1985. The gig which sticks out in my mind for that year was U2 at Milton Keynes Bowl. It was, as far as I can recall, the first time I had ever been to the Buckinghamshire town and I’ll be honest, I haven’t been back too many times since.
The bill was excellent, in my opinion anyway. But in the same way football isn’t played on paper, nor are live performances by bands.
Starting any day off with the Faith Brothers was always going to set me in a good mood. Follow that with R.E.M; what could possibly go wrong?
The Faith Brothers played on through a wave of apathy but as was the Faith Brothers wont, it was full of energy and some rollicking good tunes.
Spear of Destiny were fantastic that day and it was largely agreed among ourselves that they were the band du jour.
Billy Bragg was an unsurprising choice of act. Now I love Billy but stadium rawk never struck me as being his natural habitat. And while I enjoyed his set, quite a few didn’t and some bottles flew through the air.
You’ll notice I’m rattling through this bill with good reasons. U2 were in fine fettle and had yet to entirely disappear up their own arseholes but in fairness, I saw them another couple of times and they certainly were a good live band.
If Bragg didn’t go down well, R.E.M fared worse. Feeling Gravity’s Pull is something of a downbeat song and following the typically rambunctious Ramones set, it was greeted with general bemusement. As set-openers go, it was deliberately obtuse. The full list was:
Feeling Gravity’s Pull
Green Grow the Rushes
So. Central Rain
Can’t Get There From Here
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Old Man Kensey
Life and How to Live It
I was happy; Pretty Persuasion was there and mention of the song brings back memories of their performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test.
The band weren’t the megastars they would become and Fables of the Reconstruction is the epitome of a difficult third album. And the quirky upbeat Harborcoat might have been a good platform upon which to build their set but no, Green Grow The Rushes lowered the mood once again..
It was typical to be honest. All they way up to Milton Keynes and the weeks leading up to the gig, I’d bored everyone silly by claiming that R.E.M. were the best band in the world. And when you play Murmur and Reckoning to people, they understood. They remain fine albums to this day.
But all the way back, there was silence from one side of the back seat and a driver who decided that he didn’t like R.E.M.; “So, they’re going to be the best band in the world….”
And the reason for the silence from the back? The rain was of biblical proportions and returning to the car park, we found the car embedded in the mud. We weren’t going anywhere. Fortunately, it was my mate’s mum’s Mini Metro – quite new at that point – so not hard or heavy to push.
I had the front passenger seat so opted for pushing the car from that door. The backseat passenger pushed from the back of the car. It’s amazing how much mud is generated from spinning tyres. And it was horrible mud as well: clay.
When we’d freed the car, it took us another ten minutes to stop laughing which if you’re the ‘victim’ of a mud bath is probably not helpful…
Today’s playlist, in honour of the marvellous Restless Natives: 1985 – The Clown And The Wolfman. If it doesn’t play in your Spotify client, you can open it in your browser here.
|Big Country||Restless Natives|
|The Prisoners||Night Of The Nazgul|
|The Long Ryders||Looking For Lewis And Clark|
|The Blow Monkeys||Forbidden Fruit|
|The Faith Brothers||Whistling In The Dark|
|The Kane Gang||How Much Longer?|
|The Higsons||I Walk The Land|
|the redskins||Bring It Down|
|The Untouchables||FBI (I Spy for The)|
|Scritti Politti||Wood Beez|
|The Pale Fountains||Jean’s Not Happening|
|Kate Bush||Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)|
|Fine Young Cannibals||Suspicious Minds|
|Dee C. Lee||See the Day|
|The Golden Palominos||Boy – Go|
|The Fire Hydrant Men||Oh No Not Another Night in Nato|
|Prefab Sprout||Faron Young|
|Talking Heads||Road To Nowhere|
|Green On Red||Sea Of Cortez|
|Big Audio Dynamite||E=MC2|
|The Style Council||With Everything To Lose|
|New Order||Love Vigilantes|
|Lone Justice||Pass It On|
|Billy Bragg||Between the Wars|
|The Colourfield||Pushing up Daisies|
|The Style Council||The Lodgers (Or She Was Only A Shopkeeper’s Daughter)|
|The Larks U.K.||Innocent Man|
|The Jesus and Mary Chain||Just Like Honey|
|The Smiths||Barbarism Begins At Home|
|The Cure||The Baby Screams|
|The Pogues||A Pair Of Brown Eyes|
|Hüsker Dü||Terms Of Psychic Warfare|
|Bryan Ferry||Slave To Love|
|The Blow Monkeys||Wildflower|
|Suzanne Vega||Marlene On The Wall|
|The Men They Couldn’t Hang||Scarlet Ribbons|
|The Style Council||Spin’ Drifting|
|Cabaret Voltaire||I Want You (remastered)|
|Half Man Half Biscuit||The Trumpton Riots|
|Dexys Midnight Runners||Listen To This|
|The Style Council||Walls Come Tumbling Down|
|The Housemartins||Flag Day|
|The Wedding Present||Go Out And Get Em’ Boy!|
|Echo & the Bunnymen||Bring On The Dancing Horses|
|The Woodentops||It Will Come|
|Siouxsie and the Banshees||Cities In Dust|
|The Shop Assistants||All Day Long|
|10,000 Maniacs||Just As The Tide Was A Flowing|
|John Mellencamp||Rain On The Scarecrow|
|The Larks U.K.||Billy Graham’s Going to Heaven|
|R.E.M.||Maps And Legends|
|The Pogues||Sally MacLennane|
|John Mellencamp||Between A Laugh And A Tear|
|The Cure||Inbetween Days|
|Big Country||Winter Sky|
|Fine Young Cannibals||Move To Work|
|Half Man Half Biscuit||Time Flies By (When You’re The Driver Of A Train)|
|Lone Justice||Soap, Soup And Salvation|
|The Long Ryders||Lights Of Downtown|
|The Prisoners||I Am The Fisherman|
|the redskins||Kick Over The Statues|
|Talking Heads||And She Was|
|The Higsons||Take It|
|The Untouchables||Freak in the Streets|
|The Style Council||Internationalists|
|The Faith Brothers||A Daydreamers Philosophy|