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My Exciting Life In ROCK (part 3): 19 June 1988 - The Gaslight Club, Peterborough
This was a fateful day in My Exciting Life In ROCK, for on June 19th 1988 I became a MAN, not only in LAW but also, and possibly more importantly, in ROCK. For LO! This was the day I did my first ever PROPER GIG.
Back in 1988 I didn't really have any interest in the bands current at the time, as I was completely in the THRALL of the Alternative Comedy movement. That's probably why mine and The Masters Of Nothing's first proper gig wasn't in a rock venue but a Comedy Club. Looking back I'm amazed that a place like Peterborough, which although containing many lovely people is a pretty dreary, small-minded crappy place, could support a weekly comedy club like The Gaslight, but maybe it was the fact that there really wasn't anywhere ELSE to go for GOOD TIMES that made it successful. We'd been for a RECCE a few weeks beforehand and seen a comedian called Jack Dee who we all thought might be jolly good, and introduced ourselves to the club's promoter. I'd arranged our gig by telephone a few weeks before, assuring him that we were an Alternative Comedy Band but from the look on his face when we said hello I don't think he realised we were so young. He seemed very concerned about how many friends we'd bring - at the time I thought he wanted to make sure we'd be supported, but in later years I realised that he was reassuring himself with one of the central tenets of Promoter's Wisdom: most bands doing their first gig are rubbish, but they usually bring a HUGE crowd with them.
True to our word we did bring at least ten friends with us, who sat right at the front of the stage. Naively at the time we all thought this was the best place, as you got the best view, but we soon discovered what every comedy club regular knows, that the first row is only the best place if you REALLY like having the piss taken out of you by every single comedian on the bill. Amongst this mob of pals were a couple of people who were Actual Musicians and played in a Real Band. I hope you won't think any less of me if I confess that I took NO SMALL AMOUNT of DELIGHT from the fact that, even though they could do show-offy things like PLAY INSTRUMENTS and had songs with several DIFFERENT parts in them, we were still doing our first gig several WEEKS before they did there's. HA!
Also in attendance was my Dad, who was being very supportive of his first born but chose WISELY to sit right at the back of the room and deny any knowledge of the young idiot who looked suspiciously like him who was soon taking to the stage.
My main memory of the actual gig part of the evening was the looks of SURPRISE on the faces of the regulars, and the way their applause dramatically dropped off after the second song, when they realised that we sounded that way on purpose, and weren't going to get any better. It was certainly a BRAVE performance. Two of our songs were done almost acapella - the first was accompanied by us stamping our feet singing a song about blokes called "Blokes", the second was a medley of theme tunes from Gerry Anderson shows, accompanied by us slapping our bared stomachs.
You'd think the more traditional musical numbers might have got people on our sides, except that we'd still not got any further with learning to play any instruments. It annoys me when bands claim not to be able to play, and then go on stage with everything plugged in, tuned up and on the right way round to use ACTUAL CHORDS and notes in the right order. We had so little idea of what we were doing we didn't know there WAS a right way, and made a fresh and exciting sound every time we played because we had no way of making the same noise twice.
We came off to spatterings of applause from our friends and loud sighs of relief from the rest of the room, especially at my Dad's table. I was relieved to have finished, but was slightly disappointed at the lack of aftermath. There were no A&R men, no talent spotters nor any GURLS who seemed to want to talk to us, let alone discover us and give us a record deal. Had I been LIED to by every Band Biopic I'd ever seen?
Still, we did at least get paid, a whole FIFTEEN POUNDS, and as I would later find out that's not something that happens every gig. Or, indeed, at most of them.
An Artists Against Success Presentation