‘I try to make people smile and dance, not think about things or educate them’ – Norman Cook
Once upon a time when concert tickets didn’t cost force you to have to re mortgage your house and bands actually toured rather than just put out lazy faceless music videos on Youtube, Ang and I used to go to live gigs at least 3 or 4 times a year. Perhaps it was just that the early/mid 2000s was our musical heyday, or the fact that we were both living the single life on fulltime wages but we certainly don’t go to many concerts any more.
There was something about finding out that Fatboy Slim was doing one of his few live shows a year in Newcastle that sparked my interest and made me really want to go. It was going to be in Times Square, the outside area of the International Centre for Life which is usually only reserved for tacky New Years Eve parties and the Ladyboys of Bangkok, it was only £27 a ticket – pretty reasonable in this day and age and it was a Friday night the day after my birthday at the end of the July so seemed like the perfect way to spend a hot summers evening.
His set was Friday night headliner Times Square Weeknder festival which featured Ocean Colour Scene on the Saturday night (something I think my Dave and Ang probably would have rather gone to to be honest) but it was my birthday weekend and I wanted to dance!
I’d read online that his set wasn’t due to start until 9pm, supporting him were a couple of other dance bands I had no interest in seeing so we camped in the local Wetherspoons until about 8.30pm to pre-load. Getting in was seemless, bag and body checks were done with little fuss and are to be expected at any open air gig. It was nice that they seemed to issue just the right amount of tickets. It was busy enough to get a good atmosphere and not too crowded that you had no where to move around. There was food and drinks provided by lots of local businesses such as Longhorns and Fat Hippo and plenty of portaloos.
True to his word he hit the stage bang on 9pm (tardiness isn’t something I appreciate no matter how famous you are) and he got the crowd jumping instantly with Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat. Of course no sooner had as the first turn table been spun the heavens opened in true North Eastern fashion. Not that it seemed to bother anyone and it soon eased off after about 20 minutes.
Norm proceeded to take us through his greatest hits interspersed with some 80s classics such as Let Me Clear My Throat and House of Pain’s Jump Around – naturally a crowd favourite. He was accompanied by a pretty impressive background of videos and a laser show, which meant you had something to watch as well as dance, or could dance as well as watch, or just watch, or just dance – it looked cool is what i’m really saying. Of course you forget when you got and see a ‘superstar’ DJ that it’s not really a concert, it’s a set, which means there was no banter or interaction with the between songs. Had there been a roof, I’m sure it would have been blown off when he closed with Right Her, Right Now and The Rockafeller Skank, I think I even saw Dave have a little wiggle. There was however and impressive light and laser show and His energy and enthusiasm for the music is infectious. For someone who could sell out any venue he chooses it was pretty cool to see him in a small 5000 capacity space in my home town.
Don’t get me wrong the gig was exceptional, as with most outdoor event I’ve ever been to there are some sligh niggles. The sound quality particularly was quiet poor, I’m guessing due to the Square being in a residential area it wasn’t allowed to be too loud. There were a few times we got showered with flying cups of unidentified liquid (let’s all just pretend it was beer) although seeing the price of the drinks and the lines to the portaloos i’d seen earlier did make you wonder. Grim. Dave also had all his change nicked out of his back pocket in among the crowd, which always disappoints me. It seems not matter what security measures you put in place you can never avoid pissed up scumbag pikeys who ruin it for everyone else.
Still, I’m glad we went; seeing a DJ was a new experience for me, I have a habit of requesting Lets Get Ready to Rhumble when I’m ever in the presence of a DJ, however it didn’t really seem appropriate on this occasion.