Roadie. DJ. Promoter. Reviewer. Punter. Nige Tassell’s adult life has been defined by live music. It’s the fabric of his being, his bloodline, his DNA. He is Mr Gig – or at least he was. A few years ago, Mr Gig hung up his backstage pass and headed off to raise children in rural isolation. Now, with house renovated and kids domesticated, he turns back to face the music and barely recognises his former love: the astronomical ticket prices; the sea of mobile phones obscuring the view; the once-iconic venues selling naming rights to drinks companies.
On a mission to rekindle his passion for live music, Nige embarks on a round-Britain trip from super-sized arena shows to microscopic folk festivals, from blacker-than-black death metal gatherings to brightly coloured ‘80s pop revivals in an attempt to get his groove back. Along the way, he finds himself the recipient of a Michael Eavis practical joke, scoffs his way through Elbow’s backstage banquet, endures a near-death experience en route to a festival on a remote Hebridean island, and even goes gladioli shopping with a Smiths tribute band. Will Nige fall back in love with live music? Can he make peace with middle age? And will he ever again be able to rightfully call himself Mr Gig?
Nige Tassell is a freelance music journalist whose work has appeared in The Word, Q, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, New Statesman and Paste. He has also presented music documentaries for BBC Radio 4. His journalistic highlights include scoffing cake in the Test Match Special commentary box, interviewing Boy George while pushing his son around the aisles of Morrisons and being (surely!) the only person ever to travel to The Ivy by National Express coach.
"Mr Gig is a sweet and tender paean to a very particular lost love, the live gig, and a wise and witty account of how one man set about rekindling that youthful romance" (Stuart Maconie, radio DJ, author and TV presenter)
"Written with enthusiasm and nostalgic curiosity, Mr Gig is an affectionate celebration of live music in all its forms" (James Fearnley from The Pogues)
"Mr Gig perfectly captures what it’s like to become a hopeless live music addict: the anticipation, the expense, the social ineptitude, the adrenalin and the utter, unexplainable elation of it all" (Steve Lamacq, DJ)
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Entertaining, amusing, educational, and inspiring
Being exactly the same age as the author and sharing a similar trajectory through the Music Industry - I knew I'd either love or hate this. The handful of rave reviews convinced me to take a punt and I'm grateful that they did.
Where do you start? It was perfect from beginning to end, reader is excellent (on the strength of this, one of my new favourites), the story hooks you in with an original premise and then takes you on a 7 hr 'blue Honda Civic' powered, odyssey through the UK's contemporary live music scene(s). I have quite an extensive audio book collection, many of them I have to admit, I've only got part way through. Not this one though, I totally 'main-lined' this book, bought it Sunday morning on a whim, by Sunday Evening it was finished and I was left wishing I'd savoured it a little more...
Well, without Ben's help I certainly wouldn't have mown a front and rear lawn, trimmed a hedge, cleared a drain and cooked the family roast dinner. Chances are, I would have taken 7 weeks (let alone 7 hrs) to read this piece-meal and of course the garden would be unkempt, the patio flooded and the family starved… so thanks Ben!
Well it's funny that you ask, because there are certainly parallels to be drawn between this book and Nick Hornby's (fictional book and film) High Fidelity. Where a middle age music nut goes in search of his lost romantic loves (rather than his lost passion for live music). John Cusack could do a good Nige Tasslle I reckon, sadly it would mean that the whole story would be relocated to Chicago or Seattle, (rather than Somerset) or some such place and would probably turn into a comedy road trip genre film. So maybe better not. Could be a documentary of course, but the nuances and personal flashback sequences would be lost. This is a true life story about a real guy it's not fiction so I don't want to mislead anyone to thinking otherwise.
All the other reviews are right, if only an inch of you likes live music, or even better you once liked live music, but have since lost the urge or impetus to rock (or folk, or 80's pop). This book provides great value and if it doesn't inspire you to once more venture out into the world of live music, then there really is no hope for you. Me? I've already booked my tickets to see the Jesus & Mary Chain for the first time in 20 years.See you down the front!
- Mr Shinealight
simply the best
Beautiful pacing, warmth, the chance to remember, the chance to dream
Listened to Ben Elliot reading Mr Gig. It is stunning.Its the most wonderful exploration of live music in UK, different types of venue, festivals, music etc.
As a live music lover, I was inspired, educated and enthralled by this most fantastic of books about contemporary music.
Listening to this book made my world a better place.You cannot ask for more. Thanks to author and reader.
Do yourselves a favour and get it. And recover/restore/reinvigorate your love of music, live.