The Old Gig Diaries: The Final Cuts (2005-2007)

EDIT (07/04/14): Retweeted by Billy Lunn. As it turns out, funnily enough he was at that Subways concert.

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My desire to be a music journalist is nothing new. Once upon a time, aged 13-17, I kept a scrapbook of concerts that I attended. However, not realizing just how many I would end up going to, it wasn’t updated very often. Still, it is a documentation of how my relationship with live music began. In this series, I will brush off the dust and transcribe these old diary entries (with emphasis on ‘diary’ as they aren’t reviews) in all their flawed glory.

I’m not proud of some of these, or what I write about (crowd surfing and being dropped on your head in retrospect is annoying, and nothing to be proud of). Maybe it’s not the greatest idea to post these in the middle of a portfolio of serious work, but I was growing up. You can forgive me can’t you?

I posted some of the earlier entries, dating back to 2004 and 2005 (starring Wednesday 13CKY and HIM), and thought I would dig the tome up again, since my blog is no longer being marked by uni lecturers.

These are the final few entries, and weren’t much more than short captions for the tickets. In fact, a fair few concerts didn’t have the honour of getting an entry at all, after I lost the ticket so had nothing to stick in the scrapbook (Paramore), hadn’t got it back from a friend (Jack Penate) or just couldn’t be bothered to write anything (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Shiny Toy Guns). Just for the sake of completion, here are those noteworthy enough to get a couple of paragraphs. 

BLOC PARTY (Portsmouth Guildhall, 10/10/2005)

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This disappointingly doesn’t have a particularly memorable tale alongside it, but I’ll write about this one anyway. I went with my cousin Scott and we sat at the front of the upper circle, at the very spot where someone had whacked their head at the HIM concert.

The show was fast, it was loud and one that I wish I could have been in the crowd for. This had the most strobe lights I have ever seen at a show (1), to the point that the drum kit was placed on a flashing platform – a translucent Perspex box with strobe lights in it. It’s just as well I can tolerate them, considering how it was so difficult to look away while sat down.

Key moments were everyone screaming “so fucking useless” in ‘Positive Tension’ (because everything is made better with swearing), and a pretty backdrop of blue lights embedded in the curtains during ‘Blue Light’. The stage was very impressive for a band that had only just been acknowledged. They also played songs much faster. ‘Helicopter’ was over as soon as it had begun!

If there was anything I didn’t like, it was the vocals. I wasn’t sure that I liked Kele’s style when I first listened to Silent Alarm, and have since warmed to it, but live at ten times the volume, that shouting is bloody piercing!

THE SUBWAYS (Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, 10/11/2005)

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My friend Toby joined me, and was there only to see the support – The Kooks. There I also bought my first vinyl, a 7” of Slave to the Game, for £1.00. I’m not sure what to do with it. I played it once and I don’t know whether to do it again. I haven’t yet got the hang of collecting vinyl. I’ll see if I can find it. It might be worth something one day. (2) They were very good live.

Subways were also very good, and very, very loud. They only have one album at the moment, so they played pretty much their entire catalogue. Frontman Billy Lunn is the most manic person I had seen on stage, being incredibly frantic, tearing off his shirt before stage diving. I’m going to a lot more concerts now, but that’s the first stage dive I’ve seen. Maybe it’s just a legend or I’ve just chosen the wrong concerts.

And needless to say, Charlotte was really pretty. (3)

CLUTCH (Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 10/04/2007)

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A band called Faint opened for them. They were OK.

I first caught sight of Clutch when they supported CKY in 2005, and couldn’t resist seeing them at their own show. I am not familiar with most of Clutch’s catalogue, but all of my favourites came up. They opened with ‘10001110101’ (which I’m proud to have written correctly without looking it up), played ‘Burning Beard’, and closed on ‘Electric Worry’. Opening with ‘10001110101’, it was hilarious to hear the calm organ sounds at the beginning only for the room to jump as the guitars entered at ear-splitting volume. Holy crap!

It was pretty intense. They were incredibly loud, and having managed to get right to the front, I was crushed and got some evil stares from Neil Fallon. He really grits his teeth. Should I consider myself honoured by this? Probably not, but it was still awesome.

I felt a bit dizzy at the front as I was dehydrated and squashed, and when in such a state, it’ especially weird for Neil to be screaming “BANG BANG BANG BANG! VAMANOS! VAMANOS!”, directly in my face as I was stared down.

(1) Those lights were sickening, and I think this remains the most intense lighting that I’ve witnessed at a concert.

(2) This predated their success (I saw them before they were famous! Woo!), but I haven’t heard about The Kooks in ages. I think I missed my chance for profit.

(3) Yes, ‘pretty’. See, I was (and still am) far too introverted to be any more forward, even though this book was for my eyes only…

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