Friday, March 25, 2011

The Alcoves IV: The Bass Player Is Clueless

I may have been slightly less clueless about the local music scene had I had an older sibling, but based on events over the subsequent thirty years I may not.

Olly had an older brother Gez and thus exposure to Gez's band The Toys and their friends.

Bev was half-step-sister-in-law-once-removed to someone in The Bodies.

Roo's older sister Sally was a pink-haired punk drummer four years older than me. I fell in love with her briefly until she introduced me to Sarah who was on her way to becoming a music journalist. I fell in love with Sarah briefly and then for a slightly longer second period when it turned out she knew the folks at Zig Zag and Sniffin' Glue. Both Sally and Sarah were friends with Dawn who I married briefly and all three of them had gone to F.E. college with Nick Haeffner and others in the established St. Albans music scene.

Youth contributed to my ignorance in a second way since it kept me out of The Horn of Plenty until I was tall enough to pretend to be eighteen. John Peel went there occasionally (although I only ever saw him at The Marquee and The Lyceum), Kim Wilde worked as a barmaid, and Paul Young (when not on stage) would wander around eating toast looking absolutely delighted that he was Paul Young.

If there was nothing going on at The Horn, the Civic Hall had gigs most weekends. I had to depunk myself a bit for a Motorhead show at which ground beef filled the air. A couple of weeks later someone set my hair on fire at the Ultravox gig. I would have let it burn had I thought it would keep John Foxx in the band thereby preventing the installation of the Scottish twit with the mustache.

And there was London.

Having found that sleep was optional, I was only limited by money. This led to terrible dilemmas. I traded my 999 album for an Ian Dury and the Blockheads ticket. And I never figured out how to be in two venues simultaneously. The Pretenders or The Fall tonight? Flip a coin.

Frankly we were spoiled. There was so much music that I made the mistake of sometimes skipping opening acts in favor of the bar. At a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig in Hemel Hempstead I was elbowing my way towards a pint of bitter when I noticed the support act sounded quite good.

"Any idea who this is?" I said to the barman.

It was The Cure.

I caught their last handful of songs. The next day I stole my mother's eye-liner.

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