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Features

Saturday Deluxe / 9 March 2019

Billiemania: SDE editor Paul Sinclair experiences the insanity first hand as he takes his young daughter to her very first gig: Billie Eilish


Your first gig is something of a coming-of-age-event and so is taking your child to his or her first gig as a parent. But for it to ‘count’ I’d say that the child has to really want to go and it needs to be their idea. For example, I took my eldest daughter to see a-ha at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009, when she was only seven years old and, to be honest, it was more about her keeping me company (my wife wasn’t interested) than any desire on her part to see ‘Hunting High and Low’ played in its entirety with a full orchestra! As a result she spent the first half enquiring when we were going to get the chocolate ice cream I had promised her in the interval and the second half asking ‘when are we going to go home?’

Daughter number two (aged 11) is now mad on American teenage sensation, Billie Eilish. She wanted to know if we could go and see her, since she was playing in London. I said I’d happily take her but there was a serious problem in that all three shows at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire were long sold out and tickets were only available on the re-sale market, with prices astronomical. “But you’re in the music business”, she challenged. I guess this is true (although I don’t really think of it in those terms), but regardless, the Billie Eilishs of this world aren’t exactly my natural stomping ground. My kids often tell me derisively that I write about ‘old people’. Ha! The cheek of it. Billie Eilish is the opposite of old. In fact, she’s only a year older than daughter number one, who remembers being dragged to a-ha (she now likes ‘Take On Me’ and I’m getting some kudos nine years later).

But let’s face it, we’ll do anything (well, most things) for our kids, so I did some ‘reaching out’ a few weeks back and after a tense period of waiting, during which I was quizzed daily (“have you heard anything?” “any news?” “well…?”) confirmation came through that Cinderella would go to the ball…. albeit with her Dad in tow. Yes, I had three tickets on the guest-list! ARGHH!!! My daughter was bouncing with excitement! We needed three tickets because of course she wanted to bring a friend. Going with me on her own would be ‘boring’ (thanks!).

An extra complication was that the gig was on the Monday just gone. A school night. Okay, it’s a bit of a one-off, so the rulebook goes out the window for this one evening. I couldn’t find out stage times before we left and all the websites I looked at said ‘7pm’. Even though I knew a seven o’clock start was rather unlikely, I thought that given that there was going to be a lot of young fans there, it might start quite early to give kids/parents a chance to get home at a reasonable hour. I also knew I’d never be forgiven if we missed any of it. So we arrived just after 7pm, collected our tickets (with wristbands) and made our way upstairs (where you had to go if you were under 14). Because it was early, we got great seats on the second row of the circle.

I nipped off to the ‘VIP bar’ (advantage of having a wristband) and got some drinks. I casually enquired at the bar if they knew what time Billy was on-stage. “About 9.20” came the answer. If this had been a bad sit-com I’d have spat my drink out in incredulous fashion. Instead, I probably just looked a bit crestfallen and repeated “9.20?”, hoping I had misheard. I had been naive to think Billy Eilish was worried about fans’ homework and getting a good night’s sleep. A look at the watch confirmed the time now was 7.20pm. It was going to be a long night.

Billie’s brother Finneas O’Connell co-writes with Billie and opened for her


The ‘good’ news was that there were two support acts. The first was Billie’s brother Finneas O’Connell, who co-writes and produces his sister (and does acting too, having appeared in ‘Glee’), the second was American hip-hop duo EarthGang. When Finneas came on at about 7.45 the screaming was louder than anything I’ve ever heard at a gig. This was the support. I looked around and just saw a sea of screaming girls, aged between probably 10 to 18.

Finneas was alright. The guy is obviously talented. He can play guitar, keyboards and do that programming-beats-while-playing-along thing. The songs sounded okay in a slightly generic way, but I could hardly hear anything because there was so much screaming. No clapping – at all – at the end of songs, just screaming. Really weird.

I was less impressed with American HipHop duo EarthGang. The concerned parent in me kicked in at this point. They were entirely inappropriate for the fanbase and the audience and to be honest, I think it was a mistake having them on the bill. I’m no prude, and can roll my eyes in an ‘I’m not impressed’ fashion when the odd swear word makes an appearance in songs my kids are playing, but this took things to a whole new level. One ‘song’ was literally five minutes of these two bozos on stage demanding that a room filled with kids, many of whom are probably studying for their GCSEs, sing “I don’t give a fuck”. It was ridiculous. Yes, there were older teenagers in the room, but this gig was open to kids as young as eight years old and my daughter and her friend are 11. Not impressed. They were dressed like bin men, which was appropriate, because they were rubbish and the language was filthy.

Support act EarthGang’s hobbies include encouraging children to swear


Finally Billie appeared, from behind her spider-shaped stage set more or less on schedule at 9.20. She was in her ‘street’ gear of baggy casual clothes. She was on stage with a drummer and her brother who was handling most of the music.The screaming was insane. Incredibly loud and continuous. Not so much Beatlemania but Billiemania. It did make me think this must be what it was like watching the Fab Four back in the day, when they couldn’t hear themselves play, because I certainly couldn’t hear Billie sing. It was incredible. I was sitting in this crowd full of screaming girls, like Phil Collins as he watched The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night. The WHOLE crowd were singing along to every song, very loudly. Occasionally, Billie did the time-honoured thing were she pointed the microphone towards the crowd in a ‘sing up’ kind of fashion. No need, in fact she’d have been better off moving it closer to her own mouth.

In the middle of all this insanity, was a sliver of real life. To my right was another parent and earlier we’d had a practical ‘grown-up’ conversation about where’ve-you-come-from and routes back home. Amazingly, she’d driven all the way from Southampton for the gig, parked in Richmond and tubed it to Shepherd’s Bush. She had to do all that in reverse when the gig ended at around 10.30pm, and yes, tomorrow was a school day for her daughter.

As the evening progressed I found myself enjoying the gig not really for Billie and the music (although she was great) but more as a fly-on-the-wall observer. There was 30+ years between me and most of the audience and in some ways they felt like light years, as if I was some alien being who had undertaken interstellar travel to observe teenage human behaviour. The WHOLE of downstairs was a big tight pulsating mosh-pit. At times it looked dangerous and kids were being pulled out at the front, crushed, exhausted and perhaps dehydrated (the staff did a great job). If you needed the toilet you’d struggle to get OUT never mind get back in. A number of times Billie was encouraging the crowd to ‘open the pit’ – a process which involved the already rammed crowd downstairs pushing back from their centre to create a ‘hole’ in the middle. I thought Eilish was going to crowd surf into it at one point (although that would have been madness), but apparently the idea is that this big circular gap is created and maintained for a period until some musical cue signifies that everyone should now pile into it. The equivalent of pulling back an elastic band and letting go.

 Eight Arms To Hold You: Eilish’s spider-inspired stage design


Later on (not sure why/how this happened) but a load of coloured glow sticks were thrown simultaneously onto the stage. One nearly hit young Billie in the eye, and while these weren’t Jelly Babies, I couldn’t help but think again about the Fab Four and wonder if this hysteria I was witnessing was similar to watching them perform in 1963 or 1964 (all screaming and not much else).

I go to more live music these days than I have ever done, and to a degree, I have been there, done that. I remember seeing Suede at Hammersmith Palais in 1995 when they were touring Dog Man Star with new guitarist Richard Oakes and being bruised, battered and exhilarated after 100 minutes of moshing near the front of the stage. But these days, being a bit of an old fart, the practical stuff matters. I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to travel too far (Southampton to London? You must be joking!), I do quite like a seat at a gig, easy access to the bar/toilets and of course bringing this back to Billie Eilish, I would quite like to hear the songs and the singer!

I can’t help reflecting how insanely hyped-up the whole crowd were. It’s not natural. What is it about Billie Eilish, specifically, that has created this madness? I don’t really have any answers; she’s fine, but I’m not sure that she’s once-in-a-lifetime exceptional. At only 17 Eilish is very young and when she’s touring, she’s at the centre of all this hysteria constantly. It can’t be good for you. At least she has her family around her.

Of course, my daughter and her friend absolutely LOVED the evening and were singing and dancing along constantly, in the space and safety of upstairs (Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw was not far from where we were sitting). As she emptied my wallet at the merch stand on the way out, I reflected that this was an experience she will never forget. Hell, it’s an experience I don’t think I will ever forget. So, basically, job done. But next time I’m taking her to a-ha…

Paul and his daughter watched Billie Eilish at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Monday 4 March. Thanks to John Macchia, the team at Interscope, and Billie’s management for supplying the tickets. Billie’s world tour continues and you can check out dates on her website.

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Ralf Zweit

I never heard of her before, but just found out, that she will be performing at Lollapalooza Berlin this year, so I will check her out :)

Nowhereman

Smashing story Paul and like you I felt that my childrens’ first gig was important. Unlike you I wanted to make sure it was a ‘classic’ artist. Thankfully I was never asked to take them to a concert before I took them. I took my younger sister to her first gig in 1979 – Paul McCartney at Glasgow Apollo. My oldest sons first was in Manchester – Paul McCartney. Next son had to make do with Alice Cooper ( he’s since seen McCartney) and then my daughters first was Paul McCartney at Hampden. Obviously they now do their own thing but I like to think that they will thank me in their older years for taking them to see a Beatle.

ZoetMB

Very nice story. Upon hearing that the main act wasn’t going on for two hours, I would have wanted to kill myself.

Luckily, I never had to deal with all that ridiculousness. My first concerts (in the U.S.) were at the shows of DJ Murray the K at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre – revues with ten or more acts where each act performed only one or two songs and you could stay as long as you liked, but they showed an incredibly boring movie in-between shows to try and get you out. I’d usually stay and see the show twice, but I couldn’t stand to see that movie a second time. The shows would start around 10am (free album of a previous show if you arrived before noon) and go all day and well into the night.

After that, it was small clubs like the Cafe Au Go Go, summer outdoor concerts at the Central Park Skating Rink and starting in 1968, the Fillmore East. But in all those places, people sat in their seats and respected the artists. No screaming, no mosh pits, some drugs, but no insanity.

When my daughter was young, she asked to go to a 10,000 Maniacs show. It was at a a large outdoor concert venue near a beach. The only problem was that even for a “soft rock” act like 10,000 Maniacs, the sound levels were absurdly and painfully loud. Aside from Broadway shows, which she was into for a while (“Cats”, “Les Mis”, etc.), I think that’s the only music show we saw together.

My 15-year-old granddaughter has become a singer-songwriter herself and has performed in a lot of small venues and has backed other performers on violin at Levon Helm’s Barn. She loves music, but she has thankfully had no desire to see any of the current horrible pop groups. She has been to numerous festivals, usually by working or volunteering at them. She’s an old soul and she probably would have loved living in the music world of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Josh

Great piece! My first gig was Huey Lewis & The News with an up-and-coming Stevie Ray Vaughan as support. I was 11 but ended up liking SRV more than Huey and gained a lifelong love of the blues. Support acts can be very important! Thank you to Huey or whomever it was that chose SRV.

Jonathan

yep… similar experience with S.R.V. Saw him at Reading rock festiveal 1983 in broad daylight. Took a few years to know I’d seen a guitar legend.

Daryl

My first gig was The Stones at Wembley with my Dad in 1995.
I have heard the name Billie Eilish, but I don’t think I have heard any of her music. Will have to check it out!

Tonk

Teenage (mostly) girls and a “mosh-pit”?
I’ll swap my combat trousers and boots for a nice pair of pink trainers and a Fjallraven backpack . . .

Chris

Nice one Paul!
My son Miles was born into live music. In 2013 he had just turned 6 and came to one of my work gigs…I work for the Coachella Festival since 2005. He got to meet OMD before their set. Get his Enola Gay 45 signed (fav song since age 4) and dance in the barricade next to the photographers with Andy M keeping an eye on him. He still talks about it to this day and he is coming up on 12. I could only dream of that at 13! Proud new wave dad.

Chris Palstra

For those who missed it the first time.

“hit young Billie in the eye”

LOL.

CP.

Stuart

A great article which also resonates with me

The first gig I took my daughter to was Katy Perry at the Hydro in Glasgow; she loved it and despite my trepidation I actually enjoyed it too. However my influence has now started to kick in and she’s ‘dragged me’… to see Metallica, Iron Maiden (twice), Nickleback, Bruce Springsteen and Runrig. With Monster Truck, Metallica, the Manics, Bon Jovi and Kiss lined up in the next few months.

For a 15 year old she has the great music taste of a 48 year old…..

Mark

We are not quite at that stage yet where my boys have asked to go to a specific gig. We’ve taken them to see TFC at Shepherd’s Bush which, as you say, if you get there early enough, the first floor GA seats offer amazing views.

My first ‘show’ was a trek with my school mates to Newham’s shabby Docklands to watch Jarre. We sat on the old Connaught Bridge and watched show in the rain. The first gig I took my son to was Jarre at the 02 in 2016. This was closely followed by a distinctly less civilised trip to Brixton Academy to see the Pixies… on a school night… front row balcony (got there at 7 natch) insane mosh pit below, he fell asleep halfway through.

More recently we caught Jack White at the Garage on the BHR tour (he does, at least, actively like White and his Stripes) – there was no respite from the absolutely mental crowd this time. I’ve seen some gigs in my time, and that was hands down one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed. I think it could be a while before he or I see anything that even comes close.

Mathias

My first gig was Depeche Mode in Stockholm 1984, and after playing a lot of livevideos to my daughter when she grew up (as well as singing Somebody to her when she should sleep), the first ”real” gig she wanted to go to was Depeche, and just with me. So we went to see them in 2010. A unforgettable evening for me, to see the look on her face as she sang along to the songs I grew up with. It feels really nice that we have the same band as our 1st concert experience.

David McIntyre

Great article Paul. My first gig was prince or squiggly as he was in 1995 at the SECC in Glasgow. I got to see the after show at the Garage as well which will stay with me until I shed this mortal coil. Due to the gig and aftershow I didn’t make work the following day and was promptly sacked but it was worth it. Never seen a gig that comes close to the after show although Springsteen comes close

Oscar Cosulich

Man you’re a real hero!
That’s why I avoided to be a father ;-D
Anyway I’ve never forgot my first concert: 1972, Deep Purple, I was deaf for three days.
I was 14 and it’s seems a century ago

Spiral Scar

I love this post and the replies. These are great stories and the community vibe is strong here, as ever. Paul, you’ve got a real knack for storytelling!
So it’s my turn to confess.
After wondering for a few years what the experience was like for my parents when they went to concerts (while my sister and I likely stayed with my grandparents,) I finally got the chance. It wasn’t my choice but the four of us went together to New York City to see a show that was a birthday gift for my sister, who had gotten the tickets when she turned twelve. I was eight.
The date: May 3, 1975. The venue: Avery Fisher Hall. The headliner: Helen Reddy, with Peter Allen opening. Helen was at the top of her game then and my sister’s entire LP collection consisted of Helen Reddy’s discography up to that point. She played those albums constantly for two years, and I kinda memorized them by osmosis. I actually liked them a lot, myself. I was too young to cultivate any snobbiness about my sister’s taste in music. To me it was all good.
Because the event was a bit more “adult” in nature, we were all nicely dressed (for 1975!) and we took the train into the city from Connecticut. I had very little to no experience with NYC then, so the hour or two we spent there before the show was an eye-opening experience. In the venue, we attracted a lot of attention as we were about the only children in attendance (and so nicely dressed, as well!) I didn’t know who Peter Allen was but kinda enjoyed his set. I was waiting for Helen! Oh, good grief! During the intermission, we all mingled with the other “concertgoers” who were all drinking champagne and wine and smoking, everyone dressed for a big night out. For me, it could be described as my first cocktail party.
Helen came on soon after, and her show was terrific. I knew all the songs. I’m sure I sang along (I had a reputation for this) and my sister was overjoyed. My parents also truly enjoyed themselves (and I didn’t embarrass them!) After the show, we hung out on the sidewalk by the “back door” in hopes of getting an autograph. There weren’t too many others waiting with us (not that kind of crowd) but we were by no means alone. When Helen appeared on her way to her Limo, she stopped to talk with everyone and sign tour programs. My sister got her autograph, then hung back a while and approached again. Helen gave her a sly look, almost a wink, then signed another program for her. Then she was gone. So for me, my first celebrity encounter was icing on the cake. We all stopped for a bite to eat at a cafeteria before catching a late train home.
It was an amazing day for me, and I love my folks for giving me that experience. Though my musical tastes have grown exponentially in many directions, I ended up with my own copies of Helen Reddy albums years later. I even have the first ten or so on CD. Right next to Otis Redding, Lou Reed, REM and the Replacements.
The next year was my choice: KC and the Sunshine Band. That’s another story, but just as awesome.

Erik

I was able to meet Helen myself a few years ago and got her to sign my old, worn and very well played Pete’s Dragon LP. My 6-year-old self was over the moon. Although I must admit she did have a bit of a look of “This? This is what you remember me for?” :-D

Le Baron

Man you can write!
I love your words, you have a style of writing which reminds me of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.
I hope you’re keeping a diary of what you’re living in your SDE’s adventures !
God, I love this site !!!

Chris Squires

I don’t know if anybody else did this with their kids but their second live experience was something else I completely forgot about. Making a long weekend out of seeing the X-factor tour. Down in Brighton February 2007. It was the year that Leona Lewis won so they were so excited about seeing her and Ray Quinn. The X-factor is an odd one for me as I didn’t really like the show but it became, for a couple of years at least, a real family event. Settling down on a Saturday evening with your girls, a big bar of chocolate and an X-factor cushion each. The cushion was to smother ourselves if something was so bad or embarrassing, a kind of Dr. Who behind the sofa kind of thing. So although the X-factor was routinely awful, if nothing else it brought this family together for two hours every Saturday night for 14 weeks when the girls were 8,9 or 10.

Eamonn

That “Open the pit!” thing seems to happen at any arena/large venue rock concert now with a contingent of lairy fans. Fucking hate it. Most recently I experienced it at The Streets at Brixton Academy (where Mike Skinner who was pissed and “phoned-in” a really disappointing performance, practically incited the crowd to attack each other) and Arctic Monkeys at the O2 last September complete with flying plastic glasses of beer. Dunno if it’s a getting old thing, think I would have hated that shit when I was 18 too.

Christopher Merritt

Nice article Paul. I took my 13-year old to his first show (Jack White) last year, and it was a similar “once in a lifetime” experience for both of us. We waited five hours in the sun, but got right up on the rail to see him up close – my son is spoiled for getting up at the front now (I tried to explain to him just how unusual that is).

movement

Now that I’ve had a chance to fully read your column, I appreciate it all the more. I know that BE is a phenomenon in that demographic group and I know that I don’t get it and I’m okay with that.

Mike Williams

I’m very proud to say my very first gig was Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, July 13th 1985. I was 15. A live experience that’s never been bettered for me.
My daughters are now 10 and 12 and my wife and I have taken them to many a retro-gig or day festival, Let’s Rock for the second year coming in the Summer, but this year it’s the first for their music, for Jess Glynne, and I’m hoping for an enjoyable gig with minimum potty mouth! Then Radio 1 are coming to my hometown Middlesbrough in May and both the girls are buzzing in anticipation of that.

O(+> Peter B

I saw Jess Glynne support Rudimental a couple of years ago, she’s really good

Jhonn

Nice article. Especially coz my daughter was really sad that Billie Eilish is not coming to our hometown. And it would also be her first concert, she really likes to go. The difference is that I like Billie Eilish much more than a-ha… ;-)
By the way the first concert with my son was Prodigy and he still is impressed of that experience. Like myself, I never forget my first concert. The Rolling Stones.

Guy.S

Having taken our girls to festivals/gigs over the last twenty years including our youngest going to Glastonbury at 6 months old which I must say was a doddle, they recently got their own back as they took me to a show in Brighton featuring Dan & Phil (You-Tubers), not so much music themselves but before the gig started they had a track list played which everyone could sing to (..if you knew the artists, obviously not aimed at my age bracket) and as each song played the screaming intensified, to one point, a track just started with one piano note.. the theatre erupted,it was deafening, I was just laughing from the lunacy of it. Over the years I have seen Slayer, Metallica, Slipknot..and in May, going to see Leo Sayer!! but I don’t think I will ever hear such noise from a crowd ever again. : )

tilfan

Dear Paul, thanks for your nice article. Music is a wonderful aspect of our life as well, but it is also terrible expensive to buy all those tickets for the whole family. The first gig we took our twins with us (then 8 years old girls) was Paul McCartney at Roskilde in 2015. Perhaps i should mention that we live in the south of Germany. We travelled to Copenhagen by train and did not care about compulsory school attendance. Main problem was to smuggle some cardboard boxes to the festival site so they were tall enough to see what was happening on stage. AND THEY LOVED IT. Roskilde is free for kids, indeed.

Result: The whole family attended Pauls Gig in Munich one year later (220€ per ticket) two days later i took my son to Pinkpop where Paul headlined the festival. We stayed in the first row for 12 hours and braved the rain.
Since then we all have been seen Kraftwerk and The Rolling Stones, just to name the most famous acts. Of course, our kids do not listen exclusively to old stuff. They also love younger artists such as Zaz, Namika or Álvaro Soler….we also join them to see these concerts and this is really a nice (but expensive) way to stay young…

Ian Gair

A wonderful bonding experience Paul, something I have never had, with no kids or parents willing to be a taxi driver or chaperone to a gig. 1st solo gig was Alison Moyet on her Alf album tour, Curiosity killed the cat were support. I went to the Merchasdise stall to escape the God awful noise when they played! A memorable gig for all the high & low music highlights.

David Carter

Never heard of Billie Eilish, but then I am in my 40s
My first Gig was Erasure at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1990.
Living in Somerset I often have to drive up to London and back in the same night, it doesnt bother me although I often dont get back til 2 in the morning. I took my Daughter to her first Gig at the Pilton Party, Glastonbury , Example was playing and was very good but it did get boisterous. My sons first Gig was Foals , quite fortunate that we are both fans. My Daugters tastes have changed and she is now into Grime certainly not for me, so chances are we wont be gigging together any more gigs in the near future.

DaveM

I got taken to by my parents to Batley Variety Club in the 70’s to see Alvin Stardust and Leeds Grand to see Showaddywaddy cause my sister liked em. Fortunatley neither shaped my musical tastes!
Great humorous writing on this gig Paul, makes me realise the Blue Oyster Cult gig I went to a week last Tuesday in Leeds was quaint in comparison.

Marco

My son’s first gig was Willie Nile when he was about 8 years old, and Bruce Springsteen was his “major gig” at 10. My first one was back in 1987, when I was 16: a triple bill Bob Dylan-Tom Petty-Roger McGuinn. Good times…

Michael

Great article reminded me alot of taking my niece to her first gig when we went to see Little Mix the noise was deafening. My first show was Queen at Wembley Stadium when I was 13 with my mum and dad. We had Status Quo as support and even though I had a seat i stood for the whole gig and sang every song much to the annoyance of a couple in front of me (they didn’t even sing when Freddie wanted them to).

Steve W

As a Dad myself I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I hope you were able to dine out on the relfected glory for a couple of days!

CJL

My mum took me to my first few gigs. First one was, ahem, Gary Glitter in ‘72 or ‘73. Then it was Genesis in ‘77 on the Wind & Wuthering tour (the matinee performance, no less – they played 3 gigs over 2 evenings at Leicester DeMontfort Hall). Still one of the best gigs ever! After that it was Rainbow in late ‘77 (when they still had the computerised rainbow lighting rig) & then I was allowed to go to gigs on my own (or with friends), the first one of which was Rush on the A Farewell To Kings tour. Even tho my mum didn’t have to take me to gigs anymore, she still spent countless hours queuing for tickets (for me) or patiently waiting in a cold car to pick me up (from gigs) for which I’ll always be forever grateful.

Sowerby Bob

My mate took his son and myself to see Hawkwind in November 1979, Less than a week after my 13th birthday. And I’m still going now (despite some very ordinary shows in the last 10 years) and have a ticket for the 50th anniversary tour later this year, which may well be the last, 40 years to the day I first saw them.
In regards to Earth Gang, you do right to say how inappropriate it all was. The promoters should not have had them on the bill. Hopefully their career will go down the toilet along with their potty mouths!

Elmar

The first gig is the one you have in mind For the Rest of your entire life ! Great father job you did Paul !
My first live concert ever was Pink Floyd. 19/6/1989 Frankfurt !
And yes: I saw 9 of David Gilmours And 2 of Rogers Shows of their last Tours -:)
I doubt anyone will Remember Billie Eilish in 30 years -:)

David M

Brilliant review. My 12 yr old loves Billie. She hopes to see Shaun Mendes as her real first gig later in the year. However she has already seen Macca (twice), The Zombies, The Monkees and quite a few others. She loved pretty much everything so far.

gwynogue

Great article, Paul. Although it did point out to me how old and out-of-touch I am…I saw the word ‘Billiemania’ and thought it was about Billie Piper, lol.

It’s wonderful that she enjoyed her first concert – as others have said, a first gig is a big deal.

The incident at the Ariana Grande show a few years ago was terrible – I imagine it would have been a very-first-concert for the majority of the audience, so for a special event to be ruined like that is absolutely heartbreaking. Something that should have been a cherished memory forever tinged with sadness. Especially for the friends and families of the lost.

MusicMan

Does your wife [who doesn’t like a’ha] prefer Disturbed? Walter Ostanek [polka king]? NWA? :-)

Mike.C.

First gig my dad brought me to was Roy Orbison. Looking back now it doesn’t matter what MY choice was when I finally got to. (Duran Duran).

I am lucky.

horslips

That was an excellent piece of writing, Paul. Thanks.

Almost every fan of music, regardless of genre, will enjoy reading that.

Kevin Adair

Great review Paul. I almost felt I was there with you. Some great insights and it’s interesting to hear the more “mature” view of a teen focused gig.

It’s easy to forget how visceral and earth changing attending your first few gigs can be. You give the game away a bit with your insightful comment about how Billie is…

“fine, but I’m not sure that she’s once-in-a-lifetime exceptional.”

The point is, if you’re 11 and it’s your first gig, she certainly IS once in a lifetime exceptional! She’s the best thing you’ve seen in your life, EVER!

And after all, you do usually only write about “old people”, Paul :0)

Quante

Excellent article Paul – it’s amazing how swearing grates badly when you’ve your own children with you. It’s generally worse still at football matches when there’s always people effing away, sometimes incredulously when they’ve their own children with them.

My two boys have been spoiled with concerts we’ve taken them to over the years – some of which passed them by when they were too young. Elton John was only good for Bob the Builder’s Crocodile Rock, but they both enjoyed him the second time around.

My funniest memory was of our youngest, who was ten, at Mark Knopfler’s Tracker concert in Newcastle. The only song he knew beforehand was Beryl, which being catchy was played a lot on the radio. He spent the evening calling for Beryl, and sod’s law it wasn’t performed. As we filed out at the end, he declared nice and loud….’Well that was a load of rubbish’. We’re off to see Mark Knopfler again in May, so I’m hoping he enjoys it better than the last time.

I had to check on the internet which was the first concert I went to either Kiss on The Lick It Up Tour at Wembley Arena, or New Order at Gloucester Leisure Centre. It was Kiss, who were brilliant – great fun. Heavy Pettin’ were an excellent support band.

New Order was boring and in a terrible setting. My friend and I got there on time – about two hours early, and then watched some forgettable support. After a while in the New Order concert my friend and I calculated we could go to the pub – and get back in time for Blue Monday. Not long after everyone piled out of the concert, so we got to miss the one song we wanted to hear. So tonight, when checking out the date of the concert, it brought up the set list on New Order’s web site. Turns out they didn’t play Blue Monday that night, so we did make the right choice to have a drink.

As students, my friend and I travelled down to London to see Madonna – Who’s That Girl tour, Peter Gabriel – So tour and Stevie Wonder – Characters tour. We used to sleep rough on Victoria train station with no thought of safety or comfort – we had some interesting nights to say the least and great memories forever.

Bruno MacDonald

That Kiss show was my first too – couldn’t have asked for a better one. I have to respectfully disagree on Heavy Pettin’ though; I thought Helix were much more fun

Like you, also saw the So tour in London. Sadly we didn’t go on the night Kate Bush turned up, but it’s still one of the best shows I’ve ever seen

Hope the next Knopfler gig is better received!

Joe Mac Pherson

Paul! What a fabulous, challenging, confusing, difficult and wonderful concert night this was, for you and your daughter! (You can decide which adjectives here apply to you).
I went to my first concert at age 18. I’m 64 now. Still going to concerts all the time, and for 2 decades I’ve been fixated on Alternative/Indie bands and recording artists. As often as possible, at the smaller venues, I do my best to be front and center at the stage. Which means, arriving early enough to be first in line. Retirement has benefits!
What really struck me about your impressive article, is a fact that is bringing me to despair: Why is it, for some concerts I’ve attended, almost everyone feels compelled to sing every song? I paid good money to hear the people on stage sing! Not the audience! Which makes me think, what’s the point of seeing certain bands perform, if you can’t hear them because the audience is drowning out the performer’s voices?
This really came to my notice, for the first time, in the last decade. Duran Duran reformed with Andy and Roger Taylor in the lineup. Astronaut was the album. At the concert, I wasn’t prepared for the reality of seeing/hearing everybody at the Southern California venue standing up, singing along to EVERYTHING. Except the new songs. Then, all at once, they’d shut up, sit down and finally I could listen to the band. Then, back to the audience sing along. My friend who accompanied me said, “Joe, did we pay to hear Duran Duran, or the audience?” Where is my Perfect World?
On a positive note, when they visited the now gone Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, I got the vinyl LP cover signed by them, plus the deluxe CD/DVD edition, signed. I’ve met Duran Duran 3 times, since 1981. I showed them my 1981 L.A. debut concert ticket, and wow! Suddenly, they had a lot to ask and tell me! Amazing!

Jeremy

Great write-up Paul! Some of my best concert memories are shows I went to (and still go to) with my kids. Among the more memorable shows was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago. I was there with my (now grown up) son and found myself sitting next to another dad with his (much younger) son. He proudly said to me ‘I brought my son’. ‘That’s great’ I replied. My son brought his dad’. The point is these things go on for ever. It’s a great tradition, one which we will always value greatly.

PaulC

Well timed and really enjoyable article, I’ve just booked for me and my daughter, who is 7, to see Tears for Fears at one of their summer outdoor UK gigs. I thought long and had about whether she is too young or not but she knows the words to all the songs (clearly because of me) and will enjoy it a lot. She is really looking forward to it now. Perhaps in 30 years time she will thank me, just as I can thank my father for taking me to see Paul McCartney at the small Cliffs Pavillion in Southend on Sea, UK, in 1990!

John

I took my nephew to see Troye Sivan at great expense after taking him to see Bananarama. I was trying to get him to appreciate music of the past. He did a good job of pretending to enjoy it. I couldn’t disguise my lack of appreciation for Troye Sivan though.

Andrew M

I don’t get this girl at all. Heard all the hype so listened to some stuff.

Can we say shit on this site? If we can’t then I can’t really describe her ;)

Benedikt

No, she is not! No-one gives you the right to offend her just because YOU don’t like her music.
She has some really good songs indeed like “When The Party’s Over”.
And I say that as a 41 years old guy who mostly listens to the “old stuff” from the 60’s and 70’s.

Christian

I had never even heard the name Billie Eilish before, but I loved every bit of your write-up. Keeping the attention of the reader while presenting the latest Beatles/Bowie/Kate Bush rerelease may not be that difficult, but making them follow an in-depth-review of a teen sensation is a journalistic challenge not many writers will accomplish. Kudos!

Amanda

A wonderfully written reminder that passion for music starts early, and as we know, endures.

Was on the barrier for Suede Hammersmith last year. Needed physio afterwards.

Guy Westoby

My first gig was aged 10, to see Sweet in ’73 with my Mum, at the Hemel Hempstead Pavilion. I remember some aspects of it very clearly even now, Sweet were one of my favourite bands at the the time.

Being too small to see anything on the main floor, I went upstairs to sit in the front row of the balcony, with mum looking up every few minutes to make sure I was ok. I remember the volume being so loud I had to cover my ears and also the backdrop showing film of naked dancing women – my eyes were certainly being opened in more ways than one! I can’t recall much of the actual gig but am sure it was a real (ahem) ‘Blockbuster’. I do remember leaving the gig slightly deaf with ringing in my ears, the first of many, many times to come.

I have loved live music ever since and now in my 50s still aim to go to a gig a month, so I thank my Mum for introducing it to me at that young, impressional age – although I’ve not been to any more gigs with her – our musical tastes diverged when punk rock came along! In fact my first gig with my friends was at the same venue to see Siouxsie and the Banshees in ’78, without my parents’ knowledge as I knew they’d’ve stopped me from going!

Shaun

My first gig was Eddie and the Hot Rods in 1978 and last year through my work I got to speak to one of the band and talk about that gig. Really nice guy. I took my step-daughters to see Green Day at Wembley around 2002/3 (missed a Hawkwind gig for them!). I remember the younger one telling me off for enjoying the music before Green Day came on stage (all 76/77 punk singles) but they both enjoyed it and thanked me for taking them as soon as we left the venue.

I would not of thought that The Empire was that comfortable a venue. My memories are of long queues for toilets on the point of overflowing and for overpriced drinks at the bar. It used to be quite a compact venue but I haven’t been there since it reopened following the discovery of structural damage to the roof.

It would have to be something really special to get me to go to a gig in London now. Ticket prices are so expensive and factor in the cost of travelling and getting home at 3pm. It’s too much effort. I have seen most of the “big” names that I want to see and the ones that I would make the effort for have no intention of reforming (Slade, Gabriel era Genesis) or are dead (Motorhead, Floyd). I’m not prepared to or can really afford to pay £100 or more for a ticket. I go and see acts that play where I live knowing that I only have a 10 minute walk home and I haven’t had to re mortgage to pay for the ticket.

Those of us who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s lived through the best time for live music.

Howie

Funny enough we took our daughter to her first gig last night to see George Ezra at the Leeds Arena. She is the same age as I was when my mother took me to see The Rolling Stones at Roundhay Park in 1982. That concert changed my life at such an age and I hope last night had the same effect on her. Thankfully there were no mobile phones when my concert going was at its peak. I did cringe when George dropped the F-bomb in the first bit of audience interaction, not because my daughter was there but purely because it did not suit him. Thankfully he didn’t do it again.

Richard

My daughter is only 5 but am dreading the day i am forced to sit through some shlock like this with her!
My first gig was Michael Jackson on the Bad tour at Wembley Stadium with my mum, she made me wear an extra thick coat to protect me from all the heroin needles that she assumed would be there :)