In June 1997 the Pet Shop Boys unveiled “Somewhere”, a three week residency at the Savoy Theatre. So of course I went along to see them!
A very very late report on a very very wonderful gig.
There’s so much I should be blogging about right now. The amazing gig from the Manics and the Anchoress at the Royal Festival Hall last Tuesday! The next instalment of All The Gigs Of My Life – Pet Shop Boys at the Savoy in June 1997! Today’s questionable decision to include video streams in the official charts! But all this will have to wait, as I’m preparing for my first home move in 11 and a half years this coming weekend, and I am knee deep in chaos. Normal service will be resumed in July, assuming I can figure out what normal service is. Til then, here’s my favourite song about moving.
I’ve been away from the gigging life for a few months due to ill health, but last night, I was BACK! It may have been a half hour acoustic set in a cramped and stuffy record store, but it was still a gig, and much more importantly, it was a gig by the amazing Paul Draper.
Happy 50th birthday to this incredible icon.
Kylie’s music has been a part of my life since I became a music fan in the late 80s. I must confess that at the time, I didn’t quite appreciate her wonderfulness. It pains me to admit that I was a massive music snob back then, but my excuse is I was 14 and didn’t know any better. But I grew out of that, thankfully, and by the time “Confide In Me” came out, I was an avid fan.
Exactly 21 years ago today, I went to my very first gig at the Manchester Arena. It was a truly monumental night, with my two favourite bands in the world on the same bill: Manic Street Preachers and Mansun.
It is one year since the terrorist bombing at the Manchester Arena, at the close of a concert by Ariana Grande. Twenty two people were killed, and over 800 injured. 2017 was a horrible year for terrorist attacks in the UK, and while I was lucky not to be involved in any, this one hit me much harder than the others. Like many people, I woke to the news the following morning. I also had an email from my mum in Canada, who just wanted to check that her gig-obsessed daughter hadn’t been at that particular gig. I was a tearful, nauseous, anxious wreck at work that day, and took advantage of a quiet workload to book the rest of the week off. I just couldn’t face the world for a while.
The loss of life from any terrorist attack is hard to bear, but this time, with so many young people involved, the pain was doubly sharp. It felt personal to me on many levels. I’d just been at the Manchester Arena three months previously to see the Pet Shop Boys in February 2017, and the attack occurred only two days away from the 20th anniversary of my first gig at that Arena, the Manic Street Preachers on the 24th of May 1997. This attack targeted people like me: music lovers, gig-goers, and more particularly, women and girls celebrating their individuality, their freedom, their joy of life, all through their love for music.
On top of the devastating loss of so many lives, I felt certain that the survivors of the attack would be so traumatised that they’d never be able to go to a gig again. Those young girls who found joy and expression and connection and affirmation in pop music would now connect it only with images of terror and death. But I was wrong: less than two weeks later, we saw many of those girls and young women smiling, dancing and singing at the Emirates Stadium, and it was all thanks to the remarkable young woman that is Ariana Grande. I don’t think anyone would have blamed her if she’d gone home to rest and recuperate amongst her family and loved ones, and not returned to the UK for a long time. But by coming back to Manchester so swiftly, and staging the One Love concert for all the fans who’d been at her show, she did so much to help heal the wound inflicted by the bomber. Given that I was a barely functioning human at her age, I am in awe that such a young person could have so much dignity, compassion and strength of character. My respect and admiration for her is huge.
So today I’m thinking about the 22 people who lost their lives a year ago, and the many more who were injured or traumatised by that horrible event. And I’m also celebrating the joy of music and of going to gigs, which remains undimmed despite the efforts of those who would shut us down, silence and subdue us. And I’m saluting the amazing woman that is Ariana Grande, whose wonderful, uplifting new single “No Tears Left To Cry” currently sits like a glittering diamond in a Top 5 full of coal.
All my love to Manchester.
Having just seen Placebo at the Brixton Academy the night before, I arrived in Manchester on a sunny Friday morning in May ’97 to find they had followed me there. So what else could I do but go again? However, I got a lot more than I expected that night.
UPDATE! As of 18th July 2018, Suede are now allowing resell of tickets through Twickets. This is brilliant news for me and for other fans who for whatever reason may not be able to make a gig when the day comes, no matter how much we want to go. I think it’s a little shameful that it took more than two months after the tickets went on sale for them to make this announcement, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. However, I won’t edit the rest of the post, as my attitude towards gig ID policies still stands. Original post from May 2018 after the cut.
Here’s a song I wrote in 1992, when I was 17. I was heavily into the shoegazing indie bands of the time – Ride, Lush, Curve – and this was my attempt to write a shoegazing song on the piano. Lyrically, I think I was trying to say something about the apathy of my generation – simultaneously distracted and guided by pretty ephemera, with no major cause to unite behind. Thankfully, the young people of today seem much more engaged in the the world than we Gen X-ers were in the early 90s.
Recorded this year on Garageband. If only I’d had Garageband in 1992.