As Dylan didn’t say, “I saw rock and roll from the backseat of a Hillman Imp.”
Possibly one of the ugliest vehicles known to man, it was however the rock and roll vehicle of choice for my cousin Tony. Between 1978 and 1984 I got trucked around in the back seat of the imp to Bowie, Hawkwind, Tull, Supertramp, The Clash, The Damned, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, Neil Young, Gong(the jazz rock version) Whitesnake, Bad Company, Floyd and any number of other shows ranging from folk in smokey clubs in Yorkshire to mega shows in London and any number of pop, prog and punk events/festivals, no Led Zeppelin at Knebworth though, my dad put his foot down for some reason to that one.
I was usually ensconced in the backseat as Tony and the most recent girlfriend sat up front. My job was changing cassettes on the portable player with me in the back as the car had no stereo or radio that functioned. I am not sure why Tony took such pity on me, but I am forever grateful. Maybe it was because every now and then someone had to get out and push and that was also my job.
I as expected have no real memories of most of these gigs. Just sounds impressions, smells that come to me when I listen to records and a knowledge I was there. There are no selfies or even pictures of the events. Just the memory of excitement on the way, the smell of fish and chips, the cassette that began with The Snake by the Pink Fairies, ended with People Are Strange by The Doors and covered a lot of ground in between.
Last summer as Tony and myself and mum and my youngest sat and had lunch in the garden of a pub in Todmorden where he now lives he had a twinkle in his eye when he said “oh yeah we are off to see Robert Plant next month, shame you’ll be gone.” All of a sudden I could feel the vibration in the back of the Imp, smell the chips and the sense of excitement of something about to happen. It’s maybe no surprise he lives in the town in Yorkshire with a host of UFO sitings and abductions.
All of this as I reflect on the lack of his, in our future, there is Jason Isbell in March and then in September Roger Waters, this is a massive decline in concert going since the pandemic obviously.