1973 was a year of musical contradictions. Within a matter of four weeks I had started my life as a concert-goer (we never used the word ‘gig’) and seen three completely different artists.
The first concert my brother and I went to was Lou Reed at the Sheffield City Hall. I didn’t know much about Lou Reed but my brother had bought the single of “Waiting For The Man” and I’d loved it immediately, probably because I’d learned to play E and A on the guitar so could thrash along for at least half of the song. The B side was even better, “Run, Run, Run” was strange and droning and just my kind of thing. I’m sure everyone thinks their first concert is special, and so it should be. Mine was. The support act was an a-cappella group “The Persuasions”. Doo wap and “Heroin” – a heady combination!
Four days later we went again to the City Hall, to see Status Quo! No strange American tales of low-life and debauchery this time, just straight forward heads-down-no-nonsense-mindless-boogie. (as the Albertos would later sing) We had to stand down at the front so we could see. I remember standing next to a pretty looking girl who was wearing an Afghan coat and smelled of patchouli. We were amongst long-haired, supposed hippy types who seemed pretty intent on jumping on the seats and ripping them up rather than spreading peace and love to everyone. Quo were banned from coming back to the City Hall after that!
And then just a couple of weeks later I went to see Genesis. It was the City Hall again but my brother didn’t come this time. He never really got into them like I did. I went with a couple of mates from school – I was an old hand at this concert-going lark by then! I’m sure I closed my eyes at some points and tried to pretend I was stoned and drifting off in a progressive rock dream, but really I was too excited. We even went round to the stage door afterwards and waited for the band to come out and get their autographs.
Andy Nesbit managed to take some illicit photographs at the gig. I’ve still got them. He was one of those kids whom everyone thought was impossibly cool. He had a drum kit too and I jammed with him a few times so he often left it at our house. In the Sixth Form he ended up (of course) going out with Helen Kent, one of the cutest girls in the year. He was a crap drummer though.
So, in a few weeks I’d seen an American icon, a rock ‘n’ roll band and a man leaping about with a flower on his head! Like I said; a year of contradictions but I absorbed them all.