The first time

The first time you do anything it’s memorable not always for good reasons. as this enforced isolation ticks into another year, it’s easy to start reminiscing on what you’d do to once ‘it’s all over’. Usually it’s the things you miss the most and it’s those primary experiences that set your mind to what you love – and miss – the most.

Obviously music is a big part of that. Considering myself to be a ‘serious amateur’ enthusiast, suddenly not being able to go to a gig, head out and listen to someone play, or latterly play myself means a big hole in the old spare time.

I’ve tried to make up for it, 20 odd mixes on Mixcloud and plenty of new purchases went a bit of a way. Dabbling in live streaming late into the night in lockdown 1 also helped but going solo just doesn’t cut it. So maybe some reflection is required, I think it’s ok to look inward sometimes, while we wait for something resembling normal service to be resumed. Which kind of brings me to something I tried to plan earlier this month and actually got tickets for New Order at Heaton Park in September – probably more in hope than any realistic expectation.

So in an occasional series called the first time, here’s some memories of when the feeling hit. And seeing as New Order have ridden along with my from day one (shelling out in Plymouth’s Virgin Megastore for Substance on CD) why not start with them…

Temptation, if go online now is described as a festival, don’t really remember it being called that at the time. But living in Liverpool, 1 year into my degree seeing them on a line up with Laurent Garnier, Underworld and Sasha seemed too good to sniff at.

So we buzzed it over on the National Express, I think rolling into Piccadilly at Chorlton Street. I live in Manchester now but back then we were only occasional visitors so wending our way down to Victoria and the mega shed that is the MEN (as was) probably took a little longer than it should. In we go anticipation building, me and my mate who I’d corralled into chumming me along. All nighter of course, when that was an option. Sat up high to take it all in, then diving down to the floor when New Order came on. Track after track, songs I knew by heart singing out loud and looking round at the proper lads who had probably seen them many times before, smiling, just buzzing. Then done, it’s a while ago now, obviously so not even going to pretend I remember the set list. Internet tells me it was Blue Monday so, what a finish.

Thing is by this time I’d migrated out of the indie life being a sixth former in Plymouth basically landed on me by default. Cream and Voodoo in Liverpool were already standard haunts on the weekends, so seeing Underworld was as big. By now kind of flying at this night, visuals, noise, just immersive, relentless…seen them since at Mayfield year before last and they can still do it. Again google can help with the tunes, but Slippy was on at some point of course.

Then done and into Laurent. Knew the techno but this was different, African drums and singers, super tribal. In all honesty the hazy memory gets more so at this point, so dragging ourselves into a side room to catch Weatherall (maybe?) and Luke Slater (90% certain) before calling it a night to find a bus home.

So there you go, New Order. Done. Underworld. Done. Seen many other bands in better venues but like all the best experiences it’s of a time and a place. I doubt my mate would even remember it, it was one of them, but for me it was another step forward……

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