Gigaholics Anonymous

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Feb. 27, 2009

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This year, Owen Wilson might just be the face of Jewish Christmas.

The BBC is flogging 49-year-old Ray Morrissey as "Britain's most prolific gigaholic." Turns out that Ray has been to a staggering 5,000 gigs in 35 years.

Worse, he's kept notes on all them. And even worser, he's not been paid for doing so. Meaning that Ray has suffered one of the worst aspects of being a rock journalist: The soul-numbing horror that is over-exposure to the clown show in a cattle-shed that is the rock gig for free.

When I think of all the grim hours I have wasted staring at talentless swine caterwauling at enraptured idiots, I can only assume that Mr. Morrissey is either a masochist or one of those cloth-eared, rose-tinted beer-goggle sporting fans who, upon seeing their fave act slagged in the music press, invariably responds with a letter reading: "Was he even at the same show?"

Yes he was, Ray. He stood and stared at the dreadful band. Then he turned and he stared at the curiously spellbound crowd. And then he wrote "Emperor's New Clothes" in his notebook and buggered off home early.

A Quick List Of Truly Dreadful Gigs Where I Was The Only Honest Person In The Crowd

The Fall, London: Mark E. Smith ambled on stage apparently pissed, dressed like a tramp, looking like the portrait of Dorian Gray, and proceeded to slur his can't-be-arsed way through a set that was nothing short of abysmal. The crowd, they go crazy. When he read the review--in which I believe I described Smith as looking like a plastic Toby jug that'd been left too close to an electric fire--Smith wrote an angry letter to the editor calling me a "lickspittle." But I don't care because I once saw Mark E, Smith stop a drunken blind man from beating his guide dog. He will always be a hero of mine.

Bell and Sebastian, Manchester Town Hall: Smugness reaches critcal mass. Pop dies a slow, agonized death.

The Pogues, various venues:
See the funny, can-hardly-stand, can't sing, barely functional alcoholic. See the laughing, cheering crowd who should be fucking ashamed of themselves. See above.

Nick Cave, New York Beacon Theatre: Cave's record company flew me to New York for this. I think I survived maybe five or six brutally out-of-tune songs before I sloped off to my hotel room in disgust. From my notebook: "The key words here are 'painfully' and 'flat'. It's like listening to that bloke from Embrace. Only gothier."

Adam And The Ants, The Royal Standard:
I was young, I was incredibly easy to impress, I fell in love with every band I saw. Including the Lurkers and the Drones. Then Adam walked on stage covered from head-to-foot in camo paint, and commenced a look-at-me performance-art spaz-out. I walked in minute three, making this the first of many thousands of crap gigs I would walk out of in disgust. Later Adam and the Ants went totally pop and became awesome, I like to think that it was my walking out that spurred them in that direction.

My Vitriol, Portsmouth. Or Maybe Plymouth: A line of hairy muppets with droning guitars, never making eye contact with the audience, forever turning their backs to tune up in silence. I stood in the front row weighing up my duty as a servant of the record-buying public against the fact that there's free porn on the TV in my hotel room. After about maybe 10 minutes of an utterly insulting lack of showmanship, I walked. And then I wanked.

Paul Weller, A Field, Up North Somewhere:
Weller had specifically banned me from attending. So I actually bought a ticket. It was a nightmare. Ever single song turned into a turgid, dribbling hippy jam that went on forever. And then a bit more. And then a bit more. And then a lot more. Worse, the photographer who was my ride back to London refused to leave after the first few really, really painfully dreadful songs because he wanted to make sure he "got his money's worth." I had to stay for the entire event. Including about nine encores. It was probably the most tedious afternoon of my life. I wrote that you'd have to be either a cokehead or a dickhead to enjoy Weller live. Weller claimed this was insulting. He was right.

Theatre Of Hate/Spear Of Destiny, Too Many Summer Afternoons In The Eighties: As an eager young freelancer I would always leap at the chance to review festivals. And at every single sodding festival a band featuring the not-very-bright-bleached-blonde spokesman of this generation Kirk Brandon would appear. And they would be awful. From my notebook: "a droning, tuneless, shit-brown, dank thud overlaid with incredibly badly sung pseudo-profound lyrics. The drug dealers walk around shouting, 'Aspirin! Paracetamol! Nurofen! Panadol Ultra!'"

NIN, Bristol Bierkeller: "'A pretentious little boy with a silly haircut crouched behind a microphone making "strange" gestures with his hands.." This was uncannily like the 1978 Adam and the Ants gig. But more headachey.

The Rules Of Gig Going

• Never ever give a band longer than three songs before walking out in disgust. Life is too short. Your time is too precious. Even if you are being paid to be there, you are not being paid enough.

• If a band is boring it is never your fault.

• Any failure to communicate with the crowd between songs should be seen for what it is--cowardice posturing as cool--and be savagely heckled.

• Most people at most shows are deluded idiots. They are not seeing what you are seeing. They are not hearing what you are hearing. They are willfully and determinedly enjoying a fantasy gig that only actually exists in their heads. They are "getting their money's worth." This is why standards are so low and why you should:

• Never pay. At least 90 percent of all live bands are, have always been and always will be dreadful. They should be paying you. Seriously. Until the audiences of composed of deluded fans with no taste whatsoever are entirely replaced by discerning, honest critics like myself, rock music--as a live spectacle--is doomed.

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1. ChrissMari said... on Dec 30, 2008 at 06:33AM

“I kind of don't go to concerts anymore because everything sucks so hard. That said I am going to They Might Be Giants (for free) this NYE--drunk because I'm fully prepared for it to be awful.”

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2. bilk said... on Dec 31, 2008 at 08:46AM

“Brilliant editorializing once again...however I have never known your magazine to actually identify a rising star...oh yes you pander to the financially successful and keep your lines clean for the industry. You like to poke fun at the dumb album covers...but can you actually identify success when its breathing in front of you with actual talent. I doubt it. Can you seriously defend that "The Shins" contain actual talent or creativity? Maybe you can write about how cool their album cover is.”

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3. jane said... on Jan 7, 2009 at 01:05PM

“Ray WAS paid to see many of the gigs. He worked as Security/Bouncer at the London Hammersmith meaning he counted all his nights on the job. it is a bit of a con. Didn't you bother even reading the comments on the BBC site, someone mentions that - really bad journalism here.”

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4. the Steven Wells said... on Jan 20, 2009 at 06:30AM

“@jane:I think Steve means Ray wasn't paid to take notes at the gigs, you twat. I doubt very much that being paid as a security guard counts as being paid to watch the gig but sure stick the boot in while you have a chance on a comment board. Also, reading comments on the internet doesn't count as journalism, either good or bad.”

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