The tallest man on earth is standing in front of you, requiring you to duck and weave more than Tyson Fury to get a glimpse of the act on stage. You’ve got a stranger’s ponytail in your mouth and your shirt is soaked through with a liquid that you hope is beer, but that has the telltale muskiness of urine. Your feet have been flattened by the Doc Marten brigade, and you know tomorrow you’ll wake up aching all over.
It will be worth it though: few things on earth are better than surfing over the heads of strangers, trusting them to help you reach the barrier where maybe—just maybe—the love of your life will notice you. Skin brushes skin, a hand grabs hold of yours and a scream so high-pitched that even dogs can’t hear it escapes your lips. Who needs sex when being touched by hundreds of people you’ve never met before feels so good?
Here at The Indiependent we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with this love letter to live music. Our contributor team have shared their memories of the best live shows they’ve ever been to in the hope that one day we’ll meet our favourite acts in the flesh once again.
Nirvana // Birmingham Hummingbird, 1991 – Michael Price
“Who the fuck’s this?” blurts some massive twat right into my ear, clearly expecting someone else on stage. My drenched lughole now resembles Ben Stiller’s in There’s Something About Mary as three Japanese women appear before us, outfits seemingly half-inched from Mary Quant’s wardrobe. Turns out it’s the brilliant Osaka all-female punk trio Shonen Knife, tonight’s second support band—Nirvana apparently still en-route from Elstree after filming their TOTP debut.
Stage-front seems more populated than downtown Seattle, with too many of tonight’s quarter-mile queue of hopefuls apparently inside. By now we’re all struggling to see or breathe; car keys burrowing into my thigh, twenty Bensons slowly turning to dust.
Shrewdly we ascend to the vast balcony for oxygen, while improving our view of the mayhem below as Kurt, Krist and Dave open with ‘Drain You’. Carnage continues unabated as ‘Teen Spirit’, ‘Polly’ ‘Lithium’ and ‘On A Plain’ whizz by, the controlled fury-sheen of Nevermind tonight replaced by Nirvana’s fuck-you rock ‘n’ roll raw power. Some are even diving like lemmings onto the heaving bodies from right by where we’re standing. Christ, that’s a long way down!
Alas it’s all over before it’s begun, unbelievably one of Nirvana’s last-ever indoor UK dates before Cobain’s untimely passing. Exclusivity and kudos preserved for tonight’s fortunate few.