Now (v) will appear next Monday, the day that I actually fly back into Glasgow. Today’s post is all about a very significant anniversary.
It was 40 years ago today…….
I’ve written about this before, so what you’re getting is a based on a posting from February 2014.
I’ve mentioned a few times that my first live concert was on Thursday 31 May 1979 at the Glasgow Apollo. The headline act was The Police and support came from both Bobby Henry and The Cramps. The tickets, costing £2.50 in advance or £2 on the door, had gone on sale a few months earlier but such was the anticipated lack of interest in the headline or support acts that the promoters and venue management had made plans to open just the stalls area and for all tickets to be on an unreserved basis.
The fact that a re-released Roxanne began to storm up the charts changed things somewhat, but even then, it was something like just 48 hours in advance of the gig that tickets for the circle and upper-circle areas went on sale, leading to a last minute surge in demand.
The Apollo was an old traditional style venue, having first opened in 1927 as a theatre. It did have a very high stage which, as I was to learn in later years, made for a great gig from the perspective of bands as it was impossible to invade – but it gave fans down at the front a really sore neck looking up at their heroes and heroines. It had hosted thousands of gigs over the years, being the main venue in the city for all sorts of touring acts across all genres, but I’m not sure if it had ever hosted anything where the seating was totally unreserved while being a sell-out. Nobody was ready for what happened on the night.
Large groups of young people went along and having gained access at the front door, went where they wanted inside the building. Naturally, most gravitated to the stalls and this area filled up very quickly, albeit it was obvious most folk were using tickets for other parts of the venue. The upshot was that fans who had bought tickets some weeks or months ago found they were now being shunted to the upstairs parts of the venue and there was a huge amount of anger, especially among those who were so late in arriving that they were only allowed access to the Upper Circle, affectionately known as the nose-bleed seats, such was their height above ground.
Me? I did what I seemed to have done at just about every gig I’ve gone to over the past 40 years and that’s get there not long after doors arrive to make sure, if it’s a seated venue, that I see the support act, and it it’s a standing venue, I get a good spot somewhere in the middle, close to the front (although in later years, my definition of close to the front has become loose!!)
As for the music, I’ll have to hold hand o and admit that I can’t remember much of Bobby Henry who, gawd bless, will always be the first live musician I had the privilege of seeing. The Cramps were chaotic and confrontational and didn’t go down too well with the majority of the audience. Lux Interior didn’t help things by constantly challenging folk to invade the stage and fight with him – which, as I’ve indicated earlier, was a near impossibility given the height of the stage above the font of the stalls but what did become clear was that anyone crazy enough to jump down on to the stage from the circle area (it was a drop of about 20 feet) stood a chance…..and so a few of the bouncers were deployed to ensure this didn’t happen as Lux was, as the show went on, really antagonising most of the audience. I thought it was huge fun and enormously entertaining, and it was there and then that I made the menal note to make sure I’d see support bands, on the basis it would be easy enough to walk down into the foyer if they were dreadful (I assumed at this stage that all concert venues in the world were laid out like The Apollo).
By the time Sting, Stewart and Andy hit the stage, the place was rocking and absolutely roasting hot. And I was high with euphoria.
They opened with I Can’t Stand Losing You, the song which had first got be interested in the band. I don’t have details of the exact set list, but just six days previous, in Chicago, this is what they had played and it’s very likely the Glasgow set was identical:-
Can’t Stand Losing You
Truth Hits Everybody
Born in the 50’s
Hole in My Life
Be My Girl – Sally
Message in a Bottle
Next to You
Encore – Can’t Stand Losing You
My memories are that the Outlandos d’Amour album featured heavily and that there were a couple of tracks that I hadn’t heard before – one of these would likely have been Message In A Bottle but I have a feeling Walking On The Moon may have been aired as there was a lengthy almost boring bit where Sting did his ‘yay-yo’ nonsense while asking the audience to respond to his calls. Andy certainly performed Sally as I can still picture him going off to the side of the stage and returning with a rubber doll, to the great delight of the many adolescents in the audience (myself included) who thought it the most outrageous thing we were ever likely to see in our entire lives.
The encore was more than one song, but I’m sure it was just the three singles from the album played for a second time. It lasted about an hour all told and it went by far too quickly.
The other passengers on the 62 bus home must have been in despair as the four strong group of us from school – all boys as the girls from the school who were going along that night wanted nothing to do with us!! – were still in hyper-mode and we didn’t or couldn’t shut up. And we talked a lot about Sally……..
40 years on, and I still get excited when I walk through the doors of live music venue. I’ve long lost count of how many shows I’ve seen – and I still kick myself that I didn’t think to keep ticket stubs – they were simply thrown away, often inside the venue itself as they no longer had any use or purpose.
The fact that The Police would eventually become just about the biggest act on the planet for a brief time in the early 80s, as well as Sting becoming the most self-righteous and pompous prick imaginable makes it all too easy to mock them. But as a 15 year-old lad, I thought they were as good as anything else that was emerging from the post-punk era that had been christened New Wave which is why I’m still proud that they were my first headline act. They say you never forget your first time, and that a small part of it lives with you forever. I’m no different…..and although I’ve been left embarrassed by an awful lot of the stuff that came out after the initial singles, I’ll never forget the part The Police played in developing my life-long love and affection for music and live gigs.