Monday, 12 March 2012

At this stage in my life.

I had somehow gotten on to the stage – and was awaiting my turn to jump off.

As I have stated previously – I am not a friend of the mob but here I was indulging in sheep like behaviour. A push and a shove and the stage is ours. But here I was – on stage – well I had stepped up a foot or so as the crowd had surged and shook to the twin guitar action from Blake and McGinley and everything flowed into that moment of bewilderment and sudden realisation that I was amidst the group. Not performing but most likely ruining some else’s enjoyment. To feel self conscious at this point – does not make for a good exit. To catch the eyes of your friend and be certain that this was not what we ‘did’ only added to the awkward nature of it all.

I once tried to get onstage whilst Morrissey sang of our adolescent ills – but was harangued and prevented by burly Scottish men in shiny bomber jackets. It wasn’t that the bomber jacket had taken off as a fashion accessory de jour in Scottish cities and streets – this was Showsec and boots and snarled faces and grimaces.

To be fair they saved me the embarrassment of stumbling on stage and dancing awkwardly – or attempting to strike up a conversation whilst Johnny jangled to the left all white demin jacket and seaman’s cap.

When I was younger and what was then a regular concert goer – as ticket stubs seem to testify - there was a hardly a week without some live action. You get me? And without fail there would be a moment of sloppy looking youth jettisoning themselves from stages into the arms of the crowd – in an endless tide of arms and holed jumpers. I never really had the urge to want to do this – to impinge myself on proceedings in that way. I was more with the Keith Richards school of thought – get off my stage you fucker – and understood why you would use the telecaster to keep them at bay.

There’s a thing about the stage. Its openness and space – where performers come to share their wares with easily excitable audiences. Unwritten rules that say that you can look but don’t step up front – this is not where you are welcome. Those moments when you heave yourself up and glance at the setlist for the night – knowing what’s coming next but enjoying it even more because of that dramatic irony. Or shout at some roadie to pass the list to you after the lights have come on and revealed the stage as a mess of leads and dust – no glamour just organisation.

But here I was caught in a moment of youthful exuberance – as Snub TV cameras filmed the chaos. It had been one of those oddly organised bills – the Manics opening – all sprayed shirts that made them look like militant darts players – as me and McGee talked about the Clash and honesty. I didn’t appreciate the Manics at that point – it turned out they were an honest bunch. Then Swervedriver - another band with guitars and voices. I can’t remember Swervedriver if I’m being truthful. I saw them several times – none of it sticks. Finally the Fannies making music with harmonies and guitars. Slowly igniting a change in the right direction for all independent [bowl]heads.

Whatever happened at that concert resulted in me somehow bridging the artist and audience divide. I have a friend who talks about his brother’s love of The Specials and how they transcended the whole rock ‘n’ droll thing of performer and those to be performed at. How Terry Hall would simple have a look that reinforced that there was no difference – that The Specials were both me and you – and we were all welcome to a moment in the lights. Norman Blake didn’t exactly welcome us on the stage – but he didn’t kick me off either – I just sort of shuffled my way back –to the beer sodden floor and where I felt I belonged. I do remember watching Iggy Pop – on television – simple work the crowd into a frenzy – a unit – a platoon that he commanded. It was one of those supercharged moments where you could see the 60s Iggy in his eyes – all confrontation and hostility. But it resulted in lots of middle class white kids – kinda bopping with boots to Asheton’s guitar growl. All off kilter and really knowing they were ‘part of something’ – you know like it was a Glasto moment and Kitty and me were like soooo near Iggy and …and…..and.

The crowd wouldn’t spit on them in 1969. But Iggy handled it. Inviting them on. Stopped the show. Told them to get off. Which they did. You know you’re only visiting the stage. It’s not yours.

In some ways I still cringe about that moment. I had gone to the concert with James – I returned with James.

We did not discuss the stage incident – it would never repeat itself.

Teenage Fanclub: Everything Flows with me somewhere in the audience.