was in that place because there was the smallest of chances that they would play at least a few pre-1975 tracks and maybe even not as part of a party mix medley. I’m not a great fan of the eponymous albums of the mid-90s, but peter gabriel genesis including the mind-bending (for an 8-year-old) lamb lies down on broadway evokes childish public school man delight in me. so there. coincidentally, I was due to see peter gabriel the following week in a field in norfolk, but I decided to go and the Stereophonics instead and the kelly jones got a cough and I ended up in the bar down the road from my house eating turkish slipper pizzas through a copy of the guardian. they did do early tracks and so I was happy. I also went to the 1982 reunion concert featuring a broke peter gabriel, but he kept forgetting the words and I stood in the pissing rain in milton keynes bowl for 7 hours for that and if you’ve ever done that, you know how miserable it is, even if they do the knife in full.
bonus prize for “concert that could have been good somewhere else especially if the seats were the other way around” goes to george michael at the norwich city football ground. as an extra double joker-played bonus, that concert also gets the “ludicrously over-priced no wonder the people in the upper tier are abusing security” award for the aforementioned reason. I mean, george does a good show, but it would have been better on the telly. I wouldn’t of had to stand up and do embarrassing handclap dancing like prince charles or something then. either. dammit.
but, since this it written in january, the best gig of the year award goes to Gogol Bordello. it was one of those where I bought the tickets on a whim about 4 months earlier and when it actually came to the day, I couldn’t really be bothered to go and there was a midsommer murders repeat on ITV4. still, I dragged myself out and when I got there and a french hip-hop collective was jibbering around on stage you knew immediately it was going to be nice. I’ve run out of inclination to describe what the thing was actually like, but if you imagine baz luhrmann directing the punk gypsy circus apolcalypse then you’re halfway there. the showmanship was unsurpassed and when you look back on all the other home-grown trying-too-hard middle class indie seriouscrats that I normally really kind of like, you thank god for this night. my friend nearly stabbed me over some stilton in cinema city when I told him just how good it was, as he had his office party that day and couldn’t go. he was going to go with me. I went alone, as usual. here’s to 2008. ooh! Gallows! get in!