Apr 13

Time Travel Savers

FT9 comments • 630 views

The Guardian, aware that we are living in a country down to its last thruppence ha’penny, is thinking about the finances of the poor gig going kid. Look, they have a video and everything to tell you how to save money:

As you can see the secret of cutting the cost of gig tickets is to go to gigs that took place nineteen years ago. If you fancy seeing the Manic’s in Hull in 1994, or Mansun at the Kilburn National, well – you’ll be quids in. I am sure this is excellent advice, otherwise why would you advertise the piece which such out of date tickets. Of course back then I too had my own methods of getting into gigs for free, which I can shamefully reveal now…

I had the good fortune to win a ticket to a Kingmaker gig on Mark Goodier’s Evening Session in the summer of 1993. I say good fortune, it felt like it at the time, but Kingmaker bashing notwithstanding, I dutifully waited on the line for the ticket details. Of course there were no physical tickets, I was added to the guest list and told to present myself as such.

Next day I got to the newly minted Forum*, where I gave my name and was let in without anyone even looking up. “Ho”, I thought, “that doesn’t seem at all that secure.” And it wasn’t. Many people think that the secret of the guest list is that they don’t think you can read upside down. But you don’t need to be able to read upside down. When Mark Goodier, with all appropriate DJ sincerity said “The lucky winner of the Kingmaker tickets is Pete Baran of Borehamwood”, he told the world, or at least two of the world (it was a plus one), how to get into the gig. And so subsequently to a sold out Suede gig I went two weeks later as Nigel Smith of Ruislip.

Sorry Nigel, if you are reading this. I really wanted to go to the gig. But I reckon you got in too, because I think that the following conversation would have happened:
“Hi I’m Nigel Smith, Radio One competition winner”
“You’re already in.”
“But I’m not, I’m here. Look its me, I have ID.” (Fishes out a shonky Brunel University NUS Card).
“Well it says you came in. You’re name has been crossed out.”
Nigel looks like he is about to cry. His girlfriend looks like she is about to dump him.
“Oh, go in, someone must have tried it on.”
And in he got. To possibly shimmy to Metal Mickey next to me unknowingly.

Rule one of pretending to be a competition winner, get there early. Beyond that it was plain sailing, though I did occasionally wonder if the Nigel conversation was really happening or if I was just assuaging my guilt. So I turned my attention to upside-down guest-listing (actually a lot harder than it looks), or “UK Managering”. UK Managering was my favourite, as no-one would ever get hurt. In the early nineties, all US bands thanked their UK Tour Manager on their record sleeves and rightly so as being big in the UK was the way to break the world. There is no way their UK Manager would not be on the guest list at a gig in London, so away you go. And this worked well for Dinosaur Jr, The Breeders and then I stopped doing it. Cos it was wrong, cos it was stealing from the bands, cos I got caught.

I should have known better than to pretend to be Elliott Smith’s UK Manager.

*Sad to say my only real piece of student activism that I instigated at University was to try to stop Kentish Town’s Town & Country Club being sold off to Vince Power. Ah the futility of teenaged rebellion.


  1. 1
    Tim on 18 Apr 2013 #

    YOU ARE THE GUEST LIST REF: (derived from a true experience “doing” the guest list at a sold-out Levellers show in the early 1990s; I can’t remember the name of the person involved, for the sake of the story I’ll call her Emma Smith):

    1. You are doing the guest list on the evening of a sold-out Levellers show in the early 1990s.
    2. A Levellers fan approaches the guest list desk. “I’m on the guest list. I’m Emma Smith.”
    3. you check the list, there she is, you wave her indoors with your customary friendly smile.
    4. Another Levellers fan approaches the guest list desk. “I’m on the guest list. I’m Emma Smith.”
    5. “Someone’s already been in under your name”
    6. “But this is me, look, I have ID” (proffers bank card)
    7. “Hmmm… OK, you’d better go in.” Crusties, eh?
    8. A third Levellers fan approaches the guest list desk. “I’m on the guest list. I’m Emma Smith.”
    9. “Are you taking the mickey?” Two people have already been in under that name”
    10. “But this is me, look, I have ID” (proffers bank card).


  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 18 Apr 2013 #

    This is a Levellers concert. As one the band and audience members cry: “I am Emma Smith”
    You let the person in, throw away the list, join the throng and succumb to the music – six years later you come to your senses in a smoke filled yurt in South Wales ‘I am Emma Smith’ you croak through parched lips.

  3. 3
    weej on 19 Apr 2013 #

    We once managed to persuade a doorman that a girl with us was on the guestlist as “Tim Cook”

  4. 4
    Nigel Smith on 19 Apr 2013 #

    Just so’s you know, I didn’t get in, I did cry, my girlfriend left me bringing on a nervous breakdown which saw me loose my job and end up on the streets, giving hand-jobs to buy smack. One of my punters was, ironically, a by-then-down-on-his-luck Brett Anderson. I hope you’re proud of yourself, Pete Baran.

  5. 5
    Nigel Smith on 19 Apr 2013 #

    PS: As I wanked him off, Brett told me that Suede had been dropped from their label because of people sneaking in to their gigs squeezing the marginals.

  6. 6
    Mark G on 20 Apr 2013 #

    I was a competition winner on Capital Radio one time, it was a ‘fantasy rock bands’ thing, the prize was two pairs of tickets to London gigs (they had mistakenly made the prize two pairs, as opposed to two tickets or one pair)

    Anyway, we’d already bought tickets for Blur in Brixton, and the first prize gig was Lightning Seeds, (tickets were posted out to us) so we did that gig, then the Blur one. My wife was 6 months preg.

    Anyway the final gig was at Wembley Arena I think.. The ‘plan’ was to get the tickets with our name, and the credit card number and name of the Capital Radio employee charged with sorting it. (she had the surname Tarrant.. Hmmmm).

    Anyway, we decided not to bother as this was all within 1 week and my wife needed a lie down, and this one seemed more, um, participatory. So, we thought we’d pass the details onto my mum and sister.

    Then something happened, so we never even asked my mum/sister if they wanted to go for obvious reasons.

    And that particular showman has never played another gig since, as far as I know…

    (answers on a postcard)

  7. 7
    Pete on 22 Apr 2013 #

    I won tickets to Glastonbury in 1995 – entering a prize draw with the NME. I filled in the details on the white label of a no mark 12 Inch (for each of the terrific white label dance tracks coming out at the time there were probably 100 shonky things in dump bins under the standard record racks). Hand delivered to Kings Reach Tower, I won a pair, one assumes because the record was intriguing to pull out of the sack. Or too annoying – the next similar competition I saw made it clear only entries on postcards would be accepted.

  8. 8
    Mark G on 22 Apr 2013 #

    Ha, I won tickets to Reading festival in a sort-of similar ‘make your entry seen’ method, I had a nice over-sized “White Stripes” postcard which was a freebie with the NME I believe (the one that made them both look like the American Gothic picture), which I used to enter the local TV station’s comp. Which was nice…

  9. 9
    Alex on 24 Apr 2013 #

    I could swear I’ve told the tale of the Fake A&R of Leeds somewhere on the Internets…

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