Sunday, May 15, 2011

For those about to rock, we pray for you.

Me, a few years before my first gig.
Originally published in ‘Lights Go Out’ issue 11, February 2011

Whenever folk talk about the first gig they went to it is assumed (by them) that they'll earn extra points if it was either a very obscure and musically challenging underground act, or if the first band they saw went on to become global megastars.  Now I certainly don't think I'm cool, but I could tell you with some truth that the first gig I ever went to was Blur at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in mid 1991.  It's certainly true that Blur had just released their second single 'There's No Other Way', and it's undeniable that they went on to a be global megastars, but it wouldn't be truthful of me to tell you that it really was my first ever gig.  You see, my first ever gig was really rather different to that early glimpse of four lads from Colchester who would go on to fame and riches...

I've never made any secret of the fact that I was raised Church of England, and when I say that I mean it in a quite literal sense.  The church that my parents dragged me to every Sunday was a village church and had a fairly robust large congregation of cheerful, friendly and supportive folk.  There were always loads of other kids around and it may be a cliché, but it really was like growing up with an enormous family.  At the time I couldn't understand why most of my friends at school didn't have two or three hundred aunties and uncles like I did.  I don't want to give you the impression that the church was anything like a cult, it was just a huge bunch of very friendly and supportive people, and one that I feel very lucky to have grown up with.

But life in a progressive modern happy clappy church didn't only involve sitting in a medieval building singing along to electric guitars, excitable drumming and watching people holding their hands in the air like they were waiting for someone to throw them an apple, oh no, sometimes we went to other places to hear electric guitars, excitable drumming and to watch people hold their hands in the air like they were waiting for someone to throw them an apple.  And sometimes these events were disguised as rock concerts.

The first gig I ever went to was at The Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe, to watch a band called 'White Harvest'.  Despite having (what in retrospect is) a name that makes them sound like a cross between the Countryside Alliance and the British National Party they were in fact a Christian rock band.  The only thing I can remember about the band was that the drummer was a very nice man from our church called Neville, and that the singer was wearing a Bacofoil jumpsuit.  I hated it, and not just the Bacofoil I hated everything about that gig. 

After much complaining (mine mostly) my dad aided my escape (so some of the complaining may have been his) and we went for a nice wander down Felixstowe promenade to have a look at the arcade machines in the recently opened Felixstowe leisure centre.  If you're the sort of person who likes facts you might be interested to know that this gig was in 1985, which means I was nine years old.

But as far as whether I think anyone's first gig is cool or not, well that's a bit subjective isn't it.  I can't say that anything would excite me more than someone telling me that the first gig they attended was in a pub, and if they told me that pub gig inspired them to pick up an instrument and start creating music of them own then I'd almost definitely think they're cool.

P.S I rang my dad to get the date that Felixstowe leisure centre opened and he denies all memory of this gig ever happening, but being the supporting type of lad that he is he told me not to let facts get in the way of a good story.