Mu­sic fan who’s seen 600 acts play over 55 years

From Dy­lan to Led Zep­pelin, the Stones to Sim­ple Minds, Ken Bev­eridge has been to all their gigs

The Herald Magazine - - ARTS MUSIC - RUS­SELL LEADBETTER

BACK in Au­gust 1963, the man­ager of Dun­fermline’s Kinema Ball­room re­ceived a let­ter from a lo­cal mu­sic fan. The let­ter writer said that, be­cause he was un­der age, he was ask­ing for per­mis­sion to at­tend a con­cert by Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers.

The man­ager lived op­po­site the 12-year-old’s aunt, who put in a good word for him. The man­ager gave his assent and, come the night of the show, the young­ster, Ken Bev­eridge, and his friend waited in line to see the band. Older fans of­fered them sub­stan­tial sums for their tickets, but they de­clined.

Young Bev­eridge was not to know it but that gig was the start of a re­mark­able life­long de­vo­tion to con­certs. Over the decades he has seen more than 600 acts, from Bob Dy­lan and Led Zep­pelin to the Rolling Stones, Jack­son Browne, Bruce Spring­steen, Neil Young and Joe Strum­mer. He saw Dr John in New Or­leans. He has at­tended count­less fes­ti­vals (al­though he has been only twice to Glas­ton­bury, the most fa­mous of them). He has been to con­certs in Los An­ge­les, Nashville, By­ron Bay in New South Wales, Dus­sel­dorf and Mel­bourne. At one Browne gig, he found him­self a few seats be­hind Billy Con­nolly.

On one mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion, Bev­eridge paid for an artist to play in his liv­ing-room. Rab Noakes, ac­com­pa­nied by har­mon­ica player Fraser Speirs, played a blind­ing set in Bev­eridge’s then-home in Bices­ter, Ox­ford­shire, in Septem­ber 2008. That gig makes his list of all-time favourite shows (see panel on op­po­site page).

He has seen Dolly Par­ton (“un­der much co­er­cion, it must be said”), The Water­boys, Tom Pax­ton, Peter Green, David Gray, James Brown, Mavis Sta­ples and Tom Petty and the Heart­break­ers. He has also seen nu­mer­ous Scot­tish acts: Steal­ers Wheel, Lon­nie Done­gan, Dono­van, Dea­con Blue, Del Amitri, Teenage Fan­club and Sim­ple Minds. He has seen gigs by bands whose name is known, per­haps, to only hand­fuls of fans. He never saw The Bea­tles or Elvis or Si­na­tra, but wishes he had. He saw, but wishes he hadn’t, seen Sting, Thun­der­clap New­man and The Gaslight An­them.

And now, at 67, the re­tired civil ser­vant has put it all down in a book, A Life in Live Mu­sic. “I dread to think how much money I have spent fol­low­ing my hobby,” Bev­eridge writes. “I do know that on the whole it has been worth ev­ery penny.”

He had al­ready caught a cou­ple of lo­cal bands at the Kinema, but Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers were the first fa­mous group he saw. Mu­sic had been in his blood, he says “from when I was five, six or seven, when I would lis­ten to Ra­dio Lux­em­bourg and watch TV shows like the Six-Five Spe­cial. “I was lis­ten­ing to the likes of Elvis Pres­ley and a lot of Amer­i­can bands in the late fifties, and got into The Bea­tles when I was a bit older, and I was in­tro­duced to the mu­sic of Dy­lan when I was about 12.”

In­deed, Bev­eridge saw Dy­lan at Ed­in­burgh’s ABC Theatre in May 1966, just three nights af­ter the singer’s in­fa­mous con­cert in Manch­ester when a fan shouted “Ju­das!”, fu­ri­ous at him for aban­don­ing his folk roots in favour of elec­tric gui­tars and rock ‘n’ roll. Bev­eridge also saw Dy­lan at the 1969 Isle of Wight fes­ti­val, when the singer played his first pub­lic show since a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent three years ear­lier.

He owns ev­ery­thing Dy­lan has ever done but in the book he is can­did enough to de­clare that, al­though he has seen Dy­lan be­tween 15 and 20 times, “he has been worth the en­trance fee on about three of these oc­ca­sions”.

He counts him­self as “ex­tremely for­tu­nate” to have seen Led Zep­pelin at two long-ago sum­mer fes­ti­vals – the Bath Fes­ti­val of Blues in 1969 and the Bath Fes­ti­val of Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic the fol­low­ing year. In be­tween, he caught them at New­cas­tle in Jan­uary 1970. The pow­er­house per­for­mances at each, he can never for­get. He and his friends had no op­tion but to buy tickets and hire a minibus for the New­cas­tle gig as the band were not play­ing any Scot­tish dates on that tour. A week be­fore it took place, how­ever, Zep­pelin an­nounced an Ed­in­burgh show, af­ter all. Nev­er­the­less, the New­cas­tle gig was “one of the loud­est and best con­certs I was lucky to be at”.

Of the two Rolling Stones gigs he has seen, the first, at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium in 1991, was out­stand­ing. “They were fan­tas­tic, ab­so­lutely su­perb,” he says, but the se­cond, at Twick­en­ham in 2003, was marred by what he de­scribes as an “atro­cious” sound sys­tem.

In the six­ties and early sev­en­ties Bev­eridge at­tended lots of fes­ti­vals, in­clud­ing Shep­ton Mallet (venue of the Bath Fes­ti­val of Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic) and the Isle of Wight in 1969.

“I got mar­ried in 1974, when I was still go­ing to the oc­ca­sional con­cert to see the likes of Harry Chapin, Dy­lan or Van Mor­ri­son, or Jack­son Browne,” he

Dy­lan has been worth the en­trance fee on about three oc­ca­sions

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