Thursday, December 15, 2005


The problem with having a really, really good experience and subsequently hoping to relive it is that you are invariably doomed to fail. In the summer, the Levellers all-dayer entered the hallowed annals of my all-time top three gigs. It was a perfect day, so last night's date in Norwich was hotly anticipated. Oh dear.

The problem, I think, lies in the difference between a festival crowd and a venue crowd. At a festival, people are generally laid back to the point of unconciousness (I can't think why) and are prepared to invest their time in an experience. In a festival crowd, I generally feel totally at home. Last night's crowd were, in general, extremely annoying. They ranged from the students from the UEA who got in on a concession and therefore didn't care who they were watching, to people who seemed to think the best way to spend a night catching up with their friends was to pay fourteen quid each to stand in a crowded, noisy venue and shout loudly at each other to the annoyance of anyone who happened to want to enjoy the band. Somewhere in the middle were the people like me, who really wanted to have a good time. We were few and far between. After the ninth six-foot-five bloke came to stand directly in front of me (at jumper-smelling distance. At a Levellers gig this is Too Close) we gave up and moved. Sadly, we ended up next to someone we christened Gazza's Younger Brother who stood in his tracksuit-and-trainered glory and complained loudly that the music was too loud and the lights too bright. Um, fuck off home then? Regrettably, in terms of people, everywhere was as bad as everywhere else. There were two blokes at the bar, propping it up as if three hundred people weren’t behind them trying to get a beer, and lying to each other about past gig experiences.. “I’ve got a Girlschool drumstick you know”. “Well I’ve met Rick Wakeman” etc etc. Whatever. Nobody cares. Or believes you.

As for the music - well, for me, it just wasn't happening. Tellingly, the biggest cheer of the night was for "Beautiful Day", arguably the most commercial of their back catalogue. They were recording a live CD and stuck mainly to the newer stuff, which personally I hate. It was clear that if we stayed I was more than likely going to have a fight, so we cut our losses and left early.

The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that my days of attending concerts, the cinema, the shops, um, outside in general are numbered. This, I have concluded, is not my fault. If everyone else wasn't such a twat it would be fine.

Carry on.


Anonymous other half chimed in with...

For someone new to the whole Levellers experience I was perhaps spoilt by my introduction last summer. Like SG I found last night disappointing...mainly becuse I've been to loads of gigs at the UEA and the crowd is what normally makes it good even if the bands can be a bit patchy.

Rest assured we will not let this deter us. We are confirmed gig-goers and have many more splendid nights lined up in the coming months. Not least another attempt to enjoy the Levellers but this time in our home town which should make the whole experience that much more tolerable.

This also includes the return of the mighty Hayseed Dixie...I shall leave SG to regale you all with tales of the last time we saw them play.

15 December, 2005 12:23  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

I was sufficiently intrigued to go to iTunes and seek them out. Are we talking The Levellers here, rather than Levellers ('scuse, just going to check not making total arse of self. No, s'ok, they differ). The former seem to be a folk band in need of Shane McGowan. Levellers on the other hand seem to be more rock oriented, and fairly acceptable. Favourite iTunes tune is When Love Runs out of Time.

Just a point for clarification Mdme Chair.

15 December, 2005 12:41  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

um, The Levellers, thank you. of "One Way" and "Fifteen Years" and lots of shambolic, dated protest songs that are ruddy marvellous.

they are NOT in need of shane mcgowan. the only thing in need of shane mcgowan is the british dental foundation and possibly the priory.

15 December, 2005 12:43  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

OK. They see to be in the BJH mould, or Oyster Band, both of whom I like/d. iTunes calls thema scruffy quintet. Sorry you didn't enjoy the gig.

15 December, 2005 13:06  
Blogger frobisher chimed in with...

The Levellers! - you pair of crusties! Joking aside a great live band. Another annoying thing about gigs these days is camera phones. A couple of kids standing next to us at the Chemical Bros. last week were actually taking photos of each other,posing, jumping up and down in the crowd. Probably to show friends later "Here's us enjoying ourselves". Knobs. Festivals are better (free preferably)- went to one in the summer "Endorse it in Dorset". 2,000 people, Desmond Decker headlining and loads of local groups. Fab.

15 December, 2005 13:28  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

Haven't been to a gig for years, because a)I know I'll be disappointed and b) I'm too fat to crowdsurf.

Can't say that there's anyone that I desperately want to see live nowadays if I'm honest. I've just lost my passion for it all.

(Plus the fact that I don't go anywhere if I'm not guaranteed a comfy seat.)

15 December, 2005 13:36  
Blogger Inexplicable DeVice chimed in with...

uhhhhh... something about UEA, dank pit, vile vileness of rancid jumpers etc.

Sorry. Can't be bothered. There's a sticky toffee pudding with Sainsbury's Taste the Difference (I can) custard waiting for me about 15 feet away. Mmmmmmmmmmm...

Oh, and being whisked off to see the Nimmo Twins this evening at the Playhouse in Norwich. God only knows what type of people will make up the "crowd"?

Hmmm... It seems I can be bothered after all. I hope the home town gig is better - it should be after last night's disappointment.

15 December, 2005 13:44  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

With KC on the seat front. I'm just so old. And I need earplugs too, to avoid tinnitus. Having said that, I will sit on the floor if needsbe and did at the last gig I went to - Gotan project.

15 December, 2005 13:45  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

Watching any band doing new material is always a disappointment as you don't know it, can't sing along and as a result, instantly hate it.

I went to see Radiohead a few years back doing their more tuneful miserable stuff. Unfortunately they were about to release KidA so sang all that stuff instead, which was shite as no one knew any of it.
Mind you, I've got to say, even though it's not new material now, it's still shite.

I also went to see Hugh Cornwell (ex-lead singer, Stranglers) a few years back which was brilliant. However, everyone just kept shouting 'Peaches'. Stupid ignorant wankers.

Sorry it wasn't as good as you'd hoped.

*did they mention me???*

15 December, 2005 13:51  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

ft - strangely not.

when i refer to the "newer" stuff i mean anything from zeitgeist onwards - i just can't get on with it. OH laughs at the right-on lefty early stuff, but for me it's really nostalgic as i did the new-age-traveller thing for a bit and remember really believing in all the smash-the-state thing. sad but true.

15 December, 2005 14:00  
Blogger Bourgeois Wife chimed in with...

The Levellers are still around? God, I can remember people wearing their T-shirts 15 years ago... Now I feel old.

15 December, 2005 14:20  
Blogger garfer chimed in with...

The problem with gigs is that most of the audience are students. It's a fact of life that within ten minutes of ceasing to be a student everyone develops an intense loathing for the irritating little gits. Always moaning about not having enough money to buy books, and then spending £50 on a nights clubbing.


15 December, 2005 14:21  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

*nods wisely* Yes, sg, I've had many such experiences. Must have been about 10 years ago that I went to hear Dire Straits and was so pissed off I decided that was my last time. I must be getting old and cranky.

15 December, 2005 15:23  
Anonymous Ant chimed in with...

Gigs eh? Not fussed these days. Not fussed at all. Nights out are v rare, so would rather spend them doing something less... yunno... standing about getting ears blasted, not talking much.

15 December, 2005 16:12  
Anonymous other half chimed in with...

Rock'n'Roll !!! I can't imagine my life without seeing live music of some description. Okay, last night was a bust but considering the number of gigs SG and I go to one off night isn't bad.

Music is our passion and it's one of many shared interests that we enjoy. There will be plenty of time for sitting with our feet up in front of the fire with a good book but for now we are content to indulge our love of live gigs.

15 December, 2005 16:40  
Anonymous dealer chimed in with...

'The Levellers' and 'disappointment' in the same entry - how surprising.

15 December, 2005 17:15  
Blogger Universal Soldier chimed in with...

Must admit the Levellers take me back to college. Now I feel old. Thanks for nothing. ;)

15 December, 2005 18:54  
Blogger bedshaped chimed in with...

Idiots like that should be banned from attending any more gigs.

15 December, 2005 21:23  
Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

I'm with Kellycat. I have become increasingly annoyed with other concert-goers to the point that I'll only go if it's 1) free, and 2) the seats or venue is really good.

16 December, 2005 00:03  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

I like festivals...and I'm with them what sit (and I always forget earplugs or I'd be with them too).
And at festivals you can lie back and fall asleep and dream of great music if it gets dull.
Or wander the stalls and sneer at the junk.
Or eat weird foods.
But no thai soup stalls at Fairport this year. That was really disappointing.

16 December, 2005 01:35  
Blogger Cheezy chimed in with...

Thanks for that post, SG... you managed to successfully lower the unrealistic expectations that I had regarding the Pogues gig I'm attending next week. This is a band I've loved for 20 years, but you're so right... they could still be shit.

16 December, 2005 15:37  

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