The first gig I ever saw was by a Welsh rock group called Man, in May 1974.
I don’t remember being a particular fan of the band and I suspect I only went because I was desperate to get away from my all-boys boarding school in a remote part of the North Yorkshire moors – if only for a night.
Pop music seemed an impossibly glamorous alternative, even if I was out of luck in the hope of seeing any of the bands I really loved, like T. Rex, Slade and The Sweet.
Man were the first band for whom I could actually get a ticket, so I did. I even went and bought an LP, Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics and I… quite liked it.
Oddly, a few years later when I was a punk and would only watch bands with a maximim of three chords at their disposal, I would frequently see the bass guitarist from that seminal Man gig.
Ken Whaley was a friend of John Eichler, the owner of the Hope & Anchor, where I spent most evenings thanks to Johns’s generosity in giving me a free pass in those early days of punk – and Ken would be the solitary older guy with long hair by the bar.
My main memory of the Man gig is my discovery that a live pop concert was nothing much like listening to a record and that bands had a tendency to make the songs go on much longer.
This was especially true of Man, who were quite capable of taking a five-minute song – already long to me, being accustomed to three-minute Glam singles – and stretching it out to a leisurely 20 minutes or so.
To my ears the concert was a whirlwind of guitar solos by the band’s two different guitarists, Micky Jones and Deke Leonard, making the songs themselves almost indistinguishable, even if I had known them.
My other main memory of the evening is a little different, and one upon which I don’t wish to dwell too long. After leaving, I realised I had forgotten my jacket and had to go back into the auditorium to get it, which took me past the band’s dressing room.
As I passed it the door opened and the aforementioned Deke Leonard, emerging with a cigarette in his hand, tried to cajole me into joining him inside.
I can only hope he had mistaken me for a girl of the groupie persuasion – the kind of mistake that seemed implausible to me at the time, but seems more credible when I look at photos of myself at the time.
I was terrified, and in an early example of the ethics I would exhibit when I took up journalism a few years later, I made my excuses and left.