10 ways a band should enter the stage

Ambling, shuffling, sauntering and skulking… all ways of entering a stage. And all DULL. Come on bands! What’s wrong with making a grand entrance once in a while?

The music history books are thankfully jammed with impressive arrival-related anecdotes. Here, in no particular order, are a top ten which will hopefully inspire today’s minstrels to push that envelope a bit further. Now where did I put that motorbike and that ramp?

1) It Bites – circa 1985. Lord Adam Ant taught us that ridicule is nothing to be scared of: a lesson which Francis Dunnery of Egremont’s finest pomp rockers took very much to heart. Passive observers of the ‘Calling All The Heroes’ and ‘All In Red’ hitmakers of yore might well recall seeing Mr Dunnery enter the stage from the rear dressed in a white cloak and adopting a rather Jesuit-like crucifix pose. And this was all well before Michael Jackson’s Earth Song antics. Balls the size of Bethlehem, that boy.

2) David Bowie – Glass Spider tour, 1987. Bowie has always been effortlessly cool, of course, but the opening tune of the Glass Spider show certainly put this worthy credential to the test. Stadium audiences gasped, giggled and WTF-ed in their tens of thousands as David was slowly lowered onto the stage from the belly of a papier mache spider in an office chair, dressed in red suit and mullet while singing into a telephone. Drugs.

3) Iggy Pop – Anytime, anywhere. Iggy is the king of the 100 yard dash onto a stage. And so, for that matter, are the Stooges. Those boys HAMMER their way onto the boards, and can be plugged in, turned up and cranking into ‘Search And Destroy’ in the time it takes to say ‘Ig…’. The head Stooge is always right behind them, shirt off in five seconds, wriggling among the audience in ten, cock out within the 20 second mark. Breathlessly brilliant.

4) Pulp – late 1990s. Can’t remember the year, but there was one tour where Jarvis’s ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ double was employed to posture and pout his way out of the shadows during the intro music. It looked like Jarvis, it acted like Jarvis, it even sounded like Jarvis. But it was not Jarvis – he came a moment or two later, providing agog witnesses with a double-Cocker moment to cherish.

5) Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin tour 2003. Video countdowns, Wayne Coyne in a suit and fake blood, confetti, explosions, smoke, lights, balloons, people dressed as animals and dancing superheroes – Flaming Lips never fail to spunk all their special effects budget in the first three minutes of a set. Not so good for the venue cleaners, but they knew the risks.

6) British Sea Power – The Garage, New Years Eve 2003. Dressed like they’d spent the season of goodwill sleeping rough in a forest, the Sea Power boys heralded this New Year with a chorus of handbells while a bagpiper earned his dram by leading all assembled through a chorus of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’. This classic night got impressively wobblier and stranger, thanks in no small part to this fine festive entrance.

7) David Devant and his Spirit Wife – 100 Club, 2010. What more could be asked of a man in a wig and fake eyebrows calling himself ‘The Vessel’ than a lengthy monologue about a Victorian magic/spirit-summoning act complete with scene-setting passages read aloud from a book? I bet Charles Dickens public readings were as good in the 1850s.

8) King Kurt – 1983. With legs and arms in plaster, having been given a pasting by security at an earlier gig on the tour, King Kurt put on brave faces when this correspondent had the pleasure of seeing them at Exeter Riverside Club in 1983. Food fights, a snakebite-drinking contest (via a bucket and funnel) and free haircuts (anything you want as long as it’s a flat-top) de rigeur. Good times.

9) Arcade Fire – Kings College Student Union, London 2005. A sinister low-register intro drone heightened anticipation to panic-levels, before shooting spines through arses with an all-thumping, all-screaming, all-strumming ‘Wake Up’. Extraordinary.

10) MC5 – Grande Ballroom, Detroit 1968. Who could fail to be moved by Brother JC Crawford’s impassioned call to arms at the opening of the classic ‘Kick Out The Jams’ live album? “It takes five seconds, five seconds of decision to realise your purpose on this planet.” The decision, my friends, is whether to be part of the solution or the problem. But you know this. Or you should. Rhetoric aside, what a kick-ass way to start a gig, eh?

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  1. And A Few Ways To Leave A Stage…

    1. Morrissey – Liverpool Echo Arena 2010 – Moz stepped out onto the stage before a capacity audience and before he had completed the first track, an audience member threw a plastic beaker of water which glanced Morrissey\’s brow. The clown in the crowd was nabbed by security and hauled out; however Morrissey beat him to it and left the stage not to return.

    2. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Nth London Poly March 1985 – In their early days the JAMC seemed to attract chaos, this gig turned into a full on fight with maybe 30-40 participants, others hurled bottles at the stage; The Reid brothers retreated, but not before they ensured the tape was running – The soundtrack to the \’riot\’ was subsequently released as a 7” bootleg!!

    3. The Pogues – Mountford Hall, Liverpool – The band played a stormer, McGowan was a drunken arse, and when told by members of the crowd he struck out with a microphone stand before leaving stage left. McGowan was arrested prior to leaving the venue.

    4. Aerosmith – Sturgis, USA August 2009 – Front man Steve Tyler was allegedly so out of it that he was unable to gauge the size of the stage and promptly fell off it!! Tyler suffered minor head and neck injuries and a shoulder injury. The gig was pulled and he was airlifted from the venue to the local hospital.

    5. GG Allin – Everywhere – Allin always threatened to kill himself on stage; possibly as a result of being named Jesus Christ Allin by his religious lunatic father, Allin succumbed to mental illness, despite this he took up the punk call to arms. His gigs were \’events\’ at which he would perform naked, urinate, defecate, smear himself and eat his own faeces – He would assault audience members and was regularly arrested on stage. At one New York gig, NYPD were in the audience to prevent him from committing suicide – Allin having declared he would shoot himself whilst performing.

    6. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – Belgium, August 2010 – With the end of a storming set in site front man Charles Haddon took it upon himself to dive into the audience; he landed on a female fan and caused her serious injury. The crowd turned ugly as the gig ended. Haddon fearful of what he had done, walked from the rear of the stage climbed a satellite mast and then jumped to his death!!

    7. Metallica – Bogotá, Columbia – March 2010 – The first gig in Columbia by the metal legends for 10yrs, 30,000 were present but 6-800 locked out were having none of it. SO determined were they in their efforts to get in that police resorted to using water cannon, tear gas and ultimately tanks to disperse the crowd; not before arresting some 150+. Mettallica played on no doubt enjoying the deep rumble of a tanks engine!!

    8. The Beastie Boys – Liverpool Royal Court May 1987 – Having whipped up a storm, the Boys finally arrived in the UK and met some real bad boys!! After 3 tracks they were pelted with bottles & coins, the crowd in the balcony moved on to chairs and the band retreated – The crowd didn\’t and began to trash the venue, fight amongst each other – Was only suspended when a couple of tear gas canisters were let off!! As a lasting memory Ad-Rock was arrested by Merseyside Police.

  2. Excellent article (and great comment too by Phil Newall). I will try never to do any of these things on stage, ever, ever ever.

    • Enter a Stage:

      1. V2 – Stockport Tech College c 1981

      The house lights went down, only UV lamps on, the crowd were aggressively shunted away as the band wearing stacked heels (and therefore appearing several inches taller) strutted to the stage with guitars held aloftfrom the back of the gig. They had smeared white paint on their faces which of course the UV light picked up – making them look like huge aliens.

      Stan the Man – the bassist later fell through the wooden stage – and the drummer from the Evicted menaced punters in the loos with a cycling glove on his right hand for five pound notes (“I wear this, so when I hit you, my fist doesn’t slide off”)

      2. The Fall – Hazel Grove Youth Club 1979

      Mark E Smith took the stage: the only words he said all gig:

      “Three Rules…..Rule One; no spitting, Rule Two; nobody gets on stage, Rule Three; no requests….Last Orders….”

      3. Darwin Deez – Reading Festival 2010

      A stunned crowd witnessed the band do their brilliant synchronised dance routine before launcing into the set

  3. Used to be a band in Blackburn called Susans Attic played a show as support at King Georges hall. Their last song the singer pored lighter fuel over the kit and set fire to it with the the drumeer still seated. Needless to say there was no main band that night as we stood outside the venue whilst 5 fire fighting crew’s entered the building. As for The Beastie Boys – Liverpool Royal Court May 1987 that was a a special exit! The band had played Brixton the night before and had imitated their audience with baseball bats the rumor was not up norf would they fet away with that. As we entered the venue it was like a footie match with a choros of hello Scouse aggro! As they entered the stage most folks had a bottle of beer in their hands and Adam fuckwit comes on with a baseball bat and says in the mike Liverpool let me hav’ it! So we did. There was two girls go go dancing in cages and a hugh guy on the decks mixing, he got a bottle between the eyes and hit the deck and the place was trashed even the mixing desk front of house was thrown towards the stage it was fucking mental. Must have been the best exit as the band where deported the day!

  4. Steven Frankland

    Scroll down to the post about bands leaving the stage.. I used to be the bassist in Susans Attic, must be alsmot 20 years ago now. Greg setting the drums on fire with lighter fluid was hysterical..

  5. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  6. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  7. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  8. red bottom shoes

    10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  9. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  10. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

  11. 10 ways a band should enter the stage – Louder Than War

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