My Life In Ticket Stubs

A chance encounter with a shoe box full of ticket stubs containing memories of gigs, games, many drinks and sleeping through Oasis.
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A chance encounter with a shoe box full of ticket stubs containing memories of gigs, games, many drinks and sleeping through Oasis.

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Well not quite, but a decent chunk of it. Having had a bit of a tidy up in the garage this afternoon, I found a load of old postcards, tickets, business cards and wedding invitations from when we lived in New York, before the kids arrived. It's been quite enjoyable having a little look through them even if they do smell a tad foisty these days.

The postcards are, well, typical postcards really, except for a few from my best mate Biz, who always had a way with words; "Take a deep breath, I don't do punctuation." and "Are you reading this Mr Postman? Fuck off you nosy bastard!”

Business cards and wedding invitations are self-explanatory really aren't they?  But it's the tickets that have caught my attention. True, most of them are generic Ticketmaster efforts, nowhere near as good as tickets of yore. Somewhere at my Mam's there's a shoe box with some really good tickets in it, Madness at Tiffany's in Leeds with an image of the band on it from the Shut Up single cover for instance.  They .may be in her loft, or maybe she threw it all out when they too became foisty. Still, as plain as most of them are, they've provoked a few happy memories.

So, in no particular order here you go:

Sex Pistols Roseland August 8th 1996

They were shite. I bought a ticket off a tout $60s – they call 'em scalpers over here but I've been to gigs in Liverpool, I know the difference. They really were shite, I wasn't really expecting much, I wasn't even planning on going. I'd gone for an after work pint with my mate Joe, a young Irish American lad who was in a punk/ska band at the time, and one thing led to another...

Monumentally drunk, I wandered along West 53rd Street where I bumped into a load of burly chaps in typical bouncer attire. It was fucking hot - August in N.Y. invariably is. I fell through them and landed atop John Lydon who'd just exited a limo. He looked me up and down, I said, 'Alright John? Never trust a punk eh?' It was the highlight of the evening. I expect old Johnny probably feels the same way too.

I'd gone for an after work pint with my mate Joe, a young Irish American lad who was in a punk/ska band at the time, and one thing led to another...

Edwyn Collins Tramps Oct 5th 1995

Edwyn was, as he always was, is, and ever shall be, magnificent – the consummate performer. As rocky live as he always was, playing a mid-sized N.Y. venue on the back of ‘A Girl Like You’ for the first time. With comedic interludes and pop perfection, Edwyn had them eating out of his hand.

Save for a little mix up outside, everything went smoothly. The Mrs and I turned up at the 11th hour fearing we might have missed a few songs – we need not have worried. There was another soul behind us in line and he was having a hard time getting in; Edwyn. He looked at us with a beautiful, bemused look and grinned. It took the no-neck on the door a while to figure out what was going on but, eventually, they let him in.

Evander Holyfield V Lennox Lewis Heavyweight Championship of The World. Madison Square Garden March 13th 1999

Still can't believe I spent $500 to go see a fight. In my defence, it was meant to be on in Vegas. There were four of us were going to fly down. I left sorting the tickets up to my mate Gerry who earned about twice as much as me at the time (I'm pretty sure he wasn't paying taxes either). The fight was moved to New York and Gerry, in his wisdom, thought why not put the money we were going to save on flying toward a better seat at the fight? I can see his logic and I should have said something before if it was going to be a problem, so I've only myself to blame.

History tells us the fight ended in a draw, memory tells me Lewis was robbed – as were two lads from Leeds we met outside who bought tickets from scalpers at $200 each. In fairness, for their money they did get an extra 'L' in Holyfield's name on their tickets. My mate Liam told us Lewis didn't do enough to take Holyfield's title. Liam, if you're reading, fuck off you daft get. I'd love to tell you some great tale of monumental post fight drinking and debauchery, truthfully, I would. But the truth is I got the subway back home to Forest Hills and went to bed in disgust. Thus began a 10 year fall out with Championship prize fights.

Al Green, The Beacon, May 19th 1995

I love Al Green, he has the voice of an angel. The cynic in me however, always figured that the 'Reverend' sketch was merely a tax evasion ploy. How wrong can you be? We'd had a good meal and a few drinks beforehand, took our seats in the balcony and waited for the curtain to go up. Al truly had found God – so much so he wasn't singing any secular songs. Such is life. We were treated to such can't miss hits as ‘The Old Rugged Cross'.  While all around us 'Praised the Lord' and 'Hallelujahed' at every pause we saw the funny side of it, took it for what it was and, it has to be said, had a bloody good night out.

The cynic in me however, always figured that the 'Reverend' sketch was merely a tax evasion ploy. How wrong can you be?

Primal Scream, The Limelight, June 27th 1994

Sticking with the religious theme, this was a gig and a half – Bobby G and The Scream Team laying down the choons from Screamadellica in a converted church on 6th Ave. The venue, the band, the album – they were made for one another. The stars aligned and it was 'One of those gigs'. I sometimes stop in the Limelight at the recently opened Grimaldi's and have a pie with the kids. I can still hear The Scream.

The Bluetones, Westbeth Theatre Bank Street, September 7th 1996

Memorable for what went wrong: everything. A sweating heaving mass crammed into a space several sizes too small on a red hot night and the power goes out. Never mind the P.A., there's no air conditioning, so we hotfooted it up the block to Automatic Slims and drank tequila until the bouncers (nice bouncers it has to be said) came up and told us it was fixed, and the power was back on. This happened three times, I think. Eventually we stayed in Slims.

The band probably managed ten songs, or maybe we missed a few. The sound was dead on and I went away impressed, but I don't think they ever came back to New York.

Oasis, Jones Beach, September 8th 1996

Look at the dates kids! Rock 'n' Roll eh? Hardly. The wife's mate drove us out there; I slept in the car, and through most of the gig, nursing an epic hangover. They sounded good but mostly, I just wanted to sleep.

I slept in the car, and through most of the gig, nursing an epic hangover. They sounded good but mostly, I just wanted to sleep.

League Cup Final, Wembley Leeds v Aston Villa, 1996

I actually used to get home for quite a few matches back then, more than I realised. I didn't have a ticket until 5 minutes before kick-off and then my luck ran out.

Memorable weekend for the massive Wild West-style Leeds-on-Leeds brawl in The World's End in Camden which resulted in the pub getting shut and us high tailing it to Islington to find a pub with no Leeds fans in it, Gerry jumping the turnstile, the Fergie twins sharing one seat, the classic chat up line: 'Do you fancy a shag?' being used on more than one occasion and the descent into bargaining with brasses for the Cup Final Special; three blow jobs for the price of two. Tight Yorkshire bastards eh?

New York Metro-Stars v New England Revolution MLS League game 1 Giant's Stadium New Jersey April 20th 1996

You think you know shite football? Think again. On the back of a fantastic World Cup the Yanks launched a league of their own, only hardly any Americans knew, or cared about it. A pleasant night out helped along by the Colombians in front of us passing round a goatskin flask of some obscure Andean firewater.

U2 Pop Tour, Giant's Stadium New Jersey, June 1st 1997

I’d had a falling out with the Mrs over some old shite or other which kind of ruined the night. U2 might not be everyone's cup of tea but they were putting on great rock shows at the time – she loved them and I'd never really been to a big Stadium gig. Good gig, not much conversation, took bloody ages to get home.

U2 Pop Tour, Giant's Stadium New Jersey, June 3rd 1997

Pangs of guilt compelled me to surprise the Mrs with tickets to make up for ruining the previous gig, but she was knackered and fancied a night in. Women eh? Went anyway. Good gig, again took bloody ages to get home.

The Seahorses, Irving Plaza, August 5th 1997

John Squire's post Stone Roses effort arrives in town and it pissed it down. We stayed home. First signs of old age creeping in?

Admit One, The Empire State Building, Ticket # 200801

I have no recollection of ever been on top of the Empire State Building. Ever.

Observation Deck, Twin Towers

A cliché maybe, but this one made me think. I had a bit of a thing for the Twin Towers when I first got here; they were so much bigger than anything else around. They were rectangular and boring but just so God damn big you couldn't help but be in awe of them. I have, on more than one occasion, laid on the ground at the base of each tower just to look up.

I was working construction nearby the first time they tried to blow them up and, although I was uptown the day they were destroyed, I have vivid memories of feeling vulnerable that day, feelings that eventually gave way to a vow not to let others dictate how I live my life.

Joe Strummer, Roseland, November 23 1999

There's very little I can say about the greatness of the man or the greatness of the gig - large parts of it are on Youtube and worth watching if you're a fan, so what can I say? It was a great night. They played White Riot as an encore, and me and The Beast pogoed; I threw him in the air (he's only little), we went a bit mad. I lost my wallet, my Green card, the lot. Great, great night. R.I.P. Saint Joe.

I threw him in the air (he's only little), we went a bit mad. I lost my wallet, my Green card, the lot. Great, great night. R.I.P. Saint Joe.

Public Enemy, Irish Arts Center, November 26th 1994

Tommy Black grows up in Belfast obsessing over Jimmy Cagney movies. You think he can't tap dance. He can.

Was it good? I don't remember. Like a lot of the great Irish theatre groups that were on the go back then, they encouraged you to drink. 'It's not fecking Broadway.' Fair enough.

Stone Roses, Manhattan Center Ballroom, May 20th 1995

Never got round to seeing them at home. I had a headache the night they played the Warehouse and stayed home – what a puff. They played upstairs in the ballroom, the room with the sprung floor. It sprang, we sang, and they played great. I wished I'd seen them more. Apparently there was a small fire that most people, myself included, seemed to miss.

New York Jets V Miami Dolphins, Giants Stadium, October 22nd 1995

My first NFL game. The Jets won but I didn't have a clue what was going on. I went with a mate who may or may not have robbed a post office once – maybe he just told tall tales – and an American couple from my then neighbourhood bar.

Stuck in traffic coming back to the city, my mate explained how they used to put a flashing light on the dashboard and fly up the hard shoulder up the M1 after doing, erm, a job, allegedly. 'Who the hell's your buddy Johnny?'

I am, for the rest of my life, a Jets fan.

My mate explained how they used to put a flashing light on the dashboard and fly up the hard shoulder up the M1 after doing, erm, a job, allegedly

The Beautiful South, The Supper Club, October 22 1995

Fair to say it was just a regular Sunday. The Beautiful South in the wonderful Supper Club. They don't do gigs there anymore – is it even there still? They played the hits and everyone went home happy. Even me.

Black Grape, Irving Plaza, April 26th 1996

Shaun's Dad in a Viking helmet, some English chap – not me – shouting 'Kermit! Oi Kermit’ at the stage; some bloke on stage getting pretty angry; 'I'm not Kermit, I'm Psycho!' Right, it says Psycho on your birth certificate. Shaun still had it then.

Boston Bruins New York Rangers, Fleet Center Boston, March 14th 1996

Oh I got the hockey bug when I hit New York – I got it bad. I got it so bad I went to away games. I went up on the Friday night and had a good drink, got asked for ID a lot. I'd shaved in fairness and woke up with a headache. More drinks, met friends; Joe again and another lad we knew who was at B.C. at the time. The Rangers lost and I got tons of abuse. I wore a classic white England Rugby Union shirt for devilment, just 3 days before Saint Patrick's Day in heavily Irish Boston. My wife, who’s Irish, rolled her eyes. I can be a tit at times.

There are others in there, lots of them - Trash Can Sinatras at The Knitting Factory, The Saw Doctors, Tramps (right before Ireland Italy in the 94 World cup, mad night with great friends), Leeds United's friendly in D.C. which ended in a standoff with us and some officials from Leeds. Nottingham Mick's immortal line 'Nobody in a pink jumper tells me what to do,' seems, to me at least, perfectly rational. Bjorn Again (honest, that's the wife's), Lewis v Mercer (Mercer was robbed) World Party, God bless you Karl Wallinger, Billy Connolly Symphony Space '94 – he was funny once. Loads of old Leeds United tickets and loads more New York Rangers ones.  Bryan Ferry at The Beacon – the night I knew I'd finally grown old ('Ace it's seated!').

Like I said, they're a bit foisty these days but I'm glad I kept them.

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