No don’t worry Snow Patrol fans, this is not a rant about Gary Lightbody or his band. And apologies for the title of this post. Poor language I know, but there is a point, I promise. Anyways, in the process of putting together my top 50 albums of the decade I’ve been reminded of some great gigs I’ve attended along the way. Of course, there are the big shows like Tom Waits and Neil Young at the Edinburgh Playhouse and Radiohead at Meadowbank and Glasgow Green, which will forever live long in the memory. But there have also been hundreds of other shows I’ve attended which will always have a special place in the memory.
The first one that springs to mind would be seeing Stephen Fretwell at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh. I mean, there are some venues you’d never expect to see an established artist and at that time, right between glorious debut ‘Magpie’ and his follow up record, I would never have expected to see Mr Fretwell performing at such a tiny and strange venue. That said, I am extremely glad that that’s where we got to see him. Not only was he brilliant but the odd setting added to the overall brilliance of the experience. With banter to match the quality of the music, in a venue as small as they come, I really will never forget that show.
Another one I’m not likey to ever forget would be seeing Mogwai in a tiny venue in Nijmegen, the Netherlands in 1999 when I was living there. The show was part of their Come On Die Young tour and I had just been introduced to their music by a good friend. Such was the experience of that show that I have since become something of a Mogwai addict and in the past 10 years have seen them live on numerous occasions. I also own pretty much everything they’ve ever released. Seeing them headline the King Tuts stage at T in the Park this year, ten years after the first time I saw them in Holland in that tiny venue really was a surreal experience to say the least. I really will not ever forget sitting cross legged, drinking beer and being blown away by the brilliance of this band for the very first time.
Another show that sticks in my head, without a shadow of a doubt, would be seeing dEUS at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh a few years back. The Ideal Crash is one of my favourite records so getting to see them live after all those years was pretty special anyways. However, this was a extra amazing gig mainly because they started the show with ‘Instant Street’ and finished their encore with ‘Suds and Soda’. I still can’t remember a show that had a more perfect beginning and end. The middle was pretty special too mind.
Evan Dando at the Edinburgh Venue was pretty memorable as well. Maybe it was seeing him in such a legendary venue. Maybe it was cause he was hammered – the show occurred just before he kicked booze. Maybe it was cause I was also hammered. I don’t know. What I do know and remember is that I saw him 4 times in total that year and though musically the Venue show was perhaps not his strongest, it is definitely the show that I will always cherish.
Another show that sticks firmly in the back of my mind would be Brendan Benson at the Reading Rooms in Dundee. Nothing in particular was special about this show, other than it was an ace venue and any artist of note playing Dundee was a pretty special event back in the day. Of course, the View have changed all that these days, but when I was younger Dundee didn’t get touring bands. It wasn’t seen as a place to stop off on tour. Somebody of Brendan Benson’s quality and stature stopping off was nothing short of a miracle. The fact he was also brilliant that night added something extra to proceddings.
Finally, Wilco at Glasgow QMU during their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tour. As most people know YHF is one of my all time favourite albums so seeing them tour this record was amazing. The gig itself was special but what I always remember is standing outside a little record shop on Byars Road waiting for my friend to buy some music when Joos Valgaren (Celtic footballer for those not in the know) walked by. As he walked past I did that kind of star stuck thing of following his path (not actually moving from the spot, just watching him walk on by) and as he went past me and down Byars Road, Wilco walked past me heading in the opposite direction! It was one of the most surreal moments of my life for sure. Totally brilliant. Made my day and fortunately Wilco made my night with their performance. Again, I’d say I’ve seen them better since but it’s the little things that make me remember all these shows most of all.
Oh, and as an aside. The second time I caught dEUS live, at the QMU in Glasgow I was with the band. Our old drummer Gordon used to get mistaken for Gary Lightbody all the time. Two great things happened at this show. Firstly, Gary Lightbody was in attendance. Gordon being a confident, outgoing sort of lad decided to sort this situation out and wandered over and asked Mr Lightbody if he thought that they looked similar. He did, for the record. Better than that though was when the gig finished and we went outside. As we were walking away from the venue, some boy came over to Gordon, and in a thick Glasgow accent said. “Oi, Are you that cunt fae snow cunt?” You cannot put a price on such genius comedy!