I've been to more gigs than you've had hot dinners.
And that's not even an exaggeration. During a spell as a music scout, I was racking up three or four gigs a night, six nights a week. My modus operandi: skulking around in the shadows desperately hoping that the next song you'd hear would be the new Thriller (it never was); like a gig-going James Milner, I must have made my way around every square foot of every venue in London, and most of the UK to boot.
I saw every type of band from every conceivable angle, with every sort of crowd present that you could think of and, on the whole, it was an enjoyable experience. On only a few occasions were a band so bad that I had to leave (one example that immediately springs to mind is watching a Japanese noisecore act whose name escapes me, in Bethnal Green's somewhat inappropriately-named Pleasure Unit, that I had to escape after a song and a half in genuine fear of losing my hearing) and 99% of the time, the crowd were pleasant and the vibes good.
I've never been averse to a spot of moshing, a bit of shoulder-to-shoulder and a few drops of spilt beer at a packed gig and, being six feet tall, escaping to the back was always, if needed, an easy solution while still getting a good view.
But, at the risk of sounding like a gig granddad, I've noticed a change in recent years. Whether it's the new social times we live in, whether it's down to the venues themselves, or whether it's a losing of the old musical tribes, things are no longer what they were.
Here's my ten biggest bugbears with giggoing in 2016.
Videoing large sections of the show
I honestly thought we'd all got past this. I was filming with the rest of them when cameraphones first came in and gave you an opportunity to take a small piece of the gig - your gig, the one that you got into and everyone else didn't - home with you. It was a novelty. And then you watched it, and realised it was utterly pointless.
The sound is abysmal, the shot doesn't do justice to the scale of the show, and all you can hear is your next door neighbours talking (more of that later). I can understand someone taking a quick 20 second clip of a chorus to remind themselves later down the line, but I still see people filming entire songs, holding their phones up in the way of someone else's view, or lighting up a dark, intense setting like a bloody lighthouse.
Just wait for the DVD you idiots. Sadly, with Periscoping of gigs becoming more popular (so that people at home, too, can enjoy appalling sound quality), it's only going to get worse isn't it?
I understand that selfies are now a thing whether we like it or not, and, like the videoing, I will tolerate one or two: it's what we do now; you've not done anything unless it's been documented in painstaking detail on Instagram. But time and again, I see people spending more of the show facing the back of the room than the actual band.
Like with videoing, their phone is held high, getting in the way of someone else's view. Someone up on that stage is giving you their heart and soul, and you're not even looking at them.
What if you miss a crucial bit? What if the whole show's been building to this pivotal moment? You're going to see it on a screen, with your gurning faces taking up most of the shot. Is that what you want? Sometimes I weep for humanity.
Good god, nothing annoys me more than this. Sure, there's nothing wrong with the odd exchange of comment. "This is my favourite tune!"; "Do you know, I'd never noticed how much this sounds like Dire Straits. It does, doesn't it?"; "check out the banging bagpipe solo on this one" are all acceptable, knock yourself out. But the people who talk, relentlessly - like a full conversation about their day at work, during the beautiful acoustic number because it's not 'one of the songs they've heard on Radio 1' - well these people should literally knock themselves out. Hard.
There should be a dedicated sniper in the lighting rig who take out these people, and they would only have themselves to blame. Strangely, I've found that the more expensive the gig ticket, the more likely it is to encounter these people. Perhaps they got them through 'corporate'? Perhaps having money has increased their sense of self-importance so that they have no awareness of anyone else. Perhaps it's that these gigs tend to be seated so you can't get away from them. Pure evil.
The PA system being too quiet
Sod the warnings, the whole point of live music is to be brutally loud. Your eardrums can take it, they're up for the fight every once in a while. The pure thrill of feeling music rattling through your bones is one of greatest aspects of going to gigs (the aforementioned Japanese noisecore band took it too far). Plus it drowns out the talkers. So when there's noise restrictions, or an inadequate PA system, it pains us immeasurably.
Certain festivals - and even Glastonbury on occasion - have been particularly prone to this. Whether it's the council, residents, or penny-pinching promoters, it's become more prevalent in recent times, and it has to stop.
The PA system being too loud
At the same time, what it is with small venues, and their desperate need to run their PA system as loud as it will go, even when the room is 10 metres square and there's three people in there? Deaf sound guys who've been doing the job too long are often to blame. Here's an idea: get those guys to do the festivals and get the festival guys to do the small rooms. Problem solved.
Civilization has come a long way in the last thirty years. But the one place where it is, seemingly, still optional to apply basic levels of hygiene and human decency are toilets at venues and festivals.
Doors that work? Maybe. Toilet seats? If you're lucky. Soap? Dream on mate. Retaining a modicum of self-respect? Unlikely. We all like a bit of grime in our venues, but does it really have to be this bad?
I'm not heightist. And this isn't really for my benefit, I'm fairly tall myself. But do you know how much it sucks to spend an entire gig staring at someone's head? Once again, the supreme lack of self-awareness that some people tend to have these days is astonishing.
You can't help being tall, but you can at least check that you're not completely screwing the gig up for someone else.
It's not all the fault of the tall people. Venues: invest in stages that are more than a foot off the ground: it gives people of all sizes a fighting chance of seeing some of the action. Or do the Brixton Academy thing and have a nice tall stage and a sloping floor. I could kiss whoever designed that glorious place.
Drinks being thrown
Come on guys. We've all established that this is just not acceptable. It's not even funny. And we're always in favour of a temporary bit of discomfort if something is funny. But it's not, it's just incredibly annoying.
Don't be that person. And if you choose to be that person, know that an all-seeing God is watching you and will wrath you one day, with so much wrath you won't be able to comprehend it. And that won't be funny either.
Secondary ticketing companies
Yes, there are occasionally times when people genuinely end up not being able to go to gigs because they're ill, or otherwise engaged. It's useful to be able to get those tickets good homes.
But when a large proportion of tickets go straight onto these sites at hugely inflated prices, while you see the 'normal' ticketing places selling out in 37 seconds or whatever random number they've decided to pick this time, then it's just not fair is it? While Glastonbury isn't perfect, the way it's dealt with re-selling is rather admirable. There - we've finished on a positive note haven't we?