Black flag Mountaineers Club Seattle 1984
It was 1984 and the serioulsy derranged Black Flag come to town ostensiably to play a hardcore show. Ot that’s what everyone was expecting. What the audience got was a band on the verge of a n-n-n- nervous breakdown with the genuinly now psychotic vocalist Henry Rollins deep into his apocalypse now Jim Morrison combat mode and guitar mangler Genn Ginn slowing down the music and cranking the guitar to a filthy demented sludge- it was a stunning specatcle and the one show that soon to be grunge generation all talk about decades later as the moment when they saw a future of detuned darkness and melancholy entwined with the raw power of rock.
Led Zeppelin Albert Hall London 1970
Even in the late sixties the media had a difficult relationship with rock and the loud and hairy Led Zep were very much outsiders from the radio and press who , like now, preferred their music less exciting and more introverted. Even being industry insiders Jimi Page and John paul Jones had to work from the bottom up in their new band but when the sold out the Albert Hall in 1970 their high decibel blues from a gun rock was suddenly overground and there was going to be no stopping the band that would be the biggest rock band in the seventies from creating their own bombastic yet quite brilliant agenda.
Jimi Hendrix London Scotch of  St James and other clubs 1966
The night that Jimi came to town changed rock n roll forever.
Fresh off the plane the young guitar payer was hawked around town by manager Chas Chandler siting in for jams and quite literally blowing everyone’s minds.
You only have read the reactions of the audience members to realise that something was serioulsy going down from the moment he walked onto the stage  – sometimes just walking in the room with his freak flag wardrobe riding high- dressed to the nines in all of his captain trips regency finery and exploding inevitable hair oozing sex and danger – his guitar matched his appearence and Eric Clapton vowed to give up the guitar after seeing one of these ad hoc early jams as anew kind of rock star was born embodying the spirit of the late sixties with his genius.
The Prodigy at some mid 90s rave
The Essex boys started out by doing PA’s of their hits but swiftly morphed into being a full on band- a band that had no ‘proper’ instruments initially apart from genius Liam hunched over his electronics but that didn’t matter as they were the heaviest band in the world and one that could easily hold its own at a rock festival which they did many times. They turned the notion of what a band was on  its head and also created a whole new genre of post techno acts like the Chemical Brothers who could also deliver live.
Pink floyd UFO club London 1967
The home made light show, the Paisley patterns, the long hair, the freak out music that was stretching beyond the conventional and the hallucinogenic air perfectly framed the strange skinny young man with the black eyes that were filled with a dark energy and a dark matter.
 Pink Floyd were  in mid flight mid jam inventing British psychedelia with its stoned looseness and Regency wardrobe and by extension prog rock in their loose jams that had am eerie, haunting, floating quality about them with the white heat of innovation seeping out from the now discarded blues.
Arguably every flash stadium show with its flash  lights relates back to the wheezing Floyd  light show from these nights provided by the band’s art school teacher.  Their breaking of the three minute pop song code was a real happening and acid was the currency. it’s s shame singer and guitar genius Syd Barrett burned out before the band escaped the underground properly but Marc Bolan, Bowie and many others for decades  used his madcap genius as  a starting point in their own explorations…
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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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