the sixth gig I can remember going to

Click here for a complete list of entries in the series  “the first 23 gigs I can remember going to”.


6) Marillion, Aylesbury Civic Centre 28/12/86

This was an Xmas fan club gig, in the band’s home town. Yes, I was in the Marillion fan club as well. Jesus. Probably only for a year though, if that helps.

The fan club was called “The Web” after a song on their first LP. It commences, with typical pomp:

The rain auditions at my window
Its symphony echoes in my womb
My gaze scans the walls of this apartment
To rectify the confines of my tomb

I remember its name only because some spectacularly shit policing linked this fact with the horrific “Ealing vicarage rape” earlier in the year. The scumbag attacker had a tattoo of spider’s web, like hundreds, possibly thousands, of skinheads – none of whom would have had much time for Marillion. The fan club agreed to help the cops with their enquiries, as I guess anybody would even if the investigation was clearly going down completely the wrong track. I remember discussing all this with my parents over Sunday lunch.

Anyway, as well as a possible knock on the door from the old bill, fan club membership got you a magazine and the odd newsletter. And the chance to attend an exclusive gig, strickly fi de ‘ardcore.

Unfortunately I can’t remember too much about the night because I have blanked it from my mind. This bit of light repression is because I now find recalling the event more embarrassing than associating it with having been in the fan club of an 80s prog rock band. We heckled the support band. They were rubbish, we were pissed. We probably had a load of teenage sneery punkish hormones racing round our bodies. They were friends of the headliners and… they were just boring blokey rock. So we hung around at the back and shouted the odd comment, I can’t remember what. Except for one thing.

There were I think a number of asides to the audiences between songs, which is a bit much for a support band. One of them concerned the drummer being involved with a car crash and being out of action for a good while. To my eternal shame we responded to this by shouting “we don’t care!”. I am cringing right now, typing that.

I’m sure by this time the band and most of the rest of the audience had realised we were pissed twats and proceeded to carry on as if we weren’t there. In many other gigs I have attended since, this sort of behaviour might have resulted in a severe kicking. So it’s Marillion fans: 1, me: nil, in the tolerance and goodwill stakes.

The rest of the night passed in a drunken blur. There was possibly more friction between fans and band during “Kayleigh”. One of my mates’ Dads kindly drove us home. It was the last time I ever saw Marillion. By the time their next album “Clutching At Straws” came out, I was much less easily impressed. This was down to the fact that the quantity and quality of gigs I attended in 1987 would be immeasurably greater than what had gone before…


  1. I still can’t believe that’s the worst thing you’ve ever done. I actually think joining the Marillion fan club is worse.

  2. But I am not sure why you want to “confess it” John, or even why you feel embarrased by it — surely we all liked some really crap bands, but, who cares? I liked, and saw a lot of really bad bands,as did everyone I know, but I am not sure it matters at all really.

    Also, what is a “good” and “bad” band changes with time, doesn’t it.

    I knew young punks in 1977/78 who hid all their heavy rock and prog records — but got them all out of the cupboard in the mid 90’s as quick as they could, once “their punk rock musical heroes” admitted they’d liked them all along anyway — and had just kept quiet about it.

    I also used to know ex Rastas who, when they moved onto digital dancehall etc in the mid 80’s — shaved their locks and were ashamed of once being “dread”, and simply saw roots music as embarrasing and old fashioned by the time those Unity digital 12′ were released. They kept hush hush that they’d all been Upsetter fans etc.

    ( Maybe they admit to loving roots again now they are middle aged men, and roots time has “resurfaced” again, who knows? )

    It’s all perspective, and not important I’d say.

    Just another view, anyway.

    Cheers John,


  3. Ha ha, slagging off the drummer in Def Lepard just after his accident! That my friend is pure class. Although come to think of it, wasn’t it a bit earlier than that? Very funny away.

    I’m really enjoying this series John. Right up my street.

    Btw, hope you’re feeling a bit better old chap ..

  4. Nah it wasn’t Def Leppard – I imagine, my own tastes aside, that they would at least have put on a good show. I’ve googled and it seems to have been some band called MGM?

    As for why I’m embarrassed, I think it’s more than a simple change in tastes, it’s about the previous Marillion post where I was quite intensely into them with the excruciating intensity of youth. Objectively this is nothing to care about (especially compared to some of the other horror stories friends have come out with). But it’s there and I think is something interesting to explore, expecially in the context of music blogging which is usually very much about building up your cultural capital and projecting an image of cool.


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