Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Wonder Stuff: Brighton Dome, 13 April 1994

This was part of the Idiot Manoeuvres tour. A full-on 30+ dates / six week tour of the UK of the sort no-one can afford to do anymore. The warning signs were there though. Note that the band had managed to secure tour sponsorship from Carling. Almost exactly three months later, the band would be playing their farewell show at the Phoenix Festival.

My good friend Ivan was riding shotgun for this one. I have two vivid memories from this gig. The first is that Miles had had his date of birth tattooed on his leg. He was going through a Henry Rollins phase at the time I seem to remember.

The second is that I genuinely feared for my life at one point. The first and only time that has ever happened at a gig. You will notice from the ticket that the stalls were seated - not something I had experienced at a Wonder Stuff show before. The reason became clear very quickly. When the band came on stage, the crowd went apeshit and there was a huge surge to the front. That surge forced bodies over the rows of seats and we had to climb on our seats and step forward across the rows to avoid being crushed. The crush increased and we were soon standing on the backs of the seats, clinging to each other for support and balance. Clearly the seating was not built to withstand such abuse and the entire row we were standing on collapsed sending us to the floor, also toppling the rows in front and behind. I was convinced we were going to get crushed and we decided to beat a hasty retreat to the back of the stalls. This was all during the first song.

There was no aggression in the crowd, no one was being an arse, it was pure excitement. Having experienced that I can confirm that it was absolutely fucking terrifying. It started as exciting, and even funny but very quickly became scary and dangerous. When a big crowd surges forward, crushing all before it, people can get hurt and even killed: Roskilde; Donington; Hillsborough. This was down to piss-poor planning by the promoter / venue management. Putting the Stuffies in an all-seated venue at the height of their popularity? Madness.

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