Two days after this gig I'm still recovering, both mentally and physically. I've thought ever since it finished as to how I can do justice to what many present have described as the greatest gig EVER.
This not-so-secret gig was revealed on Tuesday and I spent the next two days in a stress-fuelled frenzy of should-I-or-shouldn't-I. I WANTED to go but kept coming up with logistical reasons why I couldn't. Were they reasons or excuses? That's what responsibility does to you. Even my friend Giselle in Long Beach, California was nagging me to go! In my younger days I wouldn't have given it a second thought.
Following the debacle that was Glasvegas' recent "secret" gig, I wanted to make sure that if I rearranged my domestic arrangements for the night and travelled through from Fife to Glasgow that I was definitely getting in. I resorted to what any self-respecting man of my age would do, I bribed Edwyn via Twitter! To my surprise Edwyn responded, "Glasgow £20 to charity? OK..." Just to make sure, I sent a message to Grace Maxwell and she confirmed that I was on the list and with a "+1" to boot. After relieving one set of stresses I now had a another, who would I ask?
I left messages all over for John, a regular gig-going friend from Dunfermline. I finally got hold of him, much to the chagrin of the RSPB crowd he was sharing a bird hide with, only to find out that he was already on the guest list. Hope big was this guest list? Jocknroll Dave was in Aberdeen for a meeting but with a late gig time of 10.30pm I wondered if he could still make it down. My friend Jayne in Motherwell couldn't get away and I also put a couple of members of the Cairn String Quartet on standby too. I didn't want to waste it. By the time I was on the M8 Dave have had got in touch to say he was stuck in his meeting and I later found out the CSQ were at a friend's gig and couldn't make it either. C'est la vie.
I made good time to Glasgow and arrived in my parking spot of choice just before 6. I loitered in my car until a spot became available and just after 6 I was parked and ready to party. I'd never been to Mono before but I figured I'd pop round to Trongate 103 first to see if I could get in there to see the pre-gig gig, where Edwyn and Teenage Fanclub would be playing an acoustic set.
As I approached Trongate 103 I spotted Duglas Stewart in the company of Grace Maxwell, Edwyn's partner, and the great man himself. Lady lucky wasn't just smiling on me, she was stroking my thigh! I knew Duglas from many gigs and introduced myself to Grace and Edwyn. I dind't know what to say to Edwyn and blurted out something stupid about him being Jocknroll's King!! We went into Glasgow's newest art resource together. Duglas also kindly gave me a copy of the excellent "The Rise and Fall of the BMX Bandits" compilation.
After watching the band soundcheck and chatting to Joe McAlinden, Duglas and Grace I wondered around the venue to look at the art. It certainly is an impressive place. I was particularly drawn to the 'Hoppy' works and the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is amazing.
After some tunes, played by Stephen Pastel, and the speeches from the dignitaries, the band played a wonderful acoustic set of Falling and Laughing, What Presence, Hope and Despair, Rip It Up, I'm Losing Sleep and A Girl Like You.
After the gig we stroll round to Mono, a venue I'd never been to before. I expected there to be massive queues but there wasn't. I said to the doorman I was on Edwyn Collins' guest list only to see him pull out the biggest guest list I'd ever seen! I didn't feel so special but to be honest I was just glad to be in. Immediately I bumped into Dunfermline John and got myself a drink and a packet of crisps, which would double as my dinner! John and his friends were near the front so I joined them there. Normally I try not to stand at the front because I'm 6 foot 4 but I decided I was going to be a bit selfish for a change.
I'm sure there are enough superlatives to describe the set itself. I was blown away. The band were tighter than a nun's chuff and Edwyn was in fine comedic form, berating the band playfully for not being ready. He even announced a song, Dying Day, that wasn't on the set list.
The set was Falling and Laughing, Poor Old Soul, What Presence, Hope and Despair, Consolation Prize, Dying Day, Make Me Feel Again, Rip It Up, I'm Losing Sleep, A Girl Like You, Don't Shilly Shally and Blue Boy.
The crowd included a who's who of Glasgow pop-erati including Carey and Nigel (Camera Obscura), Duglas Stewart, Joe McAlinden, Stephen Pastel, Katrina Mitchell, Jackie McKeown (1990s), Gary Thom (Astrid), Roy Moller and Stuart Murdoch.
By the time I got back to the car my back was killing me but "the pleasure with the pain" was well worth it. After one wrong turn I made it back to the M8 and I drive home with widest smile. To a soundtrack of the BMX Bandits (thank you Duglas), I mused on what had been quite an extraordinary night, a night that will live long in the memory.
Music in the car going to the gig: Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool
Music in the car travelling home from the gig: The BMX Bandits - The Rise and Fall of the BMX Bandits
P.S. Most, if not all, of the Mono set is available on You Tube.