• Cage The Elephant's Matt Shultz diving into the crowd at their gig in London in 2016.
    Festivals,  Gigs,  Tickets

    Give It Away

    Could we be facing the Covid endgame? The last week or so has seen a sudden pivot. One minute we were draped across the sofa, bemoaning our first gig-free anniversaries, a full year into the lockdown life, and the next we are figuring out if we are free for the Reading/Leeds Festival in August. Yes, the UK is getting ready to rock, with the Reading/Leeds Festival opening its arms to the pandemic-stricken…

  • NOFX and their old and new gig backdrops performing in London in 2012 and 2015.

    Like A Rolling Stone Circle

    This new pandemic version of reality, with all its genuine horror house of fears and confusion, restrictions and uncertainty, can also afford us moments of feeling completely, charmingly ridiculous. Everyone will have their personal joker card they’ve been forced to play during this weird year, their own moments of wonderment and disbelief at how their life has, temporarily, played out. Perhaps you decided to move countries five minutes before the first lockdown…

  • Frank Turner performing at O2 Arena in London in 2014

    Don’t Stand So Close To Me

    Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes and I’m not talking about Frank Zappa’s band. A return to ‘business as usual’ for gigs is still some way off, but can live music still go ahead in some shape or form in the meantime? A cluster of attempts to answer this may indeed give us a glimmer of hope (and, in some cases, amusement) in the pandemic darkness. Back in…

  • Natalie Merchant performing at a gig in London in 2010

    Lessons in Love

    As we squelch through the final weeks to our first lockdown anniversary*, what have we learned? Will ‘year one’ of the peculiar deprivations triggered by the pandemic result in any surprising revelations about our innermost dreams, any deeper self-knowledge or a new profound understanding of the universe? No? That’s fine, let’s move swiftly on to the one thing that any ‘lack’ consistently inspires: appreciation. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then…

  • Michael Franti performing from the crowd at his gig in London in 2016
    Gigs,  Tickets

    The Future is Unwritten

    Joe Strummer’s famous quotation, ‘The future is unwritten’, could now be followed by the clarification ‘and, during a pandemic, frequently postponed’. Last week, two musical things happened, which triggered this thought. When I say ‘happened’ I mean, of course, the opposite: two things were announced to be ‘not happening’, but these retractions are the closest thing to gig news I’ve had all year. Firstly, Glastonbury, the UK’s largest music and performing arts…

  • Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac performing in 2013
    Gigs,  Tickets

    Rock of Ages

    I’ve found a new reason why it might rock to be older. Gig-goers, of course, already experience revered appreciation for their age when their concert-attending prowess is suddenly revealed. These revelatory moments of show-specific recognition by younger gig-lovers begin like this: you find yourself in a conversation about a band that no longer exists. Perhaps one with a sadly departed singer or an act that broke up after one album, but are…

  • H2O stage-diver at London gig
    Crowd-surfing,  Gigs,  Stage-diving

    Hard Promises

    Fitness goals: the hard promises of New Year’s resolutions. A dedicated gig-goer’s interpretation of this might be to tone up for the delicate art of stage-diving and crowd-surfing. Stage-diving [definition] – where the stage is the diving board and the audience is the water. The idea is not to hit the floor with your head but to throw yourself off the stage and land fully on the hands of the audience in…

  • Mudhoney gig in London end of show finale
    Gigs,  Merchandise,  Resolutions,  Tickets

    Talking About A Resolution

    As a fellow gig-goer in waiting, what’s on your New Year’s resolution list for 2021? Resolutions are curious things. They are intentions we already hold but haven’t done anything about, usually because they are difficult or we haven’t been ready to start. They are the subjects we procrastinate over. When was the last time you came up with a completely new idea on 1 January, something you’d never had any desire to…

  • Imelda May and Wanda Jackson holding hands on stage at a gig
    Gig Etiquette,  Gigs

    I (Might Not) Want To Hold Your Hand

    I watched the film Tenet last night. 2020 has been confusing enough, so I might as well end it with a film that’s difficult to follow and comprehend. (I really enjoyed it and don’t worry, no spoilers here.) The opening sequence of an orchestra in a packed, large venue had me marvelling at the spectre of actual masses of humans together. The audience was fully concentrating on being at a performance and…

  • Band merchandise - Billy Bragg tea towel
    Gigs,  Merchandise

    Merch Ado About Nothing

    I clearly remember a point in my life when I drew a line under buying any more band T-shirts. It’s a line that got rubbed out and redrawn consistently over the following years. However, I have since pretty convincingly moved on to the more domesticated section of the merchandise table. I now (mostly) resist another black T-shirt with an inscrutable but vaguely threatening illustration on it and instead enthusiastically dive into the…