Times Of Our Lives: 1985 – The Clown And The Wolfman

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
Driver 8
Can’t Get There From Here
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Old Man Kensey
Pretty Persuasion
Life and How to Live It
Little America

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
Propaganda Dr. Mabuse
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
R.E.M. Driver 8
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
Madness Yesterday’s Men
The Larks U.K. Billy Graham’s Going to Heaven
Prefab Sprout Appetite
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

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