The first of an occasional series, and where better to start than that classic music chat staple - 'my first gig'.
Naturally I'd like to claim that it was something prodigious. Hanoi Rocks did make it to within a few miles of my hometown, but in June 1983 I was 12 and completely unaware of their existence.
I did, though, see a gig at my local youth club circa 1984 that featured a band called Glamour Eyes who, I was told many years later, covered 'Don't You Ever Leave Me' (again, I wouldn't have known the song at the time). The guitarist in Glamour Eyes, one Richard Davies, later achieved a certain degree of fame in Tiny Monroe and was even touted as a possible replacement when Bernard Butler left Suede.
Local gigs aside though the privilege falls to the mighty Iron Maiden, out on the road to promote Somewhere in Time in 1986. Support act Paul Samson's Empire therefore became the first 'proper' band I saw live, and to be honest I can remember precisely nothing about them - we weren't there for them and as proficient as I'm sure they were, they simply weren't Maiden. 2,000 people effectively saying "Move on, there's nothing to see here" - a scene repeated down the years at pretty much every gig I've been to.
Although not on a par with the Long Beach Arena (as pored over on Live After Death), Maiden are a band that treat every show as though they're playing in a stadium and so I didn't feel short-changed even though one prop (a robotic alien Eddie) had to be pulled as the Apollo couldn't accomodate it. And 'scream for me Oxford' doesn't have quite the same ring as the famous 'scream for me Long Beach'. As far as first gigs go though there was a very real chance that it could only be downhill from then on ....
Two years later Maiden were headlining at the Monsters of Rock in Donington Park. A lot had changed in that time, and with Appetite For Destruction having been released the year before - and Guns N' Roses taking a lowly spot on the bill - we all trooped up in our glam finery (or rather our very bad interpretation of it). Along with my friend Mark we made it very clear that we had no interest in watching Iron Maiden .... until approximately five seconds after they took the stage, sufficient time for Bruce and the boys to make it clear just how bloody good they were and we found ourselves desperately clawing through the crowd to get as close to the stage as possible. A reminder to one and all that you should never restrict yourself to one form, genre or sub-genre of music. If it's good, it's good.