I've recently finished reading Stuart Maconie's excellent memoir Cider with Roadies, which tells the story of how he got into the music business. Maconie is a similar age to the three of us and his reminiscences struck a deep chord with me. I genuinely found myself laughing out loud as I read - something I don't do often. He went through the same phases we did: pop, disco, prog, soul ... he did the same daft things that we did and watched the same TV shows. He joined several local bands, all with increasingly silly names, and wrote songs stuffed with teenage angst and insightful drivel he'd learned in A Level English. So did we. But the similarities stop somewhere around 1979. He grew up in Wigan and got to taste the benefits of the Northern Soul scene and the emerging Madchester revolution. He saw early gigs by New Order and The Smiths. He got legless and danced his arse off at The Hacienda.
We had nothing like that. In deepest, darkest Cornwall we had folk clubs full of beardy off-duty estate agents in fishing smocks singing about tin mines or 'sailing out of Liverpool for twelve months and a day' (why this folkie obsession with 366 day sailing trips?) As I have mentioned in earlier posts, our ultra-conservative council banned Monty Python's Life of Brian from our local cinema, so punk had no chance. Mssrs Rotten, Vicious, Slaughter and Styrene were instructed, in no uncertain terms, to stay on their side of the Tamar in the Sodom and Gomorrah known as Devon. If we wanted to see any kind of gig, we had to pool our petrol money and drive 80 miles to Plymouth where the Polytechnic occasionally put on gigs by strictly B and C list celebs like Steve Hackett, Camel or Eddie and the Hot Rods. Alternatively, we could blow a year's wages and get ourselves to a festival, like we did in 1979 to see Genesis, Devo, Tom Petty, Jefferson Starship and a bunch of others at Knebworth.