Like everyone who starts the year with good intentions, I began 2014 clearing out some drawers with a view to ridding the house of mountains of accumulated junk.
Within five minutes I’d stumbled across a handful of old ticket stubs and stopped what I was doing to talk about the gigs that these stubs were from.
A day earlier, on New Year’s Eve, I was at a party and mentioned to a friend that I’d booked my first festival tickets for the year ahead. Immediately someone I didn’t know had overheard but began a conversation because he’d just booked for a different festival.
It was apparent that live music has been a massively important thread of my life for the last 30-odd years.
Gig-going for me began in February 1980 when Madness appeared at the Liverpool Empire. Technically the Mo-dettes were therefore the first band I ever saw live since they were the support, but it wasn’t them me and two schoolfriends had gone to see.
With a stalls seat ticket in hand, and wearing a new button-down shirt purchased for the occasion, I got a lift from my dad into Liverpool and pitched up for what would become a massively eye-opening occasion.
From that moment I couldn’t get enough and was grateful to older friends for allowing me to tag along with them. They were mostly metal fans and while I preferred New Wave and Ska at the time, I didn’t mind as long as I was getting a live music fix.
My second and third gigs were The Stranglers and Rory Gallagher, but after that it becomes something of a blur.
I was lucky enough to see Prince’s Parade show, the Def Jam package tour and, on many occasions, The Smiths but, equally, I might as well have burnt the money it cost to see the likes of Texas and Kings of Leon – the latter leaving me distinctly underwhelmed around the time of their first album when I was practically bursting with excitement beforehand.
I’m going to use the tickets to feed the blog, so I won’t be claiming to have been at a secret Clash reunion or upstairs in a pub when Beyonce was trying out some new material.
Hopefully a few memories will be stirred for anyone who reads this about their own experiences.
Apparently I’ve been informed that I once travelled to Glastonbury Festival in 1986 just because Madness were on (headliners that year were The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, and Level 42), and then later I journeyed to Finsbury Park in 1992 to be at the first Madstock. But not 1980, what a year that was to see them for the first time. I wish it had been me, sir.