It's all about anniversaries at the moment. Following our wedding and remarriage celebrations, my 20,000th day alive and, on Tuesday September 29th (when we were meant to see The Who in Vancouver, but it was cancelled), the 4th Anniversary of becoming a Canadian citizen, another milestone falls tomorrow, Monday October 5th. Aside from having previously watched a schoolboy Wishbone Ash covers band in a friend's living room, this date marks forty years since I attended my very first proper rock concert!
Yes, on October 5th, 1975, resplendent in the hideous fashions of the day, this highly impressionable adolescent music nerd trundled along to the faux-Roman eyesore that is Birmingham Town Hall, quivering with excitement at what might lay in store. (I went to the show with my schoolmate Richard, who I recently discovered is doing great work as an Executive Director in a company providing integrated housing and care and support services in the UK. But I digress...)
All we could afford with our pocket money were tickets in the nosebleeds, but as the show was in a relatively small venue we still had a great view. As the lights went down for the opening band I nearly lost my tiny mind. ROCK MUSIC! YEAH! LET'S ROCK! YEAH! Etc. Although having heard the band again recently, and concluded that their bog standard blues-rock was utter junk, at the time I naturally though Dirty Tricks were the dog's bollocks.
As exciting as I found Dirty Tricks back in the day, the main act was what I had come for. I've always loved prog-rock and music with progressive leanings, so to open my gig account with what was then a very successful band featuring a guy with banks of synths and whatnot was an otherworldly, transcendent experience for me. At that age I was gobbling up music at a furious rate, noting every single detail about it as I did so, and well on the way to forming the foundation I built for a lifetime working in the music industry. These were heady days.
The band that blew my mind that night was Argent. There they are up there, playing one of their two gargantuan global hits (the other being "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You"), and to this day I love the song. During the show there were (obviously, neo-classical) keyboard solos; guitar, drums and probably also bass solos, but even though these days lengthy indulgent solos bore me senseless, back then it was all awesome and wow and brill and cool and everything and stuff! I was in heaven. It felt at the time like I had become a man, like I had been through a rite of passage, but losing my virginity to a nymphomaniac down the line certainly later put thought that into perspective.
Hundreds and hundreds of shows and thousands of bands later, by an extraordinary twist of fate I will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of my first gig tomorrow by, you guessed it, going to a gig. The beautiful twist in the tale, however, is that the band we will see features our friend Chris, from Boston, rolling into town with another band he plays in aside from the mighty Bent Knee. We first saw Chris Baum play in a mindblowing performance by Bent Knee on Mayne Island in the summer of 2014. Long story short, I was largely responsible for bringing them back to this area for a Nanaimo show on July 4th this year. The band stayed with us for three days and in that time we all became unfathomably close. We just love those kids, so it's fantastic that Chris is headed back here so soon, this time with the bewitching Guy Mendilow Ensemble, to perform on such a significant date in my cultural life. Neither Susan or I have ever seen a band quite like this before, so it promises to be something special. What's more, the band will arrive here in just a few hours after this is posted, whereupon we will be taking them on a road trip to a few local beauty spots. In so many ways, our life is charmed.
OK, here is the extraordinary Guy Mendilow Ensemble for your interest. Chris is the violinist. Enjoy.
Here's to another forty years of gig-going, then! Wouldn't it be spectacular if, like this anniversary, I somehow make it that far and another show falls on the 80th Anniversary of my first show?! That would be so cool, but it's pretty certain I will need some assistance in taking my seat that night.
Rock on, everyone... ROCK ON!