Last month I had a birthday and one of the presents I was given was a DVD of a B52s gig. I mused while watching it last night that seeing the B52s at Camden Roundhouse in London was up there with the best gigs of my life. This set me thinking which of the other gigs I've been to that I'd put into a top ten, if I were to make one.
Now then, this isn't a top 10 where number 1 is the best. It's just a list of ten gigs that have left a lasting impression on me. People who know me may be surprised that there's no David Bowie gigs on the list. I've seen him twice but both were huge arena type gigs where he appeared as nothing more than a speck on the stage from my seat at the back.
So here we go with my ten gigs that have left a lasting impression on me.
B52s at Camden Roundhouse in London, 2008. You can read about that here. I've been a fan of the band since I first heard Give Me Back My Man played in Sunderland's Heroes when I was just 17 and shouldn't have been out drinking.
U2 at Gateshead Stadium in 1982. I was right near the front. U2 were there to support The Police but it was U2 I was blown away by. I'd never heard of them and wasn't aware they existed. But the day after the gig I went out and bought all of their albums - all two of them (Boy & October) - from HMV in Sunderland, went home and played them to bits. I remained a fan until Bono turned odd. There's a great write-up of the Gateshead Stadium festival here.
Alabama 3 at Brixton Academy London in 2001. I've seen Alabama 3 a few times but this was the first, and remains the best of their gigs, for me. The band were riding high after selling their song Woke Up This Morning as the theme tune to The Sopranos TV series (which I adore and have watched the box set more than, er, a few times). To celebrate their success, they threw everything and the kitchen sink at this gig. It was mad, bad, raucous and a great deal of fun. Every time I've seen them after that first time, they've never captured the same atmosphere. I was glad to have been there.
Ian Dury tribute concert, Brixton Academy London in 2000. A concert tinged with sadness of course, but a joyous tribute all the same. Included Blockheads songs covered by the likes of Robbie Williams, Reckless Eric, Chas and Dave, Madness, Mark Lamarr and Phill Jupitus, Tom Robinson and Kirsty MacColl, Mick Jones. Even the wonderful Kathy Burke sang Billericay Dickie. There's a good blog post about this gig here.
Alison Moyet in Los Angeles. Sadly I can't remember the venue but it was an intimate club, where I danced my socks off. I was living out there at the time, so can put the date between 1990-3 but apart from that I'm lost. Alison Moyet is the one music artist I've seen more than any other. Long may it continue.
INXS and The Soup Dragons in Las Vegas in 1991. This was an odd one, memorable for a couple of things, none of which was the music. Firstly, the venue was a show room in Las Vegas casino, Bally's Grand. Nothing unusual in that, a lot of gigs are held in Vegas. But because it was Vegas, the show started with dancing girls on the stage wearing nothing more than feathers, sequins and a smile. And INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence's girlfriend at the time was Kylie Minogue, whom he pulled on stage from the audience to sing.
Jimmy Cliff at Newcastle Riverside 2015. Not just a great singer, but some would say the man who brought reggae to the UK. A fantastic songwriter too, who composed many of the best selling ska and reggae hits. The man, the legend, the gig. There's a good write-up of it here.
And finally, the gig that started it all for me. It wasn't one of my first gigs - that would have been, the, er, Nolans at Sunderland Empire or, more reputation-saving, Blondie at Newcastle City Hall in 1980 when I was just 16 and my dad met my friend and I from the train when it arrived back in Sunderland. No, the gig that really kicked off my love of ska and reggae was seeing The Specials on stage at the Sunderland Mecca in 1979, a year I was still at school. I remember the pink and black mod dress and white winkle-picker shoes I bought specially from my Saturday Job money. And yes, 30 years later I saw them again in Brixton, London. I blogged about it here.
You might also like to read about the second-worst gig of my life.
And perhaps the worst gig too.
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