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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Tickets please! The fetish and the fury ...

Why do people keep the tickets and other paraphernalia from the gigs they attend? Why? I said WHY?

OK, it's sort of obvious. It's a memento. A physical reminder. Memorabilia. Something that gives them a little Proustian tingle every time they come across the creased, yellowing, dusty bit of paper in future years. The same with band set-lists, or drumsticks and other nicknacks thrown into the crowd by the type of bands that like do to this (supremely corny) kind of thing. 

Hmm. With the passage of time I don't deny that some of these artefacts can assume a genuine significance. Over the years I've popped into the odd exhibition of old black-and-white gig posters, flyers, fanzines, concert tickets, lapel badges etc. Put together like this they can obviously evoke a "scene" and provide some of the "texture" to sit alongside the inevitable memoirs, coffee-table books and the like. A good example might be the (often amazing) futuristic flyers for raves and house nights in the late 80s and early 90s. It wasn't something I was particularly involved with, but even the few I caught sight of at the time looked pretty impressive. 

But .... I dunno. While I quite admire the fact that some people meticulously collect this stuff, I'm still dubious. It's not that I have a dunderheaded "it's not rock and roll" approach to the collector-hoarder instinct. No, the trainspotterishly non-macho aspect to this is almost appealing. 

Actually, I think it's the fetishisation of the "marginalia" of music that I find off-putting. It's not dissimilar to those people who used to come into a record shop I worked at in the mid-1980s desperately trying to buy yet more limited-edition picture-disc versions of the latest Gary Numan song that they already owned six versions of. The old concert tickets kept in a box might be moderately interesting as artefacts in themselves, but to most people they're more importantly the evidence that they were there. "Look, look! This is from that The Jesus And Mary Chain gig in 1986 I told you about. Cool, eh?" They're the pieces of the original cross. The link to their youth, their scene, their time.

I personally never got into the ticket-keeping habit, and neither have I bothered with almost any of the other "collectables". It's depressing to see club promoters now flogging £100 prints of their old flyers, but the fan-as-collector seems to me a slightly helpless figure, one to be pitied rather than scorned. Besotted by the commodification of the music industry as it goes about the business of promoting and selling experiences, the punter who religiously keeps their tickets is ... well, a consumer of music rather than someone who enjoys it. Oh, the fetish and the fury.

So, having dealt with that little matter, all that remains is to explain this ....




Discovered this afternoon in an old law textbook of mine (K Smith & DJ Keenan's English Law, sixth edition, 1980, to be precise), it's pretty much the closest I've come to the fetish-collector habit I've been banging on about here. What a curious document, eh? A time-tear. An accidental glimpse of gigs in a midlands city from that golden year 1985. So never mind how good New Model Army were that night. The real issue is - I bet you wish you had this fantastic flyer, don't you? Yours for £75 ono ....

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