Reader, I’m a massive fan of live music and have built up an eclectic mix of artists that I have seen over the last few years in particular. I have seen sell-out stadium tours that tickets were gone in seconds to an artist who had to move his venue to the upstairs of a neighbouring pub after he only sold just six tickets (this guys ended up being the warm up act for Ed Sheeran some years later). I love anything that makes a good beat and has a talented and charismatic artist behind the microphone.
Best Supporting Act
This is a tough one. I have two in mind for this answer. The first amazing warmup act I saw was Sara Barielles at O2 Academy in Glasgow whilst she was touring with Maroon 5 back in February 2011. The supporting act was initially meant to be country icons Lady Antebellum but after the lead singer Hillary Scott announced her pregnancy, Sara stepped up to the plate as a replacement. She has not since returned to Scotland as far as I know and she is definitely on my list.
The second supporting act who stood out for me was Ben Caplan. The booming Canadian with an impressive beard first crossed my path when I saw Norwegian pop group Katzenjammer (for the first time) at the Òran Mór on October 2012. His sound and personality blew me away with his soulful lyrics and catchy hooks, so much so I had to buy tickets when I heard he was returning to Scotland to play the Electric Circus in November 2016 and he did not disappoint!
First Ever Gig
This gig I don’t actually remember all that much because I was seven but I do remember the atmosphere, which was electric. Little did I know that seeing Whitney Houston on her 1999 ‘My Love is Your Love’ Tour would have such an impact on my thirst to see live music just over a decade later.
I remember being in the NEC in Birmingham (where I was told by my parents that the venue was where Gladiators was filmed which kept me very well behaved for the long car journey from our house as I thought I might actually meet a real life Gladiator!). I also remember a lot of costume changes and everyone getting their lighters out whilst Whitney sang ‘I will always love you’. I was also very excited that she sang ‘It’s not right but it’s Okay” which was my favourite of her songs at the time. What an artist to pop my live music cherry to!
Worst Gig Overall
I have only ever walked out of a gig once and it was that of YouTube sensation ‘Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox’ in March 2016. This electro-swing band prides itself on covering billboard chart hits with a vintage re-arrangement to hail back to yester-year. Bradlee, a struggling jazz pianist, started filming videos in his Queens apartment with some close friends, turned into a viral sensation. However this wasn’t translated on stage for several reasons.
The first being the Scott Bradlee did not show up. You heard me reader! The act is called ‘Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox’ yet he stayed backstage for no reason with no apology and had another pianist playing. The tour had about a dozen venues in the UK with Scott only making an appearance for his sold-out shows. He was still happily posting on social media with selfies of the collaborating artists like he was actually performing every night which proved disappointing for PMJ fans life myself.
Secondly the vibe was all wrong. The venue was a poor choice as many of the songs had a tap dancer who you couldn’t see as she wasn’t elevated. Perhaps the first few rows standing by the stage would’ve caught a glimpse at her talents but to most of us it was just noise and flailing arms.
The audience was varied from young drunk students dressed up as flappers to elderly couples wanting a piece of nostalgia with a modern twist but there was no harmony between audience members who should have been united in music and it was an awkward state of confusing and discordance for most. When some of the singers tried to engage with the audience, it was mostly met with silence or a few weak claps.
Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox came back to Scotland just under a year later and played at the Usher Hall, a much more ideal venue but was charging £65 per ticket (the same cost I was to see Motown legend Lionel Richie), a whopping 260% price increase from the £25 he initially charged at O2 Academy and also the same price I saw Passenger at the exact same venue.
Long and short of it was it was a massive hot mess and I walked out 45 minutes into their set.
I have been asked what my favourite gig was but I will dedicate a new blog post to that sometime soon.
What is the least/most you’ve paid for a gig ticket?
The cheapest (that wasn’t free) was Frightened Rabbit and Fat Sam’s December 2008 which was £7 per ticket. The Most Expensive was AC/DC at Etihad Stadium June 2016 where I paid an eye watering £120 per ticket.
How do you afford to go to all these gigs?
Quite frankly, most of the tickets I buy have been reasonably priced. The average price for tickets I’ve paid for is £35 with a dozen or so tickets off the top of my head being £25 and under. Most, if not all of the gigs I saw between 2011 and 2013 involved sleeping on friends’ couches and pre drinking before the venue which also saved a fair bit of money.
I bet you’ve seen a lot of these bands at festivals so it doesn’t really count.
Funnily enough, I have only been to one festival and that was ‘The Black Rabbit Festival’ in Beijing in September 2011 and I don’t really count it as a ‘gig’ as I went to see several bands who did 30-45 minute sets. It is a totally different experience versus dedicating yourself to one artist for an entire evening. Highlights of that festival were seeing Yellowcard, Ludacris and 30 Seconds to Mars.
Are there any artists on your bucket list left?
There are so many artists I would love to see. Stevie Wonder being one of them! I would also love to see Regina Spektor, Sara Barielles and Lady Antebellum. If I could only go to one more gig in my life, it would have to be Stevie Wonder without a shadow of a doubt.
If you have any more questions, please just put them in the comments or contact me.
Have you got any questions about my experiences seeing live music acts? Feel free to leave a comment!