On the 27th October 1979 I went to my first Punk gig. Punk had taken a while to radiate out to the suburbs, but as part of what would turn out to be their final tour, The Adverts came to Slough College. This was very big news and I’d already stumped up my ticket money at the local record shop to ensure I got in. The Adverts were a major Punk band, and I had just turned 15, this night was where all the reading of the live reviews combined with the songs I knew were going to come together.
This being my first gig, I didn’t yet know the ins and outs of what would later become a familiar routine; we’d had no pre-gig conversations about whether or not we should turn up to see the support band, or whether we should meet at the venue or in a nearby pub, we just looked at our tickets and turned up exactly when it said that the doors opened. We were there early, practically the first ones in, there were no bands on yet and so far it looked nothing like the packed houses I’d seen on “Rock Goes to College”.
So much still to learn, there was more to this going to a gig business than just seeing the bands; things that were never mentioned in any of the reviews, but things that were eventually to become familiar fixtures. A sound man, dressed in black, moving around the stage, doing something with the cables and leads, he wasn’t even a Punk sound man in his washed out old school rock band T-shirt. He shouted the word “chew” into the microphone more than a few times, then just “ch” until there was an audible squeal from the floor speakers on the stage, after which he went back to his lair at the side of the stage.
Not wanting to appear like the totally unseasoned gig goers we actually were, and despite turning up incredibly early, we did our best to look a bit bored and not too excited by the evening’s events – like it was something we did every night.
After an hour long wait the support band came on. There were two Slough bands who seemed to do most of the local supporting duties, Robert and the Remoulds, and Arrogant, but maybe it was a tour support, whoever it was – it was suddenly all so gloriously loud. Then after another arduous gap, where looking bored was becoming more natural, there was flurry of on-stage activity, someone brought on some guitars and there was some more “chew-ing” from the soundie. As the lights went up and then off again, and the music went down, on they trooped, The Adverts in all their scrappy glory.
Hearing the reality of a live show sound compared to the controlled sound of a record or BBC mixing desk was something else. The bass made your insides shake, the drum sound knocked you off your feet, everything was an in your face sonic blizzard. It was literally awesome, so loud, people jumping around knocking into you, spilling their beer, pushing and pogoing in front of the stage, the band and the crowd all so close, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. As I stood there trying to hold my ground, getting shoved and knocked from side to side, I was completely transfixed. Gaye Advert was a girl in a band, with her trademark coal miner eyes and no dance policy, she was the one behind those gut rumbling bass sounds that were now vibrating my intestines. How cool was that. TV Smith was racing around, spitting out lyrics like broken teeth, but it was Gaye who held our attention, and we pushed our way to the front hoping to catch her eye. C’mon Gaye look at us!!!
What we didn’t know that evening, was was that the band in front of us were still dealing with recent line-up changes, a just released but poorly received second album, and threats of lawsuits by former members Howard Pickup, and Rod Latter. The rest of the world it seemed were no longer as excited by The Adverts as we were, and after that night in Slough, they called it a day.
So, my first gig was The Adverts last, whether that automatically makes it more memorable or not I don’t know, but for me it’s one I’ll never forget.