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Great gigs - Over the years I've been to loads of concerts and seen a lot of the top acts strut their stuff.

My first gig was Mott the Hoople at Hammersmith Odeon on 14th December 1973. I was a huge fan of their then latest album, 'Mott' and it was the first time mum & dad had let me go to London on my own. It was all very edgy and a big adventure - rock'n'roll hey.

My first gig 1973 - Only £1.50 to get in

Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs and co doing an acoustic number in 2009 - Photo: CM
Mott had been around for a few years and had built a reputation as a great live band, but their recording of David Bowie's 'All the young dudes' had brought them to the attention of a bigger audience and my favourite song at the time was 'All the way from Memphis'.

The support band on the night was Queen. So, as they opened the set, I can therefore say that the first band I ever saw was Queen. They were ok and I remember Freddie doing his thing and them playing the 'Seven Seas of Rhye', but I was there to see Ian Hunter, who looked like Dylan in his habitual shades and big hair and he didn't disappoint.

Mott split at the end of 1974 and when they reformed for five-nights at Hammersmith in 2009 to celebrate their 40th Anniversary, I had a great urge to be there. It was nearly 36 years between the gigs and I was back at Hammersmith (re-branded these days as HMV Hammersmith Apollo) with my son, Matt. '36 years' - now that is slightly disturbing!.

Matt enjoyed the gig and liked 'All the young dudes' - These days I think he has it on his iPod, but that's another story.

36 years down the road! - same band, same venue - Hi-tech tickets these days and they don't like being scanned - Cost £36
Ian Hunter's Diary of a rock'n'roll star
Many bands reform and feature a limited number (sometimes only one and occasionally none!) of their original line-up, but the five original members of Mott the Hoople were all there and they put on a great show for their old & newer fans.

After the gig I dug out my old and well thumbed paperback copy of Ian Hunter's 'Diary of a rock'n'roll star' - it's still a good read.

Odd fact 1: The opening line to REM's 'Man on the moon' is 'Mott the Hoople and the game of Life, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.'

26/10/12 I got to see Ian Hunter again, this time with The Rant Band at Concorde 2 in Brighton. A very enjoyable evening with a mixed set, featuring material off his new Album (When I'm President) and some Mott classics. These included a sing-along to All the Way from Memphis and All the Young Dudes, which closed the set. I met the audience demographic spot-on - 50+ and balding - Mr H looked pretty good for a 73-year-old!
Ian Hunter and the Rant Band snapped by Charlie Middleton - 26/10/12

My favourite gig was (probably) seeing the Grateful Dead in Paris on 27th October 1990 - The Dead spent about 30 years truckin round the USA and in the process they probably played to more people than almost any other act in history. Their sojourns outside the States were few & far between. I saw them five times over the years and my favourite memory is them playing Paris in 1990.

They were great and we got to stand at the front and really enjoy the performance. I picked Paris over the other times I saw them, because it was a great trip all round.

My folks had lived just north of Paris between 1978 & 81 and I'd spent plenty of time there and had used their place as a launch platform for several tours of the country in my little red Lancia Fulvia. After mum & dad had returned to the UK, my only visits to France had been three trips in the mid 80's to watch the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Ticket with artwork for the Grateful Dead in Paris - 27/10/90
Outside the Musée d'Orsay with Jane and a big horse Jane & Ros with a large rhino Inside the Musée d'Orsay - Photo: CM
The Musée d'Orsay had opened in December 86 and housed a superb collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, including work by my favourite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. So a chance to visit Paris, check out some Van Gogh, see the Grateful Dead and do some other cool tourist stuff, like visiting the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, sounded like just the ticket.
The Grateful Dead in Paris 27/10/90 - Photo: CM

Odd fact 2: 'I ain't gonna work on Maggies farm no more' - After Paris, I went to Wembley and saw the Dead play the final gig of their European tour. They played Bob Dylan's Maggie's Farm, with each member of the band (except the drummers) singing a verse.
The late great Jerry Garcia - Sometimes the light's all shining on me - Photo: CM
The following week Maggie Thatcher resigned! This was to be the GD's final performance in the UK, as Jerry Garcia, sadly died on 9th August 1995 in a rehab centre after fighting a long battle with addiction. I keep an autographed photo of him on my stairs.   Part 2: Great Festivals

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