All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 123 – Manic Street Preachers, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, Rough Trade East

The rejuvenation of my Manics fandom continued in 2014 – and then hit a slight hurdle.

Summer 2014, I was officially in a Manics Mood. The band had released an album which for me was their best in ten years, and I was excited to see them play live for the second time this year, after their triumphant April gig at Brixton Academy. From my diary, on the day of this gig:

‘I spent a lot of time yesterday listening to “Futurology” on Spotify in preparation and it is AMAZING and nudging at “Lifeblood”‘s top spot as my fave Manics album.’

So off I went to experience a Rough Trade gig and signing for the first time. I have to admit I was not in top form this drizzly Tuesday, having been plagued with dizzy spells all day, but I took some pills and battled on to east London. After some amount of wandering around cluelessly, I found the appropriate record store, and admired its hyper-hipster surrounds..

Rough Trade East was hidden in a trendy little alcove with food stalls promising “Meat Porn” and random monster statues about the place.

I picked up my CD and wristband just before 6.30 when the gig was due to begin, ‘so I was not too bothered to join the end of the rain-soaked queue. But we waited + waited and weren’t let in ’til after seven.

Once the damp crowd of Manics enthusiasts had been allowed into the shop, I found myself a spot by a counter I could lean on lest any dizzy spells resurface.

‘The band came on around quarter past. Woohoo! etc. It was not the greatest of atmospheres, being a shop and all, but the tunes did sound amazing – five from “Futurology” (I think “Let’s Go To War” was my fave) and five from “The Holy Bible”. ‘

Despite enjoying the tunes, it’s clear that I was not in the most gigtastic of moods that evening. Once the gig was over I made moves to leave, as I hadn’t planned on staying for the signing due to my dizziness.

But then I found myself near the front of the queue so I thought, why not?’

Oh, hindsight is a wonderful thing . Perhaps if I hadn’t stayed for the signing, my rekindled Manics fandom might have carried on growing rather than plummeting out of existence for another two years. Here is what occurred when I went to say hi to the boys.

‘We were told we had to be quick as things were running late, which was fair enough. This is what happened:

Me: (arrives at signing desk) Hello!
Manics: (staring to the side, engrossed in a conversation)
Sean: (signs CD booklet, passes to James without looking at me)
James: (doesn't notice, carries on chat, then realising it's there, signs)
(lull in Manics conversation)
Me: That was a brilliant show guys!
James: (still staring at whoever he's chatting to) Thank you very much (passes booklet to Nicky)
Nicky: (engrossed in conversation, signs CD booklet without looking at it, hands it to me without looking at me)
Me: Thank you!
Nicky: (still chatting away)

Hmmph. Could their chats with their mates not have waited til after the fans had gone? Seeing as time was so short, it’s a bit ridiculous that I actually would have got through quicker if they had actually just said a quick hello rather than staring off to the side and not paying attention to what they were doing. I did find myself thinking afterwards – hey, I’ve been buying your stuff for 21 years, you might at least look at me when I’m in front of you! Holding a CD of yours that I’ve bought! ‘

I know I was just unlucky, as a tiny bit of accidental video footage I took as I was leaving and attempting a last couple of snaps shows the boys in completely different mode to how I experienced them – smiling and chatting with the fan in front of them, not some mate of theirs to the side.

But I still felt it was a pretty shitty thing to do – treating a fan, who has bought your album and come to meet you and say hello, by ignoring them almost completely. I was most boggled by Nicky not even looking at the CD as he signed it. If not even looking at me while for one second I was standing in front of him is rude enough, not even looking at the CD is another level entirely.

‘Oh well. It didn’t upset me, not being all that invested in them these days, but had it been 10 or 15 years ago I might not have been very happy about it. Never mind.’

The thing is, had they made the slightest effort to, you know, look at me for half a second and maybe even say hello when I was stood in front of them, I might have found myself becoming more invested once again, instead of going home and thinking ‘was that worth it?’, and losing interest in the band for another couple of years. Thus missing out completely on the 20th anniversary tour for “The Holy Bible”, an album that I’d once considered my favourite of all time.

My interest didn’t completely die out – I did look into making a trip to Cardiff the following summer to see their THB show at the castle, but accommodation proved prohibitively expensive. It wasn’t until the “Everything Must Go” tour in 2016 that I decided to give them another chance, and properly fell in love with the band once again.

My previous brief encounters with the boys, after their Cardiff gig in 2002 and at the HMV signing in 2003, were much more positive events, so I know this was just bad luck on my part. Still, I guess it gives me a unique kind of fan experience. How many people can claim that they’ve been ignored by their favourite band?

My last glimpse of the Manics for another two years. Bye!

The CD, which I sold on eBay the following year. Rejoice in the haphazard scribble!

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