Everyone remembers their ‘first’. Some firsts are soiled with disappointment as the expectation, built up over months, results in inglorious failure. The one first that most of us remember fondly however is that of our inaugural gig. Now I write ‘gig’ as I try to get down with the kids as ‘musical performance’ doesn't quite grab the magnitude of such a life event.

My first proper, large-scale gig was in 1989 at Wembley Stadium when, at that time, I was into Simple Minds (both regarding my friends and musical taste). It was a big deal at the time for a townie, with a full head of hair and bravado as his shield, as he jumped the train in Hastings to go to ‘the smoke’ with a mate, with whom, and this is where all semblance of cool gets lost, we travelled to North London to stay the night with his gran.

The concert itself was more than I had imagined. In those days Wembley was not the officious venue it is now. You could walk anywhere in the ground: on the pitch and into the stands on all sides. It was only upon entry that we realised we had overlooked one thing: Scotland.

Now Simple Minds are Scottish, as were their support bands, Gun and Texas. However, to add a further twist to the tartan-tinged tale, the day of the concert was also the day Rangers, hundreds of miles away, had played Celtic in the notorious old firm derby. This was also a time when you could drink to your heart's content and, with the headliners not on stage until 9pm, that’s exactly what the blue and hoops fans did, and we didn’t go for more than 30 seconds throughout the eight hours on site without seeing a full-on scrap break out.

To add to the mayhem, the pitch had been covered in slippery plastic lining. And then it rained. Now us Brits don’t like to wait around, and we have the attention spans of goldfish, so it wasn’t long before a game of ‘see how far you can slide across the hallowed turf’ commenced as thousands of music fans roared their approval as they threw bottles (and punches) as the next competitor came flying over the centre circle.

As great as it was, the music became the secondary event to the festival, as drunken frivolity and fighting became the main spectator sports. Gun were good but soon disappeared from their upward musical ascent, Texas were droll, yet entertaining, and Simple Minds deserved their spot as headliners.

This whole scenario played out in my head, some 30-plus years after the event, last weekend, when my daughter, coming up to 14, asked if she could go ‘gigging’ for her birthday. The plan was for her and a friend to be escorted to the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm in December to watch Cavetown. Although I could foresee issues, she is a mature kid, so I agreed, and ventured online to purchase said tickets, and it was only then that I realised how much had changed since ‘my day’. Firstly, the price, for someone I had never heard of, was a tad excessive, if not outrageously so, but it was the terms and conditions that gained my attention. To attend a concert, you must be over 16 years of age, or 14 ‘if accompanied by an adult’.

Ten minutes later and 67 quid (including the mysterious booking fee) lighter, I am now the proud owner of not two, but three tickets to watch Cavetown at the Roundhouse this winter. My plan to drop them and have a quiet couple of bitters by the hearth of a roaring fire in a north London inn while they ‘gig’ has been cruelly stolen from me, yet I am oddly chuffed as she, like I, will remember the first gig she ever went to. My suggestion that, to save tainting her memories and spoiling the moment, I would sit at the side and surf the web on my phone, was met with disgust. ‘No Dad…you have to come to the front with us and dance’ she commanded. Sadly for her, I am too old and uncool for such endeavour, but no doubt I will be pester powered into crowd surfing on a teenage wave, before undertaking a first at the age of 48: getting kicked out of a gig.

It will be a unique moment and one I will remember for ever and for her, it will be a tale to tell to rival the clash of the old firm all those years ago at Wembley, in the prime of its stadium majesty.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher