Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Dubious Claims To Fame – 1

I’ve got plenty of genuine or worthwhile claims to fame, owing to my backstage career in theatre, film, TV, and live music. Those don’t really interest me particularly, because it is a natural part of my work and we could all name-drop the people we’ve worked “with” (and if you say you worked “with” a celebrity when you actually only lifted their gear onstage and didn’t even get the chance to make eye contact, then you’re a dick). Instead, I’m going to relate some wee stories that, like the title suggests, are really tenuous claims to fame. This is the first, and I have at least three in mind for starters. Here goes.

Back in 2000, I started going to see live bands regularly. My first two gigs were bands I loved, and then when I started uni a friend encouraged me to join him at a couple of gigs by bands I didn’t know. When a third band I liked were touring, and he wasn’t free to join me, I made a decision – if it meant going alone and seeing a band I really liked, or not going because I couldn’t find anyone to join me, then fuck it, I’d go alone. Writing now, in 2012, I have seen a couple of hundred live gigs, and been at the vast majority on my own. Sometimes I see people I know there, sometimes I don’t. I’m only there for the music though, so it doesn’t bother me. Truth be told, I actually prefer it – I can stand where I like, I can move about, I don’t lose anyone in the crowd, I don’t have to babysit drunk pals or move so they can see better: I’m responsible for myself, and only I can make or ruin my night. Sure, there are times I like having company, and people I enjoy meeting up with at gigs, but I’m just as happy – and sometimes happier – to be at gigs on my tod.

When I went to see this band, Kill II This, in 2000, they had two bands supporting them. The openers were playing their first ever Glasgow show, and they were brilliant. When they came out afterwards to stand at the back watching the other bands, there were a few of us went up to them to say we’d liked the music, and did they have an album out. They didn’t.

I saw them again, at least twice or maybe thrice more, on later tours. They finally released a CD, and it was only available in Glasgow from Tower Records – then the doyen of expensive but hard-to-find LPs and imports. I duly bought a copy, and took it with me to get it signed at the next gig, which was again in the famed Cathouse. After they had played, and now with a merch stand set up, I went out to where they were all standing within its vicinity. At the time, I was a massive fan of Iron Maiden, and I used to wear a denim jacket covered in band patches. Here is a recent picture, which gets bigger if you click it:

There I was, standing at their merch table, saying how much I liked their album. Two of them said they liked my jacket, and one called the lead singer over to see it. He admired it, front and back, and all of them thought (rightly or wrongly) that it was “pretty cool.” That’s a weird moment, when you’ve seen a band play and go “I like your music,” and they go “Thanks, we like your jacket.” They signed my album, and my ticket stub, and I regret that – a few years ago – I sold both for the same price I’d paid originally.

The album they autographed, the one I’d waited patiently to be released, was remixed some months afterwards by Bob Rock, and reissued. “The Fake Sound Of Progress” was their debut, and – twelve years on – the Lostprophets are still touring regularly. So, there’s one slight claim to fame – they liked my jacket, and I saw their first ever Glasgow show.

On a side note, at a later gig, there was a pause during their set. Someone in the audience filled it with a very Glaswegian yell of “YER MAW!”
The lead singer was bemused and confounded – “Are you saying ‘you rock’ or ‘you suck’?” he asked.
“Naw, yer maw!” came the reply, now from a growing number of helpful message-relayers. “What?” he asked, still not getting it.
“Yer Maw!” shouted the Glasgow crowd, as one. It was beautiful.

The very next gig they played here, they ended by saying “You rock, we suck. Goodnight.” I like to think we inspired that sign-off, and that they use it everywhere as their “Thank you, goodnight, we love you all!” (Ozzy) or “Good night, from Iron Maiden, from Eddie, and from the boys” (Bruce Dickinson).

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