All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 124 – Little Boots, Thursday, November 26, 2015, XOYO

My first Little Boots gig, and the beginning of a new era in my gigging life.

In 2015, I turned 40, and life was not great. I was still trudging on with my PhD, and greatly looking forward to my thesis submission date in September when it would all be finished with – only to be told at the last minute that my thesis wasn’t good enough, and I had to take another year out of my life in order to make it better. Meanwhile my academic funding had run out, so I’d started a Research Coordinator job at Barts Hospital in the autumn, only to run away screaming two months later when my boss turned out to be a narcissistic toddler in a 30 year old’s body. And my health was, predictably, in a totally shambolic state. Worst of all, Doctor Who had gone a bit rubbish.

Clearly, a mid-life crisis was in order. And for me, that could only mean one thing: Time to get back into music in a Big Way, and start going to gigs again in earnest. And the first gig I went to after making this decision was this night of thrilling, inventive pop from Little Boots.

My first encounter with Little Boots came in 2009, when I’d spent a Friday night recovering from a gallstone attack watching her brilliant set on BBC’s Glastonbury coverage. Her debut album “Hands” was a soundtrack to that eventful year, and her second, “Nocturnes”, was one of the first CDs I bought in when I decided to start buying them again in 2013, along with Alison Moyet’s “The Minutes”. Now here in 2015, her stunning third album “Working Girl” had been the soundtrack to my return to office life after four years as a PhD student.

My glorious return to work had hit some hurdles as previously mentioned, and by the time of this gig I was between jobs, and feeling a little nervous at the prospect of this gig. It was my first in 16 months (a longer gap between gigs than even COVID forced upon me!), an entirely new artist and crowd to find myself in, and crucially, it was the beginning of me trying to properly return to my former love of live music. From my diary, a few days earlier:

‘I’m gigging this week after all! Even though I am feeling a bit apprehensive about that gig. It’s a venue I don’t know, in a nightclub, so it’ll be full of hardcore dance type people who will be all cool and hip and there I will be, standing scruffily in a corner with a JD & coke trying to look inconspicuous.’

However, by the time the day of the gig came I was feeling much more positive – ‘Anyway, I’m going to see Little Boots tonight and I can’t wait‘ – and so I strode out to Old Street to see what XOYO had to offer. I must admit, I did at first stand scruffily in the corner with a JD & coke as predicted, feeling highly perplexed as there didn’t seem to actually be a stage area. It wasn’t until I spotted a few other gig-goers disappearing down some stairs that I realised the gig was actually going to happen in the basement of the club.

My diary report of this gig is unfortunately once again extremely brief, but I do have a few actual memories: some spirited support sets from Salt Ashes and Tom Aspaul, both entirely new artists to me. And then, Little Boots herself and her backing band all done up in 80s style office blazer suits, running through as dazzling a selection of tunes as I’d seen six years previously on the Glastonbury footage. I particularly loved the commitment to the theme of the shoulder-pad adorned female working life of a lost era, and remember giggling at Victoria introducing her backup singer/keyboards ladies as being ‘on the photocopier’. And of course, I have the now-obligatory dodgy iPhone pic gallery to share:

A few days later, amid reports on how my search for a new job was going, I wrote my not very in-depth review of the gig:

‘Do you know what? I survived Little Boots! I am Gigging Queen once more! Possibly. It was great though.’

As ever, I wish I had more to go upon. But hopefully I will get the chance to see Little Boots again in the not too distant future, given as she’s currently in the process of creating her fourth album. And the most important thing about this gig, for me, is that I made it there despite all the stresses that life was offering me at the time. I wouldn’t fully get back into my gigging stride until the following May, but this night in November 2015 was a turning point: the first gig I’d attended in a decade with my youthful passion for music restored – if somewhat tentatively at first. There was no turning back now, and from this point on, nothing has mattered more to me than music.

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