When I was fifteen I started going to gigs by myself. There were two absolutely memorable concerts that summer. One was The Who playing at the Valley (Charlton Athletic’s football ground at the time). Keith Moon (probably the best drummer ever) was still alive and part of the band. Their set was supposedly the loudest ever played (pardon, I didn’t hear you). They played all (or most of) of Quadrophenia and of course this one. And the back up bands weren’t bad either: Lou Reed, Bad Company,
After then I was going to gigs every weekend, as
I looked - just old enough to get into student union bars- those were golden
days the ones when one looks young enough to still buy a half price ticket on
the bus and then order a pint of beer in the student union. Locally, we had bands like Doctor Feelgood,
Eddie and the Hot Rods, Sham 69 and the Guildford Stranglers (later the
Stranglers) playing regularly. I also
got to see Shanana (backed up by Ian Dury’s first group, Kilburn and the High Roads) and Lou Reed at the Hammersmith Odeon.
But by then I was a committed ‘space cadet’ and the bands I was really
committed to were Gong and Hawkwind.
When Gong were on tour I tried to go and see them every weekend. I
remember trips to Guilford, Southend and Bath, but best of all to the Hammersmith
Palais, an ornate 1920s dance palace (immortalised by the Clash), which occasionally got invaded by hordes of patchouli and conical hat wearing
hippies, watching Gong’s reverse videos of surfers and Blomdido bad de Grasse
miming playing flute on a French baguette. Hawkwind played a lesser role: I did
get to see them at