NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING???

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
So Lonely
Fall Out
Born in the 50’s
Hole in My Life
Be My Girl – Sally
Message in a Bottle
Peanuts
Roxanne
Next to You
Landlord
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……..

mp3 : The Police – Be My Girl/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.

JC

9 thoughts on “NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING???

  1. What a read that was. How many reading this for the 1st time will be miffed that you saw The Cramps as a support act – at the Apollo?

    My first question upon reading was “62 bus, eh? I wonder if that was going east or west”. It’s peculiar where one’s mind goes?

    My first gig was in the same venue (1981) to see Toyah (I was a teeny 15 year old) – I got her autograph (well, someone got if for me) which I still have. I kept all my ticket stubs until one day, when moving flat, I decided I needed them no more. With the old memory failing I coud really do with the prompt on dates. I do prefer a stub to a hand stamp.

    I always felt – despite how many go on adoringly about the Apollo (of which I’m one) – that it’s stage seemed to be designed to take all of the joy out of the performance. Imagine if you will staring to the top of The Wall in Game of Thrones.

    I’m off to reminecse about old Glasgow bus routes.

  2. Cheers Anon.

    In those days, the 62 would only go back east from the city centre….the days of it crossing into the west and into Clydebank and beyond were still someway off.

  3. My first gig was at the Apollo as well JC – Queen supported by Mr Big in 1975.
    They were excellent then but went on to have a similar trajectory to the Police.

    A red no 2 bus back to the South side

  4. I saw them in their pomp at Gateshead in 1982 – sort of lackluster – the Beat and U2 were much better. Can’t remember who else was on the bill – gang of four? It was dull and cold though, but that’s what you’d expect in the NE in the Summer. Never got to the Apollo sadly, but my mate saw the Jam and Simple Minds there in 1982 too which must have been ace….

  5. Great post, JC.

    The bus chat is an absolute joy. The only semi-related anecdote I can
    add: this has reminded me of accepting a lift from a friend of a friend
    following a Wonderstuff gig at Barrowland. Problem is, all of the seats
    were occupied, so I found myself – GoodFellas-style – being stuffed
    into the boot. A job for a different kind of police…

  6. My first gig was also at the Apollo, Adam & The Ants in 1981.
    As 13 year olds, me and my mates slept out overnight outside the Apollo in the middle of Winter (told my mum i was staying with my mate) just to get tickets, back in the day when you queued at the venue. I remember they open the doors early, probably around 7-8am but ticket office opened a bit later. Me and my mates went to the toilet and managed to sneak onto the stage and pretended to sing Antmusic to an empty hall before we got chased off !! Great memories, a great gig and 23 bus back to Milton 🙂

    Jim Dubai

  7. ’tis my anonymous post above – too quick to post the trigger finger hit send as the eyes noticed the omission of name.

    Ah, the trusted east of the city. It looked so very different away back then. My bus of choice was the humble 41 – ducking down at the windows at west Carntyne so as to avoid the flying bricks meeting glass. Happy days.

    To Strangeways …. I can’t help but ask – where you ‘wonderstuffed’ into the boot of that car AND, more importantly, I note you don’t seem to have been too incovenienced by the experience.

  8. Strangely enough, I’d also have been at the Simple Minds, Jam and Wonder Stuff gigs referred to above.

    And memories of the magical bus routes of Glasgow! Never rode the Red 2 or the 23, but, similar to Stewart Murdoch, I went out to the Easter House (sic) quite often on the 41…..

  9. Unfortunately, the second rock concert I ever saw was The Police on their Synchronicity tour in 1983. My first was concert was earlier that year – Joe Jackson on his “Night + Day” tour. Eh. I had to write a paper in my popular culture class in college and the class was presented with two choices: Rock Superbowl XIX featuring The Police or Pro Wrestling at Eddie Graham Sports Stadium – a smaller metal box where people bled for our entertainment..

    The Police venue was the 60-80,000 seated Tangerine Bowl; an Orlando sports [football] stadium. At the time it seemed an easy choice. I opted for a band I sort of liked versus sweaty cavemen pretending to pummel each other. The Police show had The Animals and The Fixx opening and it represented a 12-13 hour experience that I was determined to never undergo again!

    The seemingly endless day consisted of thousands of stoned teenagers throwing food and beer randomly into the crowd amid clouds of pot smoke and after a few hours of enduring this, I removed myself to the far end of the stadium to be as far away as possible from the audience. The Animals were the only band there that day whose show I enjoyed to any degree.

    The Fixx absolutely severed any lingering interest [I had bought their album “Shuttered Room”] I might have had with their unpleasant synth-rock. I’ve never seen such a pretentious, yet modest, group of talents in the subsequent 30 years of concert attendance under my belt since! And The Police were touring behind an album I had studiously avoided except for the singles with videos, which were played constantly on MTV. The next day, I realized that I should have picked the wrestling. It would have been over in a few hours, and the audience might have been less obnoxious. Needless to say, I would never attend a stadium show again!

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