I miss gigs

I miss gigs. We all do, I’m sure. As people are getting vaccinated, it does feel like I might be able to see live music in the not too distant future. While I wait I have been thinking about some of my favorite shows. And the hijinks surrounding them. So gather round and I shall tell you some of my favourite tales from my early gig-going days. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers – 2004 – Hyde Park, London

It was near the end of the school year and I had a spanish GCSE exam. I remember rushing through it as quickly as possible so I could get out early. My mum picked me and a buddy up from school and we raced to London. We drove to London. And then when we were there we arrived just before James Brown hit the stage. It was already packed, and we rushed to find a spot. And we did get a good one. There was a group of shirtless stoners enjoying the sunshine that people had been giving a relatively wide-berth. Initially it raised my middle class mothers eyebrows. Cut to an hour later and we were all arms round each other shoulders singing along to By the Way. 

Kings of Leon – 2005 – Brighton Centre, Brighton

This show was a big deal. Not only was it one of the first without a parent hovering, there was also somewhere there who I was into. The gig itself was just off the back of their brilliant second album, and was a high energy show. And I did end up getting a snog by the end of the evening. It just was not from the person I was hoping. As Four Kicks sent the crowd into a bit of a frenzy, I was getting my mosh on. Someone went down. I grabbed him and got him to his feet. Before I knew it, to say thanks he gave me a big old smooch. This was not how I was expecting my first kiss to go!

The Maccabees – 2006 – Concorde 2, Brighton

Hometown heroes The Maccabees were returning to Brighton ahead of the release of their debut album Colour It In. It was all our college was talking about. A group of us drove to the show crammed into my friends Nissan Micra. The pre-show energy was maybe the most hype of any show I’ve been to. It felt electric. Looking around it felt like I knew at least half the faces in the audience. When they got up on stage it exploded. Considering the show was just a bunch of indie kids with guitars, folks were going absolutely ape. Security was completely overwhelmed as huge groups of people were kicked out for being too rowdy, only for them to swarm back in. At one point some people were literally hanging from the rafters (including my friend who came to Red Hot Chili Peppers with me). The Maccabees were subsequently banned from playing in Brighton for the next 18 months for “inciting a riot”, cementing the gigs local infamy.

The Cribs – 2008 – The Roundhouse, London

This one was a trip with the boys before folks disappeared off to university. A day of drinking in London. It felt like a last hurrah. We were all such indie kid wannabees. At one point some random bloke shouted ‘Here come the teletubbies’ as we walked past with our rainbow of plain colored tees and tight jeans. After spending most of the day in the pub, we headed off early to the venue so we could get some Red Stripes and a spot front and center. As you could probably expect from The Cribs it was a pretty lively gig. Towards the end of the show, Ryan Jarman ran and jumped in the crowd while playing guitar. He managed to aim right into the emptiest part of the mosh pit, where I was having a lovely old time. I tried to catch him, but he smashed straight into my face and I folded underneath him. Eventually folks managed to throw him back on top of the crowd. I was absolutely beaming afterwards; “I got a face full of Ryan’s back sweat!”. My knee hasn’t been the same since then. It was a fantastic gig though. 

Words by Matt Paul.

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