"This is the past that's mine..."
Saturday 10th August 1996
Knebworth Park, Stevenage
- Walking through a field of sheep poo to get to the arena
- Not quite believing how close we were to the stage - we were only in pit two, but at the time I couldn't believe how near it was
- Being bowled over by the soaring riffs of 'Motorcycle Emptiness'
- Having to listen to the Chemical Brothers - who are still one of the shittest acts I've ever seen live
- Thinking how weird it was to be singing along to Oasis with thousands of other people
- The ridiculous amount of rubbish we had to wade through to get out
- Falling asleep on the bus and waking up a few hours later to find we hadn't even moved
I knew a few of the Manics' songs, cos I wrote down that they played 'Everything Must Go', 'Raindrops...' and 'Design for Life', but I now look back on this day as being the event that kick-started my love of the band, as I then went out and bought all of their albums.
Tuesday 15th September 1998
Kettering Arena, Northants
The album was actually released the day before the gig, so I bunked off school to buy it and spent the whole day/night listening to it so that I'd know all the songs. I also bunked off school on the day of the gig itself to give me plenty of time to get ready. Well, I did have a lot of eyeliner and glitter to apply...
I'm not sure why it's called an arena when it's really just a sports hall. It was a tiny venue for the band to play at that time, cos they were already huge. I think it was also the first night of the tour. My main memories of the gig are:
- Being in the third row just before the band came on
- Falling over in the pit
- A crowd surfing wheelchair
- Some guy giving me a leg up so I could crowd surf my way out of the crush down the front
- The Manics not being much fun at all, no banter, no stories...
- My best friend losing her shoe and desperately searching around for it at the end of the gig
All these years later, after seeing the band many times live, I can definitely say that this was my least favourite Manics gig.
Friday 18th December 1998
A few months after the Kettering show it was time to see the boys in a real arena. I believe there may have been some truancy involved in this too - good job they didn't fine parents back in the day, eh? - as we arrived in Birmingham in the late afternoon to queue. Without a coat. In December. It all paid off though as we managed to get down the front on Nicky's side of the stage and had a great view, although the photos I have of the back of people's heads tell a different story... My main memories of this gig are:
- Not wearing a coat
- Briefly meeting Erika (Iconoclastic Glitter) and Carly (Caught in the Crossfire)
- Being made to sit on the floor once inside the arena, which was really uncomfortable and a bit like being at school
- Nicky in leopard print!
- Nicky skipping on stage!
- My friend throwing a big dragon teddy on stage, then asking security to get it back for her at the end. No I have no idea either...
- Feather boa + sweat = a dyed black neck
Sunday 22nd August
After two gigs in quick succession it was a long wait til the next one, but I do recall having the time of my life at V99 and it was one of the best MSP shows I have been to. It was my first festival experience, although I only went for the day. I wore my spray painted skirt (as seen in part one) to this and Doc Martens, feather boa, lots of glitter and err... hair mascara. I'm glad that trend was confined to the 90s and thankfully there are no surviving photos of this event. So here's a summary of the gig:
- My Manics obsessed best friend and I were about half way between the stage and the sound tower, so we had a good spot and a cracking view.
- Jumped up and down so much we were struggling towards the end
- Nicky wore either a dress or skirt
- I may be wrong, but I think they smashed up their gear at the end too - can anyone confirm this? Have I just made this up??
Faster and Of Walking Abortion made it into the set, plus Elvis Impersonator and My Little Empire, which surprises me now.
Tuesday 27th March 2001
I was desperate to go to the Millennium gig, but again I was too skint to get there, so it was a long wait from summer '99 to March '01 to see them again. As they weren't playing anywhere near us on the 'Know Your Enemy' tour, me and my mate went up to Manchester to see them.
Here's what I can remember:
- Staying in the shittest B&B I've ever been to. Cracked window, freezing cold, bathroom down the hall which was also freezing cold. On the plus side, it was full of Manics fans - cos it was opposite the Apollo - who left a trail of multi-coloured feathers along the stairs and landing.
- Seeing so many beautifully dressed people
- They played lots of new songs
- Doing some incredibly dodgy dancing to 'Miss Europa Disco Dancer'
- Still not liking 'So Why So Sad'
"The past is so beautiful, the future like a corpse in snow..."
And that's where things get quite hazy. Appallingly, I have very little memory of the other Manics gigs I've been to, so I'll do my best to at least share something about them... If you were at any of the following gigs please feel free to share your memories and help to jog mine!
Leeds Festival 2001, back when it was at Temple Newsam
Sunday 26th August
This was my first full weekend festival, as up until this point I'd only gone on day tickets. I bloody loved it though and have been hooked on festivals ever since. In fact, since 2001 there has only been one year when I haven't been to a weekend festival - cos I went on holiday instead - and some years I've even been to two.
All I can recall of the Manics is squeezing down near the front on Nicky's side of the stage and sitting chatting to some Manics fans earlier in the day.
As well as seeing the Manics headline the Sunday night, I saw Green Day - and then got caught in the crush as everyone tried to leave the field so as not to be subjected to Travis - Living End, Frank Black, QOTSA, Mercury Rev, King Adora, Crackout, Easyworld, Rancid - Lars had a red mohawk and the pit kicked up a massive cloud of dust. I probably saw many more too, but they're the ones that stick out.
Tuesday 3rd December 2002
I have a confession to make. I have absolutely no memory of this gig and was unaware I'd even been to it before I dug this ticket stub out of my Manics box. I am a terrible Manics fan, but it gets worse...
Friday 6th December 2002
I also can't remember going to this gig, which makes me feel awful. Maybe it's cos I went to a trio of gigs within just a few days of each other or maybe it's cos my life was really busy at that point, I just don't know.
Even if I can't remember much about a gig I can usually recall something about the journey or what I wore or something funny that happened, but for both of these gigs I've got nothing.
One thing I do know is that this wasn't my original ticket, as I've only ever had seating tickets for two gigs. I think if I had sat down at least I would've remembered it.
I have been searching around on the t'interweb for something that might jog my memory and discovered that James played an acoustic version of 'Faster', I'm pretty pissed off that I don't remember this! The only thing that does ring a bell is Nicky telling everyone about his leopard print boxers, which is noted in this Drowned in Sound review.
Wednesday 11th December 2002
Nottingham Ice Arena
Bloody 'ell £19.50 seems very reasonable for an arena gig compared to the £40+ you're looking at paying these days. Anyhoo... All I remember from this gig is James being ill and drinking Lemsip on stage and having cold feet because of the ice.
I also thought this was the gig where James fluffed the intro to Motorcycle Emptiness and said it was the first time he'd ever fucked it up, but after checking setlist.fm I don't think it can be cos they played ME as the opening song and I'm sure it was further into the set than that. If anyone can remember what show that was please let know!
Friday 11th July 2003
Manchester Cricket Club
Either the Flaming Lips or the Super Furry Animals had people dressed up with them on stage. No Manics memories. Shame really cos the setlist looks cool, Judge Yr'self! Prologue to History! Take the Skinheads Bowling! It's So Easy! GAARRRGGGHHH!
Wednesday 18th October 2006
Rescue Rooms Nottingham
Spent most of this gig thinking a) he needs a haircut and b) I can't believe JDB is mere feet away from me. It was both weird and awesome to see James perform his solo material in such a small venue and to be stood two/three people back from the barrier. Closest I'll ever get to a Manic.
- Teased us with the Motorcycle Emptiness riff, but didn't actually play it
- Did play lots of other Manics songs, including Design for Life, From Despair..., No Surface All Feeling
- Someone shouted about dedicating a song to Cloughie and James saying they were all for Cloughie
Thursday 24th May 2007
Rock City Nottingham
Again, quite hazy, but my memories of the gig include:
- OH MY GOD I can't believe I'm seeing the Manics in a venue this small
- Opening with 'You Love Us' - actually a bloody brilliant idea
- OH MY GOD they're playing 'Sleepflower'?!
Saturday 8th December 2007
NIA BirminghamMain gig memories include:
- Being on the barrier over on Nicky's side
- Nicky in knee-high Argyle socks and white skirt
- 'Little Baby Nothing'! My all time favourite Manics song.
- Getting a 'Send Away the Tigers' hoodie
Leeds Festival 2008
Sunday 24th AugustAfter a whole weekend of excess I'm surprised I can remember anything about this, but the Manics narrowly beat Frank Turner as my fave act of the festival.
- There is no better way to end a festival than with a Manics set.
- Feeling faint by trying to jump up and down during the whole set while wearing a fur coat.
- Getting a bit over excited when they played 'Little Baby Nothing'. This is a recurring theme.
- Playing a cover of Nirvana's 'Pennyroyal Tea'.
Sunday 31st October 2010
De Montfort Hall, Leicester
This was actually the first time I'd seen the boyos in Leicester.
- Bagging a spot down the front on James' side.
- James being ill, again. Does this only happen in the Midlands?
- Nicky saying "don't panic!" when he took over James' mid-set solo spot because he was ill and playing The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever. Particularly liked the "thank you very much Leicester..." bit he sung at the end.
Friday 11th April 2014
Brixton O2 Academy, London
Aahhh! Now here's a gig I can remember! I wasn't quick enough getting tickets for the Leicester show, so we ended up going to one of the Brixton shows. Everything turned out for the best though, cos the Academy is a beautiful venue and it was an awesome show.
Main gig memories:
- Getting blindsided by a conga of very large blokes as the band launched into opener 'Motorcycle Emptiness'.
- Accidently chucking my drink over the poor boy in front of me, who was there with his dad, as a result of the above incident. They then made a hasty exit from the pit.
- James explaining they were using a sample for the German bits in 'Europa Geht Durch Mich' cos of his stupid brain being unable to remember the words.
- Nicky's unique take on the battle vest, or battle blazer should I say?
- 'Stay Beautiful' and why don't you just...
- Not quite believing that they're playing 'Die in the Summertime' AND 'Archives of Pain'.
- Taunting the crowd by telling us they hadn't decided if they were going to do any 'Holy Bible' reunion shows.
So that's 16 gigs so far and another one on the way. I'll be heading to Manchester for one of the Holy Bible 20th anniversary shows next month, which could easily be the best one yet.
Writing about the MSP gigs I've been to has also got me thinking about the top five gigs I wished I'd been to, but I think I'll have to ponder on that one a while longer before sharing my thoughts.