OK…this is going to prove controversial so have your righteous indignation at the ready. For quite a long time I haven’t really liked going to rock festivals. In all honesty I haven’t really haven’t liked going to any kind of gigs at all.
I thought about this as I watched these poor deluded thousands who convinced themselves they were having a good time at Glastonbury. It’s not just festivals though, it’s so many live events. I know what you’re saying – I shouldn’t be saying this – but I’m afraid it’s true. I have to go to more gigs than I really would care for. Often it’s to see acts that I may or may not end up working with. occasionally I’ll see something remarkable but very often it’s roughly what I’d half expected it would be and very very often I know I’ve missed two good hours when I could have been watching re runs of Bilko.
As I write this an email has just popped into my in box inviting me to a a gig by an artist I admire a lot. Will I go? Will I cocoa. It’s in Edinburgh. It involves travel and parking and not having a drink as I have to drive and if I do have a drink I have to queue at a bar and I know very well (as my pal Gary Clark once correctly observed) there is a very nice rider in the dressing room which I am not getting access to. If you think this is being a little over fastidious you should know that I’ve been quoted I wouldn’t go to see David Bowie (an artist I hold in the highest of esteem) if he were playing free in the park across the road if there was something decent on the telly.
People often say to me to tell them if we’re doing a gig near their town. I never do. If you phoned me to tell me you were doing a gig in my town I’d be most annoyed. Going to gigs I want to go to is difficult enough. I’m not going to start going to gigs I don’t want to attend. Some naive person recently emailed me to encourage me to see his offspring playing…..I think not me old mate.
Why do you say all this, Rick old pal, I hear you mutter. You who likes Jonny Punter to shell out his hard earned drinking vouchers to buy tickets to see your own beloved rock n soul gatherings. It’s because I’m experiencing that nagging thing that got old St Paul into all sorts of soup – a conversion. Not, you understand, an undiluted desire to get my soles sticky in Nice n Sleazy, but definitely a stirring in the old shoes to move out of the door.
It happened a few months ago when I decided to go to see Kris Kristofferson. I realised that a) he was one of the greatest living song writers and b) There are gigs which can totally change your mind about everything you ever thought you knew.
So I am thinking – against all my better judgement – of going to T in the Park? Am I mad? Probably, but for once there are one or two acts I really want to see and doing the radio show every night means I now can’t see something even if I desperately want to. I really would like to see Al Green, but what’s the point if I have to leave early? The other reason I’m going to T in the Park (or thinking about it…I’ll probably change my mind) is I can take my daughter who is keen to go. My brother in law and I are planning to take the weans who will go off to see some ghastly band or other while we have a quiet beer and get ready for Brian Wilson.
Going to see Sir Brian made me review my line about gigs. He’s 65 now so I can’t imagine he’s going to be touring too much more so I think I need to make a bit of an effort. His show (and his brilliant band) are the main thing that made me change my mind. So when I look at the list of acts on at T in the Park I also note that Rufus Wainwright is playing and so are Arcade Fire……wait a minute this festival thing is good, you can see a lot of acts all in the one day. I know, I’m getting carried away again. I’ll let you know if I ever make it
I think you have to be very selective about gigs these days. I mean the last gig I saw was last month – Maria McKee in Dublin. It was an exceptional performance. Her voice has never been better, she was so relaxed and her band were really cool and generous with their time after the show. Maria responded to the enthusiastic crowd of her one time home town and the vibe was terrific.
I’m off to London for a few days soon and Lou Reed is playing Hammersmith Apollo. He’s playing his Berlin album and I’d love to see him live for the first time. It’s £70 quid though. Recently Elton John and Springsteen were in Belfast at roughly the same price. I just can’t justify spending that kind of money for a gig. If you buy the CD, tour shirt, program etc you’re talking £100. These millionaire stars are setting a bad example for new artists. I was so impressed that Pink was only £25 and puts on a stunning live show every time.
I think I’ll make my next gig Dean Friedman at a modest £15. Should be a beautiful night in The Empire, Belfast…
Festivals have never really attracted me, and barring a very small number of exceptions (U2, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Placebo and Muse the only ones that stand out) I write off the notion of attending the big arena-style shows too.
I suppose your own perspective is shaped by your experiences on the other side of the microphone, Ricky, but for me the best gigs and those I’ll still make time for are the smaller, more intimate ones. Maybe I’m getting all middle-aged about such things, but it’s the opportunity to connect with an artist and listen to him, her or them talk about their craft that really engages me. Well… that and no queues at the bar.
I attended many festivals when I was younger and I found the only thing that could alleviate the misery of the experience was class A drugs.
Think yourself lucky. I live in a major city in the US where no good bands want to come. I was overjoyed to hear that Travis were coming soon. I can exercise my desire to go to a decent gig and my Scottish nostalgia all at once.
I did go to T a couple of times. I stopped after I woke up with my head in a pillow as we had pitched our tent on a slop and it bucketed down with rain. Somewhere amid the insanity, my mind said, “Enough’s enough.” Later that day, I bought a hat for some ridiculous price and ran down the front to watch Idlewild. Needless to say, my brand new rubbish-yet-expensive hat was knocked off within 30 seconds.
Still, Brian Wilson at the the Armadillo was as close to church that I’ve come outside of church. People were literally worshipping at his feet. It was a great show, especially when the band all switch instruments between songs and sound just as good! Have a good time!
I mean to say puddle. I woke up with my head in a puddle! A head in a pillow would have been quite pleasant!!!!
It’s called “The older you get, the less you’re willing to endure” syndrome. I suffer from it as well.
Nice to hear your comments Ricky and quite amazed what you say about going to gigs.
For myself , I go to gigs for the experience and I have done quite few Gigs in my time from M Jackson to some Scottish bloke playing in the tramway in Glasgow doing his first solo gig which was totally amazing and the most emotional gig that I have been to.
I still attend the odd Gig now and again with the likes of Faithless been my Last Gig and a 3 day festival coming up in Cumbria (solfest).
There isn’t many groups that I want to see these days, But really into Zero 7 who I have yet to see.
These days its really expensive going to Gigs and I know that this is where most of the profits come from for any Artist.
I am not sure what will happen in the future with gigs and festivals, These days you pay your money not knowing who is playing at festivals and the tickets sell out in hours. What next!!! having to book for T in the Park two years in advance unless your Mr Ross who must have tickets and cant decided if to go 😉 (Spare tickets wanted)
Crabbit old thing that I am, I’m a bit hesitant on gigs now, indoor or out. You either get a pint of beer thrown in your hair or you get pushed or assaulted by some binge drinking idiot. You have to leave half an hour before the gig ends so you’re not on the dreaded last train of the night with the local Young Team. And the person you made plans to meet up with from the band’s message board turns out to have three photo albums in tow packed with photos of the lead singer with hearts drawn around his head.
Rock and roll…allo Cleveland!
Heather , I dont think it will have been Beer!!! My mate goes to all the festivals and its common that they just P in a glass and throw it !!!!
I was at the Red hot chillies gig at Manchester and apart from Coins being thrown around and certain rubber things blown up, It was one of the scariest moments of my life , the chillies peppers came on stage and everyone one rushed forward and i and 20 others ended up on the ground and i expected them to stop the gig but carried on , it was a few minutes by the time everyone was rescued from the ground and lucky no one was killed, But it gave me a fright and i ended up going to the back of the football ground where there was no pushing.
High point of the Gig was James Brown was supporting
There is an answer to the lethargy you are suffering. You can go to gigs and hear great musicians everyday. You do not need to leave the house. You do not even need to leave your chair.
Venue owners are supporting hundreds of musicians by giving them gigs every night playing great original music and the best pick of cover versions. Venues do not charge admission and promoters do it for the love. Where does such a musical utopian model exist I hear you ask?
Log on to http://www.secondlife.com and you will find a community of live music enthusiasts spanning the whole world over and in every genre. It is only a matter of time before a second life artist gets wider recognition. I hope it is going to be me, Djai Skjellerup, but there are many other musicians there who deserve a listen. I play live in my home and I stream the music directly into a venue in SecondLife over my internet connection. You log on to SecondLife, go to the venue and listen all for free….although you can tip if you feel like it 🙂
I play there often and I am also a listener so I now have no excuse when it comes to listening to live music. Oh then again…there is one problem. My wife is giving birth to twins on Thursday :-). An event like this would usually end the career of a jobbing musician. For me it means a couple of nights off and then making sure I do not wake them up when I play!
Think about it. When did you last go to a gig in your pyjamas?
I was glad last week that i made the effort to go and see a friend play as part of the West End Festival. I’ve seen Yvonne Lyon do tonnes of gigs since she started at playing in the cafe of one of Glasgow’s Christian bookshops eight or nine years ago. Despite 2 great self-penned and self-financed albums and even becoming a friend of the Iain Anderson Show her audience hasn’t grown that much since she started out (at least if you do a head count at gigs compared with the coffe shop days). Anyway, partly out of a sense of duty to a friend, and partly out of curiosity to hear the songs from her new album I went along. I assumed there wouldn’t be much of a crowd in the Brel in Ashton Lane and arrived to find it was standing room only, and i was gonna be be back row with a cheese plant hovering over my head for most of the night. That would teach me to be blaise about attending or getting there early. The place was baking hot with around one hundred people crammed into what was basically a pub conservatory on a rare balmy Glasgow summer evening. Consequently I had almost zero visibility of anyone on stage unless someone in front shuffled their feet for a moment but it mattered not a bit. The new songs all sounded promising and the old ones still sounded fresh with Yvonne’s husband DL switching instruments to accompany her on guitar, piano and accordion. It was a reminder of how great live music can be despite the seating (or standing) arrangements. With just two instruments and voices on each song they hit home with a greater power and clarity than the studio productions with the fuller arrangements. The set climaxed with the small crowd engaging in a passionate singalong version of “Down To The Water To Pray”. I came away, spirit lifted, and inspired by Yvonne’s music and performance again and wondering if some kind of commercial breakthrough is just round the corner for her. Truly, it was one of those nights when you feel that something is happening or just about to happen for someone who has long deserved wider recognition than they’ve so far achieved. I’d get shot if i signed out without mentioning it was great to see a number of old pals there from the days when i was in a youth group rather than being a youth worker.
Another solution to the problem of not wanting to leave the house to go out to a gig is hosting a living room gig which sounds ridiculous but i have spotted that Lies Damned Lies and James Grant are now both advertising they do living room gigs and tours on their respective myspace pages
Thanks for the mention on tonight’s show Ricky regarding my newborns. Coby first at 6lbs 4oz and Addy next at 7lbs 11oz. A combined 14lbs worth of twin boys. I am building a music studio at the end of the garden as a retreat…..