So I, along with half of London, went to see Blur on Friday (seriously, who went on Thursday? Shadows? Insubstantial half beings? 90% of the people I've spoken to went on Friday. Thursday was for loooosers) and the band were fantastic. Just wonderful. You can see how brilliant I thought they were in my Londonist review which you can all read and click on the little star icon to say you 'like' it so I look really popular. And needy.
(Actually, a little side effect of the Blur gig is that I'm now desperate to see Graham Coxon live
next time he tours. I've had Happiness in
Magazines for ages and have been playing it on my iPod all weekend,
remembering how brilliant it is, and now The Golden D and Spinning Top
are somewhere in the post. My god, how much do I love Graham. The man's
a stunning musician; plus, you know, I totally would. Even though he's
clearly a total fuck-up. What am I saying? This is me. I totally would because he's clearly a total fuck-up.)
Yeah. Anyway: Blur = fabulous. Crowd = wankers.
The difficulty starts because both I and m'companion in the Arts are both quite small. I blame Michael J Fox for my shortness (I don't know what m'Arty companion's excuse is). Mike and I are both 5'4" you see, and when I was much younger and utterly obsessed with Back to the Future, I didn't want to grow any taller than 5'4" because it doesn't do to be taller than your future husband does it? *ahem* So when it came to pass that I remained a shortarse, it was all down to Michael J Fox, and nothing to do with the fact that neither of my parents top 5'6". Genetics is all lies.
Being short is a real fucking pain at gigs. I quite like being down the front, it's where the atmosphere is, but when you're my height you a) can't see a bloody thing and b) get trampled to death in the mosh pit. As I've got older I've started hanging back at a mid point in the crowd; near enough to feel in touch with the band but far enough away for the chance of a gap in front of me to preserve some kind of sight line. At indoor gigs this tactic generally works; at outdoor gigs, as I was brutally reminded on Friday, it doesn't so much.
First, the crowd is so much bigger at outdoor gigs that by mid way back you can't actually see the stage any more (though this is where Glastonbury comes into its own with its sloping hills). But they put on video screens so at least you have some idea of what's going on. Second, they tend to start earlier. This means extra drinking time. When it's as sunny as it was on Friday, this means people tend to treat the day like a picnic and sit around from about 3pm, slowly getting wasted. And this leads us on to the other problem.
Drunk people at a gig are knobends.
For example, the City bankers (I suspect a real description of their occupation as well as rhyming slang) who declared "oh, this is just the best song they did yah, oh it's so good" then talked loudly all the way through it while barging into us to take pictures of themselves talking through the best song. That's Tender and Beetlebum ruined then; songs that are atmospheric and need you to sink into them, rather than concentrating on blocking out the twattish bleating coming from the side. We moved after a couple of songs.
For example, the guy who spent half the gig with his back to the stage, playing an imaginary trombone for his friends or doing exaggerated Liam Gallagher style dancing (mate, you're at the wrong gig. Oasis are at Wembley). These tickets cost £45. DId he really pay that kind of money to stand the wrong way?
For example, all the people throwing bottles around. Yeah, they were all plastic, but they still hurt when they hit you. Just before the encores, a group of people with kids aged between about 8 and 14 came and stood near us. The youngest was completely bewildered at what was happening, probably didn't know the songs, couldn't see a thing, and looked quite traumatised at all these bottles landing near him and hitting his elbows. Then his Dad picked up a bottle and flung it during For Tomorrow. Way to set an example to your kids, there.
For example – and this is mainly music snobbery, I know, but it still annoyed me – the huge numbers of people who went mental for Country House and stood around blankly as Chemical World followed on. Cos, like, Parklife was their first album yah?
And that's on top of all the usual gig annoyances like people streaming in and out of the crowd to go to the bar or loo (sometimes I wonder if I have an invisible Exit sign above my head; in reality it's probably again because I'm short, so in the sea of taller heads the space where I'm standing looks like a gap).
I wonder if a lot of these irritations were more obvious because it was daylight. As night began to fall and the stage lights became more noticeable, people began to pay more attention and get drawn in more. Or, we just stopped being able to see as many of the wankers. Perhaps it's unfortunate that these gigs happened so close to the summer equinox; maybe if they'd been held in late August when it gets dark earlier, it would have been more enjoyable. Because as This Is A Low played out with the moon above the stage and the lights sweeping the crowd and Graham's chords ringing out, I definitely had goosebumps on the back of my neck. And it wasn't just the night air.