. . . . My first experience of a live band was in the long hot summer of 1967 when I was a 10 year old.
It was a sunny June afternoon and my older sister and I had just stepped off a bus in Cottingham, a large village near Hull. She was going to meet her boyfriend in a cafe, and obviously did not want her young brother in the way. The hall on the Green (opposite the cafe) was often used as a venue for bands playing at Hull University and Art Collage in those days, and that day there was a very strange noise coming from it.
It was a band playing in the hall. I wanted so much to go in, as the main doors were wide open (it was hot). Looking Inside I could see they had all the window blinds covered to make it as dark as possible and pretty oil wheels spraying colours all over the walls and the musicians. My older sister said she was not interested in what she thought was “a terrible racket”, but willingly agreed that if I behaved, I could go in, and she would come back and get me in an hour or two (glad to get rid of me). So in I went.
I loved it ! ! ! The experience was one of weirdness and experimentation. It was a four piece band and one musician sat on top of a speaker singing and playing a guitar, there were smiley colourful people everywhere. It must have been a very influential experience for me. The images and sounds stuck with me. Later, in my very early teens, I started to listen to what was then known as ‘underground music’ on my portable transistor radio -Stations like Radio Caroline, NorthSea and 270. Until the day our loving government Blocked their transmissions and eclipsed them with ‘popular’ music stations such as radio-1, sparking a whole generational section of British teenagers to go into a state of mourning and inadvertently helping to spread more seeds of cultural revolution by trying to control the uncontrollable. (oops!, bit of a rant there, sorry). Anyway, we were a revolting lot and enjoyed it. Looking back, British culture had entered a post/postwar period, people could express them selves more freely than ever before. Art and science really was ‘out there’ in space. I suppose, as I was already creative, drawing and making things came naturally every day. The Hull Ferens Art Gallery regularly had the Avant-garde displayed in juxtaposition with 19th Century Masters. It seemed anything was possible. Artistic anarchy was the norm.
Anyway, back to music. The guitarist in that small but significant band was of course Sid Barrett. To this day, I do not know why they where playing in the afternoon and not the evening? . . . . I saw the band a few more times in my teens and the last time I saw the Floyd was Knebworth in 1975, . . . . these were very hazy and happy days, being a teenager in the 70’s !. I look back on them with such joy.
So. please share with us your best musical stories.
My first was after smoking pot in a ground floor flat from the guy who was dealing it. I was almost 17. All of a sudden from the speakers this wonderful guitar noise swept into the room and out into outer space and beyond. It had a real gut frequency to it, as well. I’m gazing open mouthed at it. It was “Castle in the Clouds” from Gong’s “Angel Egg” album. Had one over xmas listening to Radio6 while suffering flu like symptoms, high on pot and tripping slightly on magic mushrooms. (and I had to go to work the next day)
For me, the best ever and most emotionally connecting concert I have ever been to was listening to Verdi’s Requiem at Kings College Capel, Cambridge.
The setting was beautiful, the acoustics were to die for, the performance was stunning… the audience was quite small and very close to the musicians, and I was with Mrs SinS… quite simply it was an epiphany for me, the only downside was we were so close to the performers I’m sure they could see the tears running down my cheeks.
Hearing Riders on the Storm for the first time whilst listening to Radio Caroline when I was about 10, it was wafting in and out from the North Sea with lots of medium wave atmospherics but I was totally captivated. Had a similar experience many years later with Sultans of Swing. That was back in the day when Caroline and John Peel were the only source of decent music, even here in Ireland.
Jefferson Airplane at a small club on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston and getting to see the band perform but most importantly is being to see Grace Slick, live and in person sing White Rabbit. Hell I had a crush on that woman…lol
The second would seeing a live performance of ‘Hair.’ The musical was fantastic, loved the performance and of course the nudity which was a huge issue in the 1960’s. Left a lasting impression of what theater was all about, simply magical and fantastic!
For all of us I’m sure the teen years can be quite an influence on our orientation to music.
I can well imagine you having a thing about Grace.
Those early experiences are so important for young minds aren’t they.
Being taken to a lunchtime Harpsichord recital when I was 8 was also a strong memory of first live music.
I remember not wanting it to finish. I had heard nothing like it. And I remember the woman playing was beautiful.
So many great gigs, Simon Rattle Beethoven Symphony cycle at Symphony Hall Birmingham, electrifying.
Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall January 2002, probably the most emotional gig ever. Audience was spellbound.
I was 7 or 8; it’s Christmas Eve, I was living with my grand parents, waiting in the kitchen listening to the radio before going to the midnight service taken by my grandfather who was the vicar. On came Sibelius’ Finlandia; it’s the first time I recall shivers down my spine - it was very emotional.
I was not quite 12 years old when The Who’s Tommy came out. I remember getting it and listening to it over and over in sheer amazement that music could take me places that I had barely imagined. While my musical tastes have changed considerably since then (I’m listening to Rameau as I write this), the sense of wonder that great music can inspire has never left.