Archive for the ‘Astoria’ Category



I can’t tell you what’s going on with the date on that pass.

But this was February 3rd, 2001.

Someone’s girlfriend knew someone who worked for a promoter, and we had passes.

We even had a table.

We get there early, because someone’s said we need to watch this new band called The Strokes, who are on early.

We’re not there early enough to see Peaches, but we get to the balcony where the tiny VIP tables are, and the only one that’s got no one sitting at it is held for guests of NME (it was one of their awards shows).

But we see the Strokes.

Fucking hell do we see the Strokes.

I’ve never heard them, don’t even know what to expect.

But it’s truly phenomenal.

It’s a rush.

They look amazing.

They have attitude.

It sounds amazing.

This is what a rock and roll band should be.

I’m converted on the spot.

Soon I’m one of many slightly too old guys in London rocking the Converse, suit jacket and t-shirt look. (It’s still my ‘smart’ office look when a leather jacket won’t cut it).

Rocket from the Crypt and Trail of the Dead seem like dinosaurs in comparison.

High: it’s all one big rush hanging off the balcony and watching the crowd go mental.

Drinking: with joy

Thinking: big respect to the NME team who never come to claim their table – they’re obviously too busy getting into it downstairs.


Rat Dog


Rat Dog is Bobby’s band. I loved Bobby.

Sugar Magnolia is all tied up for me with my first ever girlfriend at college.

It may have only lasted a couple of months one summer, but until I met my wife it was one of only two ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’  relationships I think I ever had.

When I told her six or seven years ago that I still couldn’t hear that song without thinking of me she just said “Well of course.”

And it’s not as if they toured outside the US a lot.

This seemed like a big deal, so I got myself two tickets.

I didn’t know who I’d take.

On the evening itself, it’s a sunny Friday and it starts like so any at the time with me and two managers heading off from the office in my boss’s car.

We headed down the Euston Rd towards West London where all of us lived then.

The plan (as it was for so many Friday’s in those days) was to score some blow locally, have a drink together.

The two of them would then go home to their wives and blame me if they were busted for being high.

Both of them are now divorced.

So we’re outside by the canal at the Grand Union in Westbourne terrace. And we’ve been joined by some other people that they know and I semi-know.

My boss’s younger brother is there.

And it’s still sunny and we’re still high. So when some other friends of mine, some music, and some college, call me at random I have them join us.

It’s good to feel confident enough to pick up the phone and feel that you’re at the heart of social arrangements.

Obviously, Rat Dog doesn’t happen. Which is a shame. The set’s up on and it’s way, way better than the Dead show I’d seen ten years earlier.

But what does happen that night casts something of a shadow over my life for years to come.

A group of us go back to mine.

By about 02:00am there are just me, the friend who sells me weed sleeping on my sofa, and the girlfriend of another friend.

And she and I go to bed, and basically stay there till the Sunday.

It starts a period of my life when I felt simultaneously happy and exploited. She meant the world to me but also made me think I was a terrible person.

You should never get involved with someone in a relationship.

Let alone in a relationship with someone you respect.

But there were drugs involved.

And I was very, very lonely.

And she was very forgiving and tolerant of me.

She thought I was pretty.

It made me desperately unhappy. And guilty.

You couldn’t call it a relationship. But until I met my wife, it was the longest relationship I ever had.

I was proud that it was mine.

I made a point of never calling her over the years that this went on.

But I’d always reply if she called, or messaged, drunk and she’d always come round. We’d drink a lot. We’d take my valium. We worked well together in bed.

In the end I think we caused each other so much pain.

I almost wish I’d seen the band instead.

When I spoke to a psychiatrist as part of the process of being diagnosed as autistic last year he also told me I had a problem with alcohol.

Even with the amount I was drinking then – as a ‘responsible married man and father’ – he told me I “shouldn’t trust any judgement call you make”.

(“difficulties with alcohol” was what it said on the diagnosis letter, which obviously I edited out before sending a copy to my company HR team…)

Well, this was a series of judgement calls I shouldn’t have made, over a number of years.

Every entry on this blog from this point on to sometime around 2008 is coloured by this relationship.

Maybe I was there with her, alone or with mutual friends pretending we weren’t sleeping with each other.

Maybe she was there and I’d see her in the bar with her boyfriend and I’d make for the other end of the venue.

Maybe I was looking for someone else.

High: for all the pain later, that weekend felt amazing. As if I’d made a real connection. Really amazing.

Drinking: forever.

Thinking: sorry Bobby.

young knives


They were brothers, and the bass player called himself The House of Lords.

Voices of Animals and Men was an amazing album.

I loved it so much that I didn’t just burn off a copy of the album, I’d used a printer at work to print out the cover art too.

I normally only did that for bootlegs that you couldn’t otherwise have a physical copy of.

I remember it being in the 10 CD changer of my kitchen stereo for months on end.

And they were amazing live.

There’s a 30 second clip of this show up on YouTube and it kind of says everything you need to know about the Astoria in 2006.

High: The Decision.

Drinking: Not too much – far too into it.

Thinking: The House of Lords is way fucking cool.



I haven’t thought about this band in years, but I’ve just put House of Jealous Lovers on the stereo and it takes me right back.

We loved this band.

I remember writing an email to one of my oldest friend the first time I’d played Echoes.

It was “Indecently good,” I told him.

I remember putting Jealous Lovers on a compilation for a someone.

Someone I hoped would become my girlfriend.

It was like being a teenager again, and still just as awkward. I was nearly 30.

She was a college friend who, very much to my surprise, had come home with me from a pub in Camden after a group of us had gone to see a band called the Dawn Parade play the Bull & Gate.

I’d discovered this band through the internet, and bought all their early singles and EPs.

I was very passionate about them.

Because of that show I can date this night to September 2001.

This was one of the years that I very much wanted someone to call a girlfriend. I think I was clutching out at anyone that came even close to interest.

She showed her interest by coming onto me on my sofa then coming up to bed.

After that, I’d convinced myself she was perfect for me.

As you do.

But the only other time I even got to kiss her again was at party at her parents’ house some awkward months later.

I’d brought round this CD.

I remember that Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem was on there too.

LCD and the Rapture were bands who helped people like me feel that we weren’t just stuck listening to exactly the same kind of music.

In my late 20s this felt useful. It felt like a progression.

I remember trying to talk to this girl about things months later.

We were out somewhere down by Angel tube station.

I’d spent the best part of a year since it had happened just waiting for her. This was a very real thing for me.

I’d asked a friend who had the Dawn Parade in for an interview in his office to sign a Christmas card for her.

I thought this was romantic. But the childish scribble of a Christmas tree on a random piece of paper with their names scrawled alongside it looked – even to me – like something a stalker would have put together.

“I might be AWOL for a while”, she’d said that first and only morning.

It looks strange to write it, but I’ll swear that’s what she said. “AWOL.”

So I took it on faith and I waited.

I remember seeing her walk off to the tube as I waited for a cab.

I remember waiting ages before anyone stopped for me.

I remember how she looked when I awkwardly asked what was really going on.

She looked pained. Like I’d put her in a position where she had no choice but to feel sorry for me.

The show would have been good.

I remember it being crowded, and a much better vibe than you’d sometimes get in a packed out Astoria.

There would have been cowbell. Lots of it.

There would have been dancing by people who don’t know how to dance.

High: Sister Saviour at the end of the show.

Drinking: Lime and soda. Seriously.

Thinking: Christ it’s crowded in here.



These were amazing years to be into music. Particularly if you still thought of yourself as young.

Editors are still around.

A friend made a video for them not so long ago, but their new song sounded like a pastiche of the old ones.

But back then it felt like they meant it.

They played urgently. As if everything was terribly important and that all of it was suddenly at stake.

If fortune favours the brave
I am as awful as they come
I got a million things to say

Lights. Bullets. All Sparks. Fingers in the Factories.


Above all, it sounded important.

I remember it in flashes of light on a crowded floor with one of my oldest friends beside me. A grin on his face and his arm around my shoulder.

Even better, the opening band was We Are Scientists.

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt. THE GREAT ESCAPE.

We Are Scientists had videos on MTV2 that I watched in my bedroom when I got up in the mornings.

Smoke what’s left in the ash-tray, watch rock videos. Feel like you’re young, then go to the office stoned.

This night felt like that thing that was supposed to happen in the 60s and 70s and that you’d only get to hear about years later.

Two great young brilliant first-album bands on the same bill together. They’re both supposed to take it all the way and you’re supposed to say, “yeah, I was there.”

I still wear an “I Are Scientists” t-shirt I bought that year.

It was originally in a colour described as ‘cat’s nose’ pink. Now it just seems a little dirty.

High: Scientists doing Great Escape. Editors doing Blood. The lights.

Drinking: Surprisingly little, or I really wouldn’t remember it this well.

Thinking: Blood runs in our veins.

Shockingly no set list on Here’s how Editors set looked that tour though.

Why: Back in the days I still smoked in bed, (now I can’t even do it in the house), one of my favourite records to listen to as I read a book over a joint at the end of the night in the Summer of 2003 was the Sophtware Slump. So seeing them live was a no-brainer.

High: Have more a memory of drinking beforehand with the friend I was with than of the show itself, but it must have been Crystal Lake.

Drinking: Too much beforehand

Thinking: I’d probably rather be listening to this in bed with a smoke and a good book.

Gig on Songkick


Why: So, here’s the deal – I love KISS. I make no bones about it, and in my early teens they meant a great deal to me.

Unlike some KISS fans I’ve even made my peace with the current line-up (Tommy – I accept you in the Spaceman make-up…), but my heart lies with the originals, and Ace in particular.

Sure, he’s been through the mill and may not be the man he was but he’s still Ace; he still wrote those songs and played those solos.

High: The feeling as I stood on my own (no friends would come with me…) on the balcony towards the end listening to the double whammy of Shock Me and Rocket Ride, that my teenage self would still be comfortable with what I’ve now become.

Meant a massive amount to me. It’s the same thing with still wearing jeans and t-shirts to work. On some level that’s because I’m not comfortable in more formal clothing, but on another it’s a conscious “not betraying myself” thing.

Drinking: Like Ace in his prime. One cold gin with the first pint, but being a London venue you don’t want to be drinking their dodgy spirits all night…

Thinking: (As I stood on the floor near the front for the opening half of the show) “Christ, all these guys my age pumping their fists and singing along with every word – is that what I’m like? Fuck, fuck, fuck…” I moved to the balcony when some deliriously happy guy put his sloppy drunken arm around my shoulder when he saw I also knew the words to Torpedo Girl…

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on