Thursday, 17 November 2011

Reading Festival - August Bank Holiday Weekend 1992

The news that Nirvana and The Wonder Stuff were going to headline two nights of the Reading Festival in 1992 was enough to convince Mark, Ivan and me to sign up for weekend tickets. Reading's reputation was as a Somme re-enactment site where men in black T shirts amused themselves between bands by throwing two litre bottles of piss at each other. With that in mind we booked ourselves into a B&B for the duration.

On the Friday morning we exchanged our tickets for wristbands and entered the site just as Redd Kross were finishing their set. On the gate we were given flyers that showed the running order and were sponsored by a new magazine called IndieCator. I don't think that lasted very long. I notice that I have helpfully ticked the bands that we saw, which is good news as I have no memory of several of these even being on, let alone watching them.  The down side is that this now stands as a permanent record of some (with hindsight) tremendously poor choices we made when deciding which bands to watch.
Running Order - click to enlarge

Of the Friday bands I only remember watching PiL and The Wonder Stuff (annoyingly spelt wrong on the flyer).

Well look at that - we passed up the opportunity to see Public Enemy in order to watch BAD II.  Not even the original Big Audio Dynamite; BAD II. I'm pretty sure it rained too. Sigh...  I was impressed by Ride and my first live sightings of The Manics and Rollins did not disappoint. 

The final day was all about the headliners. There had been plenty written in the music press in the previous months (and since) about Kurt Cobain's drug use and speculation was rife that the band were going to break up due to his ill health.  It was therefore quite a relief when they appeared on stage and played a blinding set - their last in England as it turned out. I'll spare you yet another write up of Kurt's entrance and the gig itself, mostly because I have nothing to add to what's already out there, but I will confirm that they were awesome.  There's something about the noise made by three piece bands that really speaks to me and they were on fire that night.  The only down side was that we were further back in the crowd than we would have liked because of another terrible decision on our part - to pass up the chance to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds who were on immediately before Nirvana. Gah...

I believe Kurt had a hand in deciding the rest of the Sunday main stage bill.  I remember very little which is a real shame as I'm a real fan of the Beastie Boys. I do however remember L7 getting pelted with mud and one of the band removing her tampon and throwing it into the crowd to show her displeasure. Nice. 
Front Page
Back Page

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ian Dury tribute concert - Brixton Academy 16 June 2000

Ian Dury died on 27 March 2000.  New Boots and Panties has always been one of my favourite albums - one of those rare 'don't skip a track' ones -  and so it seemed only right to go and pay my respects when my good friend Ivan suggested we attend the tribute concert.

The idea was simple: each act would do a couple of their own songs in the first half before returning to perform Dury's songs with The Blockheads in the second.  The proceeds from the show would go to Cancer BACUP.  The ticket shows some sort of sponsorship from Dr Martens, which seems appropriate.

There were rumours before the show that Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were going to appear together, but in the event only Jones showed along with other contemporaries Glen Matlock, Wreckless Eric and Tom Robinson.  The first to get the crowd excited though was Wilko Johnson with his trademark staccato guitar and bug eyes, he brought energy and attacked the songs with everything he had.  Chas and Dave also got the crowd nicely warmed up with a cockney sing along before Madness closed the first half.

During the break, a nice lady from Cancer BACUP, who looked like someone's auntie, came on stage to say thank you and a little about their work.  However, this being a rock show, someone from the crowd shouted "show us your tits" which completely threw her.  Shame.

The second half saw The Blockheads (still tight as a gnat's chuff) performing with all of the above plus a right bunch of herberts including  Keith Allen (Blackmail Man), Kathy Burke (Billericay Dickie), Saffron from Republica (Mash it up Harry), Mark Lamarr (Blockheads and stage diving), Kirsty MacColl (Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick) and longtime Blockheads collaborator Phill Jupitus (Reasons to be Cheerful).  The finale saw Robbie Williams come on for Sweet Gene Vincent before everyone returned for a riotous Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.  It was a joyous night and a fitting tribute to a true original and a national treasure.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Indie Alldayer - Stanmer Park Brighton, 27 May 1995

The Indie all-dayer took place in a big tent in Stanmer Park.  There was a stage at either end of the tent and the idea was that there would be almost non-stop music because as a band played on one stage the other could be prepared for the following act. Pretty neat idea huh?  Guaranteed to keep dry and limited hanging about between bands, myself, the GLW and our Matt (then aged 11) went along to check it out.

I remember being mightily impressed by Reef, let down by S*M*A*S*H who didn't turn up (a narrow escape), and terrified by Skin from Skunk Anansie who prowled the stage like a caged tiger.  A black, bald, lesbian tiger.  I remember very little about Dodgy (went down well with the GLW), Lightning Seeds (popular with Matt), Teenage Fanclub (highly recommended by my mate Mark but a bit too light and jangly for me) and Gene.  Pop Will Eat Itself however, were excellent.  I'd been a fan for a while and they didn't let me down.  High energy, loud guitars, beats and samples and lots of jumping up and down on the spot.  Nice.  The Charlatans played the hits and Carter USM had added a drummer to the group, which I thought was odd given that they previously relied so heavily on the sound of a drum machine.

Note that the ticket still has the stub attached.  Clearly I did not take advantage of the generous offer of £1 off at HMV on any CD or Video costing £11.99 or more.  Note for the teenagers, CDs and videos are how we used to get music and films before iTunes, youtube and lime wire.

Video is Carter USM - Sheriff Fatman live in Zagreb 1994

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Elbow - The O2 28 March 2011

From the earliest ticket in my collection to the most recent.  First things first though - this is not my actual ticket for the gig.  The ticket here is one I collected from a member of staff on the way out so that I had something for the collection.  Tragic eh?  A visit to a gig at the O2 entails you surrendering your ticket on entry in exchange for a wristband, see exhibit A:

This was the first time I'd been to see Elbow and my first visit to the O2.  The date coincided nicely with the GLW's birthday and our wedding anniversary so we decided to push the boat out and booked into the Radisson hotel on Canary Wharf.  This photo was taken from our room after the show.  The O2 looks like a spaceship when it's all lit up.  Apologies for the poor picture quality, it was taken on my iPod.

As for the venue, I liked it.  Easy to get to, especially if your hotel is on the opposite bank of the Thames, plenty of choices for pre gig food and drink but avoid Union Square, the service was lousy - our waitress took our order and then went on a break without placing it with the kitchen or bar staff - and too many items on the limited menu were unavailable.  The food itself was okay but by the time it arrived all the enjoyment was long gone.  And they made us miss the support act.  All the venue staff were smiley and helpful and the view and sound from our viewpoint on the floor was very good.  Drinks in the arena itself though were silly money - £3.20 for a 500ml bottle of Coke, sheesh.

The show itself was a triumph.  The majority of the setlist was taken from their two most recent albums, both of which are very close to my heart.  Guy Garvey's lyrics speak to me in a way that no others do and songs like Starlings and Open Arms can reduce me to tears in seconds flat.  He's a very engaging avuncular stage presence and the crowd were putty in his hands.  And to see these songs performed live with my best girl by my side left me feeling like my heart might burst.  Just gorgeous.

Video is Open Arms live at the O2 28 March 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Wonder Stuff - Brixton Academy 24 October 1989

In early 1989 I saw The Wonder Stuff on television doing Unbearable and was instantly taken with their jangly guitar racket, big hair and the ‘I didn’t like you very much when I met you, and now I like you even less’ chorus.  I mentioned them at work the following day and my boss told me that he had their album.  I borrowed The Eight Legged Groove Machine and that was me hooked.  Shortly after, they announced dates in London and I bought tickets for me and a friend.  It was my first visit to Brixton Academy and my first sighting of The Wonder Stuff live.  I have since seen them live more often than any other band - something like 20 times I think.  The support came from The Sandkings and Neds Atomic Dustbin.

Video is Unbearable - The Wonder Stuff

Tickets please!

When the tickets for my first Wonder Stuff gig arrived, I was very impressed that they were illustrated with the Hup album artwork.  Most of my previous tickets had been black and white and not particularly interesting.  After the show I decided to keep it as a souvenir and so started my collection of gig tickets.  There are some notable holes in my collection, every gig I went to before that one for a start.  There are also some notable holes in the tickets that are in my collection thanks to water damage, but more of that later.  Gigs that I have attended that I do not have the ticket for (grouped by venue) include:
  • Bucks Fizz at Hastings White Rock Pavilion (my first gig – the shame);
  • Budgie on Hastings pier;
  • Carter USM, Electric Six, Big Yoga Muffin and Wrathchild at The Crypt in Hastings;
  • Budgie at The Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells;
  • Gillan at Brighton Dome;
  • Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington in 84;
  • Accept, Iron Maiden, Robert Cray and Dio at Hammersmith Odeon;
  • Thunder, Fastway, Carter USM and Ozzy Osbourne at Folkestone Leas Cliffe Hall;
  • Whitesnake, Kaiser Chiefs and Terence Trent Darby at Brighton Centre;
  • Terrorvision at The Concorde in Brighton;
  • Kingmaker at The Richmond in Brighton
  • The Darkness and Eurythmics at Wembley Arena;
  • David Bowie (Glass Spider Tour) and Michael Jackson (Bad Tour) at Wembley Arena
  • The Fall at The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill
  • Several Miles Hunt gigs at The Half Moon in Putney
  • Miles Hunt at the Forum in Tunbridge Wells
  • A secret gig by The Wonder Stuff at the Marquee, and
  • The Finn Brothers at the Royal Albert Hall.
There are almost certainly others.  We may well come back to some of those listed above at a later date.  For now though, I’ll be concentrating on the tickets I do have.  There are few things as tedious as someone showing you their holiday photos or the visa stamps in their passport so I’ll try to make this interesting by giving some context for the gig as well as my personal recollections of the event, but I can’t promise anything.  So, let’s start where the collection started…

Saturday, 25 June 2011


This is Dexter.  He is a nine-week-old Golden Retriever and has been part of the family for two weeks.  He is the reason I am up at 5.30 on a Saturday morning.

Although my parents have had dogs for about the last 25 years, and I have had cats for almost as long, this is my first dog.  The GLW recently took early retirement from her busy and stressful job in that London.  Now she is at home all day and I am able to work from home two days a week, so for the first time we have the time to devote to puppy wrangling.  Here are a few things I have learned in my first week of dog ownership.
  1. Puppies are an expensive and time-consuming commitment.  The GLW and I have the baggy eyed look of tired new parents and find ourselves having the same type of conversations:  “Has he been good?” “Did he eat all his dinner?” “Has he had a poo?”
  2. During house training there is a limited amount of time that puppies can be left alone during the day, which limits your social activities.  However this is offset by the increased frequency of visits from friends and relatives, which is nice.
  3. Theories on puppy training seem to be quite different these days.  It’s a lot more focussed on dog psychology and less on you physically dominating the animal, which appeals to the liberal lefty in me.  I’m thinking particularly of how Barbara Woodhouse used to advocate the use of choke chains to control dogs, whereas most current advice seems to be based on positive reinforcement and understanding of a dog’s pack animal mentality.  Rewarding good behaviour and ignoring rather than punishing the bad.
  4. And the big one: nothing lifts the heart like being greeted by a dog that is pleased to see you.  Dogs are good for the soul.