Waiting on the shout from the crowd – the joys of live music

I’m well into my fifth decade of going to gigs. The magic of being part of the crowd has never diminished across the decades, and I’m sure it never will.
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As a teenager I worked at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh, back in the day when it was a heck of rock venue. Three, sometimes four nights a week I’d be on duty showing folk to their seats, and then watching some amazing gigs.

Every heavy rock band of note hit the stage along with OMD, The Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, The Who, Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel and Madness, whose fans were so exuberant they actually made the circle bounce, while AC/DC blew the place apart with their cannons on stage.

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The Grateful Dead played for something like four hours, and I had to carry two stoned fans to their seats - “it’s the Dead, man, they gotta see them” their mate pleaded - while seeing Bruce Springsteen there in ’81 sparked a lifelong love of his music which will take me on a summer tour of the UK, possibly to see him for the last time.

The Beautiful Trainwreck Show on stage at the Kings, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Cath Ruane)The Beautiful Trainwreck Show on stage at the Kings, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Cath Ruane)
The Beautiful Trainwreck Show on stage at the Kings, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Cath Ruane)

I still have some old tour programmes from those days, together with a treasure trove of memories of gigs from massive festivals and huge stadiums to the smallest rooms, including village halls, hotels, social clubs and even a launderette in Durham.

Last week took my wife and I to two very different gigs in two very different venues.

I cannot shout loudly enough about the Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy, and what it is doing for the live music scene. If it was in a city it’d figure strongly on all those ‘coolest/funkiest places to go’ listicles which crawl all over websites - and rightly so - and all the social media influencers / hingers on would be raving about it.

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Friday’s line up offered three superb bands for a tenner, and it was fantastic to see the place buzz all night long. The Beautiful Trainwreck Show, The Long Road and John Anaya and Ben Errington duo were a genuine joy to listen to - new names to me, for sure, but all playing original material in a night of great live music.

In championing a wide range of bands, local and national, the Kings has tapped into something very, very special, and everything it puts on is down to the team of volunteers who make things happen. Their passion for music and the venue underpins everything. We really have something special on our doorstep - so in 2024, pledge a tenner on a pot luck gig, and if you don’t like it, I’ll personally refund you.

Sunday took us to the Festival Theatre for the opening night of Barbara Dickson’s farewell band tour. It was a masterclass in curating a set list that acknowledged her influences, celebrated everyone from Archie Fisher to Gerry Rafferty to Bob Dylan, and showcased her own classics. Her rendition of The Beatles’ Across The Universe was just exquisite.

The Kings would have been the very sort of venue Barbara would have played in her early days. Grassroots venues are where every single big name starts out. Some are more than happy to return to them too. That’s the absolute joy of live music. All you need is a mic and audience. I can’t sing so I’ll happily pull up a seat any night, anywhere.