Most people here have been to lots of shows. Which ones does your brain suggest when I ask about the best ones? Why do you think it’s those and not all the others? Might you have forgetten better ones? Is it a memory of one moment or the whole night? A feeling? A thought?
Off the back of a detailed, thorough, bloated post about performance and a few new tour dates, I was wondering… what are your favourite gig memories and why?
Sticking to a top 3 might provide a little focus. I’ll start us off.
Memories fade and favourites are always ever-changing. Gigs for me are not only about an amazing show but also represent a moment in time in my life and how I was feeling . So I guess my favourite gigs where when I was at my happiest.
Thin Lizzy . Was my first real gig and started my addiction to live music , Being jammed against the front of what seem like an 8 foot stage while being crushed for almost 2 hours may not seem like a top night for everyone ...but for me as a kid I'd just found my 1st love in live music that night .
Another Glasgow gig but at least 35 years on was in a small room in an art deco building on Sauchiehall St. A night with none other than yours truly " Jake Morley " .
I took 3 friends this time , not something I often do as I'm always on edge as too how other people are enjoying the night but this night I shouldn't have worried.
What a crazy room. I seem to recall a few sofas, big soft chairs and it being lite by a few candles . So badly light my phone videos of a couple songs just show a barefooted shadow of a musician singing and playing his heart out to around 20 folk in this tiny room . What an amazing night . I think you spoke to us all and I'm sure we all felt like it was our own personal gig.
We still talk about it to this day . After the show you caught the midnight bus back to London.
Some effort jake .
I'm glad I can now say thank you .
Last one and I.l try make it short.
OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW
Anyone reading this If you want to see a live band who love what they do , mix it up and take you on a rollercoaster of a musical night then try catch old crow .
At one show which is up there in my all time favourites the support act where late through no fault of there own . They only got to play 2 numbers before having to head of stage so old crow pulled them on for the last 30 min of their set and let them jam with them and almost make it up as they went along . What a night .
That venue is now sadly burnt down (the ABC) but that and many other nights will always be remembered fondly .
Till Coatbridge Jake as us bikers up here say " keep it shinny up "
- Your gig at Bush Hall because of Inside My Mind on the piano in the crowd.
- Seeing Mogwai in Oxford having heard none of their music. The combination of lights, sound and the crowd felt psychedelic.
- The Prodigy supported by the Chemical Bros at Brixton Academy. A late night party where I was dancing on the stage with the Prodigy.
- Catherine Wheel upstairs in the Scream pub in Oxford: great music and energy in the crowd.
- Carmina Burana with a big choir at Oxford Town Hall: we liked reading the lyrics while they sang.
My list is a mix of favourites and most influential, but this was still pretty tricky!
Send More Paramedics, Islington Bar Academy in 2006
It was my first metal show, I went with a bunch of friends and we had an absolute riot at the front of the stage. This is where I learned that glasses, curly hair and moshing don’t mix, but gigs can be -so much fun-
The Gaslight Anthem- Rough Trade East and ULU in 2008.
Cheating slightly and combining these two almost back to back shows into one. They’re my favourite shows I’ve ever been to. The days are etched in my memory so clearly. I wrote a ramble about why, but I’ll save that for another day (or another comment!).
And Frank Turner shows are my happy place so… I’m cheating again (sorry, Jake!) and grouping every one I’ve been to from the last 13 years into my final point.
I still keep a spreadsheet of all the shows I’ve been to, does anyone else?😅
It's always such a hard question, especially since 2004-2016 my partner went to loads of gigs, especially in Glasgow where the atmosphere at live gigs is terrific.
However I'm going to go for :
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells II at the Royal Albert Hall 1994
My first visit to the venue and my Grandfather helped design the acoustic domes in the ceiling so that was special. But my what a show. Cranberries acoustic supporting, not much liked on the night but I thought they were good. We'd seen the signs for the Highland Pipers dressing room so that surprise was revealed, however the sound and sight of them walking out of both wings towards the stage is an image I'll never forget, also I LOVE the sound of the Pipes.
But for me the moment the Steel Bells were revealed and Mike hit it with a hammer, that noise and more importantly the vibration through the floors to the seats is the closes I've ever come to a religious experience and it still makes me tear up thinking about how amazing it was.
I think it was night 2 of 4 and we tried everything to get tickets for another show but alas it wasn't to be.
2. Queen 1981 Berlin. My 2nd gig aged 10 and at a huge outdoor amphitheatre. I don't remember a huge amount but I saw Queen IMHO at their peak and I'm so grateful I did. Although I stupidly declined aged 9 to go to an indoor one in Berlin the year before!
3. I could pick from loads but probably the first time I saw Goldie Lookin' Chain at King Tuts in Glasgow, a fantastic venue, small, cramped, hot and friendly. It was just the whole event for me, I've never come out of a gig with my cheeks so sore from smiling and laughing the whole evening. Was such a fun gig. I've seen them about 4 times since but nothing beats that first one.
Honourable mentioned to The Stones at Wembley, Steel Wheels tour, Bill's last and being so close to Keith for the Jack Flash riff part of the encore.
Mark Ronson in Glasgow, another really fun gig and way better than what I expected. A great DJ sset from Mark then him and the band. Just a really good show.
PWEI in Birmingham , so pleased they reformed with Clint for this tour. Was bloody wonderful despite the very stressful drive into Birmingham to see the gig, only train since then!
Adam Ant book reading / acoustic in Bloomsbury - Just never thought I'd ever see him perform having missed the chances until that point.
Kate Bush - As above, never thought she'd do anything live again.
With a common theme of 'what, you can do that?!?!?':
Clive Carroll at the Bath Spa University Student Union in 2009. I was on a residential guitar course, surrounded by fellow guitar nerds (yes!), and had a very limited understanding of what it was possible to achieve with an acoustic guitar. A big thank you to Clive for fixing this in the most wonderful, memorable way. Classically trained, heavily folk-influenced, occupies a really unique space and I still haven't heard anything quite like it. Happy times.
Wayne Krantz, Ronnie Scott's 2012. Another guitar nerd pick, this guy plays heavily improvised heavy-grooving something somewhere between rock and jazz (but it's not fusion!). I think it was his first time playing with the drummer, and my friend loved when Wayne dropped into some unfamiliar rhythm, the bassist and the drummer played back and forth a bit to teach the drummer how to join in on the fly, and then they just blasted on, all without actually missing a beat. I've been to better shows of his since, but this is the first time I got to hear it live, and it was further enhanced by being my first time at Ronnie Scott's.
Muse at Reading Festival 2011. Ok I know this is cliché but give me a break! This was amazing for so many reasons. I somehow managed to get to this show not really knowing their music, I had just seen Frank Turner play the Lock Up Stage (which narrowly missed making this list), they played Origin of Symmetry from start to finish. What am I supposed to do, pretend I'm too cool to have been blown away? I remember this really amazing eerie drifting sound of tens of thousands of other teenagers in a field singing all these dystopian lyrics, not my typical preferred singalong style but it was nuts in the best way.
A top 3 is not enough, among other things I've had to leave out the Berlin Philharmonic (maybe not a 'gig' though) and some singer-songwriter playing to a tiny room full of my friends in Oxford. Picking this three is actually pretty arbitrary (except maybe the Muse one), but at least they stick to a theme. The theme is basically new experiences so I guess I'll have fewer experiences like these in future, but maybe that's life.
Glastonbury used to be for me the mecca of all great musical experiences.. what a great way to see all the bands you were interested in, in one place, in a single weekend. If the crowd really got behind an act (famously making Robbie Williams solo career I think, when he made one comment that endeared him to about 40,000 people all at once) the feeling of shared experience was awesome. I last went in 2008, and it changed so much between 97 and then.. I would not go now. Other great memory was of Kula Shaker in the Eric Centre in Torquay... they kept the crowd waiting a bit before coming on.. at the height of their fame I'd say... this one note on Crispy's guitar came out through the darkness and welled into Knight on the Town.. at which point the entire crowd started pogoing up and down as one.. like a wave, an entire sea of people moving up and down on the music. Don't remember much else about that concert now - lol.. but that opening.. wow. So many great concerts over the years.. a special mention has to go to Total Strangers a duo (formerly Mercedes) who played in my local pub every weds for about a decade or more. He had just the best voice and guitar skills.. and there he was, just playing like it was a job.. the consumate professional.. could make covers sound better than the people who did them originally - the only time I've ever witnessed that. And you could dance.. and be close to everything that was going on.. you could see the guitar up close. I loved that.. that was pretty immersive.. and understated.. and just. well, really good!
No thinking, gut feeling:
1) Adam and the Ants. I was a totally love struck teenage girl. I nearly fainted in the crush at the front but I hung on and sang every word
2) Supergrass at Latitude Festival last summer. We all sang "we are young, we are free". It was the first live performance since Covid, I cried.
3) Foo Fighters. I was wowed by the bigness of the stadium, the sound, the band. Big music at its best.
I haven't included any of your gigs because I'm sure that's not why you asked ;-)
Oh such a great question! Alt-j at Brixton. Amazing crowd. First time hearing the rave monster that is Fitzeasure live.
First time I saw Cat Empire. Tiny outdoor venue in Dubai. Dancing on the sand on the first anniversary of my mum’s death. The best way to celebrate her life.
Macklemore live in Abu Dhabi, playing same love in a country where he could’ve been imprisoned for it and feeling my heart soar.
Obviously a future one to add will be your tour when it arrives in Bristol!
Blimey Jake, that's a really hard one (worse than desert island discs methinks), as so many gigs over so many years! So, without thinking too deeply about - or is that the point, as if i do will be rethinking forever - I'd say.
1) First time I saw the Chameleons, 12th Sept '86 at The international.
2) First time we saw Black (aka CV;-) at The Apollo, Manchester - sometime in '90.
3a) Seeing Peter Gabriel (at last) at the Manchester Arena (on the Up tour) OR
3b) Taking Jo to see Peter Gabriel (as she never forgave me for 3a;-) on the Back to front Tour, 7th Dec 14 at Liverpool.
And love 3a below from Jonny G :-)
1) Radiohead in a tent in Victoria Park in Hackney in 2000, went two nights in a row. Booked before Kid A came out, expected OK Computer and Bends anthems, got the most incredible atmospheric wonder I had ever experienced before or since. There is some YouTube footage of that tour but not those nights. How to Disappear Completely and The National Anthem just blew me away.
2) The Mars Volta in Brixton 2005. I think that some character called Oliver introduced me to them, I’d heard Deloused a few times and went to the show. Enough said I think. Ridiculous.
3) Cream in 2005 MSG, NYC. I got offered a ticket about 3 hours before the show started. Our dads went together in London too. I remember first rambling track…. “Can Ginger still drum, can he really”, then the second “yes he freaking well can, this is going to be amazing”. It was.
3a) some singer songwriter in Bush Hall Shepherds Bush…. I think that for a really beautiful song, he sang solo standing on a grand piano or something similar…… might have been called “Inside My Mind”? EPIC
Hell Freezes Over - The Eagles, in Auckland, New Zealand. We were about 7 rows from the front and had an amazing view of everyone. They really like New Zealand, especially Joe Walsh and played their hearts out.
Let's make it top two. I was at IBM's BPEC in San Diego. They had a 'beach party' and the surprise entertainment was the Beach Boys. Now if that's not enough, the whole audience amounted to around 100 people. I'd have to feel a bit for the band, but I'm sure they were very well remunerated. Usually you will never get me on a dance floor, but I was dancing, singing and having the time of my life.
Went to see Kate Bush at Liverpool Empire and as she was starting a quiet piano intro to one of her songs I shouted "I love you Kate". She answered, "I love you too." My girlfriend was not impressed.
Here's one that's memorable but not in a good way! John Martyn at the Corn Exchange, Newbury. A mobile phone went off in the audience halfway through his set and he angrily walked off! So we only got half a concert.
When I was fifteen I fell in love with Alex Harvey of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. They were an incredible live band, and I followed them all over the country when I should have been at school, meeting Alex and the band lots of times, the easiest way being to jump up on the stage and follow them backstage! They were all really kind to me and my best pal Linda, Alex was really paternal towards us. We wrote lots of fan letters and he said I was his "favourite writer".
When he recorded "Shakin All Over" he phoned me up and played it over the phone! My other most memorable live shows - Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel at Reading Festival, because we were right at the front but everyone was sitting down so it was really relaxed, and it was a beautiful summer's evening. The third would be a Runrig concert at Oxford New Theatre where they had two huge red flags flying on either side of the stage. The combination of rock drums and bagpipes is really rousing, and their lyrics are pure poetry.
Hey Jake. Hope you are doing OK and some West Midlands dates might be coming soon. For a long time top of my gig tree was The Smiths at Wolves Civic Hall. Went with a group. Got separated. Found myself at the back and just danced my socks off all night. This was usurped when I saw David Byrne's American Utopia tour at Birmingham Symphony Hall. Sat almost at the back but the whole experience was unlike any other gig I've ever seen. Third probably REM on their Green tour at Manchester Apollo. Later that same night saw the Icicle Works at Manchester Poly. Drove home to Wolves the same night. Could I be any more tired but floating with joy. PS first time I saw you supporting The Bible at Bury and had a chat in the interval gets an honourable mention.
Captain Beefheart in NYC 1981 where (shamefully) it was so hot I nodded off and missed a chunk of it!?! Beach Boys in Brighton, Brian Wilson in Glasgow (literally got the last ticket so I sat in a seat that could give you vertigo - but he was magic! And vulnerable, his first tour ‘back’). Ry Cooder in NYC again, twice.
Others - and you Jake (seriously, not sucking-up-ingly 😀)
Hmm I'm gonna need more time. This is proving to be harder than expected!
The first three I thought of were outdoor gigs... strange in that outdoor is meant to be so much less immersive than indoor.
A top 3? Impossible. But a few:
Most unexpected - Lucking into Janis Ian performing a PA on her come-back to performing on a weekend we were on holiday in San Francisco. Sitting cross-legged around her microphone stand.
Most Exclusive - Being at a tiny showcase gig, with about 40 people, when Elisabeth Fraser broke cover, after about 6 years silent - with John Grant on backing vocals. World press on "did this really happen?"
Most Talked about - Having an Amanda Palmer House Gig in our garden. People still come up to us and discuss that one.
Most Historic - The Freddie Mercury Tribute gig.
Most emotional - The Amanda Palmer "Art Show" kickstarter gig at the Village Underground. The audience lighting the show by torches we held in the round.
Intimacy, belonging and involvement are important. So for instance, Frank Turner scores big there.
And - "The Taking a flier on the back of a track". That might have to be either Tori Amos's first UK public gig (Shaw Theatre, 1982) or a certain Jake Morley (Album launch gig, Bush Theater)