Covid White Kids.
A gig is a rare treat these days and the forthcoming Rule of Six isn’t going to make life easier. But this one’s going ahead – my first real gig since seeing Glitter Piss in Brighton in March.
Yes, there was a little foray up Portobello Road to see some wonderful rock ‘no roll & skiffle bands at Acklam Village but this is my first chance since lockdown to see a ‘buy a ticket in advance to see a proper band in a proper venue’ gig and I wasn’t going to miss it.
Long-standing concerts that I had tickets for were cancelled (Peter Frampton), some rescheduled then cancelled (Vive Le Rock Awards) and most rescheduled (Amyl & the Sniffers, Kelis, Ruts DC, Stranglers, Bauhaus etc.). So it was great news when this one appeared on Glen’s Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago – the signs were good because clearly the venue was able to take current restrictions into account.
Actually, my first masked gig was Bauhaus’s Mask Ball at a sports hall (Lings Forum) in their hometown of Northampton in 1982. But that was a different time and the only Corona we knew about them came in large glass bobbled bottles in fizzy lime or raspberry flavour.
The Electric Ballroom had my contact details from my ticket purchase and I masked-up, sanitised my hands (again) and entered the foyer with trepidation. I shouldn’t have worried… Man, this is making me feel alive – it’s just so nice to be in a proper venue with a rich history, watching bands with a live audience. I’ve missed it so much. It’s joyous. Lots of friendly faces, a few well-known faces and a lot of smiles. It looks like we all feel special to be there.
Everyone’s happy & cheerful – I don’t mind the good humoured elbow & fist bumps but I want to get back to hugs and holding people like you’ll never let them go.
The crowd is up for it and the Pricillas hit the stage, doing what they do, what they’ve always done – playing high energy punk with attitude. They seem quite comfortable on stage and they get a great reaction from this seated crowd. It’s a sell out and every stool, chair and wooden bench is occupied before Glen came on. Plenty of room to walk around to go to the bar or toilets – the only time when you’re required to wear a mask.
Other than that, enjoy your seat and the space around you and relax in the friendly feel good atmosphere. It’s the first time Glen’s played the Electric Ballroom since the Vicious White Kids gig August 15 1978. Who knew? Then he played with Vicious, New, Jones, Scabies & Spungen, tonight it’s Chris Musto (drums), Jim Lowe (bass) & Neal X (guitar). The band play enthusiastically & are received well by an adoring crowd. We get the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’, Magic Carpet Ride, Pretty Vacant, All or Nothing, Scott Walker’s ‘Montague Terrace in Blue’ and lots more besides.
The music, good as it is, is almost irrelevant – this is about seeing a gig, trying to see a safe way forward and trying to find a new hope. It’s aspirational. Heaven knows if it worked for the venue or bands financially (£30 a ticket) but it must get us closer to one possible future. A future with live music.
On the tube home, a large group of kids are swigging bottled beer & jumping on the seats – not a mask in sight. Pesky kids.
Words by Simon Catmur