symposium. A

25 02 2006

Liverpool Lomax 05.98

Best gig ever: Liverpool. Symposium headlining, A supporting. Summer 1998.

How Ace Are Buildings had been out a couple of months, and I was in love with a band, a band called A. We didn’t know about Google in them days. They had the best logo I’d ever seen and I wanted to get in the crowd and shout back at them. They came to town on the day of the second general studies exam, the day before maths so none of my mates could go, but I had a two-week gap before my real exams started.

The weekend before, we were at a house party. I wanted a gig partner so I asked everyone. Ev-ry-one. When I was about to give up the sea of people parted and there she was. It was like John Hughes or something. I must have been pissed because I asked her, and maybe she was pissed because she said yes. We kissed later, but that’s not the important bit.

Didn’t concentrate much in the exam. I don’t remember what I wore, although I was in a Renton phase, I had the physique for Trainspotting chic then. I had to got there really early because of the last bus through the tunnel. I walked around but Liverpool was shut. It never even occurred to me to just wait in a pub on my own. Couldn’t even get a Big Issue, and I was followed for quite some time by… No, I’ll tell you that one some other time.

For a while I was nervous I wouldn’t recognise her, but she showed and we our eyes met across the empty square. She wasn’t like any girl I knew. She looked like she rocked. I asked her if she minded me going down the front, and she said she always went down the front. That was pretty cool, but its not the important bit either.

I’m not exaggerating to say my life changed that night. I’d been to the Lomax on a couple of occasions before with my best mate Paul and about eight other people. I wasn’t expecting the place to be rammed full of sweaty, expectant kids, especially not for a support act, especially not for a band I thought only I had heard of.

Animal wallet and lager in plastic pints. I didn’t know what a cloakroom was until I moved to London. Gigslick on my retro Adidas. Then they were there, Jason Perry bounding onstage and screaming “Sick-of-you…!” like he couldn’t wait for his band to catch up, but they did and the place exploded.

Chaos. Sherbet semtex in a shoebox. Abiding memory: Jason yawing over the crowd and kids actually bouncing off the walls, upside down and pinwheeling off the ceiling. A gig in a washing machine. Spun us round and spat us out, bruised and soaking wet.

They have a song called ‘Five in the Morning.’ They tore through it. When it got to the chorus, “don’t bother waking me at-“ I bounced up out of the crowd “five in the morning-“ I held up my hand for Jason to give me five. He gave me five.

Yeah, and I’d do it again, dammit, and probably so would he.

Battered and elated, I blinked and it was over. Is this what drugs is like? Then Symposium threw another punk rock hand grenade under the crowd. I remember skanking madly to the intro of ‘My Fairweather Friend’ and the riot when they did ‘Hard Day’s Night.’

Everything was different that night. I may already have started down the rocky road of rock’n’roll, but that night a juggernaut mowed me down and when I finally scraped myself off its grille I was three continents away. That’s what I want to be: rock’n’roll roadkill.

Later, when I rang her, her dad told me she’d gone to Manchester. For all I know, she never came back. Oh, and I got a ‘B’ on that exam.

But the important bit (wait for it…) was the A.

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