Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Favourite Gigs

‘Top Ten, I reckon’, I mumbled deliriously to S as we left the Kentish Town Forum on Monday night. The exuberance of Teenage Fanclub’s harmony driven power-pop had made such an impression that I considered their lengthy set worthy of inclusion in my Top-Ten-Gigs-Of-All-Time. Such spur of the moments pronouncements (fuelled by alcohol, on occasions) are able to come back to haunt one but, 72 hours down the line, I reckon I might just have been correct in my judgement. It was that good. So what other concerts can proudly boast Top Ten status? Here are the other nine in no particular order:

The Fall at Cheltenham Town Hall, 1987. This was the first time I’d seen The Fall who remain my most-seen act. A classic line-up and so many wondrous songs! They opened with Shoulder Pads, U.S. 80s-90s and Gut of the Quantifier, a belting hat trick of stunners! I was only young. What a treat. More details are to be found here.

Burning Spear, Jamaican Sports and Social Club, Gloucester, 2002. A council strike meant the original venue, Gloucester Guildhall, was unavailable so the gig was switched to this perfect little arena. Ageing West Indian dudes were playing dominos as one of the key reggae acts climbed onto the makeshift stage. S, S and I supped Red Stripe unselfconsciously as the tightest of ensembles belted out hit after hit.

The Go-Betweens, Birmingham Academy, 2005. See here. All the more poignant after Grant McLennan’s untimely death recently. This was a gorgeous and emotional evening.

The Pixies, Bristol Bierkeller, 1988 and Bristol Studio, 1989. The only band to appear twice on this list but two deserved entries for the Bostonians. These were really intense, sweaty happenings and the aggressive and energetic songs came thick and fast. The Bierkeller gig was the more memorable. My Bloody Valentine supported with the loudest set of all time. Amazing times.

Gang of Four, Bristol Academy, 2005. Another corker from last year which I wrote about here. I’m not sure about bands reforming to relive past glories but this bunch was awesome. Andy Gill’s angular guitar noise was a history lesson I was privileged to attend. Art.

The House of Love, Bristol Bierkeller, 1988. I always bundle this one with the first Pixies gig as they were pretty close together. The House of Love was a cracking and really rather underrated band. Their debut album which they showcased this evening remains a classic. They conjured up a remarkable noise; Terry Bickers’ guitar work was nothing short of majestic.

R.E.M., Newport Leisure Centre, 1989. There is a set-list here. I stood with one hand on the stage throughout. The opening salvo of Pop Song '89, These Days and Disturbance at the Heron House rivals The Fall for gig-opening wonderment.

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Birmingham Hummingbird, 1985. I went on the train with B. They played all of Rattlesnakes and one or two other songs in a tiny little venue. The Blow Monkeys supported. Superb.


adam said...

I was at the Burning Spear gig too - cracking, even if a little late getting under way!

Martin Cole said...

A belting evening it was. By the way, I now own White Bicycles (the book by Joe Boyd, not lots of white bicycles)...