The Ramones – Glasgow Barrowlands 23rd September 1994

What else can be said about The Ramones that hasn’t been already? Credited with kicking off punk as part of New York’s famous CBGB’s scene, they were a massive shot in the arm to the 70s music scene. Songs barely lasted more than a couple of minutes (if you were lucky) and were played at what seemed like 1000mph.

My first introduction to the band was the “Loco Live” album recorded live in Barcelona. Still my favourite ever live album. It was a number of weeks until I heard the band’s recorded versions of these songs which I had played on a continuous loop for that period of time – and I wasn’t sold. They sounded like ballads compared to the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” style of their live show. Over time I grew to appreciate the recorded versions as much as the live versions but it took me a while!

I was just about to start university the following week from this gig in what would be an ill-fated Chemistry degree course. Seeing The Ramones would be a last hurrah as I left the world of having money to having none at all for 9 months. As bad as it sounds. The support for the gig was Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, a band who were only really famous in Scotland but perhaps best known for their members Shirley Manson who left to form Garbage and Big John Duncan who was in The Exploited and played guitar with Nirvana at some of their early 90s shows. Unfortunately we missed then as we got there late however.

The Ramones were every bit as good as I’d hoped they’d be. They played a very similar set to “Loco Live”, so much so that I probably pissed my mate Kev off telling him what the next song would be after every single song. I was right nearly every time too.

This was the last time the band ever played in Scotland. They only played one more date in the UK on their farewell tour in 1996 at Brixton Academy in London. I considered going but the usual problems of getting someone to go with me got in the way. It’s somewhat ironic that a band who infamously had their frontmen at loggerheads for most of their career managed to not only stay together but go out with a planned farewell tour rather than imploding. All of the founding members died within a few years of the end of the band. Sad really. I like to think they couldn’t live without each other.

This gig will always rank as one of my top 10 gigs ever and is certainly one of my proudest “I was there” moments. Legends.

Slipknot/Slayer – Glasgow SECC 3rd October 2004

This was one of those gigs that was an adventure from start to finish. A late decision to go meant inevitably it was sold out. I’d gone to a few gigs just prior to this where I’d managed to get tickets off touts no problem so assured my mates we’d get in as it was in a big venue and more people = more spare tickets. That’s not quite how it worked out though. I think the problem was we were on the wrong side of the venue but there were still plenty of people going in. Just none of them had any spare tickets and to top it all off we only saw a handful of touts and they had no tickets at all so really we were competing with them for any spares. They did all tell us however there just weren’t any going about so perhaps we were in the right place. Just one of those nights.

There were four of us but a couple of my mates were having a lot of personal problems at the time and didn’t have the confidence to walk about asking for tickets so there were only two of us trying to buy four tickets which didn’t help. Eventually after at about an hour and a half we managed to get two single tickets within minutes of each other. The other two said they’d just wait in the car for us but no chance, we all went in or none of us did. The punters were really drying up now and it soon became obvious why. Slayer had just started. We decided to try the security on the gate and see if they’d take money to let us in. Desperate but that’s where we were. As we walked up to the door a lad who had been trying to buy tickets too was talking to a young girl and pointing to us. Turns out her mates had just texted her to say they weren’t coming to the gig anymore so she was just going home and had spare tickets. She was going to give us them for nothing but we gave her £30 or so. We were just so grateful.

We ran to the doors as the opening of “Mandatory Suicide” was ringing out from the hall. I can still feel that rush of adrenaline. It was unbeatable. We’d stood around for two hours begging for tickets and thought we were defeated. Anything but. Slayer as always were out of this world. My ribs are still reverberating to this day from the double kick drum during “Angel Of Death”. Dave Lombardo – what a drummer. I remember looking round to one of my mates and despite being really used to loud gigs we were practically breathless from the brute force of the sound. What a feeling.

Although it was a dual headline tour, obviously both bands couldn’t go on last but Slipknot had the honour. I thought at the time that the band’s took turns at going on last but I don’t think so now. Slipknot were just bigger than I gave them credit for. Either way, Slipknot were worthy of the final slot. This is the only time I’ve seen them but wow, what a show. Even if you don’t like their music it’s still an amazing spectacle they put on. But of course their music is more than likeable. Much more. They put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And loudest. The percussionists, including the infamous Clown, were just staggering in their performance.

Lots of my favourite gigs have been last-minute efforts and this is one of them. They produce great adrenaline rushes and events that don’t happen when you’re fully prepared. Cracking night.

As a sidenote, this is the only gig I’ve ever been to in Hall 5 at the SECC Nearly every one I’ve been to has been in Hall 4, the biggest hall, where the sound is appalling. The sound in Hall 5 was top notch.

Faith No More – Glasgow Barrowlands (1st December 1992)

So pleased I went to this gig. It’s still the only time I’ve seen this band. This was in support of “Angel Dust”, which remains their biggest selling album. Their previous album, The Real Thing, will I’m sure always remain in my top 10 albums of all time. An absolute masterpiece.

FNM announced two dates for the Barrowlands, which both quickly sold out, so they added two more dates meaning they played four consecutive nights. We missed out on tickets for the first two so made sure not to make the same mistake again. They easily could have played more arenas on this tour, respect to them for playing the smaller, better venues.

This was the first of the four night run. I always feel sorry for those who get tickets for something and then the band announced a further, better date. We got to find out the setlist before anyone else, which included “Easy”, a superb cover of The Commodores’ hit. It received such a great response live they released it as a single and also added it to a re-release of Angel Dust.

L7 were the support band on this U.K. tour. It’s so good when you get a good support band. Nothing worse than for the band and audience to see barely anyone in the venue or for those there to be standing chatting and not paying attention. This was definitely not the case for L7, who were riding their own wave at the time off the back of “Pretend We’re Dead”.

Notable highlights of the FNM show were the enigmatic Jim Martin looking cool the entire time on the other side of the stage from me – this would prove to be his curtain call however, he left the band a few months later disagreeing with the direction of the band and a fractious relationship with the other members amongst a few unhappy motives for the guitarist’s departure. Also, Roddy Bottum stagedived onto me during Be Aggressive which is still probably a highlight of my gig career! He revealed his homosexuality only a matter of weeks after this tour. Unfortunately the rarity of men in the rock community coming out is almost as rare 30 years later as it was back in the early 90s.

Both FNM and L7 saw their careers tail off as the decade went on unfortunately – the music world changed, the band members lives’ changed. But both bands are now reinvigorated and bubbling underneath the mainstream once again. Check them both out if you get a chance – you won’t regret it.

Johnny Proctor – Noughty

***WARNING: Contains spoilers***

The final instalment in the trilogy series, based in the world of terrace culture, is finally released to a rapidly increasing fanbase. Set four years after the sophomore release “Ninety Six”, Zico finds himself settling down in Amsterdam of all places, along with girlfriend Flo who clearly has not been put off him after their Ibizan escapades.

Leading a much more sedate life nowadays, Stevie “Zico” Duncan is still an internationally renowned DJ and Flo has found a job at the library in Amsterdam. Integration is the name of the game now and they’re both mastering this particular game. Zico knows his way around the coffee shops of the ‘Dam better than the natives, and Flo is adept at making friends with anyone she speaks to. Life is chugging along nicely for the pair. Which can only mean one thing of course…

Zico’s best mate Si, has been locked up since we last met all the characters around the time of Euro’96, first of all in a Spanish jail before being transferred to the “lenient” but infamous Bar L in Glasgow. Si’s untimely release sets off in motion the shenanigans we know and love this duo for. In “Ninety Six” they’d all but left behind their hooligan antics, choosing instead to immerse themselves full-time in the world of House music. “Noughty” sees them slowly but surely get pulled back into the world of casuals. Do they still have it in them to bat away any pretenders to their long forgotten thrones or have they been out the game for too long? A chance meeting in the football world will soon give them a chance to find out.

As with the previous two novels, Johnny spends a lot of the book giving us the narrative from the point of view of all the characters, not just Zico. One of these characters is a long lost foe who is safely under lock and key. His father, Peter, is still up to his old tricks but seems to largely be keeping his distance from his son. Zico’s worlds however have a habit of colliding and these particular worlds have the potential to collide extremely violently. Can Stevie keep them far enough apart?

Johnny has set the touchstone in this genre. Writing from experience will always be helpful to an author who is hoping to transport the reader into their chosen world but he manages it with ease. Careful consideration has been taken over the setting of the book, ensuring the detail is correct. The time and care taken over this shines through, so much so that any detail you are unfamiliar with you just know that it’s fact. More importantly however, as with the first two parts of the trilogy, being a teen/twentysomething in the 90s during the explosion of House music is Johnny’s forte. If you’re like me and love nothing more than to relive those halcyon days in any way possible then I can not recommend this entire series of books, brilliantly rounded off by this monster of a finale that weighs in at over 400 pages that you just don’t want to end.

Johnny has already announced his new book “Muirhouse“ and I can’t wait to get to know the next world he’s going to write about, even if I am sad to see the back of Zico.

Follow Johnny on twitter at @johnnyroc73 and contact him directly to purchase any books from the trilogy. Alternatively you can purchase them through Amazon but please try Johnny first.

Ninety https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916088503/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_ZK93C7PJJBY9FZJDK6BB

Ninety Six https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916088511/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_9K3AVT0SFS1RYMA2PJA0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Noughty https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/191608852X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_ZDB0P4KTNCAHX8AGBAB5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Johnny Proctor – Ninety Six

Ninety Six” is the follow up to Johnny Proctor’s debut novel “Ninety”, a remarkable tale of a young Scot discovering football hooliganism, girls and, most importantly of all, Acid House and Ecstasy. Set in a small town in Fife, the story follows our protagonist (Steven Duncan AKA Zico) and his exploits over the course of his 16th year on this planet, 1990 – hence the title of the book.

“Ninety Six”, I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear, is set during 1996. So what has happened in the six years between the stories? Well, I can’t give too much away in case you haven’t yet read “Ninety” but the main change in Stevie’s life is his DJing, an artform he was just starting to get to grips with in the previous outing, has come on leaps and bounds. So much so that he’s now got a residency at Space in Ibiza, a club that needs no introduction. So he’s doing well for himself, needless to say. It’s an early doors residency but in Ibiza, the setting for almost the entire story, any time is party time so he’s always playing to a busy dancefloor. He’s also garnered himself a bit of a reputation for being a maverick, throwing in tunes that possibly no other DJ on the island has ever even considered. Clubbers who may not have known his name (DJ Selecao) before they entered Space, are in no doubt as to who he is once they leave.

Now 22, Zico is at a stage in his life where your average person would struggle to get through a weekend without enthusiastically taking part in the chemical side of things. Here we have a young lad “working” a few hours each week in the middle of party central. Needless to say chaos ensues, helped hugely along the way by his best mate Si, who has “bravely” packed in his job back home to support his mate abroad. His bravery knows no bounds as he parties away the days and weeks with Zico, as their time in Ibiza, both individually and together, takes us on a weird and wonderful trip from comedy to drama and whatever lies inbetween.

In “Ninety”, Johnny used some chapters to tell the story from the perspective of Lisa, Zico’s girlfriend. It was a brave move that could have backfired, especially trying to write from the viewpoint of the opposite sex. After successfully dipping his toes in the water with this novel way of telling the story, he takes it up several notches in “Ninety Six”. Although Zico still guides us through probably 50-60% of the tale, the rest is told through the eyes of various other characters including the aforementioned Si, Zico’s father Peter and his new wife Eva amongst others. This works so well and each character adds their own thing to the story without making you want to get back to Zico. The style of writing changes with each character too and you are placed easily in the mindset of each one without it feeling forced or fake, a feat I’m sure is difficult to pull off.

You’ll have to buy the book to see what happens when you mix a hard partying DJ with a summer in Ibiza but just in case that’s not enough, just to add something else into the mix there is also one of the greatest football tournaments of our time going on as well – the unforgettable Euro96 set in England. This offers up some great side stories to the main thread, including that match. Yip, that one. The one every Scotland fan will never (unfortunately) forget.

As with “Ninety”, we have a story told by someone who obviously writes from experience. There are lots of Ibizan, Spanish and Colombian references and it’s clear experience plus research equals accuracy. As this is a trilogy of books we evidently have another, and final, chapter of the Zico story to go. I hope Mr Proctor completes the third as quickly as the first two because I for one can not wait to find out how this tale of youth, drugs, music and love concludes.

As the strap line says, “Three months in Ibiza : What could go wrong?”. Well, a hell of a lot can go wrong, that’s what.

You can contact Johnny on twitter at @johnnyroc73 to purchase a copy of the book, or buy it from Amazon here: Ninety Six https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916088511/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_VTgpDbKCF1VDZ

Johnny Proctor – Ninety

Zico is a sixteen year old lad in 1990, trying to find his way in life. He’s growing up in a small Scottish village in Fife with only really one thing in his life – his football team, Dundee United. That, and the usual weekend shenanigans of almost any boy who’s sixteen – alcohol, weed and girls. Our protagonist, obsessed with clothes, quickly gets drawn into the life of a football casual, running with the infamous Dundee Utility. All he lives for is the weekend.

As the story progresses we find Zico treading down a path that will be familiar to people all over the country who were 15-30 in the late 80s and early 90s. One little word changes his life, seemingly forever. One little pill. Ecstasy. Suddenly he finds himself questioning everything in life, his path in life. Does he even have a path?

Can this youngster choose the right path to go down? Self-destruction is never too far away in any direction. One wrong decision, one lie to his loved ones, one pill too many and the button of Zico’s life will be well and truly pressed with no going back.

One thing is clear, despite him loving a life on the edge he clearly has morals. But are these morals enough to pull him back from the brink? This being a story involving drugs, trouble is never far round the corner and I genuinely had no idea what way Johnny was going to take it as I could see the pages running out. Is Zico’s lifestyle of violence and love going to catch up with him? One thing is for sure, one of them is, and it’s 50/50 which one will come out on top.

The story is written from Zico’s perspective and thus we hear his inner thoughts, thoughts most of us can relate to in some way. He worries about his family finding out about his lifestyle but knows there’s going to be lies and non-disclosure for that to remain hidden from them. This doesn’t sit right with him but he knows it comes with the territory and needs must. Likewise with his girlfriend Lisa. Will she be ok with a “hooligan” for a boyfriend? We see Zico’s inner torment at hurting those closest to him whilst knowing the two things he loves doing most will hurt them. So what will he do?

What is surprising though is a couple of chapters are written from his girlfriend’s perspective. These both happen at Acid House parties and show empathy from the writer about how she must feel towards her boyfriend, her fairly new boyfriend at that. Does she know what he’s up to in his other life? How does she handle all these new things flooding into her life at a rate of knots – drugs, music, new friends? Her life was much simpler a few months ago. Will she cope? She delivers perhaps my favourite line in the book when she sees him coming back from a three hour absence at a rave in Blackburn. “When he finally did see me, well, after having to do that fucking pirate eyepatch thing with his hand to make sure he could focus looking at me”! Yip, been there, worn the t-shirt!

Full disclosure: I was 15 in 1990, I come from a small village in Fife, I support Dundee United and found myself in the Acid House scene, albeit slightly later than Zico. Johnny would have had to be the worst writer in the world to write a story I couldn’t somehow relate to but he surpasses expectations by a country mile. Knowing what I know, the story is completely believable whilst entertaining at every juncture. There is peer pressure, romance, comedy, drama, paranoia, highs and lows. So pretty much everything you need for a drug-addled night out then.

I’ve read probably hundreds of books and articles on the Acid House scene in Britain but, at least as far as I can remember, I’ve never read any fiction on the last great youth movement. If you’ll pardon the pun, this really is a novel way to retell the story. This is Johnny’s first novel and it’s obvious he writes from experience. As the book progresses and starts to focus more on the drugs and music, the descriptive element shifts up a few notches and you feel like you are right there feeling the same things he is, the highs and the lows, the confusion, the forgotten conversations, solving the world’s problems and then instantly forgetting your name so poverty gets put on hold. That rush from the drugs, that rush from the music, that rush from meeting all these people on exactly the same wavelength as you. It’s all there and you want, nay need, it to be 1990 again and dancing in some farmer’s field without a care in the world.

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916088503/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_ZK93C7PJJBY9FZJDK6BB