For someone who counts music as being ever present in his life – even as a very, very small child in the late 50s the radio was always turned on in our house – I haven’t been to that many live gigs.
Not as many as David Asquith for instance, when we were teenagers in the early 70s virtually every band or singer that you can name came to play in Leeds, The Who even made a very famous live album in Leeds, and David Asquith, the squarest kid in our class went to every single gig that the city held in whatever venue it was held in, not because he was a pop guru but because he was in the St Johns Ambulance – told you he was square didn’t I.
For the record I can only remember a few live gigs, Thin Lizzy twice for instance, The Faces in ’72, Lindisfarne, Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance twice, one of which we crashed his after show party for fifteen minutes until being evicted by security, a very hippy love and peace man gig by Kiki Dee in which everyone sat on the floor and lit joss sticks, and Darts.
There, I’ve said it, Darts, the best live gig I ever went to, probably the very uncoolest live gig that a cool and trendy dude with his long trendy spiked hair and flares would ever wish to admit going to, but the Darts gig circa 1977 was just a crazy night of doo-wap music that you sang along too whilst being crushed in the hottest sweatiest, most crowd-iest room I have ever been in, being serenaded by the absolutely bat-shit crazy Den Hegarty from the top of a stack of huge speakers which he clambered amongst and over for the whole of the set, nobody left that room with any semblance of hearing left or any energy for it had all been expended along with our sweat that night.
But you could add together every single live music gig that David Asquith had ever attended and you still wouldn’t come up with anything as bizarre and weird as the live gig that we attended at Huddersfield University one night when Burty was attending his architecture course there.
It was just a weekend visit, spent Saturday and Sunday getting drunk with him and sleep on the floor of his student accommodation, a gig wasn’t really in the plans but at some point we found ourselves back in the student union bar where the stage was being set up for a live performance of something or someone, we cared not, we took a place at the front of the room in front of the stage, the lights went down, and someone announced the act – a magician.
Groans of disappointment rent the air and the announcer quickly assured us that this magician was worth waiting for, for he had a “speciality act”, he and his glamorous female assistant – they were no Paul and Debbie Daniels thats for sure.
For starters they did the whole show naked, which was very pleasant when you were stood right in front of the glamorous female assistant but not so good and a little stomach churning when the magician came and stood in front of us for he was quite an old man and, well, things were a bit flaccid, and wrinkled, not nice, more beer needed.
He stood in front of a box, the glamorous and more importantly naked female assistant opened all side of the box to demonstrate that it was empty and then the magician pulled a dove out of the top of it – yes, yes, we’ve seen it before, not naked admittedly, but still.
Another dove appeared, and another and each time he pulled a bird out of the box he sat it on a multi-tiered perch at one side of the stage, by the number of perches on it we could see that there were several more doves to come yet and the polite applause was dying down and rumbles of “rubbish” starting to emerge when he pulled a chicken out of the box and stood it on the perch, well that was a bit unusual and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke he found another chicken in the box and then a huge big cockerel – he had our attention now and when as his finale he pulled a bird of prey out of the box that was so big that it could not have been anything but a Golden Eagle we were all turning to each other open mouthed and asking if our neighbour had just seen the same thing for we must surely all be hypnotised by this conjurer ?
That was impressive enough but an hour later the true finale of the act was something that I have never seen since performed either in public or in private and quite honestly I’m not right bothered if I never see again the sight of a naked but glamorous female magicians assistant on hands and knees on a stage while a Great Dane dog shags her senseless – there, you never thought you’d be reading that when you found this blog did you ?
Yes folks, thats what passed for entertainment at Huddersfield University in 1978, one of those moments where you stare at the stage and then look at the drink in your hand and wonder what the barman has put in the glass for surely you are now hallucinating ?
Thats showbusiness folks.