Grabbing a souvenir from a gig is one of life’s rare pleasures.
Oh sure – you can go to the merchandise stall at the back of the hall and pick up a Black Sabbath tea towel or Iron Maiden cutlery set or whatever they sell nowadays, but getting something for nothing is where it’s at.
Wouldn’t it be nice if bands showed a little more imagination with what they sold? Arctic Monkeys would make a fortune selling cuddly toy Arctic Monkeys carrying guitars and wearing little leather jackets.
We could have The New York (Barbie) Dolls or a Guns n Roses Florist. The Black Keys could make a spare set of black door keys while you watch the gig. And going to a John Lee Hooker show would take on a whole new dimension.
But I have grabbed a few things over the years, so here’s a list of the booty – let me know what you have picked up:
Guitar picks are great souvenirs. Especially when they have the name of the band on them.
The first two came from Def Leppard, (Rick Savage, bass) and Tesla, (Brian Wheat, bass): both from the same gig – Tesla supporting Def Leppard at Hammersmith Odeon. This was one of Leppard’s earliest shows after having a hit with “Animal” in 1987. I had a front row seat and thought Tesla blew them away…which I didn’t mention to Leppard bassist Rick Savage (great name) when he threw me his pick…
Paul Weller (standard Fender pick) it’s exciting when you get a souvenir: but less great when you realise you have ten of them at home…
Anthrax (two: Scott Ian and Frank Bello): Again from the Hammersmith Odeon – 3rd row back. Anthrax were very generous and showered the crowd with picks like they were confetti. Why the name of a brand of drinking cup is on the pick is something of a mystery to me. Good of Scott Ian to ask after my parents though. He’s obviously been brought up the right way.
A Harmonica (Hohner: key of A) from Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes (actually my friend caught it, but I diverted it his way so it counts) at Brixton Academy. Like with the fender pick, I had a harmonica just like it at home, which I bought because Steven Tyler played one and I wanted to see if I could too. Twenty years later I still can’t get a note out of it that doesn’t sound like either a) a cow passing wind on a cold winter’s morning or b) a stuck pig.
Rush T-shirt. I cannot describe the excitement I felt as Geddy (or was it Alex?) fired a t-shirt cannon and the projectile formed a glorious arc heading towards my seat about fifty rows back. I stretched out a hopeful hand and plucked the t-shirt out of the air as gracefully as Joe Hart wearing an evening dress. A Rush t-shirt! This would save me twenty quid at the merchandise stall!
Imagine my disappointment when I opened up the t-shirt to find this (below) printed on it with not a mention of Rush anywhere. For some reason Geddy Lee disguised his bass speaker cabinets to resemble rotisserie ovens on stage during that Snakes and Ladders tour*. No-one knows why. Let’s call it Canadian Humour. I have still to find a suitable occasion to wear the t-shirt…presumably a BBQ?
Fifty fake dollar bills with the face of AC/DC’s Angus Young on them. This was during their Razor’s Edge tour. I went two nights running. On the first night, during the song Money Talks the band released loads of fake bills over the crowd. I wasn’t expecting it and was in the wrong bit of Wembley Arena. On the second night I was with a friend and better prepared. Without telling him why, when the song began, I positioned us as carefully as Buster Keaton when that house fell on him in Steamboat Bill jnr to ensure we were underneath the nets tied to the ceiling.
Very trusting of him. It rained money. We filled our boots.
The best thing I ever caught from the stage however, was Scott Ian from Anthrax. It wasn’t even an Anthrax show. It was at a Kings X gig at The Marquee in Charing Cross Road. Two members of Anthrax were watching in the crowd and got so into it that they joined in the mosh pit and the stage diving. I don’t think I will ever forget seeing one of my favourite musicians landing on top of me (and the rest of the crowd) with a massive grin on his face. Needless to say I didn’t take this particular souvenir home…
Sadly I have never caught a drum stick – so this remains the holy grail for me. I was a foot away a couple of weekends ago at the end of Biffy Clyro’s set, but it was not to be…
Ever caught anything at a gig? (no stories about diseases please…)
Record #67: Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh
* Yes, I know it’s Snakes and Arrows. I can’t stop myself though…