I’ve already talked about the album that helped me develop my fledgling taste in music, so here’s the story of my first gig. I’ve decided to write about it after realising that I’ve now been going to gigs for half my life, with this one coming 15 ago and me being 30. I’m good at maths, you see. Very quickly after hearing Caffeine Bomb on that Kerrang! album, I decided that The Wildhearts were the greatest band to ever exist, so I was hugely excited when they announced a date at the nearby Warrington Parr Hall.
I should confess one thing before I continue, that I had expected my first gig to be one that was taking place a few days later, Meat Loaf at the Nynex Arena, which was more symbolic of the music that I listened to about six months earlier, which was when those tickets were booked. As a second gig, it was rather a different and disappointing experience after the one I’d had at the Parr Hall. When you struggle to identify a man as large as Meat Loaf was in those days, you really are too far away from the stage…
But anyway, back to the Wildhearts. Because I was only 15 and rock concerts were notorious for being places where everyone is on drugs and would probably try and inject me with heroin the moment I stepped over the threshold, and because I didn’t know any other Wildhearts fans at the time, my dad had to come with me to this. After arriving (stepping over the passed-out junkies that lined the corridors) and briefly checking out the main floor of the venue, we decided to retreat to the balconies, where there were seats.
Lame as this sounds, for us at the time it was a wise move, I’m not sure a moshpit was what my dad was looking for, and we ended up pretty much just over the stage, with amazing views. We were perhaps a little too close to the speakers (certainly for my dad’s eardrums), but that only added to the experience. First-up were support act realtv, who were definitely a lively introduction to live music, a brattish punk band whose lead singer spent time standing on the speakers and whose keyboardist spend time sitting on the crowd (I’m sure that cost him his wallet later on at another gig).
By the time The Wildhearts came on, I was too excited to sit down and was kneeling forward and leaning on the balcony wall. From the opening blast of Greetings From Shitsville, I was hooked. The band were in a pretty good place at this point, with record company battles behind them, Jef installed as CJ’s replacement and Sick Of Drugs having reached the Top 20 that very day. The setlist was pretty much awesome, with Red Light-Green Light introduced ahead of the re-release of Fishing For Luckies, and then a load of Earth Vs and p.h.u.q. classics thrown in to keep the crowd below us bouncing.
I’d probably go so far as to say it was the best setlist of any of the Wildhearts gigs I’ve seen, and it absolutely flew past. I’m pretty sure I had a grin on my face the whole time. Kneeling down meant that I could hardly walk when it came to standing up at the end, and my dad’s eardrum has never quite been the same since, but I’ll never forget my first ever gig and that’s why The Wildhearts will always be special to me.
Setlist – Greetings From Shitsville, I Wanna Go Where The People Go, Caffeine Bomb, Nita Nitro, Sick Of Drugs, Suckerpunch, Red Light-Green Light, TV Tan, Love U Til I Don’t, Everlone, The Miles Away Girl, Geordie In Wonderland, 29 x The Pain, My Baby Is A Headfuck, Getting It, Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me