Friends of Kim Philby

On Friday, I’m going out. It’s a rare occurrence, rare enough to merit comment. A combination of parenthood and financial restraint mean it doesn’t roll around too often. There’s an extra frisson of anticipation about this night out though. We’re heading through to Glasgow to see Simple Minds at the SECC. Ok, maybe not the most fashionable of bands to go see, but it’s special for me.

The Minds were the first band I ever went to see perform live. Growing up in the Borders every band worth their salt, and many not even worth the seawater, bypassed the area. There was no way my parents would be persuaded to ferry me to Newcastle or Edinburgh or Glasgow in order to attend a concert, at least not until I was 17 anyway. I’d been a fan of the band since ‘Sparkle In The Rain’, and finally was going to get to see them play, at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Of course, this was at the height of the anti-apartheid era and so, there was a falling out with the SRU and the gig was re-housed at the vastly inferior Meadowbank. Not that this mattered to us.

I guess technically The Silencers were the first band I saw live as they were the first of the support acts. Thank you to the organizers for introducing me to the best Scottish band no one has ever heard of. Texas were also on the bill, a teenage Sharleen Spiteri tempting fate by asking the crowd “what have you got to show me first?” I’m fairly sure there was someone else on the bill, but for the life of me, I just don’t remember them. Jim and the boys were superb, making me realize that music is meant to be heard live and loud.

The bootleg tape procured from an Edinburgh record fair saw a fair bit of play in the years after the event, despite the out of time clapping, crap wit and tuneless shouting along of the guys stood around the recording device.

I’ve seen the Minds a couple of times since, at the Usher Hall and most recently in Princes Street Gardens, and they are still as good as ever. As an extra treat, Friday’s support act are OMD….it’s back to my youth all over again.

When it comes to favourite gigs, I have a few and for different reasons. The aforementioned Meadowbank show as it was my first. The biggest in terms of crowd numbers was the performance of ‘The Wall’ by Roger Waters and a cast of thousands in Berlin in 1990. Quarter of a million people, a fantastic show and a night spent sleeping rough on the floor of the Zoogardens Rail station. Fantastic. I’ve seen the Silencers a few times in the Queens Hall in Edinburgh. Wonderful gigs, such a small venue you’re almost on stage with the band.

Goodbye Mr Mackenzie was a memorable night at the Barrowlands, down the front, peering up at the soon to be famous Shirley Manson. Shame it took the demise of the Macs to make it happen.

James at Alton Towers rounds out my top five, a gig that was a triumph because of, rather than despite the weather. It had been miserable all day. Rain and wind had almost forced a cancellation. Johnny Rotten and PiL had been pelted with bottles and various other missiles, before James came on and whipped up the crowd. It was a tremendous atmosphere in amongst the fans. Steam rising as body heat counteracted the rainfall.

Here’s hoping that Friday night forces itself into consideration for the top five. It’s going to be good no matter what.

And James/Charlie, if you’re reading, I look forward to hearing, some, most or none of these tracks.

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