Know your NME

In common with many NME tours, in 2009 I deliberately chose not to watch one of the bands.

In previous years this had usually been an opening act which, in the case of The Coral, I would later regret, but when it was Starsailor and Coldplay I wouldn’t regret for a second.

One year I managed to miss everyone on the bill as when it came time to find the tickets for a show headlined by The Killers and also featuring The Futureheads, Bloc Party and the Kaiser Chiefs, they were nowhere to be found. An apologetic `I might have thrown that envelope out’ explained a lot.

I managed to miss Coldplay on the way up twice as I also had a ticket to see them co-headline a tour with one-album wonders Terris. When it was reported that Terris had cancelled for the show I had a ticket for, I didn’t go.

In 2009 it was Glasvegas topping the bill and I hadn’t been remotely enthused by their sub-Mary Chain efforts so got off early.

nme

Much more entertaining – and the biggest reason for buying the ticket – were Friendly Fires who rattled out some energetic, indie-dance and looked set for bigger things.

But of course they, and everyone else on the bill, were quickly eclipsed by that year’s opener Florence and the Machine who went on to be a festival-bestriding colossus within about 12 months. Watching her here, I can’t say I saw it coming.

They call it Madness

Like everyone who starts the year with good intentions, I began 2014 clearing out some drawers with a view to ridding the house of mountains of accumulated junk.

Within five minutes I’d stumbled across a handful of old ticket stubs and stopped what I was doing to talk about the gigs that these stubs were from.

A day earlier, on New Year’s Eve,  I was at a party and mentioned to a friend that I’d booked my first festival tickets for the year ahead. Immediately someone I didn’t know had overheard but began a conversation because he’d just booked for a different festival.

It was apparent that live music has been a massively important thread of my life for the last 30-odd years.

Gig-going for me began in February 1980 when Madness appeared at the Liverpool Empire. Technically the Mo-dettes were therefore the first band I ever saw live since they were the support, but it wasn’t them me and two schoolfriends had gone to see.

With a stalls seat ticket in hand, and wearing a new button-down shirt purchased for the occasion, I got a lift from my dad into Liverpool and pitched up for what would become a massively eye-opening occasion.

From that moment I couldn’t get enough and was grateful to older friends for allowing me to tag along with them. They were mostly metal fans and while I preferred New Wave and Ska at the time, I didn’t mind as long as I was getting a live music fix.

My second and third gigs were The Stranglers and Rory Gallagher, but after that it becomes something of a blur.

I was lucky enough to see Prince’s Parade show, the Def Jam package tour and, on many occasions, The Smiths but, equally, I might as well have burnt the money it cost to see the likes of Texas and Kings of Leon – the latter leaving me distinctly underwhelmed around the time of their first album when I was practically bursting with excitement beforehand.

I’m going to use the tickets to feed the blog, so I won’t be claiming to have been at a secret Clash reunion or upstairs in a pub when Beyonce was trying out some new material.

Hopefully a few memories will be stirred for anyone who reads this about their own experiences.