Uncut’s Worst Gigs! – Extra!

Today: There's no escaping Black Grape, Livingston, 1996

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In last month’s UNCUT, our writers, friends and favourite musicians reminisced about their favourite gigs.

Well, in this month’s issue we’re looking back on the worst gigs we’ve ever seen – including The Stone Roses, Bob Dylan, Kevin Rowland and David Bowie – with rare photos from the shows too.

We’re also going to publish one of the worst gigs every day, so feast your eyes on this, and be glad you weren’t there!




The Forum, Livingston


February, 1996


For one reason and another, I saw Black Grape five times in 1996-97. Four times, they were fantastic, like Dylan fronting Sly and the Rolling Stones. This was the other time.

The evening started badly, running late from Glasgow the only way to get to Livingston on time on a Sunday was to take a taxi from Edinburgh. Turned out the driver had less clue than we had where the place was. We drove increasingly lost around some desolate industrial estate for about 30 minutes before he asked a passerby where the town centre was.“This is the town centre.”

We found the Forum by following the police vans. A rain-streaked cattle shed, surrounded by ranks of tired-looking cops and a growing, restless army of “disenfranchised youth” without tickets, all sweaty stares and evil haircuts. Going in, two hopelessly out-of-it guys were being forcibly ejected, one covered in vomit. Inside, the toilets had overflowed through the foyer where the burger stands had set up, meaning you had wade through piss-beer and brownish-grey floating things that might have been meat, I hope. When Black Grape hit the stage, the sound was like listening to a bootleg from 1983 through a wall. Shaun Ryder was slurred and incoherent between songs and on autopilot when singing.

We were pressed against the back wall of the sweat-box, and I realised we were leaning on climbing bars that stretched to the ceiling. I made the mistake of looking up, to discover a 6-foot, 16-stone psychopath hanging pissed and precarious from the top bars, 30 feet directly above our necks. When it finished, we made the mistake of trying to get out the back doors, to be met by a line of cops trying to hold back a rioting army of local bastards who had bust the door from its hinges and were, insanely, trying to break in even through the gig was over.

At the bus station, around 30 lost souls cowered in the shadows, desperate to get the hell out. After about 45 minutes, news spread there were no more buses out of Livingston at this time of night. You could hear the shouts and howls – and was that screams? – coming from the Forum’s darkened carpark now. The cops had all gone home. My partner and I eventually resolved to start walking. We set out three times, in three different directions. Three times, we wound up back at the now deserted bus station. It was like being in the fucking Prisoner. There was no escape.

Finally, we struck out along another road. After about twenty minutes, we realised we were actually walking along the empty motorway itself, although we had no idea what direction we were going in. Did I mention it had started snowing? A real, stinging Scottish fucking white-out blinding blizzard? At this point, Black Grape’s tour bus swished passed us. You could just see them through the steamed-up windows. The seemed to be having a good time. This was when my partner started crying. About 20 minutes later – it must have been well after one in the morning now – we found a Hilton roadside motel and staggered in, two fearful, wretched creatures out of the night trailing snow, to the astonishment of the skeleton staff. They kindly allowed us to phone a cab. It cost £115 just to get home. 1996 money.



Not even UNCUTs war-weary gig-hounds have been to every show in history – but you lot probably have.

Email Allan_Jones@ipcmedia.com to share your memories, of the ones we’ve published or any which we have missed, and we’ll publish the best in a future issue!


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