TONIGHT I’M attending a middle aged gig. It’s my first foray into a music arena since I had kids and waved goodbye to my thirties – if you discount the time I took Boy Wonder to see Justin from CBeebies.
So, it’s fitting that the Duchess and I are off to see Elbow, a band of middle aged men who know a thing or two about love, loss, pain and pies. If you squinted hard, you might even think I have a passing resemblance to lead singer Guy Garvey, the northern Ray Winstone. Tall, svelte, clean shaved, sartorially elegant…
We nearly didn’t get tickets, of course. I saw the advert in the Sunday Times and received an enthusiastic approval from the Social Secretary. And then did nothing about it until there were only six tickets left. The MEN Arena holds around 25,000 people. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s not like it’s Riverdance. Besides, Elbow like to put a runway from the stage into the crowd, so it’ll be like Guy Winstone is in our front room.
The Duchess and I are going crazy: with my Mam down to look after the kids, we’re heading across the Pennines early for some tea and a few drinks. Knowing the Duchess, we’ll probably the first ones in there, becoming Number One Fans for the support acts. We’ll drink too much and miss the first half of the Elbow set because we’re asleep.
Such is my excitement, I’ve found myself recalling more youthful times when going to a gig (sorry, that word really does show my age) wasn’t so unusual.
So, here are the headlines from my gigging history – warts and all:
- The Charlatans – I left Newcastle a sweaty, delirious 17-year-old
- Dream Warriors – First gig at university in Norwich, lured by those classics ‘Wash your face in my sink’ and ‘My definition of a boombastic jazz style’
- The Farm – All together now…
- St Etienne – My attendance had nothing to do with Sarah Cracknell
- The Prodigy – A quiet night out while visiting a friend in Liverpool
- 808 State – At a little club in Baton Rouge while studying at Louisiana State University – being Brits we ended up backstage drinking beers with the band
- The Neville Brothers – At the New Orleans Blues and Jazz Festival
- U2 – Zoo TV at Texas Stadium – supported by the Sugarcubes – a freebie after my mate got jiggy with a record producer’s daughter
- Elton John – The same mate coerced me into seeing the Watford Wonder in the college basketball arena, so I got to watch Elton’s plump, leopard skin clad arse for two hours
- James Taylor Quartet – Grooving back in Norwich
- Jamiroquai – Good singer and dancer but an arse even back then
- Inner City – The legends of house performing to about 10 people in a nightclub in my home town, Stockton
- Paul Weller – A hazy summer’s afternoon among thousands in Victoria Park, Hackney
- Primal Scream – Brixton Academy uproar
- Luther Van Dross – Forced into going to see the big man on a stag do / football tour in Las Vegas, I spent $50 on a sleep
- Faithless – Brits on tour in Sydney
- NERD – Pharell impresses the Duchess at a theatre venue in Sydney
- Ian Brown – My last gig to date, in Manchester on the day George Best had died – an epic way to sign off