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Over a 30-year period I have attended some important concerts, some memorable and some poignant. Here’s a few that spring to mind.
1. I was at Wembley stadium for Queens' last concert with Freddie Mercury. It’s the one used for their final live concert album. The line-up was the Alarm, Inxs, Status Quo, and then Queen. All the hits were played, even the “5th” member of queen, Spike Edney, made it on stage.They played for around 2 hours with a spectacular light show.
2. Also at Wembley stadium was Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the USA" concerts. Not many can play for 70,000 and be the only band, but he could. It was the classic E street band backing the boss and they all played 4 hours of music. In fact, they were almost their own support as they played around 2 hours before going off and coming back on for 2 more hours.
3. Around 1987 Aerosmith were due to tour the UK but pulled out at the last moment, so the support band took over the headlining role. That support band was Guns and Roses. I was working at the venue when they played and so was paid to see them. They barely sold out the ground floor and by the time it ended around a quarter of the audience had been thrown out for fighting and other misdemeanours.
4. Guns and Roses' next big show was 1988 Donnington’s Monsters of Rock. This was a triumph and tragedy rolled in to one. Unfortunately, the line-up was set before Guns' career sky rocketed and so when they came on stage there was a massive crowd surge down the hill and two fans died in the crush. The official attendance should have been limited to around 80,000 but due to fallen barriers and poor security the estimate was at least 110,000. I am 6ft 4 and was around 18 stone and I struggled to stand up when the crowd surged down the wet slope, indeed I have memories of carrying two people down the hill as they struggled to stand up.
5. A few years later I went to Newport to see Skunk Anasie play, as often happened I knew nothing of the support band but tried to get in to see them as have seen some brilliant bands open for other acts. The support was a little-known college band called Muse. I remember a very young and very nervous band, now of course they are one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
6. When the British rock festivals were single-day events I used to attend one a year usually. Known as Monsters of Rock for a while, then Ozzfest and a few other names. They started in August but as American festivals took off they moved earlier and earlier in the year. One was so early I ended up watching Cradle of Filth in a hail storm, System of a Down had to run off stage as part of the roof collapsed and Ozzy Osbourne played in woolly hat and scarf. So that day was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
7. One of the best venues but also the coldest was a concert to bring in new year above Niagara Falls in Canada. There were a couple of Canadian bands I forget plus seeing in the new year the lead singer of Supertramp, Roger Hodgeson. One weird thing was that he came on stage, played a set and when the live tv show started, he played all the same songs again for the tv audience. It was played in temperatures around minus 20, with snow falling and the froth on the beer freezing. I ended up seeing the new year in with coffee. I even joined queues of people using public toilets and putting their faces under the hand driers to defrost.
8. On one of their UK stadium tours, Bon Jovi played a small venue in 4 different cities in one day. When they played Cardiff, they played a tiny band stand in the shopping area. I heard a rumour about this, as it was only publicised on the local radio station. I went into town and asked a policeman, he didn’t want to say, but told me don’t go far from the band stand. So, I was there a few hours early and managed to be under 6 feet from the band when they played a few acoustic tracks. It was very surreal and also very lucky I got there earlier as there were a few thousand-people squashed in behind me.
I have paid for and been paid to attend many other concerts but these few stand out for me for different reasons.