Tuesday, 13 October 2015

REM - Hyde Park, London 16 July 2005

The second outing for me and Mrs M to see REM came in 2005. The gig was originally scheduled for 9 July (a week after Live 8 at the same venue) but was put back a week following the London bombings on 7/7. The special guests were Jonathan Rice, Idlewild and Feeder. I remember Idlewild being excellent, though they did prompt Mrs M to say "Oh, they're the Scottish REM".

I also remember enjoying this show a lot more than the one at Milton Keynes ten years earlier. We secured a good vantage point front right and the show was completely different in feel. Where MK had been dark, sombre and moody this was sparky, bright and uplifting. Not even the appearance of Patti Smith for the dirge that is E-bow the letter could spoil the mood. That might have been because it was the last date on their world tour, but whatever the reason they were superb. Stipe in particular was at his electric best. They finished with I'm Gonna DJ which was unreleased and new to me at that point, but stuck in my head for ages after. Inevitably the recorded version when it finally surfaced didn't have the attack of the live version. All in all a great show.

For a much better review of the gig head over http://www.dreamdust.co.uk/2005/07/17/rem-in-hyde-park/

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.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Terrorvision - The Britannia, Plymouth 1 November 1993

I love Terrorvision. One of my all-time favourite live bands and one of those rare occasions when a band I championed early doors actually became commercially successful. The other one was Terraplane who hit me square between the eyes with their first single I Survive. They signed to a major, released a couple of albums that included a weedy re-recorded version of the single, ditched the bassist and found fame shortly after as Thunder. Terrorvision. Terraplane. There's a pattern emerging there....

My memory of how I first heard Terrorvision is muddled. I remember hearing Urban Space Crime played by Mark and Lard on Hit the North - their Wednesday night radio 5 show. I was doing a taxi shift at the time. Remember when Radio 5 used to play music? What I don't remember is whether that was before or after I bought my copy of the Thrive EP from which that track was taken. At the time, I was going to a lot of record fairs and several dealers had piles of the Thrive EP on 12" being knocked out at £1 each. A year or two later, these would change hands for £20 a pop.

On the strength of the EP my sister and I went to see Terrorvision play at the Concorde in Brighton. It's not there anymore but the new Concorde 2 just along the street is brilliant. Support on that occasion came from a local covers band whose name I do not remember. All their mates turned up, filled the place and sang along to competent versions of Play That Funky Music White Boy et al. They then all left leaving I'd say about 20 of us to watch Terrorvision do their thing. And what a thing. They had hard edged rock mixed with clever/funny lyrics and pop melodies and played with energy. Topped with a mad drummer and a singer who danced like no one was watching - they always looked like they were having fun. I loved them on sight. There is also an appallingly disgusting scatological story from that night that I will never tell you, no matter how many Coke Zeros you buy me.

At the end of 1993 I was temporarily working in Plymouth which is how I wound up at this gig. The Britannia is a slightly out of town pub that at the time had regular live shows that were a cut above the usual pub bands. I also saw Freak of Nature there and they kept tripping the fuse and killing the power to the singer's obvious frustration. It was a brilliant place to see an up and coming band like Terrorvision. All of which many tangents lead us sadly and inevitably to a familiar closing sentence. I don't remember anything much about the show at all, more's the pity.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Almighty: Town and Country Club 2 July 1990

Capital Radio Coca Cola Music Festival presents The Almighty and special guests. Just look at the perspective on that logo. Powerful stuff in a 'look what I did on my Commodore 64' kind of way, I'm sure you'll agree.

I have no recollection of the special guests. The fact that I had ticket number 004 should give you an idea of how poorly attended this show was. I distinctly remember there being plenty of elbow room, but not much else about the show.

Toby and I went along on the strength of their first album Blood Fire and Love, which had come out the previous year. It's one of the albums I had on vinyl but never replaced on CD, so before writing this I went back to Spotify to remind myself what they sound like. I remember really loving that album and yet I have not listened to these tracks in probably almost 20 years. Hearing it again now, it's nothing remarkable but they had some catchy riff-heavy songs with sing along choruses. I'm surprised they don't get more airplay on Planet Rock. Ricky Warwick's gravelly voice is pretty cool if you can get past the mid-Atlantic accent, and he's doing alright for himself these days singing with the reformed Thin Lizzy and more recently the Black Star Riders. Drummer Stumpy Munroe is possibly less in demand. Classic Rock reported in February that the band were going to release some new material this year to mark their 25th anniversary.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Slayer - Brixton Academy 9 November 1994

I can't claim to have ever been a huge fan of Slayer. I own several albums, all early ones, but I have to be in a particular mood to listen to their music. And even then, I really only like the hits: Dead Skin Mask; Seasons in The Abyss; South of Heaven; War Ensemble etc. There is however no denying their place in rock history as one of The Big Four of thrash metal and the influence they have had on those who followed.

When we were running Lard Records, Slayer were a big seller. Partly because they were enormously popular amongst metalheads around the world - oh yeah, we were international baby! - but also because they put out some fantastic limited edition releases of their singles and albums. The blood pack version of the Seasons in the Abyss cd; the red vinyl 7" in the cut out cross with chains version of Criminally Insane. The blood splattered white vinyl version of Live Undead. All highly collectable.

Toby had always been more of a fan than me but I was interested enough to tag along for this. It definitely helped that Machine Head were supporting as I was really enjoying their first album Burn My Eyes. A shame then, that we arrived too late to see Machine Head. Slayer, however were brutal. I cannot remember much about what they played, but from the information on the ticket we can assume they were promoting the Divine Intervention album, but I do remember the crushing intensity with which they played. I remember wondering how the hell they could play so fast and so not miss a note. Paul Bostaph's double bass drums hit with the ferocity and accuracy of a heavyweight boxer working the speed ball. Tom Araya must gargle bleach and have slinkys where his neck muscles should be. Kerry King stalked the stage covered in studs and tattoos looking like the meanest mofo in the room, his fingers a blur. Jeff Hanneman looked like a tougher David St Hubbins but played like a demon. They were immense.

Of course it occurred to me to write this when it was announced that Hanneman had died. Of course I didn't get round to it. Kind of sobering though when musicians your age start dying. Both Hanneman and Adam Yauch were the same age as me.

Friday, 29 March 2013

REM / Blur: The National Bowl, Milton Keynes 29 July 1995

This was REM's 'Monster' tour, which is not one of my favourite albums of theirs but it does include the peerless 'What's the Frequency Kenneth'. That would make it on to any 'best of' compilation I'd ever do. Blur were the special guests and were at the very height of their Britpopularity. The "other groups" were Magnapop and Belly. 

REM were and are one of the GLW's favourite bands so we decide to make the trip to Milton Keynes to see them for the first time. It was a gloriously sunny day, so of course venue security were taking everyone's drinks off them at the door, except for unopened 'tetrapak' type boxes of juice. Inside I seem to remember some bizarre token-exchange system for the beer tent that meant having to queue twice and small cartons of Happy Shopper orange juice costing £1 a time. Result, 60,000 hot, dehydrated, pissed off people. Well done everyone.

Naturally I remember nothing of the first two on the bill. Blur were fantastic, perhaps better even than when we had seen them at Glastonbury the previous year. REM's set was incredibly atmospheric with black and white rear projection and lots of slow tempo numbers. Magnificent, despite the best efforts of the organisers.

I had the genius idea* that we should kip in the car after the show because it would probably take hours to get out of the car park. After about half an hour of that the GLW said, quite rightly, 'this is a stupid idea' and got into the driving seat. We were out of the car park in no time. About half an hour down the road, she got stopped by the police for speeding but managed to flutter her eyelashes sufficiently to get herself out of a ticket.

*stupid idea

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Black Crowes - Town and Country Club 30 September 1991

Still one of my favourite bands, I first became aware of the Black Crowes when I saw the video for Jealous Again on Raw Power. I bought the album at the next Brighton Record fair and I've been a fan ever since. 

The ticket itself is nothing much to blog about, but look! The actual band logo as used on the first album! The special guests were Thee Hypnotics and my sister rode shotgun.

While the support band were on, my sister decided to faint. Luckily we were standing against the back wall underneath the mixing desk, so she just slid down the wall into a heap on the floor without doing herself any damage. I tried to carry her outside to get some fresh air. She probably weighed no more than eight stone (110 pounds) but have you ever tried to carry someone who's unconscious? It's not as easy as they make it look in the movies. We made it as far as the bar when she started to come round. This wasn't the first time she'd done this but it was the first time when I'd been around to see it. Scary. She recovered pretty quickly and we watched the rest of the show from near the back, just in case.