Wednesday, 10 May 2017

May #7: The Loudest Gig I Ever Went To

6. Silver Sun - Lava

Wednesday the 21st of October, 1998, I went down to a regular gig haunt of mine back in the day, to check out one of my favourite bands of the post-Britpop era: Silver Sun. (The way I see it, OK Computer marked the end of Britpop in '97, This Is Hardcore was the wake in '98. Everything that came after was post-Britpop. OK?) I went with Dave - one of the two Daves who accompanied me (though rarely at the same time) on 80% of my gig-going life, most of the remaining 20% being gigs I attended solo. When we got there though, we were surprised to discover that there was another band booked in the main room. The Cockpit wasn't the biggest of venues anyway; it had an arched corrigated iron ceiling like an aircraft hanger, but you'd have struggled to squeeze more than a couple of Airfix Spitfires in there. I can't remember who the other band were, nobody I'd heard of or wanted to see, certainly. But I do remember that we ended up in the Other Room, which was basically a bar and a couple of upturned buckets for a stage. Iffypedia tells me that the second room at The Cockpit had a capacity of 250 people: if so, so does my bathroom. Anyway, the point is... it was crowded. So crowded, I spent much of my time stood in the corridor that led to the sick-bucket toilets: partly through claustrophobia, partly to give my ears some release.   

I described Silver Sun as post-Britpop to differentiate them from the obvious guitar band suspects of that era, though in truth their sound wasn't Britpop at all, it was pure power pop. They made a hell of a racket, but a very tuneful one, full of hooks the size of sideboards and glorious harmonies nicked from the Beach Boys and the Byrds. I saw them live more than once, at bigger venues or festivals, but this was the smallest room I think I ever saw any band perform in... and cramming all that noise into such a tiny space took some doing.

My hearing isn't the best. Being hard of hearing runs in the family: both my parents have hearing aids, as does my older brother. I'm just counting the days (and trying to save up). But I reckon there's a little more to my deafness than just the hereditary: all those loud gigs I attended in the 90s must have had a little to do with it. So when I do need to get myself fitted for an ear trumpet... I'll be sending the bill to Silver Sun.


  1. A great band who I also saw several times, including my only ever visit to BBC's Maida Vale studios. Silver Sun were there to record some live tunes for broadcast and/or b-sides, but unfortunately James Broad had a stinker of a cold and sounded bloody awful. I don't think any of the recordings were ever used.
    I blame Bob Mould for my tinnitus. The joint loudest gigs I've ever been to would have to be Husker Du and Sugar.

    1. I won tickets to see Morrissey at Maida Vale about 8 years ago. Broke my arm the week before so had to give them to some mates.

      (I am considering a series of posts called Great Gigs I Did Not See... Even Though I Had Tickets For Them.)

    2. A series that would resonate with several of us I suspect. Go for it Rol.

  2. Ryan Adams at the QMU , Glasgow - my ears were nearly bleeding
    Sugar were pretty loud too

    1. RA was pretty quiet when I saw him. Curiously, Ocean Colour Scene left my ears ringing for a week.

  3. Yes, a hell of a power pop racket, sounds good to me.
    Gigs and ears, though... worst time ever for me was standing right near a monitor once when Mr SDS' band were playing. The sound man seemed to have a gripe against them and I'm pretty sure he turned the volume up to an intolerable degree as a deliberate act of malice. Afterwards I felt like I was underwater for about three hours, everything was so muffled, I have never had my hearing impaired to such an extent - it was horrific! My ears recovered but Mr SDS's have never been the same since his gigging days. We will be a deaf generation!

  4. C's comment about us being a deaf generation rings true. My ears are becoming increasingly gubbed.

    Doesn't help that I still won't take any protection to gigs these days so when The Twilight Sad come along and go for it as they did at Glasgow Barrowlands at Xmas 2014 then I'm only asking for trouble.

    I'll pass on Silver Sun if you don't mind.


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