Some people in a crowd at a gig are harder to ignore – but worth the effort

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I love being part of a crowd at a gig. The most memorable moments are when you find yourself in the right place for the right band in the right venue - that can be among 80,000 people at a sun-baked Wembley, in six inches of mud at Butefest in Rothesay, or among 70 folk in a launderette which doubles as a live venue in Durham.

The buzz of a gig has never diminished. I hope it never does. I still get a thrill seeing a venue fill up as road crews go about their business and set the stage perfectly for those moments of calm before the start. “Count the band in, then kick into overdrive” as Bruce Springsteen sings.

But, like all concert goers I have my pet peeves, and a trip to Villa Park Birmingham to see The Boss reminded me again that it takes all sorts to make up a crowd.

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First up - the Shoulder Dancers; folk who clamber on their mate’s shoulders and try to conduct the crowd with a smug “look at me!” expression. Their efforts to get everyone singing along usually have me muttering dark thoughts about which shoulder they’d pop should they land awkwardly, and, more importantly, can I step forward quickly enough to get their spot as they’re huckled to the paramedics tent?

On a packed pitch at Villa Park to see Bruce SpringsteenOn a packed pitch at Villa Park to see Bruce Springsteen
On a packed pitch at Villa Park to see Bruce Springsteen

But, they generally pop up for only a song or two - mainly because the poor fella below them is wobbling with fear lest he drops them.

More annoying are the Clueless Clappers. There can be 70,000 people clapping in unison, but I guarantee you will still hear that one un-coordinated numpty who claps on the half beat. Repeatedly.

Then there are the Phone Viewers. An entire generation of gig-goers has never witnessed a live gig with their own eyes, Instead they stand with their phone in the air, and squint into its daft wee screen to watch it in miniature. Take some pics, by all means, grab a slice of video for your own use, but, watch with your eyes, listen with your ears. Your memories will last well beyond your next phone upgrade. Of particular annoyance are the folk who phone their pals at home to let them hear a song which they then ruin singing out of key and give them motion sickness when they forget they’re filming and join in that communal wave.

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I’m lucky I can usually zone out of the chatter around me, but there is a special place reserved in hell for one breed of concert goers. The Squeezer-Inners.

These are people who aren’t put off by the fact the venue is packed and will insist they can squeeze in. They will contort their body into that three-inch gap, bone by bone until they get so far in that the crowd will automatically adjust left and right as they breathe out.

Sorry to sound sexist but women are the worst culprits - and short women are absolute master Squeezer-Inners. I’m all for a side step to accommodate someone, but when they come with a pal, and they invariably do, it’s a clear naw from me.

It happened at Villa Park. We stood our ground and they eventually went away. We we nodded and shared an imaginary high five. Some people in a crowd are harder to ignore - but definitely worth the effort.