50 gigs meme

Taking the lead from this David Hepworth post, here’s my totally self-indulgent contribution to the 50 gigs meme.

[Following Jude Rogers’ lead….] OK, here are the rules. Test your memory and your love of live music by listing 50 artists or bands (or as many as you can remember) you’ve seen in concert. List the first 50 acts that come into your head. An act you saw at a festival and opening acts count, but only if you can’t think of 50 other artists. Oh, and list the first concert you ever saw (you can remember that, can’t you)?

  1. Hawkwind
    1985, first gig. In Huddersfield, supported by Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts. It went way over my head, but I’d love it nowadays.
  2. Marillion
    Sheffield City Hall, 1985. Went with my dad and felt a bit self-conscious that I couldn’t let myself go. Fish had lost teenagers eating out of his hand.
  3. Pitchshifter
    1997 at Phoenix festival. Faintly thrilled by their reckless disregard for health and safety – the band inciting the crowd to storm the stage. “There’s a party in the drumkit and you’re all invited”
  4. Buzzcocks
    2003, Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Defying age, they rattled through the first six songs without a moment’s break. Main memory is worrying that I’d catch SARS (the swine flu of the time) from friend who’d just come back from China with a streaming cold.
  5. Pixies
    Birmingham, Burberries, February 1988. I’d gone to see Throwing Muses, and had never heard of their supporting 4AD stablemates. This was pre Surfer Rosa and only their second gig in Britain. They were utterly fantastic and I got to sit on stage astonished as they hollered through Tony’s Theme, Vamos and more in their raw prime. Best. Gig. Ever.
  6. Sultans of Ping
    A pub in Dublin around 1992. Had gone to see Levellers 5 (not to be confused with the Levellers) and ended up catching the unknown Sultans supporting them upstairs in the pub. I was meeting friends who had seen turned up towards the end of the set to find me grinning madly, wild eyed and drenched in sweat. The singer wore a t-shirt that said “Ken Barlow is Jesus”.
  7. Prince
    Sam him ‘in the round’ at Birmingham NEC. Drove up from London with a mate for the LoveSexy tour. There was a time when I was trying to convince myself I liked Prince – he was praised to royal heaven by the inkies at the time – but I don’t think I ever did. He had a basketball court on stage though.
  8. Peter Gabriel
    NEC again, 1987. The first singer I saw to stage-dive and also remarkable for selling tour shirts (not t-shirts) for a then astronomical £35.
  9. Genesis
    Roundhay Park 1990-ish. Enjoyed Phil Collins’ bare-faced lie/joke to the crowd “We love playing our home town of Leeds”. I’m sure there are some people who still believe Genesis are Yorkshiremen
  10. Cornershop
    Some pub in New Cross, 2008. A tiny warm-up gig ahead of the festival season. Great to see Tjinder and co at such close quarters and I loved the crunchy, unexpected cover of The Mighty Quinn.
  11. Voodoo Queens
    Kentish Town Forum 1993ish. An Asian girl band famous for their anti-skinny rants. Fans threw chocolate at them on stage as they sang “Supermodel? Don’t you mean superficial”. Yea!
  12. My Bloody Valentine
    1991/2 at Brixton Academy. Lots of noise, silhouettes and studied cool.
  13. Mike Flowers Pops
    Turned up drunk to this on a whim as I had a free pass to the Forum in the mid 90s. Surprisingly excellent. Lots of balloons and colour (at least that’s what it felt like).
  14. Stereolab
    Forum again, late 90s. Totally love them and was so pleased to see them live. Bought a red and silver t-shirt that said “Stereolab – electronic pop music”. Never fitted me though.
  15. Pogues
    Saw them many times from 1988 to 1996 or something. Best memories are from Leicester University in the late 80s. It was always a fantastic drunken mosh and a great way for angsty students to let their hair down.
  16. Sinead o’Connor
    June 1988, Loughborough University. I think it was only her second UK gig. God knows how our student union bagged this one. I was having an awful time fretting about second year exams and took valuable time out to see this on the eve of the scariest one. She was magnificent. I’d fallen in love with The Lion and the Cobra and she rendered it gorgeously. It was mildly spoiled by rugby student barracking, but she dealt with it curtly, “This for  those those of you who aren’t dickheads.”
  17. Gary Glitter
    I know, I know, but he played our Uni twice waaay before his horrible fall from grace. He was a fantastic showman. The band started playing, instrument-by-instrument building up the song in total darkness and then he appeared, back to the crowd, in outrageous silver jacket and turned and glared at the crowd. We were chanting “Leader! Leader!”. Fantastic fun, never to be repeated.
  18. Neil Young
    Finsbury Park 2001. Pouring down, but Neil and Crazy Horse fired searing feedback for two hours of blistering entertainment. I’d always assumed he was a boring old fogie, but Peel had gone on about Weld and I’d loved him ever since.
  19. Live 8
    Bit boring, left before Pink Floyd.
  20. Wedding Present
    Much like the Pogues, saw them lots when a student. Like a jangly Smiths but with songs about actual relationships rather than the lack of them.
  21. Mighty Lemon Drops
    Leicester Uni 1987. They had a fearsome reputation as a band who drew violent crowds, but actually they were just great fun. My friend Andy and I started the gig at the back, but as soon as we heard the opening drums of Happy Head we piled right in up the front and moshed like good ‘uns.
  22. Quickspace Supersport
    Some London Uni  mid 90s. Memorable only for a corny bit of wordplay. My friend thought they were called Quicksilver and I quipped, “nope you’re thinking of the Mercury prize winners”. Chemical LOLs!!
  23. Thee Headcoats
    Unexpectedly saw the bonkers genius Billy Childish in an Archway pub in 1990. Supported/followed by Thee Headcoatees. Wasn’t quite sure if I liked it, but it was definitely special.
  24. Terry Hall
    I love Terry Hall, and seeing him in a half-empty Jazz Cafe in Camden in 1992 (the only time you’ll get me anywhere near a jazz club) was divine. His gentle rendition of God Only Knows still breaks me up.
  25. Suzanne Vega
    1986, NEC. Far too big a venue for her. It was pretty forgettable. Bet she’d have been ace in a New York basement bar though.
  26. Billy Bragg
    Clapham Common mid 90s. Always entertaining and always at pains to point out that he’s as much about love songs as protest songs.
  27. The Fall
    A mate of mine reckoned the Fall were Peel’s private joke, but the more I look back over their songs, the more of a genuine treasure I think they are. Seen them live many times, but I’ll give the Fridge, Brixton around 1993 as a favourite. Mark E. Smith spent the entire gig leaning against a lectern, reading the lyrics without looking at the crowd. God bless him.
  28. The Sundays
    Briefly the darlings of the NME. Had gone to see them with a bunch of mates at Leicester Poly, but ended up fancying the bar much more than the gig. I popped my head in for literally five seconds and thus claimed I’d seen the Sundays – much to the annoyance of my friend Marcus who adored them and didn’t much appreciate my cheat.
  29. Stone Roses
    Brixton Academy 1993 maybe. The cheap jibe is to dig at Ian Brown’s voice, but that would be to miss the sheer swagger of the band and that album. They really did teach a generation of indie kids that it was OK to dance.
  30. Orbital
    Leeds 1996 maybe. Part of some Radio 1 city festival. Went with a friend who worked for the BBC and remember the Hartnoll brothers nodding away with those glasses-with-lights.
  31. Deep Purple
    NEC 1987. Big, bloated and bassy.
  32. Jesus and Mary Chain
    Leicester de Montfort Hall 1988. This was a couple of years after their riot phase and was actually pretty sedate. Still, “the Mary Chain” were always the coolest band in school and knew it.
  33. Ruby
    ULU 1995? Seemed to me pretty rare that Lesley Rankine got a gig outing and it was worth killing for a ticket. Salt Peter had been an amazing album and she was dark, sexy and magnificent live.
  34. Black Grape
    Brixton Academy, 1995-ish. Shaun Ryder showed that he had at least one more good album in him with this venture and the band were in high demand for about a year. Shambolic and forgettable on stage though.
  35. The Popes
    Somewhere in Clapham. Shane MacGowan – an even bigger genius who also had one other good album in him. It was a xmas gig and I sat upstairs in the balcony. Felt old for not moshing, but also much more comfortable thanks.
  36. The Primitives
    Leicester 1988 again (lots of gigs that year). Big mistake going to see them. In retrospect they were pretty throwaway indie-lite.
  37. 10,000 Maniacs
    Leicester Poly 1988. Natalie Merchant had the most lovely voice. The set-up was very intimate and I remember her urging us not to push forward as she’d recently chipped a tooth when the mic banged into her. Ouch.
  38. The Men they couldn’t hang
    1987, Loughborough University. Always fun, but-not-quite-as-good-as-the-Pogues. Best lyric: “It was a night to remember, but I guess I just forgot. When I went to count my blessings, I found I was one short.”
  39. R.E.M.
    Barcelona 1994. Pretty dry arena gig, but they were still a four-piece then and their catalogue at the time was 100% golden. Mind you, I think Reveal is one of their best albums.
  40. Tangerine Dream
    Royal Festival Hall 2005. A one-off gig as part of someone’s Meltdown choice. It brought out London’s electronic royalty (Aphex Twin sat behind me) and we were all looking forward to a masterfulful performance from the 70s ambient pioneers. Well, it was the worst gig I’ve ever been to. They were like a small nation’s especially-tacky Eurovision entry. All big hair and waffle. People walked out in droves. Really.
  41. Marine Research
    Notting Hill probably 1998. Leading lights in “twee pop”, the singer Amelia Fletcher had been in Talulah Gosh and Heavenly and thus was an icon in my indie-boy mind. Memorable for one couple dancing far too shamelessly in front of a very sparse stage.
  42. Babybird
    100 Club 1994. Stephen Jones was always much, much more than “You’re Gorgeous” (and even that was misunderstood). Saw him every time I could and he was always funny and brilliant. I half-shook his hand as he came off stage and we were both a bit embarrassed.
  43. The Darkness
    Paid a mint on eBay for Brixton Academy tickets in 2005. They were brilliant though. They spoofed the whole cock-rock thing wonderfully and Justin Hawkins did the best scissor kicks.
  44. Inspiral Carpets
    Nottingham Rock City 1990. Past their best then. I hated “This is how it feels to be lonely” and wanted more of the cheesey organ glory that was “Directing Traffic” and “Keep the Circle Around”
  45. Beautiful South
    The Fleadh, Finsbury Park 1995. I bought one of their ironic “Northern Scum” t-shirts which would get me into near-scrapes when wearing it for years afterwards
  46. Aphex Twin
    At least four awesome gigs here: playing sandpaper under Battersea Bridge arches, DJing from a balcony in the V&A quadrangle, hiding in a children’s den in Finsbury Park and streaming to headphones in the Barbican’s botanical garden. Richard D. James we love you.
  47. Kraftwerk
    Big Love festival (or was it Tribal Gathering?). They were the star draw, so the tent was going to be crowded. My mate Mark and I staked our spots half an hour before showtime and found a huge black curtain obscuring the stage. Eventually the huge Teutonic rhythms began and the curtain fell to the four lads stock still with red LEDs pulsating “M-A-C-H-I-N-E” behind them. Exactly what we wanted.
  48. Cure
    1987 Kiss Me tour. Not very good really. And Robert Smith *still* dresses the same.
  49. Woodentops
    Leicester Poly 1988. Definitely the most enjoyable gig I’ve ever been to. Rollo McGinty was a ball of energy and kept jumping into the crowd to show us how to dance. They played extended, hypnotic versions of their songs and were the best indie/rave crossover act by miles.
  50. KLF
    Barbican 1999. This was after their ‘burning a million quid’ stunt and maybe their last ever gig. The stage was bare apart from two structures shrouded in cloth. As the lights dimmed, a messed-up rendition of Theme from Fame began to play. As it hit the “Remember my name” bit, the covers came off to reveal Jimmy and Bill in electric wheelchairs grooving around the stage Dalek stylee with keyboards on their laps. We shall never see their like again.

By carlosfandango

My favourite biscuits are custard creams

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