Scott, over at the excellent Spools Paradise, recently wrote a thought-provoking post about first, last and favourite gigs. My first 'proper' one was in January 1978 when I saw Siouxsie & The Banshees at my local venue at the other end of town. I've written about this before here so I won't repeat myself but it started me thinking specifically about how lucky I was to be going to gigs at the tender age of 14. It was never accompanied by adults, just two or three friends the same age. Our parents had no qualms about letting us go to these events, where we drank pints of cider, smoked and flirted with boys... we could've been doing just the same at a disco, I guess, but we had no interest in those. It was live bands we wanted to see, not DJs, and punk we wanted to hear, not Boney M - and we were incredibly fortunate to have a safe and easy little venue in our home town which provided both on a regular basis. The bloke on the door, who was a dead ringer for Dave Vanian at the time, never asked us our age.
That night at the Banshees, my close friend met her husband-to-be. And not long after that, I first saw the man whom I later married, playing guitar up on the stage there. Not that we spoke for a while, I thought he was too old (!) and he had a girlfriend. But it was where we first hung out.
A few weeks after the Banshees' gig, Generation X were booked to play. I was so excited, I could hardly believe it. I spent about an hour drawing big hooks around my eyes with a kohl pencil and filling them in with garish colours, quite a work of art, just for Derwood. And I was then so disappointed on turning up that evening to find that they'd cancelled. Derwood had broken his arm or something. The Jolt played in their place and I didn't think that much of them. Not long after, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs came to town, opened by Levi and the Rockats. We were all given Eddie & Sheena badges as we filed in; I wore mine with such pride.
One time none of my friends could make it but the headline band were The Automatics and I was keen to go, so I just went on my own. Would a 14-year old girl be allowed to go to a gig unaccompanied now? I don't know. To be fair, my parents came down later that evening to see the local jazz combo who were playing in the adjacent bar, so they weren't far away. At the end of the Automatics' set I waited alone in the foyer for them. A big punk bloke who wasn't one of the usual crowd stopped when he saw me and asked, very nonchalantly, "Do you want a fuck?"
Local groups played every Tuesday too. The Newtown Neurotics were like the house band. I must've flung myself around to their version of Blitzkrieg Bop more times than I can remember. It's Colin Masters/Dredd's funeral tomorrow... a sad day. But let's dwell on the good stuff - they were an important band to many and they certainly were in my formative years - decent blokes too.
In fact, the whole place was incredibly important, and I have to wonder if I'd be who I am today without it.
Here's a photo from those days. I'm afraid I can't remember how I came to be in possession of it so I can't credit the photographer, but if it's MM and you're reading this, then thank you - and I hope it's ok to include it here!
I believe it was taken shortly before my 16th birthday.
In fond memory of AS too, pictured left.