1 STEVE HILLAGE / NATIONAL HEALTH Manchester University - 77

The only time I've ever got to see the master of the keyboards , Dave Stewart live . The National Health set was the stuff of dreams - sublime compositions beautifully played and plenty of on stage banter to boot . Hillage was pretty good too . His concerts always attracted large numbers from school thus creating a good partying ambience .

2 HERE & NOW / NIK TURNERS SPHINX Free festival at Deeply Vale nr Rochdale 1978

These 2 bands combined to perform an impromptu jam in a marquee at the festival late one evening . It wasn't publicised as a gig , you just got a word of mouth invite . And the music ? The most supreme spaced out psychedelic experience I've ever had . Cosmic defined . These stoned sounds combined with some psych lighting and hippie dancing from the Here and Now dancers ( including the delectable Marie Clearlight ) enabled the best trip you could have without having to take nasty drugs . Unfortunately the generator packed in after about half an hour and the show stopped , but what we got was something very special .

3 TOOT SWEET The Pied Bull , Islington , London - one sunday afternoon c. 1986

Mrs A and I had a weekend break in London and spotted this one in Time Out . It was a "must see" as I'd played to death their set which I'd recorded off Radio 3's "Jazz in Britain" programme . They played a lively and melodic form of modern british jazz . This gig went one better than the radio set . The pub had a wonderful enthusiastic atmosphere and excellent real ales , and the band played the best live in the flesh jazz I've ever encountered . Truly uplifting stuff . The tenuous reason for inclusion is that future In Cahoots trumpeter Jim Dvorak was a member of Toot Sweet .

4 HENRY COW with FRANKIE ARMSTRONG Manchester Polytechnic 5.11.77

An inspired set , with Henry Cow shifting between the known and unknown with great fluency , interspersed with some fine old folk songs which Frankie sung with vigour and passion . Memorable for the Guiness triple XXX promotion and getting my copy of "Concerts" autographed .

5 THE REST ......

Well , there's been plenty of others , and I simply can't decide which In Cahoots , Gong ( or variety of ) , Caravan , etc etc etc to choose from . And seeing as I can't remember a " bad'un " in this genre , I've selected them all . Thanks to those involved for some great times .

issue 20 - the issue that never happened!
- steve ashworth's top 5 gigs