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.