Friday, 30 November 2012

Simple Minds - Wembley Arena, 27 July 1989

Here's a gig I remember for  change. Not because it's one of my favourites. The boring ticket - courier font on generic stock - is about the best thing about it. 

This was the tour to promote the Street Fighting Years album, a disappointing affair that  contains the frankly dreadful chart topper Belfast Child. I had been persuaded to go by friends who had lent me their double live album. That had convinced me that they were more of a rock band live than in the studio. 

How hard they rocked was rendered completely moot by the utter shittyness of our seats. We were at the far end of the arena, about two thirds of the way up the back wall. The sound was dreadful and we were so far away that it could have been anyone on stage that night. There were no big screens. One to forget, ironically. The guests were The Silencers. Quite.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Madness - Finsbury Park 8 August 1992

My good friend Ivan likes Madness.  He REALLY likes Madness but was too young to see them live before they split up.  So when, in 1992, it was announced that they were going to re-form and stage the Madstock festival at Finsbury Park it was a given that he would be going.  It was his first opportunity to see them and I was enough of a fan of Madness to want to go too.  The real treat for me though would be seeing Ian Dury and the Blockheads.  Ivan decided that he would go to both the Saturday and the Sunday.  As the line up was the same for both days, I decided that just the Saturday would be enough for me.  Also on the bill were Flowered Up and Morrissey, I am and was a fan of neither of them. Morrissey in particular infuriates me.  I like some of the music he's made both solo and with The Smiths but find his every utterance designed to infuriate me.  He comes over as a cross between Alan Bennett and Dorothy Parker, without the wit of either, and appears to consider it great sport to torture interviewers, particularly those known to be fans.  A flat track bully.  Other opinions are available.

Come the day of the show, I was not well.  In fact knowing what I know now I should probably have been in hospital rather than driving two hours to stand in a park for another six before driving home again.  However I was young and stupid and didn't want to let my buddy down as he was counting on me for the lift - and I was keen to see the show if at all possible.  We drove up to Ivan's Uncle's house, where he would be staying the night, just around the corner from the venue, parked up and walked to the park.

Regular readers of this blog (are there any?) will not be surprised to hear that I remember little of the show itself.  Even the infamous Morrissey union jack incident didn't register at the time as I was in so much discomfort and spent a great deal of time sitting down.  My biggest regret though is that I don't remember any details of the one time I saw Ian Dury with the Blockheads.  I do remember that when Madness appeared, starting of course with One Step Beyond, the crowd went batshit crazy.  Even as far back as we were, everyone was dancing and the euphoria was infectious enough to raise this sick man off the floor and make him forget his worldly pains and worries for an hour or so.  

On day two, Morrissey decided not to return and was replaced by The Farm.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Keeping the customer serviced

My dentist is a lovely guy.  He looks a bit like Des Lynham, always has a calming word and every visit is a physically painless experience.  He is however now way too expensive to keep using, so I need to register with a NHS dentist.  

Being basically an idle bastard, I went to the practice literally around the corner from our house.  It's in a Victorian end of terrace house that's little more than a two up two down.  Reception is in what would normally be the front room and I was greeted by the receptionist, a girl in, I would say her early 20s.  I asked if they were taking new NHS patients and she said yes but the dentist was about to go on holiday for three weeks so he wouldn't be able to see me for a while.  I said that there was no rush and asked if I could get registered in the meantime.  Without leaving her chair, she twisted 90 degrees to her right, took a form from a letter rack and passed it to me saying "There you are, all done for you today."

I don't know where to look when people talk to me like that.  I really value good customer service and make a point of thanking people when they're helpful or do more than they strictly needed to.  But this type of customer service Newspeak just makes me cross. It adds nothing but is designed to give the appearance of having been super helpful.  I'm genuinely worried that people in service industries believe this is how customers want to be spoken to. 

There are of course many and various variants on this theme: the train announcements welcoming us onboard YOUR SouthEast train service to London Charing Cross; the call centre staff with their carefully scripted greetings, and the greeters at your local supermarket asking how you are and whether you found everything you were looking for today.  I'm sure you can think of others...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Brixton Academy 6 June 1990

This was the Mothers Milk tour that came to the UK two/three times in 1990 according to

My first exposure to RHCP was buying the Knock Me Down 7" single from the discounted box on the floor in Stylus in Hastings in 1989 purely because I liked the name.  That said I didn't like the track and promptly forgot about it.  Fast forward to early 1990 when I saw Anthony and Flea interviewed on Raw Power which also showed video clips of the new single Higher Ground and Fight Like A Brave.  I was really taken with their sense of humour, the energy in the music and the powerful mix of rock and funk.  I was hooked.  Mothers Milk had failed to chart and so wasn't available in any local shops so I wound up buying the CD on import from Tower Records in Piccadilly.

As for the gig... yes, well, uummmm.  Nope, don't remember a thing about it - heaven knows I wish I did - not even who I went with, but I suspect my brother was there.  It was probably good though, don't you think?

RHCP - Out in LA live at the Pinkpop Festival 1990

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Wildhearts - London Kentish Town Forum 27 March 1994

This is a ticket for the 'Full Roar 94' tour date at The Forum - a venue that I will always think of as the Town and Country Club.  Note the missing definite article in the band name.  The special guests were Baby Chaos - no, me neither.

Their debut album Earth vs The Wildhearts contains some amazing tracks including some personal desert island contenders in Greetings from Shitsville, TV Tan, Suckerpunch and Caffeine Bomb (on the re-released version at least).  Ginger has a real knack for writing crunchy songs with a catchy melody that also rock like a bastard.

Toby rode shotgun for this one and he reminded me recently that we stood at the bottom of the stairs to the right of the stage. In addition to a great view of the show we were also able to enjoy watching one overly refreshed punter honk on the floor and someone else slip over in it.  True story.

Anyway, to more relevant details... It's always a risk going to see a band who have only released one album, however good they are.  I have seen bands come out for the encore and play two songs for a second time because they didn't have enough material.  However I am pleased to report that The Wildhearts did not disappoint. High energy - check.  Riff after riff - check. Ginger in a white dinner jacket and bow tie with his pvc trousers - check.  The performance of Suckerpunch was filmed for later use in a promo video - see below although embedding has been disabled so you'll have to view it on youtube. Look out for the continuity spoiling inserts of Ginger singing. Where did those sunglasses come from?

I've not seen The Wildhearts since and to be honest, later albums didn't grab my interest like the debut.  Nevertheless, they'll always hold a place in my heart for the strength of those early singles and this live show.

The Wildhearts - Suckerpunch

Friday, 20 January 2012

Kingmaker and Suede - Folkestone Metronome 19 May 1992

Kingmaker 19 May 1992
Not a particularly interesting looking ticket from my one and only visit to this venue, and the first of many that suffered water damage while being stored in the loft.

So, Kingmaker - I had a real soft spot for them and saw them many times.  First seen supporting The Wonder Stuff and subsequently seen both headlining and supporting others.  Another three piece band that sounded like more than the sum of their parts, they made some cracking singles and were ace live.  I believe Loz Hardy deputised for a poorly Malc Treece in the Wonder Stuff on at least one occasion and also co-wrote material for Elastica.

Anyway, the interesting thing about this gig is not the headliners but the support band.  At that point Suede  were THE next big thing.  They'd been on the front cover of one of the music weeklies who dubbed them 'The best new band in Britain' just weeks before this gig and before they had even been signed to a label.  The music press had been working themselves into a frenzy about them for several months and to be honest I was a bit bored of the hype.  A music paper review of one of the early dates on this tour had the title 'Dog shit and diamonds' which I thought was more than a little harsh on Kingmaker, but nevertheless funny in a 'shit sandwich' type of way.

As usual, I remember little of the actual gig other than buying a terrible long sleeve T shirt with the Killjoy Was Here artwork on it, including luminous yellow dinosaur footprints up the arm.  I do remember thinking that Bernard Butler was a shit-hot guitarist and that is something that has outlived the T shirt by some distance.

Suede - The Drowners