Willy De Ville’s death (and Pete Makowski’s RBP blog entry thereon) sent me scuttling back to my diary to see if i could find my tickets and/or diary entry about seeing Mink De Ville gig at The Venue. I couldn’t.
However I did stumble on a list from the middle of 1977 (reproduced below) of all the gigs I’d attended since moving down to London (from Edinburgh) in June 76.
Intriguing? It certainly is to me. I have no recollection of seeing, for example, Brett Marvin & The Blimps, The Tooting Frooties or The Smirks. No serious worries there, though. They were probably just eminently fogettable gigs.
Rather more alarming is the presence of Chris De Burgh in the list. What possessed me? I can only imagine I was being a good friend and accompanying a chum who didn’t want to go alone. I’m intensely grateful to have no memory of that gig. They do say that the brain has an in-built mechanism which can erase memories which are too traumatic to live with – car crashes, child abuse, Chris De Burgh gigs.
But Elvis Costello twice? Why have I no recollection of either of those shows? Could they have been down my local (Hope and Anchor, Islington) which was usually to crowded and noisy to get any real sense of what the band was up to above the shouting and clinking of glasses. That’s certainly where I saw The Count Bishops, and I vividly remember bopping frantically to London’s very own surf-punks The Barracudas there! (Hi Jeremy)
Or maybe it was at Dingwalls in Camden Lock where I can remember frequently being unable to see bands unless I was right at the front. I have a particular memory of walking out of a David Lindley gig there because I just had no idea of what was going on down the other end of the room. I was mightily annoyed too, because I love Lindley.
Hang on, though, looking at one of those Costello entries, I see it follows the names of Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Wreckless Eric and Ian Dury, which means it was the Stiff tour, and I saw it at The Lyceum. Dury was fabulous, Eric was fun, Edmunds and Lowe were efficient and, er, Costello I still can’t quite remember.
And Riff Raff! This means I saw the pre-legendary Billy Bragg and didn’t realise it. Surely I should have sensed that I was in the presence of genius?
Let me stress that these lapses of memory are not drug or drink induced. I’ve never been big on either of those intoxicants. It’s just that my memory has never been very good, which is one of the reasons I’ve kept diaries all these years.
On the whole, though, I’m encouraged to find that my good (and extremely eclectic) taste does seem to be timeless. To have gone from the cosmic Kraut rock of Klaus Schulze at the Planetarium to ragtime genius Leon Redbone, and from Motorhead (twice) and jazz fiddle legend Stephane Grappelli, suggests I’ve always been, if nothing else, open-minded. Of those last four, only the Motorhead gigs have been erased from the memory bank, but I do have a general recollection of thinking they were the only really exciting band in England at the time.
My love of the pre-punk artists I had grown up with shines through in my attendance at gigs by Spirit, Gene Clark, Thunderbyrd and Chris Hillman, The Kinks, Iggy, Dylan, Lou Reed, but I’m more smugly self- impressed by my choice of contemporary artists. Modern Lovers! The Ramones! Tom Petty! The Rubinoos. Mink De Ville! Television! The Only Ones! Wreckless Eric! Those were indeed golden days, every bit as rich and enthralling as the 60s. By comparison the 80s, to me, was a dead zone. I still need only to hear the words Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran to be plunged into a despair which makes me forget that the best 80s artists were actually rather wonderful. They just never got really famous.
The last third of the list is a trifle misleading because I’d taken a job in the press office at CBS Records so, as well as still attending gigs for my own pleasure, I was also obliged to attend company gigs, which explains (and hopefully excuses) my attendance at shows by Al Di Meola, Weeather Report and John McLaughlin, not to mention Grand Hotel and Cafe Jacques.
In this period it was not uncommon for me to see three gigs a day. There would be a lunchtime CBS showcase (usually at Ronnie Scott’s), and a major evening gig (Hammy Odeon, Lyceum etc) and then on to some dingy basement dive to see anybody who was prepared to play at that time of night.
And, um, that’s it. Has anyone else out there kept a similar log?