58. Edinburgh, Corn Exchange, 21 May 2003

A travel day. It’s Melody’s turn to rescue the tickets, which once again get left in the hostel. This is getting ridiculous, at least we realise in time to alert her and she is on a later flight…

We regroup in Glasgow and are joined by Dop from Belgium and Pocki from Sweden, who are going to stay the night at my place.

On the day of the show we get a bus through to Edinburgh. We meet with Melody, go for a pub lunch and sort out the envelope full of tickets.

I have a love/hate relationship with Edinburgh. As a Glasgow-dweller I dislike the wind, the tourists, the transport, the snootiness and the venues. Why, when there are so many great places for a band play in Glasgow, they have chosen to play the only Scottish date in this barn of a place? The Corn Exchange seems more suitable to conferences and expos than an “intimate” evening with a band, but still the queue has formed early and the Americans seem to be in charge.

The Japanese contingent are here in force too. By the time we arrive there are plenty of people who know each other from the internet who are getting to meet “in real life” for the first time. Some of them will end up being close friends in the future. Some of them will be flatmates. Some of them will even end up married.  Everyone will have different reasons to remember this gig.

Sometime in the afternoon, a member of the crew emerges from the venue with a notice, copies of which are distributed among the queue. Word has got back to the band about the queue numbering, via Big Colin (Official title: “Head of Security”). Apparently, in Dublin, the queue system involved a couple of young lads wrongly being led to believe that their numbers would guarantee them a place at the front. They were sadly disappointed and complained to the venue. The band have got wind and are not best pleased.

The whole queue thing is just winding me up. The already numbered ignore the polite request and the struggle to get to the front continues. Reports from those who made it to the barrier describe a mad rush to get in, people running and slamming into the front board. One boardie whacked her knee and spends the whole gig in agony (and the next three weeks barely able to walk.) It’s a measure of the power of this band that even while injured, people choose to stay at the front rather than leave the show.

I don’t even try to get close to the front and hang back near the sound desk. I had to wait for an old friend from Glasgow to give him my ticket (as I’m now Keiko’s plus one) and people had been so hostile to folks joining their friends in the queue and thereby outdoing the system that I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle. Back here I can dance and not worry about trying to see the stage (I’ve been to gigs in The Corn Exchange before and I know it’s a pointless exercise). A lot of people at the front are convinced they’re getting eye contact with the band, that they can’t enjoy the show unless they’re at the front. I’ve been there and done that, at better venues than this one.

In spite of trying to make the best of it, I spend the show in a fug of annoyance. The setlist gets tweaked again and Like Spinning Plates gets an airing. Someone shouts out a request for the football scores and Thom says something about half time oranges. (Ed might have chipped in with something more realistically footy-related). I dance it out of my system. I need a fair amount of space when I get going, Sit Down Stand Up in particular sets me off, flailing frantic and fast.

Afterwards, Keiko finds me with a pass. We have a bit of a problem with a security man and my mood still hasn’t quite stabilised. I have a heated exchange with a jobsworth who kept asking us if we didn’t have homes to go to. Liggers and bouncers, oil and water.

I remember pulling someone through a door as it was closing and going down a long corridor, like something from one of my weird dreams. A back stage room with the usual remains of the crew catering and a few beers in a fridge. I flop into a chair and try to regain some composure. I am sweaty and thirsty. Big Colin approaches to tell me there is a girl outside who says she’s a friend of mine. He tells me her name, M, one of the Americans who was in Portugal. I tell him that I have met her but that it’s his call who he lets inside the after show.

I am surprised, a few moments later, to see her arrive in the room. She thanks me as if it’s my doing, she is fairly vibrating with excitement. I tell her to be cool, get a drink, sit tight, don’t get in anyone’s way. I can almost feel the disapproval radiating off my other friends. In the end, she confines herself to staring rather intensely at Jonny when he arrives. The hard thing is to know whether to behave like you belong here and mingle as if you were at a party, or to remain too overawed to say anything to anyone and risk looking like a potential nutter. I include myself in this, hell only knows how I look to anyone who doesn’t know me.

I passed the stage of caring a long time ago and after rehydrating myself, I wander over to Thom, who is being accosted by local music journalist and radio personality Billy Sloan. As I approach, Thom is politely but firmly refusing to have his photo taken in Sloan’s customary “friend of the stars” pose. Thwarted, Clyde Radio’s finest wanders off, but he won’t find any other celebs to pester at this party. Thom greets me and introduces me to some of his Glasgow friends (a former flat mate who now runs an art gallery and a couple of other people).

It’s tricky, in different circumstances – an art opening such as I often attend through work or a regular party – I would probably feel able to talk to these people. As it is, Thom introduces me thus: “This is Lucy. She’s seen us everywhere, forever.” And his friends don’t quite know how to talk to me, I am put firmly in the fan category.  I find it hard to think of anything intelligent to say about the Glasgow art scene at this moment, even though I write listings about it for a living. Thom’s presence makes me feel too self conscious. I’m not going to make any new friends tonight.

The afters peters out, so it’s back to the pub near the station. This has been a more relaxed gathering than the one I’ve just left. The rest of the gang are all here and have been joined by my old mate who by now has missed the last train home. I find myself directing him to follow the group who are staying at the hostel and they let him kip on their floor. I join the girls and to go back to Melody’s flat for a fitful night on the sofa.