The audacity of youth: my evidence!
Forged tickets, Thin Lizzy, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Roxy Music at Cardiff in the 1970s; a youthful reminisce from the urban75 editor, August 2005
When I was a lad growing up in Cardiff, I was delighted to discover that one of my very favourite bands - the tightly leathered, stadium-rocking Thin Lizzy - were playing a gig in town on December 8th, 1977.
The gig was at Cardiff's Capitol Theatre, the Principality's largest venue and the place where I'd seen my first ever major gig as an awestruck 13 year old.
Sadly, time hasn't been too kind to the reputation of the band, so I tend to mumble the name quietly when asked who they were.
"EmmLkPmmmr", I reply, in the hope that they'll not bother pursuing the matter further.
But they invariably do, and I'm forced to face the guffaws of my chums when I have to admit that I actually witnessed Emerson Lake and Palmer in full, bombastic, Brain Salad Surgery-tastic prog-rock overdrive.
And, braving the chortling, I'll freely admit that loved it at the time, and was particularly impressed by the bare-chested Carl Palmer manfully battering his enormous drum kit while playing a huge bell with a piece of rope between his teeth.
This was an era where The Amount Of Equipment Maketh The Band, and ELP had filled the Capitol's stage with an outrageous amount of gear.
Great banks of keyboards rose from Emerson's side of the stage, with rows of space-age blinking lights mesmerising me, with Greg Lake's skyscraper-threatening bass guitar stacks bringing forth approving nods from the long haired cognoscenti.
My second ever gig, however, was a far more impressive affair - none other than Roxy Music during their ice-cool glam rock period, complete with Eno.
Now, that's more like it!
Unfortunately, I can't remember too much of the gig after smuggling in some awful mixture of drinks I'd concocted by skimming off the top half inch of all the alcoholic beverages I found in my Mum's drink's cabinet.
I can recall being vaguely scared by how weird the band looked and being even more terrified by this girl in a green 'space age' outfit who forcibly tried to snog me in the bar. I wasn't ready for that yet!
I can also just about remember attempting a half arsed one-boy stage invasion to the strains of 'Do The Strand' but suspect the alcohol had got to me by the time they were ripping through 'Virginia Plain'.
I missed the last bus home and was sick on the long walk home.
Anyway, back to Thin Lizzy.
Tickets for the gig in Cardiff were in extra-hot demand because Thin Lizzy's performance was also going to mark the last ever gig at the Capitol Theatre, and, sure enough, there were no tickets to be had by the time we'd got the bus into town. Damn!
There was no way we could afford to buy inflated tickets off ticket touts so - with the naive enthusiasm of youth - I dreamed up another way of getting in.
I'd draw my own ticket!
First off, I had to find a friend with a ticket for the gig and copy the design.
Seeing as computers were still at the steam powered stage of development in 1978, it was a case of finding the right kind of paper, copying the design and then cutting to shape.
It took me ages to find the right shade and texture of paper, but eventually I sat down and carefully copied two tickets, using a Rotring pen and a red felt pen.
The tickets had a perforated stub, and it took some experimentation with a razor blade to create an edge that would 'rip' just right.
After several hours, I sat back feeling strangely confident about my hand-penned efforts (there's the audaciousness of youth again!).
A few days later we set off to the gig. We huddled up with some ticket-wielding friends and asked them to cause a bit of a push as we went in through the entrance.
With my heart thumping, I confidently offered my ticket to the harassed doormen and - joy oh joy! - the stub ripped off, just as planned. My friend was in too!
Lord knows how we managed it because look at it! It's fucking terrible!
Although the sheer bravado and bluff had got us through the front door, there was another major problem ahead.
The Capitol theatre was all-seater and we obviously didn't have a seat.
Even worse, we had to show the ticket to get into the actual concert hall itself, so we waited until the last minute and then surged through with the die-hard drinkers rushing back from the upstairs bar.
Once inside we looked for empty seats or played musical chairs, constantly 'borrowing' seats whenever someone went off to the toilet.
If we couldn't find a seat and saw security heading our way, we walked to the toilets. Slowly.
We only had to ride this storm until the traditional Cardiff stampede to the front of the stage occurred.
There was always a dark art to this - get up off your seat and run to the front too soon, and you'd get lobbed out by the bouncers.
Leave it too late and you'll be stuck at the back and miss your chance to touch the shoes of your cuban heeled heroes.
Happily, we knew that the Cardiff crowd weren't going to stay in their seats long for Lizzy, and as soon as we heard the first creak of a chair springing up, we were off down the front amongst the great-coated greeboes.
Safe at last!
And what a gig it was. Lizzy blasted through their powerhouse set, the twin guitars did that clever harmony thing, Phil Lynott cracked the usual jokes and the Welsh crowd gave it their all, bringing the band back for a slew of encores.
I lost my mate in all the headbanging, but he somehow managed to get backstage where he met the band and - incredibly - got them to sign his hopeless forgery.
Amazingly, he unearthed the ticket recently and sent me a scan, so this story serves as my personal tribute to Cardiff's Capitol Cinema (which finally closed a few months later, on 21st Jan, 1978) and the unforgettable talents of Phil Lynott (RIP).
(Big thanks to Paul Davies for finding the ticket!)