The Ramones – Glasgow Barrowlands September 23rd 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. As difficult and boring as it sounds. Seeing The Ramones would be a last hurrah as I left the world of having money to having none at all for 9 months.

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 pissed my mate Kev off (RIP Kev) telling him what the next song would be after every single song. I was right nearly every time too.

As an aside, the infinite threads of life and chance were apparent at this concert. A couple of years later I met one of my best friends in life, JJ. Turned out he had been at the same gig, standing where we were – on the rail stage left. We were probably bopping along next to each other, completely unaware of how our lives would end up completely entwined for the next 15 years.

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. Three of the founding members died within a few years of the end of the band, and Tommy eventually joined them in 2014. 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.

Prince – London O2 Arena August 11th 2007

This was a bucket list gig. One of the greatest artists of all time. Ridiculously talented. First and only time I’ve been to the O2. Only thing I really recall about the venue was the sound was remarkably good, especially for such a large cavernous space. Arenas really are hit and miss. The SECC has some of the worst sound I’ve ever heard anywhere but the arena in Manchester is usually pretty decent. Also no photos or videos were allowed.

Anyway, the gig itself was just breathtaking. Definitely in my top 10-20 of all time. I think it started off with Purple Rain and let’s face it, if that’s the first song then it’s going to be some night. All the expected hits were played along with some covers thrown in for good measure. One Nation Under A Groove and Le Freak were definitely churned out, and I’m sure Come Together was in there as well. I remember thinking it was like watching the greatest funk band in the world.

The tickets were priced at £31.21, in reference to his previous album “3121”. To say they were a steal is an understatement. A reasonably talented band with 3 albums out would charge that but this is someone who’s sold tens of millions of albums. So pleased to have seen Prince. He doesn’t tour much nowadays and although it wasn’t really a once in a lifetime opportunity, it certainly felt like it. (This was written in 2013, well before his untimely death. So yeah, turns out it was once in a lifetime.)

Look at the state of this ridiculous setlist…

Iron Maiden Album Rankings

I thought I’d compile a list of Iron Maiden’s seventeen studio albums, ranked from their greatest to their worst. Lists are always fun to do, although they can change quite a bit too as you hear bits you hadn’t noticed before, start appreciating songs you hadn’t before…or get tired of that song you used to love. I’ve included my favourite and least favourite songs from each album. Some of the “least favourite” I still really like but they’re on an album full of diamonds. And some albums’ lesser songs are not diamonds. Let’s keep it polite.

These are my rankings as of 2022 and I’d be surprised if they change too much over time, but you never know. Here goes…

1. Iron Maiden

Long been my favourite album. Phantom Of The Opera and Prowler may well be my two favourite songs from the band. Running Free and the eponymous song are the only two I’m slightly hesitant about, but are still great songs. The other 6 songs are so strong that IM could have the Sheriff Of Huddersfield on here and it might still make my number one. Notoriously badly produced but I don’t really notice it having lived with it so long, and let’s face it they have far worse in their catalogue. I’d have given anything to see them in this era. Many feel the slower numbers bring this album down a bit but I love them. Metallica’s cover of Remember Tomorrow is just as good as the original too, which is a rare treat. One of my favourite albums of all-time.

Top Of The Pile

  • Phantom Of The Opera
  • Transylvania
  • Prowler

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Iron Maiden
  • Running Free

2. Killers

Occasionally I wonder if this should be my number one as it’s more consistent in my opinion and has more songs. No skippers which is a rarity. The instrumentals on this and the debut are some of my favourite IM songs. I really wish they’d kept at them. Like Metallica, there is a certain skill at evoking emotion without vocals and both bands manage this with ease. Found it really difficult choosing my best and worst from this album. On any one day 2/3 of the songs could be my favourite and 1/3 the worst, but it’s splitting hairs. Obviously the Di’Anno era albums are, and I can quite confidently say, always going to be my favourites.

Top Of The Pile

  • The Ides Of March
  • Drifter
  • Murders In The Rue Morgue

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Innocent Exile
  • Prodigal Son

3. Somewhere In Time

A surprise (to me) entry here as I only properly heard the full album one year ago. But what an album. The (sort of) title track is straight out the bat and I love it, synths and all. That, along with Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner are my two favourites. They are just sublime. Deja Vu has slowly crept into my consciousness, from being “ok” to “what’s this tune again, I really like it…shit it’s Deja Vu…wow”. Heaven Can Wait I’m on the fence about. It doesn’t really excite me. Bizarrely though it’s probably the one SIT track the band have continued to play live on and off throughout the years. Beautiful album.

Top Of The Pile

  • Caught Somewhere In Time
  • Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Sea Of Madness
  • Heaven Can Wait

4. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Like SIT, I barely knew this album a year ago. Knew maybe half the songs, and some of those I didn’t even know very well. But good Lord, I’ve missed out on over 30 years of greatness. Ironically the song I knew best, Can I Play With Madness, is my least favourite. I’ve never been a fan of it. Can never put my finger on why. I think it’s a bit hokey. But from Infinite Dreams (that part 3/4 of the way through when Bruce screams to launch into the faster part…unreal), to the title track and to the closer (Only The Good Die Young) – this album has surprised me so much. Bar Madness this album does not dip in quality.

Top Of The Pile

  • Infinite Dreams
  • Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
  • Only The Good Die Young

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Can I Play With Madness?
  • The Prophecy

5. A Matter Of Life And Death

Highest “reunion” album for me. Seems daft using “reunion” as it’s the longest serving line-up by a mile but it serves to denote an era which every band who have been on the go for a long time needs for differentiation. A slow burner this album. Listening to it last year for the first time in a decade I struggled to remember why I thought this album was so good but after maybe five listen throughs I remembered and was rewarded. Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (that fast part…oof), For The Greater Good Of God and Lord Of Light are all big songs for me. Out Of The Shadows probably my least favourite but still high quality on a high quality album.

Top Of The Pile

  • Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
  • Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
  • Lord Of Light

Bottom Of The Pile

  • The Legacy
  • Out Of The Shadows

6. The Number Of The Beast

Very first IM album I bought. I was trying to find the album with Phantom on it but nonetheless I picked up a classic. Hallowed Be Thy Name is often regarded as the best Metal song ever and it’s difficult to put up much of an argument against that. Children Of The Damned is my second favourite, and was lucky to see this live in 2017. The part at the exact halfway point when things speed up and goes into the very short-lived guitarmonies is up there with my favourite parts in music full stop. Like Metallica, IM often reserve their best pieces of musicality for a tiny portion of a song and don’t overuse it. Many fans have this album as their number one and it’s easy to see why, but despite an expected bias since it was my first album it’s beaten by a handful of others I’m afraid. Still probably a 9/10 though, which at 6/17 albums is ridiculous.

Top Of The Pile

  • Hallowed Be Thy Name
  • Children Of The Damned
  • The Number Of The Beast

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Invaders
  • 22 Acacia Avenue

7. Dance Of Death

This album starts a run where I’m finding it difficult to rank. This album really surprised me. I think it’s mostly consistent in quality, with some real big-hitters in Paschendale, Montsegur and the title track. Some real underrated gems in here too, especially Face In The Sand. Wildest Dreams, the opener is a bit of a disappointment however and probably the first song so far that I can say I don’t particularly like. Rainmaker would have been a much better opener. Journeyman is a song I’ve grown to enjoy too and is a suitable closer. Possibly in my opinion their most underrated album. Rare to see people rank it anywhere in the top half. That cover though…

Top Of The Pile

  • Paschendale
  • Montsegur
  • Dance Of Death

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Wildest Dreams
  • Gates Of Tomorrow

8. Senjutsu

I find it really difficult to place this. Currently, Darkest Hour and The Time Machine are the only two songs I’m unsure about how I feel towards them. The rest are all really great, from instant wins like Stratego and The Parchment to songs that are slower to grip you like Days Of Future Past or Lost In A Lost World. The Parchment is definitely my favourite song on this album, but others are gaining ground over time. Writing On The Wall was such a great song (and video) to put out first from this, along with a great marketing campaign which helped boost things at a time in the history of the world where nothing was “normal” anymore. One of the solos in this song is a particular highlight of the album for me. I think it might be Adrian, but to be honest I don’t know. It grips me each time, whoever it is that’s bending those strings. I do have a slight problem with The Time Machine, it sounds very similar in parts to The Book Of Souls. One particular part sounds almost identical. But a minor criticism. To put out an album of this quality at this point in their career is unreal.

Top Of The Pile

  • The Parchment
  • Hell On Earth
  • Days Of Future Past

Bottom Of The Pile

  • The Time Machine
  • Darkest Hour

9. Brave New World

I think I’ve maybe underestimated this album. I’ve felt in the past it’s top-loaded but now I think it’s perhaps more consistent than I have previously given it credit for. Ghost Of The Navigator is just ridiculous. As in amazing ridiculous. It’s not often I’ll mention lyrics (lyrics to me are just poetry unless they’re accompanied by a great tune) but with a 10/10 tune in this case I can concentrate on the lyrics more and the visuals they evoke are sublime (sorry I’m running out of superlatives I haven’t already used). Easily top 20 Maiden song for me, possibly top 10. But the album is chock full of top quality songs and this placing may change over time. One thing is for sure, the artwork is better than DoD anyway.

Top Of The Pile

  • Ghost Of The Navigator
  • The Fallen Angel
  • Blood Brothers

Bottom Of The Pile

  • The Nomad
  • The Thin Line Between Love And Hate

10. Piece Of Mind

One of two “classic” era albums I slightly struggle with. Had I had this album (or the other classic era album I’ve still to mention) when I was young then I think I’d feel different about it. But it is undoubtedly a great album. Revelations for me, if you’ll pardon the pun, are Where Eagles Dare and Quest For Fire. The first has become one of my favourites overall and the latter has been a big surprise, only because it is so often derided. A perfect example of what I talked about in BNW. The lyrics are silly, yes, but I love the music. Therefore it’s a winner for me. Die With Your Boots on is a track I really dislike, and will probably become a feature for the remaining albums – songs I actively dislike and will always avoid unless I’m doing a listen-through. Or as we used to call it, “listening to the album”.

Top Of The Pile

  • Where Eagles Dare
  • Revelations

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Die With Your Boots On
  • Sun And Steel

9. Powerslave

Yes, it really is this low. I don’t want to focus on the negative too much but three of the eight songs don’t excite me too much, and that is not a good hit rate. Back In The Village, Flash Of The Blade and Losfer Words I can give or take. The other five are of supreme quality, although I’m less of a fan of 2 Minutes To Midnight than is the general consensus. Aces High is the perfect opener, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner a perfect closer and The Duellists has sneaked right up on me, much like Deja Vu has. After probably too much negativity for what is often regarded as their best work I’ll end on a positive note – their best artwork for me. Eddie as the Sphinx has always slightly scared me in a way that the more conventional “scary” Eddies haven’t.

Top Of The Pile

  • Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
  • Powerslave
  • Aces High

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Flash Of The Blade
  • Back In The Village

12. The Book Of Souls

Can I just shock you?” said the protagonist of the best comedy show ever produced. I like this album (I’m not a fan of wine). Should I have this higher than Powerslave given that comment? Possibly not, but the quality ratio is similar. This was the first new Iron Maiden album I bought on release in a long, long time. I was impressed right away and here we are (currently) seven years later and I still like it. The opener If Eternity Should Fail is a real barnstormer with a big singalong chorus, the title track is one of their best songs overall for me personally (especially the riff when it changes up) and Shadows Of The Valley is a real hidden gem. In terms of negative points, a couple of songs are just ok. A Man Of Sorrows has a really nice chorus but the rest is a bit uninspired. Speed Of Light grates on me a touch. It’s very reminiscent of No Prayer For The Dying-era Bruce with the raspier vocals. Not a fan. First good Eddie in a while too, although a shame there’s no background. Overall an easy exam pass for me.

Top Of The Pile

  • The Book Of Souls
  • Shadows Of The Valley
  • If Eternity Should Fail

Bottom Of The Pile

  • When The River Runs Deep
  • Speed Of Light

13. The Final Frontier

Venturing now into my least played albums. I have given them all at least several listens and a decent chance. But I also know that some of my favourite albums of all time are those that have beared repeating to get really inside me. I don’t know how much this list will change over time but this album I feel has perhaps the potential to move the most. At the moment however there are only a few songs I really enjoy. The title track (which I’ll keep separate from the slightly boring intro Satellite 15), Coming Home, The Alchemist and The Talisman. The latter is my favourite on the album by a distance. The closer When The Wild Wind Blows is well regarded but I’m unsure on my feelings towards it. Hopefully in time I can come around to it. What doesn’t help it, or The Talisman for that matter, is the band are getting towards the peak of these hugely long intros (and often outros) they insist on. We don’t need 2-4 minutes per song of it and can be off-putting when I’m wanting a quick fix. I appreciate intros but there’s a limit. The problem Final Frontier (and the rest of the albums ranked lower than it) has is that the band generally has a pretty consistent output. Yes there are highs and lows but every album has real quality on it. But like I have to say which songs I enjoy the least, even though I may like those songs a lot, I also have to say which albums I enjoy the least. So for the moment anyway it’s towards the bottom of my rankings. Some albums have to be down there unfortunately.

Top Of The Pile

  • The Talisman
  • Coming Home
  • Final Frontier

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Isle Of Avalon
  • El Dorado

14. No Prayer For The Dying

So this is where the band’s songwriting first started declining. My main gripe with this album though is Bruce’s singing. I can’t stand this gruff style he has at this point of their career. His singing already treads a fine line for me, between genius and horrible. This is mostly just the latter though. Holy Smoke and Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter, the two lead singles from this album, are awful. I’ve nearly exhausted my superlatives so far to describe some songs, I may run out of negative words for some of the songs in the next stretch. Hooks In You is another one – dreadful. However…there are also some greats on here too. The title track (is that a theme?), Run Silent Run Deep and the worst title for a song ever, Public Enema Number One. Overall a very mixed bag – some great, some okay, some very not okay.

Top Of The Pile

  • Public Enema Number One
  • No Prayer For The Dying
  • Run Silent Run Deep

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter
  • Holy Smoke
  • Hooks In You

15. The X Factor

First of the two Blaze Bayley albums. Nowhere near bad enough as it’s made out to be. The biggest downfall of this album is its production, or lack thereof. There are a few Maiden albums with very questionable production decisions but most can be lived with. However the extremely amateur engineering job done by Steve Harris on this album and it’s follow-up massively detract from the songwriting on offer. Lots of the songs sound like demos. Reverb, which is probably the most commonly used effect in sound engineering, is almost non-existent. Anyway, if you dig deep into this album you’ll find it’s often worth your while. Very much like my appraisal of No Prayer For The Dying there is an even three way split for the songs – good, okay, not good. Just a shame the sound of the album has to drag the songwriting down with it. But ignore any preconceptions you have of the album. There’s gold in them hills.

Top Of The Pile

  • The Edge Of Darkness
  • Sign Of The Cross
  • Man On The Edge

Bottom Of The Pile

  • 2AM
  • The Unbeliever

16. Virtual XI

Like The X Factor, this album is not as bad as the media (and public) would have you believe. Yes there are stinkers, including a contender for the worst Maiden single of all-time (The Angel And The Gambler I’m looking at you). In fact it’s the worst song on this album by a mile…and they chose it as a single. But the songwriting is in my opinion surprisingly strong. What drags it down (sorry to repeat myself) is the really poor production and the highly repetitive lyrics in lots of Blaze’s choruses. I really like so many of the choruses he sings over this album and it’s predecessor, but there’s only so many times you can hear the same few words over and over. But…the likes of Futureal and When Two Worlds Collide I’d really like to see Maiden champion. They won’t, unless they do a farewell tour that encompasses every album and even then will choose The Clansman, but it’s a shame – there’s some real good stuff on this album. Just not presented well. Including the cover art.

Top Of The Pile

  • Futureal
  • When Two Worlds Collide
  • The Clansman

Bottom Of The Pile

  • The Angel And The Gambler
  • Como Estais Amigos

17. Fear Of The Dark

This album, and the previous one chronologically, are intertwined for me. So many similarities, from the vocal delivery, hit and miss songwriting, musical landscape they were released into and members departing. All well documented. Some of the gems in here include the title track (again), although there is a very slight element of it being overplayed like The Trooper or Run To The Hills. Very slight. It’s still a classic. The Fugitive is often maligned but I really like it. Big highlight for me. Afraid To Shoot Strangers and the opener Be Quick Or Be Dead are also hits. Unfortunately almost all of the rest of the songs are fighting each other in a race to the bottom. Not good.

Top Of The Pile

  • Fear Of The Dark
  • Afraid To Shoot Strangers
  • The Fugitive

Bottom Of The Pile

  • Weekend Warrior
  • Chains Of Misery
  • From Here To Eternity

Daft Punk – Glasgow Barrowlands October 31st 1997

One of the best gigs of my life, hands down. Everytime I’ve seen them has been special for a reason and it’s too hard to pick which one was best. I remember me and my mate playing this album all the time. It coincided with me getting my first set of decks and then starting to get serious about DJing. I was completely immersed in house music at this point. Completely.

I’d just started a music production course at the local college and had no job so funds were tight. We got our bursary paid every fortnight though and luckily got paid it the day of the gig. We got the bus through to Glasgow, getting proceedings started as soon as we sat down, obviously. We were staying at a mate’s in Glasgow and having got a taxi to his flat, succeeded in persuading him to come along and get a ticket outside from a tout, which he did for £30. Let’s face it, a bargain.

As far as I remember the UK tour had two different supports depending on which gig you were at. Basement Jaxx were supporting on some and Roger Sanchez on others. We had the S-Man which I was pleased about. I’d seen him before but not Basement Jaxx so would have been pretty much as happy with them however. Roger Sanchez blew our socks off. Only tune I can remember him playing was “Back” by S-Men. His whole set was just astounding though. He was at his peak around this time I’d venture. As warm-up sets go it’s up there with the best but the best was yet to come.

Now unfortunately I don’t remember a great amount of detail about Daft Punk’s set but I’m sure you can imagine it. Most of “Homework” got an airing, along with b-sides and remixes. I think they may well have started with “Musique”, other than that I’m not sure what was played when. They had a giant video screen behind them with amazing visuals, particularly during “Teachers” when images of Bob Marley, John Lennon etc. were relayed to the crowd. It being October 31st also I think there was some Halloween theme at some point. Might be wrong about that. It was a long time ago. Their set was thumping. If you listen to “Alive 97” recorded on the same tour at Birmingham you get a feel for the set. Quite different to the follow-up tour “Alive 2007”. Although 07 was a huge audio-visual experience, the raw exhilaration and on-the-fly production of 97 was missing.

Afterwards it was onto the afterparty. We tried to get into Slam at The Arches for the official afterparty where Roger Sanchez was DJing but got turned away a few feet away from the door because it was full. Gutted! We ended up in some indie club that was decent enough but you knew you were missing out. After that we went back to The Arches as the other guys from the flat we were staying at were there so we went to meet them. As it didn’t finish until 4am we had a little while to kill. Nipping up a little alleyway to have a slash we found what I can only imagine was a firedoor for The Arches. A fire door that was ajar. We silently looked at each other grinning like you wouldn’t believe. We walked in what we thought was casually but probably looked like we were carrying a bag marked “Swag”, fully expecting to feel a big hand on our shoulder at any point. But it never came. I think we walked in at the side of one of the bars but the crowd were just a few feet away. We got ourselves deep enough into the crowd to make sure we were safe and then jumped around like we’d just scored the winning goal in the World Cup. Just as we calmed down and started to throw some serious shapes the music was turned off and the lights went up. End of the night. Gutted for the second time! But what a thrill.

When we’d disappeared into The Arches we’d left our other mate outside. When we came out there was no sign of him and no sign of the flatmates either. This was pre-mobile phone era obviously. After a while we gave up and somehow ended up at a party where we met some people from our school back home. I assume this wasn’t coincidence but I have no idea how we got there. I didn’t know at the time either, that’s not just the passage of time.

Eventually we got back to my mate’s flat and our other mate got there around the same time. Thankfully he could remember where the flat was. He’d ended up at some random party. Par for the course. We spent the whole day slowly sinking into a pit of despair, waiting on a potential lift from one of the flatmates who eventually decided in the early evening he was going to stay for another night. The lure of avoiding public transport had been too much for us to go home earlier when we’d intended to so we’d wasted all day waiting on nothing. I was supposed to be going out that evening too. Hurriedly getting ourselves round to the local shop for some much needed Irn Bru before getting a bus into Glasgow City centre, the true scale of how much we had The Fear became quickly apparent. I remember being devastated the bus we got into town had no headrests and therefore we had nowhere to hide. This wasn’t going well. My mate who I’d come through to Glasgow with was from Paisley originally, on the west side of Glasgow, and he was going to see his parents instead of heading back to Fife. We said our goodbyes and he disappeared into the throng of the bus station patrons whilst I boarded my bus, safe in the knowledge I had the exact amount of money it had cost to get here. Except the driver said it was 20p more. Sensing impending doom I explained this to him. As he searched for the price list I looked around and my mate had gone. There was no sign of him. No chance of getting 20p off him then. The driver showed me his chart and he was right. The driver on the way through had obviously undercharged us. I was panicking by now. I could see I had the exact money to get to the town before my village but I’d have no money to phone anyone for a lift and it was a 6 mile walk. The driver took a look at me and told me just to get on it was ok. I nearly kissed him. I got the bus several times every day around this period of my life and none of them were ever this nice! Thankfully the bus wasn’t too busy and the bus had big headrests. I was safe. I was in the midst of The Fear but armed with my Walkman I was confident I was in a safe bubble. The journey home was event-free and needless to say I never made it out that night, although mainly because I didn’t get home until around 10pm after the day from hell. Worth it though.

Bad Manners – The Venue, Edinburgh 7th October 1992

The first of many. Bad Manners along with Babyshambles are the two bands I’ve seen the most; thirteen times each. The Bad Manners concerts took place over a longer period of time however, the first being this time in 1992 and the last being around 2005. Over the previous year or so I’d massively gotten into ska. The usual suspects at first – The Specials, Madness, The Selecter, Bad Manners etc. before moving onto the original ska. Bad Manners were the first ska band I saw and still to this day are easily the biggest party band I’ve ever seen. Fun all the way. More importantly though, brilliant music.

This may well have been the first gig I ever went to on my own. Pretty sure it was since this was only around my 10th gig and I don’t recall going to any before this on my own. No-one else I knew was particularly interested in going, it being a school night not helping – an actual school night that is, not a joke one. Almost every gig I’d been to up until this point was a conventional 7:30-11:00 affair. Unfortunately The Venue didn’t open until 9:00 and from past experience seeing Silverfish at the same venue a few months ago, I knew they wouldn’t be on until quite late. My last train was around 10:45 and with The Venue being right next to Waverley Station I could probably hold off until 10:40 to run for my train. I’d be happy just catching half of Bad Manners set. I don’t remember much about about what happened before Bad Manners came on. I think there was a support band but not too sure. I do remember seeing a few lads from Cupar including my mate Martin who sadly died a few years ago. I knew they were from the local scooter club. I looked up to them and wanted to be part of it. I did about a year later and had some of the best years of my life with them. At this point though, they probably wouldn’t know me and I wasn’t about to make myself look like a dick so didn’t acknowledge them. I was just a kid after all.


Time was marching on and it was becoming increasing clear I was going to miss all the gig or at best, most of it if I made the dash for the train. I made the decision to stay for the gig and I’d deal with the consequences afterwards. Eventually Bad Manners came on and played an absolute blinder. All the hits were wheeled out – “Special Brew”, “Lip Up Fatty”, “Wooly Bully” etc. “Can Can” had everyone with their arms round each other doing the respective dance. It was one big party. The stage at The Venue was fairly small, like a lot of the venues the band played at, and frankly when there’s 9 or 10 in your band and the frontman is around 30 stone it always bemused me how they all managed to fit on. But they did.

The party had to come to an end unfortunately and I was left with the conundrum of what to do. My plan was to just walk about and find somewhere to put my head down for a few hours but that proved a lot more difficult than I anticipated. I eventually huddled behind a building after walking around for an hour or so, planning to sleep for 3 or 4 hours before going to the train station that reopened at 4am and getting the first train home again. I didn’t sleep a wink though. It was baltic and to say it was uncomfortable is an understatement. Eventually I made my way down to the station. I shut my eyes again on a bench inside the station for a couple of hours until the first train around 6am. I’d expected the first train to be around 5am but no such luck. The train was much more comfortable and reasonably empty so it was a struggle to stay awake to make sure I didn’t miss my stop. The irony. Try to sleep and can’t, then try to stay awake and can’t. Thankfully I was awake for my stop though.

Having had no sleep, my plan of going to school that day was quickly extinguished. I’m not sure if I went in late or if I just had the whole day off. Probably went in late as it was easier to get away with. Although a lot of it wasn’t particularly much fun it was a decent adventure and, in hindsight after I was home, was well worth it. As I said at the start, I’ve seen Bad Manners many times, from local nightclubs, to festivals and scooter do’s. And not once have they disappointed.

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 Six


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

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: