My recent memories of a gig by Cado Belle at the Music Machine, recorded here, have prompted me to make a list of the first 30 gigs that I attended. The first dozen or so are as fixed in my memory as my 8 Times Table. They’ve been there for 40 years and haven’t gone anywhere yet.
I could recall them, in order, without any difficulty, but I needed to go back to my box of old tickets to confirm the exact dates. In doing so, I discovered that although my vivid memories of the band and the place were correct (Cado Belle at the Music Machine in Camden) it happened several weeks after I remembered. I still believe that my brother and I did get fliers for the venue while stood outside the Roundhouse on 17 April, but we didn’t go there until two months later, Saturday 18 June.
That summer, in the months after he had passed his driving test, he and I drove into town for various events, like “Laserium” at the Planetarium (a laser show, accompanying music mostly by prog bands) and to see “Volpone”, starring Paul Scofield and John Gielgud, at the National Theatre. We also drove into town the odd time just because we could. We were stopped by police one evening while heading down the eastern end of Oxford Street. We thought it was still open to cars, but it wasn’t. We had an anxious few seconds wondering if my brother was going to be charged with his first driving offence but the PC let us go.
Our first trip to the Marquee, in August that year, was by public transport, so he could have a few beers. By then, even at the age of 14, I had been able to buy alcohol in off-licences and had been served in a pub. It was the 1970s after all, but drinking beer was not part of my gig-going experience just yet.
My box of tickets contains the stubs from almost every gig that I went to in the four years after the first one, Sparks + Pilot at the Hammersmith Odeon, Monday 11 November 1974. As you can see, I was in Block 17, Seat W4, appropriately enough.
We were not allowed to keep our tickets from the Rolling Stones Knebworth show in 1976, even as souvenirs, so I took apart one of the badges that I bought that day as a memento.
That Cado Belle gig that we went to the following June was the first time that I had not bought a ticket in advance for an indoor show. I still believe that we got in for free, but my ticket box contains the following, an Automaticket for £1.50:
Did we really pay £1.50 to get in? I find it hard to believe. On the reverse I wrote, in black ink (we were obliged to use ink pens at school), the following: CADO BELLE Music Machine Sat. 18/Jun/77.
I am grateful to my teenage self for being so diligent. I continued to keep the Automaticket stubs from venues like the Nashville and Marquee, and the cloakroom tickets from places like the Hope & Anchor and Red Cow, right through to February 1979. They are all marked with the name of the headline act (and sometimes support acts), the venue and the date. Here’s a sample:
There are larger-format tickets to places like the Hammersmith Odeon, Rainbow and Wembley Empire Pool (as it was called at the time). I aim to take photos of them and post them up here sometime, and will share that list of my first 30 gigs, but for now I just wanted to correct my earlier mistake, about the timing of that Cado Belle gig. My teenage self would not have been so careless.