• JC

My Top Ten Gig 'Moments'

Sonisphere 2014

Everybody has a top ten gigs or top ten albums, but I wanted to trawl through my memory to come up with my top ten gig moments. Those moments at a live music event that make your hairs stand on end or your eyes well up. The moments that give you all the feels.

So here goes!

10. Richard Hawley at Lindi Ortega (21st Jan, 2014. The Harley, Sheffield)

I think I did the right thing here, but I will probably live to regret it for the rest of my living days. Having travelled to the gig on my own, I was a little nervous about standing there looking like a weird loner, even though Lindi Ortega herself had told my on Twitter that she "admires the lone wolf".

Anyway, I did it. I went straight to the bar for a pint of coke (I was driving obvs) and then found the ideal viewing spot. There I stood and watched the support bands, waiting for the main event.

Richard Hawley

Allow me to dramatise the next part. Imagine a scene from an old Western film, where the cowboy throws open the doors of a saloon and strides in. Well....it wasn't quite like that, but the doors of The Harley opened and in walked Richard Hawley, one of my heroes. Not only that, he stood within inches of me for the entire gig.

All the while the hero-worshipper in me wanted to ask for a photo, an autograph or at the very least a shake of the hand. But I resisted. I figured he was there on a night out as Richard the gig-goer and not Richard Hawley the genius songwriting machine. So I left it. I never said a word. Just looked on in admiration.

9. VirginMarys at Sonisphere (5th July, 2014. Knebworth)

At Sonisphere there was a tiny little stage way over yonder, called the Jagermeister stage. It was built to promote the rancid drink rather than promote the acts.

Anyway, I had heard ONE VirginMarys song and liked it, so thought I'd wander over and have a listen to them playing on this small stage.

Am I glad I did.....OMFG.....they absolutely blew me away. There were just three members of the band and the noise they created was IMMENSE!

Huge songs, huge stage presence and all played to a tiny audience. It's one of those gig experiences that I will never forget and I can honestly say they were better than any of the acts on the main stages for that entire weekend.

In a recurring theme to the Richard Hawley story, I saw the band members from The VirginMarys the next morning at breakfast.....and never said a word to them!

8. Drum Solo at Showaddywaddy (31st Jan, 1982. Hull New Theatre)

Shush! Stop laughing and judging - I see you!

Yep. My first ever gig was indeed Showaddywaddy at Hull New Theatre back in the crazy days of 1982.

I went with my dad as he was a fan! Again, SHUSH!! And he new the guy who did the sound at the theatre, so we probably got free tickets or something.

Anyway, I enjoyed my first experience from what I can remember. But the part that stands out the most is when the rest of the band left the stage, assumingly for a cup of tea (!) and left the drummer on stage to entertain the crowd.

What followed was a 15-minute drum solo that had my young jaw on the floor. I'd never heard anything like it and with the flashing lights it seemed like something from out of space to my tiny mind. Suffice to say it was one of the moments that got me so heavily in to music and one that I own an awful lot to.

7. Doves at Leeds Festival (24th August, 2003. Bramham Park)

As moments go this is arguably the most cliche and easily the most simple.

Back in the day Doves were one of the best festival bands on the scene and drew huge crowds ti hear their anthemic tunes. Most of their songs at that time were surely written with festivals in mind.

One of the songs 'Pounding' was something of a big hit back then and just as that song started to play on what had been a typically grey, wet weekend, the sunshine came out in all it's glory. It's hard to explain the feeling at that time as it was definitely a 'had to be there' moment which was shared by 30,000 people in a field in Leeds.

6. Paul McCartney with Bruce Springsteen (15th July, 2012. Hyde Park, London)

This has to be the most famous moment on this list, it was all over the news at the time.

It's memorable because of the confusion and anger that it caused at the time but also because of the two legends involved in it.

For those of you that don't know the story, Bruce Springsteen was coming towards the end of an incredible 3 hour set at Hyde Park which was the culmination of an incredible day of live music.

As now seems to be common practice for rock stars at huge gigs, he brought on another legend to close out the show. Step forward Mr Paul McCartney.

The final song of their mini-set was Twist and Shout which they belted out. That is until some do-gooder backstage manager decided they had passed the curfew and TURNED THE MICS OFF ON PAUL MCCARTNEY AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!

You can imagine the reaction from the crowd not least because neither of the legends knew their mics had been turned off and could be seen continuing to belt out the song.

5. Perfect Sense at Roger Waters (12th May, 2011. O2 Arena, London)

To properly understand this moment you have to know the song. Without knowing it it's difficult to experience the feeling. But I'll try.

Before I do though it's important to point out that this was the first (not the last) time I had seen any Pink Floyd member, so it was already a very special occasion for me.

Going in to the gig I had listened to Pink Floyd and Roger Waters' solo stuff pretty much on repeat for months before. In The Flesh is easily my favourite album by Waters so I was hoping that he would play some from it - and he did.

Perfect Sense has a long close-out that has a crowd already embedded in the track, so when you couple that with the actual live audience singing along you can imagine the chills it sends down the spine.

I know the stadium gigs aren't for everyone but this was special. A real moment in time and one that will live long in my memory. I hope.

4. Charlie Brown at Coldplay (1st June, 2012. Etihad Stadium, Manchester)

Again, a really difficult one to describe the emotion and the feeling at the moment this happened, but as before I will try.

It's important to remember that this gig was BEFORE everybody knew about the Coldplay wristbands so very few people knew what was about to happen.

Upon entering the gig area through the stadium entrance I exchanged my ticket for a wristband. Sure, the wristband was bulkier than usual but I just thought it was like a souvenir or some quirky Chris Martin thing. Never dwelt on it.

Having endured Marina and the Diamonds who were the support act on that day, I was more than ready for Coldplay to take to the stage. The lights fell dark, the entrance music started and the band bounced on to the stage to start their set.

Excitement was already at fever pitch when the first few notes of Charlie Brown started and the crowd erupted. It was just a few bars in to the song when all of a sudden every single member of the crowd's wrists lit up with a magnificence of colours. The wristbands pulsated to the beat and changed colour to the mood.

The sight of people looking at each other in awe having never seen anything like it was incredible. I was hugging the people around me as the moment took me over. It was just one of the most incredible live music experiences of my life - one that I doubt will ever be beaten.

3. Chris Isaak at Wolverhampton (1st July, 1993. Wolverhampton Civic Hall)

Context; I was introduced to the music of Chris Isaak shortly after my dad passed away and so he instantly became an important part of my life, and still is to this day.

Back in the early 90's I was working in a small video shop in my home village for a lady that loved Chris Isaak. She played him all the time in the shop and so I grew to love him too. He rarely travelled to the UK in those days and so when he announced a tour here, Linda (the video shop owner) jumped at the chance to get tickets.

She didn't have anybody to go with and so asked me, as she knew that I liked his music. I was hesitant at first as it meant travelling a long way with somebody who I knew, but only as a colleague/boss.

I'm so glad that I did as it was incredible, memorable and overwhelming.

It started brilliant and got better. His support was an amazing American singer/songwriter Shaun Colvin who after her set came in to the crowd as she too was eager to watch Chris Isaak.

He took to the stage in a bright blue suit and went through his huge catalogue of incredible tunes, interspersing it with hilarious chatter. The second half he changed in to his legendary mirrored suit and continued to wow me and the rest of the crowd.

It. Was. Awesome.

2. Prince at The O2 (1st Sept, 2007. The O2 Arena, London)

This is a moment that was special purely and simply because it was Prince. Even though I was up in the Gods, the whole event was memorable.

I couldn't see much, at times I couldn't really hear much either, but it was Prince. I was in the same room as Prince.

Prince. THE Prince.

1. Electric Six at Leeds (23rd August, 2003. Bramham Park)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's some poor lad who has just been picked up by his ankles and thrown across and over-exuberant crowd in a tent at Leeds Festival.

Danger! Danger! High Voltage! was the breakout track from Electric Six and the vast majority of the people in the tent at this time had come to hear that song. So when it came on the place started bouncing.

One young man got so carried away that he was trying to jump on people's shoulders to get a better view and to just enjoy the moment even more. A kindly man stood just behind him decided to offer a helping hand.

He literally grabbed the lad by his ankles and in one move threw him forward. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he flew through the air and over people's heads. So either the guy that chucked him was super-human or the lad was as light as a feather, but whatever happened it was a sight to behold.

The young man in question was fine by the way, and found it hilarious.

And a couple of #awkward moments!

1. Metallica and the wine!

I'll keep this brief.

Earls Court, Metallica gig. I was sat up in the Gods. They ran out of beer midway through. I ordered a PINT OF WINE. I got drunk.

People started throwing beer, like they do. I threw a quarter of a cup of wine. I got funny looks. I sat down and gave myself a talking to. The end.

2. The Automatic and the ceiling tiles!

I'll also keep this brief.

The Automatic. Hull University. They were rubbish. I was bored. I got drunk.

I decided to remove the ceiling tiles. I placed ceiling tiles on the floor to create a makeshift dance floor.

The bouncers chucked me out. I was relieved. The end.

#richardhawley #LindiOrtega #TheHarley #Sonisphere #Showaddywaddy #HullNewTheatre #LeedsFestival #Doves #PaulMcCartney #BruceSpringsteen #HydePark #PinkFloyd #RogerWaters #O2Arena #Coldplay #ChrisIsaak #Prince #ElectricSix