My Life Story at the Astoria at Christmastime should have been a joyous festive occasion. But all was not well in the world of Scruffy.
“Well it’s not like I’m going to get to sleep with the security party raging drunkenly down below. My Life Story then. They were great.”
From the first words of my diary entry for this gig, it’s clear that something was wrong. Where was the elation and joy I usually splattered onto the page upon returning home from seeing one of my favourite bands? But something was, indeed, very wrong. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but I was sinking into a very deep depression that still blackens my memory of this period of my life. So apologies to anyone coming here for my usual excited details about the gleeful minutiae of my 90s gigs, as my diary entries for this and the next couple of gigs are very much tainted by the dark mood I found myself in at the time.
I’d lived a largely solitary life throughout 1997, and had been quite happy with it. I had the radio to listen to, playing song after song by my favourite bands in that wonderful golden era of music. And I had their gigs to go to, the one thing I’d longed for all through my teenage years in Perth. But suddenly that wasn’t enough, and I found myself wanting to become normal, to stop being the gig-obsessed misfit and loner, and to fit in, and make friends.
So this was the mindset in which I trudged to the Astoria on that Friday in December. And it shows in my very lacklustre diary report. But I tried.
“They did lots of new songs, one in particular that sounded fab in a sort of greenly fresh way (tho maybe that was just the lights) was “The New New Yorker”. “I like America but I fucking hate Americans!” proclaimed Jake. There were the odd explosions at the front of the stage, and during “Sparkle” several rather literal crowd members waved sparklers about. The most storming moments were “Strumpet” and especially “12 Reasons Why”, which closed the pre-encore bit.”
The signs of depression, in hindsight, are achingly clear in this diary entry. All of a sudden, I’d lost interest in what I loved most – seeing my favourite bands live – and all the colour had sapped from my world.
“I know it was a great gig. But I recall it in monochrome. I grinned and sang along, to be sure, but it was going thru the motions more often than not. I’ve just been down the front at the Astoria to see one of my favourite bands and I feel nothing. It’s worse than I thought.”
In fact, it seemed to me at the time that the whole problem was deeply connected to my gigging life:
“Actually it comes down to one thing and one thing only: I’m sick of doing things on my own. Going to gigs, the bands are no longer company enough. This is very very new. I guess my year’s up, my year of living out my fantasy teenhood. Or maybe it’s just Christmas. I’m just at a loss really.”
It’s painful to read this now, when just a few months earlier I’d been careering round the country to scream at Mansun and the Manics and all the bands I loved, revelling in it, living for it. If only I could have clung onto that joy for a few months longer. But it was a dark time, and the beginning of the worst few months of my life.
“This must be the most pathetic gig review I’ve ever written. MLS were wonderful but I was fairly substandard. Oh well, just Blur/SFA to go and I can forget about gigs til Feb.”
The good news is, despite the despondency I was feeling at the time of this gig, I did eventually rediscover my love of music, gigs and life in general. In fact, a little of it crept back into my life the very next night, when I went to see Blur and the Super Furry Animals at the Brixton Academy. But that’s a story for my next post.