I enjoyed listening to music from an early age, but it didn’t really occur to me that I could go and see live music until I was in my teens, when a friend suggested we get tickets to go and see Adam & The Ants. We were only 15 at the time, and not supposed to stay out late, so of course we had to seek permission and ensure that we could make the last train home, Oh and not wear anything inappropriate!

It was a really exciting experience, very colourful and just at the period where Adam & the Ants were moving from punk to being more mainstream. We turned up super early and stood in a massive queue waiting to get in, all discussing our favourite tracks and looking at some of the more daring fans in their dramatic make up and punk outfits. Back then there was no internet, and as we had never been to a gig before we had no idea that band times are pretty much the same for ever gig!

Little did I know at the time, but that first gig was to lead to many more underage gig attendances in the early 80s. Sadly I have very few tickets left, as many of those that we went to we paid on the door, or entry was just a raffle ticket. After Adam & the Ants we saw synth pop outfit Japan at Hammersmith Odeon, and goth pioneers Bauhaus at the Lyceum & Hammersmith Palais, moving from more mainstream tastes to bands less well-known at the time.

I really loved Bauhaus, again it was really exciting as we’d only been to a few gigs by then. We tended to just go on the spur of the moment for the smaller shows so we did have to get there early and queue to get a ticket, we didn’t want to be at the back of the queue and get turned away. It was also a lot rougher than the seated gigs we were used to, and I remember nearly losing my shoes the first time we went, and after that making sure to always wear my pointy goth boots!

At first it was a small group of us, mainly teenaged girls, but when we reached 17 we made friends with a group of lads and other girls who were also into more alternative music. They had slightly different tastes to us, and that led us to going to see such bands as psychobilly acts The Cramps and The Meteors, not to mention synth pop doyen Gary Numan and Southern Rock stalwarts ZZ Top, who I definitely wouldn’t have gone see otherwise! I particularly enjoyed The Cramps with their over the top theatricality, it really appealed to me in the same way that Adam & the Ants and Bauhaus did.

Like Pennyblack editor John Clarkson, I have lost many of my tickets from that time, finding these in an envelope in a box after he asked for volunteers for this series of articles. I was amazed to find these early tickets as I thought that they were long gone in my many house moves, which I guess brings me onto my student years.

I moved away to Sheffield as a student and carried on going to see gigs. Back then there were a number of venues to go to. Smaller ones such as The Hallamshire Hotel, where I saw an early incarnation of future Britpop icons Pulp, alas no tickets from those gigs, and Take Two, way out in Attercliffe, where mainly Psychobilly and punk bands played, I didn’t often go there are it was rather far out of the city centre. Both Universities had gigs on, with University of Sheffield having about three venues in the one Student Union, whilst the Poly’ where I went mainly had the Nelson Mandela Building.

The Leadmill had been going for a few years back then, and remains a big part of the city’s gig circuit. It was here that I went to see psych rock provocateurs Psychic TV, a rather crazy and chaotic gig, not improved by the fact that I was skint and couldn’t even afford a pint, so had to watch them rather more sober than I would have liked! I saw many bands at the Leadmill over the years, quite often just the last couple of songs as I worked at the Washington pub and would turn up late to get in on the guest list courtesy of my then boyfriend Ian who sold tickets for gigs at this record shop up in the Devonshire Quarter. I must have missed some good gigs, which was rather disappointing.


During the 90s I had a bit of a hiatus from gig going, partially down to a change in the music scene. It all went a bit Madchester, and I wasn’t really a big fan of the Happy Mondays or the Stone Roses, and then the rave scene hit Sheffield and it seemed that’s all my friends were into. I still made it to a few gigs, and saw bands at beer festivals, as we started going to quite a few of those, but not venturing to see as much as we used to. Sadly, my ticket for Nirvana was one of many that I lost, but do have a few from the grunge days.

Later in the 90s, I went to even fewer gigs, having gone through a relationship break up and moved out of the city to a small town on the outskirts. I did go to a few things with my friend Helen, but it wasn’t until I met a like-minded new boyfriend who was also into gigs, and who had a car, that I started going out and seeing bands a bit more. To be honest, I think I had been a bit depressed in the situation I was in and had found it hard to motivate myself to go out and do things.

We started out going to see bands that we remembered from back in the 80s, like indie evergreens such as The Levellers and New Model Army, but for some reason I ended up finding heavy rockers iLiKETRAiNS and going to see them at The Grapes in Sheffield. Shortly after that fellow scribe Denzil Watson suggested writing for Pennyblack and suddenly there were many more new bands to go and see. I really liked iLiKETRAiNS and was disappointed that they didn’t really get to be more popular, their music was used in films and adverts, but they never really made it big enough to support their families, so had to keep the day jobs. They are still going and I made it to a gig in London a couple of years back, but it’s not so often they play these days.

Looking at that ticket, that was 12 years ago, and I think the first time I saw them was in 2003. Again, there is that strand of a theatrical performance, they had a projector showing films behind them and wore old British Rail uniform jackets when playing their songs, with stories from recent history, and a sound that owed a fair bit to shoegaze titans Sigur Ros.

As well as discovering new bands, some of whom were the support for other bands we went to see, we continued to go and revisit old favourites. A particularly enjoyable one for me was going to see Bauhaus when they reformed. We saw them at the Academy in Manchester and I was really thrown back into the past – so much so, that even though I’d got dressed up rather inappropriately in my best goth gear, I ended up down the front doing the pit thing!

Looking at the Bauhaus ticket above It was rather a lot more money than the £3.50 I was used to pay to see them back in the early 80s!

I can’t really talk about gigs without mentioning New Model Army, who I have continued to go and see every year now since 2003, even travelling to Europe. I don’t do the whole tour, (I’m not that obsessed!) but it has been interesting seeing them grow in popularity again.

When we first went to see them they were playing quite small venues and weren’t selling out gigs. We saw them in Dublin at the Button Factory, it was virtually empty, yet a few years on they are playing larger venues in the UK and selling them out. The ticket here was from The Corporation in Sheffield, I enjoyed this gig, despite the venue which is a bit tired, but I managed to get to the front and see them quite close up without getting injured or shoved around too much, only a bit. At this point I was still living in Sheffield and so it was a nice, easy hometown gig for me, especially with the car/cloakroom that we managed to park right outside the venue! I notice on this ticket that it was a 14+ gig, which I think is a good thing – quite a few when I was younger were over 18s only and we had to pretend we were older than we were.

So that’s just a few of my tickets, I’ve kept a few, I’ve lost a few and for those pay on the door gigs I never had a ticket in the first place, but I still have the memories. Well, most of them, there are a few that I’ve lost mainly due to too much drinking, or just so many gigs in a short period of time! This weekend I’ll be off to a matinee folk gig, starting at 11.30am – there are still a few firsts for me even after 38 years of going to see bands.


















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