I have been tidying up some of the boxes of ephemera that have followed me from the university hostel, to various flats and then on, a decade ago or so, to my first home. I have been finding all sorts of things – a mini-CD in the shape of a business card for the Wellington Irish band Jacky Tar (it plays one song if you stick it in a tray-styled CD player). A stack of vintage issues of Rolling Stone, one from the late 1970s has Rickie Lee Jones on the cover, one from circa-Purple Rain has Prince sans shirt.
And then I found a scrapbook.
And there were a handful of old concert tickets pasted in to the front few pages. And then a gap. But the back end of it felt bulky; I flipped to the end to find a bunch of gig set-lists tacked on to the pages for easy removal.
Funny. I had never thought about these at all – and then looking at them the memories flood back.
Exhibit A: Chris Isaak
You will see that Mr Isaak signed this set-list. He even dated it (1995). It was my first year of university and though it was not the first show I attended, nor even the first for that year or the first away from home, you can tell I was excited about it. I mean, look. This isn’t even the original. I was such a nerd that I took the signed set-list and placed it on a photocopier – combining my ticket stub (note the bottom left corner). What a geek.
I liked this gig – I was a bit of a fan of Isaak at the time. But I can’t say I have ever thought much of him since. I loved the Forever Blue album and bits and pieces from all of the albums before it. But he hasn’t really delivered since.
After the show I met Chris and his drummer – Kenny. He signed the inside of one of the CD covers and had a nice chat with me.
Looking at it now – it’s a decent-looking set. But I doubt I would go and see Isaak ever again.
Can you guess the band?
It was a fabulous gig. But it might not have been as good as the time I saw them shut down by Noise Control in the bar that is now called The San Fran. And it might not have been as good as the time they played, around the corner from there, a week after, as an apology/thank-you to fans. I managed to get in on the door-list by convincing them I was a journalist for the Capital Times (I wasn’t). Not only that, I got a friend in as the “photographer”. Now he had a camera. But that’s kinda like saying Midnight Youth are songwriters because they have released an album with something (apparently) resembling songs on it.
It might not have been as good as the time I saw them in Napier or at Victoria University. But then it might have been better than all of them. Because it was always a good time seeing Bailter Space. (I love this video).
Exhibit C: The Mutton Birds
This was from a gig in Napier at the Cabana – the opening act was Bressa Creeting Cake. The Mutton Birds has just released Envy Of Angels. The songs from that album sounded superb live, but it was the Salty songs that really cooked that night. Especially the encore of The Queen’s English.
I only saw The Mutton Birds live a couple of times. This must have been university holidays. I remember loving Bressa Creeting Cake’s set.
Credit cannot be taken for the set-list being torn. I think it was just taped to the stage with a corner missing.
Exhibit D: The Angels
I won free tickets to see The Angels. Wellingtonians may remember Pirate FM. It was a competition, you had to answer three questions – I remember one was something to do with Cat Stevens. And one was guessing The Animals’ rendition of Roadrunner. I think the third was something to do with Tracy Chapman. It was the one and only time I entered a radio competition.
I had no one to go with so I went by myself. I was mostly looking forward to hearing No Secrets (I didn’t have to wait too long, as you can see). But it was a longer wait for Dogs Are Talking. I enjoyed the music – not that I’m a huge fan, I don’t think I’ve really listened to them since besides owning Evidence.
Some of the time between Secrets and Dogs was passed by watching a mother/daughter combo close to the stage, next to me. The daughter, all of 15/16, was getting the attention of the band’s bass player. When he finally looked at her she made arrows with her fingers above her mother’s head. The bass player had a did I? look. The daughter had a look of do you remember her? The mother had a look of do you know you are her father/will you (again) be my daddy?
Well, probably none of that was actually happening. But it got me through the gig.
Exhibit E: Dave Dobbyn
I guess this should have been Exhibit D – or exhibit DD (though the mother from the mother/daughter combo in the story above was the one exhibiting those).
This was the first time I saw Dave Dobbyn play a solo set. I had seen DD Smash as a youngster. But this was The Islander tour. It’s probably still my favourite Dobbyn album. Well, it’s the one that got me to listen back to the two great albums before it and to be sure to check out whatever comes next…
It was a great show. Blindman’s Bend is now a bit of a live staple; such a great mood-piece. The version of Hallelujah Song was special. And it’s always a live favourite for me now. And I remember going home that night after the show and rifling through the vinyl to find the DD Smash albums because of the version of Guilty.
Exhibit F: Paul Kelly
I was working in a music store at the time. I had heard Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits and fallen in love with his songs. I was excited about the show. I turned up and skulled a bottle of wine (straight from the bottle in front of the bar) and then pushed to the front as he was playing his cover of It Started With A Kiss. I was at the front, I had a shaved head. I decided, during a quiet, acoustic number, that I would get on stage and play drums with Paul. He would like that. I was stopped. He didn’t like it. I wrestled a guitar pick from his hand at one point.
The night carried on. Apparently. I remember waking up about 20 minutes before work was due to start on the Saturday morning. I didn’t feel so good. I crawled to the end of the bed and snaked in to the jeans from the night before. In the back pocket I felt around and pulled out Paul Kelly’s guitar pick and this set-list. I think this time I did have a hand in it being torn.
At work – about an hour later – the first customer of the morning was buying Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits. I didn’t know her but fighting back the urge to puke I opted for being pleasant and said something like “oh, Paul Kelly, wicked. Did you go to the gig last night?” Her reply: “you were having a good time”.
Exhibit G: Swervedriver
I liked Mezcal Head and 99th Dream and so I went along to hear Swervedriver – a sort of shoegazer/dream-pop ensemble. It was an amazing gig. Particularly the closing track Duress. The mood was built beautifully. The drummer had incense burning from his cymbal stands. I remember thinking that he was a bit of a prat for that fact. But it looked cool caught in the swirl of lights. And the guitars clashed perfectly offering, beautiful/ugly melodies and a squall of sound. At one point I thought one of the guitars was going to be sick. It was awesome.
Exhibit H: Superette
Superette is one of my favourite Kiwi bands. I reckon they should do a reunion tour. Look at this set-list. They had one album and it was packed with gems. Sure there was a bit of a Pixies-thing happening. But there are far worse bands to end up sounding a little bit like. (See here for Touch Me). The mid-set highlight was Kiss Someone. Awesome. Come back Superette.
Do you collect set-lists? Or did you? Do you have any stories from obtaining – or trying to obtain – that oft-coveted piece of gig stationery?