This week’s Facebook fad asked you to post a list of 10 music acts you’ve seen play live, one of which you didn’t see – i.e. ‘a lie’ – and ask friends to identify the act you never saw. A lot of people were annoyed by the rash of postings across the social media platform, but many more enjoyed getting involved, drawing up their own lists and responding to others’. Some really inventive folk made up their own games, such as ’10 women I’ve shagged, one of which I haven’t’.
I succumbed, and posted my own list of nine acts I’ve seen live, plus one I have not, and let it run for 48 hours with virtually no comment or clues from me. I received around 40 responses and amazingly nobody identified the act I never saw, but all of the others were put forward as the lie. ‘What are the chances of that?’
And why does nobody suspect I never saw the Sex Pistols? Well I didn’t, possibly because they played so few shows, and I was at my busiest during the brief term of their reign. The one time I probably would have seen them (Marquee, with Eddie & The Hot Rods on 12 February 1976), I happened to be otherwise in Yorkshire on a day off between shows in Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent. I saw The Clash at least a dozen times, and The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Eater, X-Ray Spex, Subway Sect, etc., but the Pistols eluded me.
Every one of the nine acts I did see was called into question, and they are listed here in reverse order (the first representing theoretically the smallest fib and the last, an enormous whopper). In brackets is the number of incorrect guesses, if I’ve counted correctly.
Joe Tex (1)
Hammersmith Odeon, 1978
Joe Tex’s slow burn soul sides of the mid-1960s established him as the preacher, dispensing advice to lovelorn teens. ‘You Had Better Hold On To What You Got’ was the most well-known, and ‘Show Me’ revealed his more rocking side. He put on a good show in London, but I was astonished to see not one black face in the audience. It is so often the case when the soul legends tour, unless they’ve had a hit record in the last five minutes – and Joe had recently told us he ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With That Big Fat Woman)’, a #2 hit in the UK – the reverential audience is almost exclusively white.
Status Quo (1)
The Fickle Pickle Club, Southend, 1970
My semi-pro group of the period supported the Quo at this pub venue, when they were midway between pop hits like ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and their more rocking get-down-and-boogie stance, The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’ being the bridge that saved them from extinction. The drummer (moody, detached) borrowed my hi-hat cymbals, and Rossi (witty, outgoing) ponced a cigarette. I was impressed.
Duane Eddy (2)
Southend Odeon, 1963
The day that tickets went on sale for The Beatles’ second appearance at the Odeon, I held a ticket for that evening’s show featuring Little Richard – Duane Eddy – The Shirelles – Screaming Lord Sutch. Duane played a blinder, mainly on the low notes, but ‘Little’ himself didn’t show. The compere came out to apologise for the absence of his most Tutti Frutti, but never mind because, ‘Tonight we have for you the fabulous Jimmy Justice!’
The Lyceum, 1981
The hottest ticket of summer, that or any year … many claim to have been there on 2 June, just like the thousands who claim to have seen Kilburn & The High Roads, but as The Lyceum holds roughly 2,000 persons at a push, only a relative few attended this dazzling show. The previous day I attended a party at the Kensington Roof Gardens, with Prince in attendance, surrounded by towering minders as he minced around looking quite regal.
Stone Roses (4)
London School of Economics, 1988
My good friend the late Philip Hall, press officer supreme, dragged me along. I enjoyed the Roses’ jangly guitar pop mixed with hip-hop beats, but failed to spot their potential for greatness, as exemplified by ‘She Bangs The Drums’, which was released the following year.
Jimi Hendrix (5)
Saville Theatre, 1967
Hendrix was supported by Eire Apparent, The Herd, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on 8 October. I saw The Jimi Hendrix Experience several times that year including a local show on 26 February where he closed the first half, the headliners being Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Titch (for whom I didn’t stick around). At the end of his set, Jimi toppled his Marshall stack in disgust. Folk law has it that Hendrix enjoyed a drink at a nearby boozer earlier that evening, resplendent in his military jacket. ‘Purple Haze’ was about to break.
The Beatles (6)
Southend Odeon, 1963
This was the first of their two appearances in Southend, and when I bought my ticket several weeks earlier (probably with paper-round money) they were not quite as famous as their co-star Roy Orbison, to the extent that the show was promoted as a twin headliner. Had ‘From Me To You’ bombed, Orbison would certainly have closed the show. Afterwards, I dutifully handed in my autograph book at the stage door and waited, briefly catching Harrison’s eye as the boys peered out of their dressing room window. Three out of four Beatles signed, though I accept these may have been Mal Evans forgeries. I later forged Harrison’s myself, to complete the set like.
Ted Nugent (8)
Hammersmith Odeon, 1977
Ted gets a bad press these days, which is understandable given his far-right leanings and a penchant for hunting and shooting wild animals, but back in ’77 he rocked, if you will excuse titles such as ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ and ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’. The date was 16 August and I know this because it was the day Elvis Presley died. The news reached London just as Ted’s after-show party at a Fitzrovia Greek was getting under way. He entered drinking milk from the bottle, and looked pissed off.
S Club 7 (10)
London Arena, 2003
It was my son’s first pop concert, though he was soon to see the Stones and Springsteen. He was 10-years-old and I accompanied him and a friend. Both boys spent most of the show swivelling their heads and self-consciously eyeing up the nearby talent, by whom I don’t mean S Club, even when a giant gantry carrying the 7 came forth from the stage and stopped above us. Me and a few other dads were fully focussed on the talented Tina Barrett, who was performing just a few feet overhead. Such is pop.