Manchester, night. Far too many stories could start this way, I concede. Platforms 13/14, waiting for the last train of the night, so-called ‘vomit rocket’ among train staff. To be specific, then; Manchester, night, in a bar with complete strangers.
To being with, most of what happened on this particular night has been long since sorted out and forgotten. Misunderstanding and on my part perhaps too much exasperation rather than reasoned questioning. I did stay for about an hour, crouched and cross-legged, with a bit of a sulk, but otherwise looking like a drug-dealer whose sitting down was far more subtle a positioning than standing-up, active and obvious. Who was I there to review, originally? I forget. I shook the hand of one of the band’s members, who looked like Preston College’s former SU head, hair all over the place like fireworks, only black.
Before this, then, the strangers, of whom I counted four. Two of them I cannot bring to mind at all, I just know they existed. One bloke was clearly gay without ever saying anything to prove it; the fact just sat alongside him, unremarked. The woman was quite attractive, and funny, with the dry irony preferred by indie-kids. We made refuge in her (or their?) flat, eating pasta. I used up all my usual jokes and anecdotes until the problem on the door. Like me they had names on lists, open doors, pleased-to-see-yous. But all this has been sorted, now. I had been a little angrier than I should, all told. In the drizzle, on the street-corner, I must have looked like a runaway, only one with a mobile phone.
If not this story, then “Manchester, night”, could introduce the walk I had to make from the Academy to the Roadhouse with one leg of my jeans torn knee-to-boot. Without any context the image must have been totally hilarious, or else the effects of a fight. I had, in fact, been reviewing (I always say this, as though I am an inspector. I’ve heard other journalists say “assignment”, which doesn’t do it for me. “Other journalists”, have you heard?).
Alexisonfire, it was, and a very good gig it was too. I would go on to interview Dallas Green, who was attractively geeky and deadpan. The kids around me were a bit of a muddle, though. Some had clearly not revised how best to act at gigs, so did their best to be violent. I can hold my ground very well – many a bus and train commute behind me – so am not pushed to either side very easily despite my frame. I fold my arms, hold tight. Some gave up ultimately, watching the gig through their mobile phones, or muttering something about me while barging their way to the front by other means. At some point there was a foothold made, a successful push ahead, resulting in a small tear to my jeans, opened up like a wound within minutes. I walked out to the streets as proud and unaffected as a man could with one jeans-leg tied into his sock.
(Incidental memory – Fightstar, who I have seen three times now, Preston. Not much drink inside me. Actual moshpit ‘action’ is not my scene, all things considered, but close proximity can often suck you in like tiny flecks of hair sucked down the plughole after shaving. I left with bruises and a stolen hoodie, lost in the clump of shirtless men and angry, grit-teethed girls with sharp-fringes)
This is not entirely about how this old man has grown awfully cynical about the behaviour of younger people at gigs, although there is something to be said. To show that even folk like me get things wrong, I could either make reference to the night I nearly fainted during a Jack Penate gig (that is, at the gig, not at him); or when my jeans fell down during Coheed and Cambria.
But never violent. To my memory. Yet.