Going to see a band these days is far too expensive. Yer enormodome megastars like U2, Springsteen, AC/DC etc etc charge a small fortune. Yer second string enormodomers like Coldplay, Oasis, (insert your own choice here) etc etc can get away with charging similar fortunes. Even relatively minor league acts are asking you to stump up anything upwards of £15 to hear their one album’s worth of whining nonsense. And why? Cos in this day and age, when folk (like me) illegally share music, the artist has realised that the only way to make money is on the road. That’s why live music has never been so bouyant. Even Madonna is out and about playing a football stadium near you. You can’t download the live experience. Aye, you can download a Dylan concert the minute he’s off stage. And you can watch umpteen YouTube shaky camera phone videos of Paul McCartney on stage with Neil Young even before the last bit of feedback has fizzled out. What you can’t do is download the actual in-yer-face gig. And until you can, your favourite artists will continue getting away with charging you the price of feeding a family of four for a week. But you knew that already.
It wasn’t always like this. I saw Blur for £1! (see above). I paid £4 on the door the first time I saw the Stone Roses. Even their famous Alexandra Palace gig was only £8.50. And they were massive by this point. I’ve tons of tickets for concerts I’ve been to where I’ve paid a fiver or less. Sure, that first Stone Roses concert was 20 years ago. Blur was 18. I’m no economist, but surely the price of gig tickets these days outstrips the rate of inflation?
I saw the Inspiral Carpets loads of times. So named after one band member commented on his fellow band member’s mum’s orange and brown 70s living room carpet, the first time I saw them they were supporting the Wedding Present in the Barrowlands. I thought they sounded like the Teardrop Explodes; swirly organ, 60s references, bowl cuts and all that. Every song sounded like ‘Reward‘. I was hooked. I kept my fingers poised over the pause button of my tape recorder during John Peel shows and I kept my eyes peeled on the gig pages of NME. I went to see them all the time. I paid £3.50 to see them in the bar at Glasgow Tech. A quick visit to their merchandise stall to purchase 2 ‘Cool As Fuck’ badges (lost on the way home) and a demo tape called Dung 4 cost me a further £3.60. Add a couple of student-bar-priced watery pints and you can see that I had a great night out for a tenner.
A couple of weeks ago I dug out that old demo tape and converted it into mp3 files. It’s very much of it’s time, but still sounds pretty good. If you’re in anyway into Farfisa-led 60s influenced tunes sung by a shouty guy called Steve (these songs are pre Tom Hingley fame era) then it’s for you. Some of the tracks appeared polished and shiny down the line on the Rare As Fuck Plane Crash ep. Others crept onto 7″ b sides or re-appeared in future Peel Sessions. If you’re a fan of Inspiral Carpets you’ll know most of them. If not, it’s as good a place to start as any. This tape was the one thing that convinced me I had seen the future of rock n roll. And it wasn’t called Bruce Springsteen.
The Inspiral Carpets occasionally gave out a newsletter. By issue 4 it had become known as the moos-letter. Here’s the one I got round about the time I saw them in Glasgow Tech and bought the tape that you’re just about to download.
I meant to write in my original post that about a year after the Glasgow Tech gig, I saw the Inspiral Carpets again at Strathclyde University. This was round about the time Noel Gallagher was roadying for them. The band were outside unloading their van and I took the chance to get them to sign the inside of my Levis denim jacket. They all signed it (apart from the singer who was, to quote the roadie (Noel?), “away shaggin'”). Clint Boon drew the cow logo and wrote “Inspirals ’89” underneath it. I think my sister nicked the jacket about a year later. Pre-eBay, I don’t know where it ended up…