…or how I won the war

Posted Sat 02 Jun
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(Imported from an old weblog post, so when I say just below 2005, that was when it was written.)

By request.

Rewind a decade, more in fact. I was reading the NME last night, and hell, there was Andrew Collins, saying that 2005 will be the new ‘93, and that ‘93 wasn’t up to ‘91. Those where the days. they were.So now we switch to the third person to protect the anonymity of all concerned. I was merely a bystander, recording events for a future media that I could call my own, and wouldn’t make me spell (or grammar, or sense, or coherence) check.

Imagine a posse of late-teenagers, tearing up the town, drinking, whoring, and gigging as much as they could, gigging in the sense they went, not they played, as perhaps only one of them had any musical ability. That the Watcher had any knowledge of. In fact, of the posse, Watcher is not even sure how many were there.

‘101 Damnations’ was a top spinner the year before, with corking disco tunes and homemade production qualities. Real indie, in that sense. Watcher is sure it would suck today, and will verify this at some point when he finds the vinyl. Though he is sure ‘This is How it Feels’, the b-side of ‘After the Watershed’ probably is still only funny once. And much better than ‘Rent’. But the former(s) came later, and the latter earlier. If the fog of memory serves not to be a fog.

The supporting tour for ‘30 Something’ hit town, and as the longplayer was spun and enjoyed, the crew decided it would be a fine show. A few pints in the Student Union, a few more in the Princess Charlotte, then round the corner to the Poly. The Poly, with the beloved friday night disco. And more beloved lashing of chips and cheese. Truly too much, even for a country starvo like me.

Doors open, surveying the area, Watcher wonders what is going on. Isn’t this a skinny white-boy indie show? Why is the crowd full of over 6-foot green-haired punks? With tatts (this was before the Watcher was one of those be-tatted ones. The only tatts where the rags on his back. In those days, standard issue indie-boy long West German army coat. Great pockets. And paraboots.) everywhere, piercings too (it was still unusual to see many nose rings then) and just a general air of menace.

The mosh pit was really a no-go area, much as I wanted to, due to size constraints. cough The Watcher. Not me. Anyhow, the Watcher ventured in, got drenched in beer and sweat, and beat a retreat towards the back. More beer, the house lights dim, the DJ music stops, and the warmup comes on. Back then, it was still Jon ‘Fat Bastard’ Beast. Yes, the Watcher saw a show when he was still there.

And those who know his warmup technique, it involved berating and abusing the crowd, with oh-so-witty banter, mostly consisting of swearing and various finger gestures. Perhaps, in retrospect, not the height of taste we like to think. Pint glasses flew, hitting the expansive one all over. It wasn’t long before blood trickled down the side of his face, must to his amusement and that of the crowd. Incitement to violence, Watcher thinks.

Two rather stupidly attired and haircutted blokes shuffle on stage, and the noise begins. A great crashing thunder wall of pure noise. Not as loud as the Weddoes, but then nuclear war is quiet compared to them and their stage full of amps. Opening track, ‘Surfin USM’, with the crowd chanting the refrain of ‘You Fat Bastard’ (again) and starting to really, really pogo. Watcher, while into it, is not going to mess with the neo-nazi skinhead lot down the front. Nope.

So he slopes backwards somewhat, on the edge of the mayhem, turning around to see the urine-smelling corridors brightly lit and empty. A set of double doors leads to an abatement of noise, but he doesn’t do that, merely turns back to catch the show.

A commotion down the corridor, then, and some miscreants (Watcher can see them clearly, hear them, feel their intentions and knows their thoughts) are lighting up, stacking chairs and climbing upwards. There is a tinkle of glass, a puff of smoke, and then a noise to drown out the stage (four songs in) erupts. The smoke, and heat, rise further up, and then the sprinklers kick in. Total bedlam. The main arena is slippery, and the crowd getting angry. They turn for ammunition, and the two musicians (ha!) leave the stage rapidly. All noise is now from the crowd, getting louder and louder, chairs appear, arc over the pulsing throng. Other missles rise and fall: fire extinguishers, anything to hand. Watcher decides this is a bad place to be, and makes a move for the now-busted-opened firedoors. (The bar has been ripped off, and no doubt could be found buried in someone’s back.)

Outside the scene that greets Watcher is worse. There are riot vans, police cars, and peelers everywhere. This is a rag to the punks, and a rull scale riot ensues, with more and more police arriving by the minute. Watcher slinks back, legs it round the back and up to the city centre, relatively unscathed.

The melee can be heard from a safe vantage point, but alas, not seen, so the later events as reported are unverified first hand by the Watcher. Not participator or instigator. Nope. Just a Watcher.

The Leicester Mercury has a field day, but the gig was cancelled early, so they rescheduled the show (which Watcher went to, though there was no problem that time, but it was mentioned) and we all got a free poster if we went to the Poly sometime the next week.

Note This story has never really been told in such detail before. All, um, information has been, errr, passed on to me.

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