The best gig ever

February 5, 2009

It’s difficult to say for certain what the best gig you ever went to was. There are so many variables. Who you were with; were you pissed/on drugs/both. Did you snog somebody. Its especially hard when, like I did, you went to so damn many.

My halcyon gig-going days were 1980-1990 – from when I was old enough to when I discovered dance music. In those ten years I must have seen hundreds of bands. And had so many memorable nights. New Order in Heaven; The Birthday Party at the Electric Ballroom; The Bhundu Boys at the Sir George Robey; That Petrol Emotion at the Sir George Robey: Crass in a garage in Camden; James at the Town and Country Club – the night everyone took to the stage; A Certain Ratio at Middlesex Poly; New Order (again) at PCL; New Order (again) at the Royal Festival Hall; Psychic TV at Dingwalls; The Dead Kennedys at Brixton Ace; Pulp at the Garage; Pavement and Sonic Youth at the Academy; One Dove at the Camden Castle. Bjork, Nick Cave, The Fall, PIL, Primal Scream, The Woodentops, Stump, Age of Chance, Cath Carroll, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Sisters of Mercy, Underworld, Orbital.  So many great, great nights.

BUT, if I had to choose the one that sticks in the memory most, the one which still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up at the thought of it. The one that if I could have just one of those many many nights again, it would be the one I’d choose. It would have to be THE GUN CLUB at Dingwalls, winter 1984.

Why. Maybe because of the surprise. I’d seen them a few months before at the Lyceum and they were awful – finishing with a version of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme that seemed to last for days.

Why. Because The Fire of Love still has to be the most exciting debut album ever. Sex Beat, She’s Like Heroin to Me; For the Love of Ivy; Ghost on the Highway; Jack on Fire. They played them all that night like a band possessed.

Why. Maybe  because they knew this was going to be their last ever gig.

Why. Because Jeffrey Lee Pierce was the coolest and most  beautiful frontman alive – the bastard son of Marlon Brando and Debbie Harry

 It was one of those rare nights when the audience and band commune as one. We were wild. They were wild – I’m sure I didn’t imagine seeing Kid Congo hanging upside down from the rafters still playing his guitar. 

I think I bought the bootleg tape – desperate to relive the experience. I never played it – frightened I would break the voodoo spell the night cast. I can’t, even now, bring myself to watch them on YouTube. For once I’d prefer to leave the memory intact.



Jeffrey Lee Pierce – R.I.P.


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