An annual celebration of rock'n'roll writing, the Louder Than Words literary festival returns to Manchester's Palace Hotel later this month (13-15 November) with a full programme of panels, speakers and discussions. As an introduction we have a guest column from one of this year's participants author Simon Mason concerning the extravagances of Manchester's music scene in the 1990s, of which he was a key member. "It might be said that Simon Mason energised the Manchester music scene through the 1990s... principally through its nostrils," suggests co-organiser Simon Morrison. "The Chemical Consultant of choice to the main Manchester bands at the time, his friendship with Oasis led to Simon introducing the band on stage in 1994. But it's really his insight into life backstage that makes his take on rock'n'roll so intriguing, and important. Just like the stars he supplied, Simon's life traversed the same vector of highs, crashing lows and the long process of rebuilding. Now a writer, filmmaker and, perhaps most importantly, a father, this story is chronicled in Simon's book Too High, Too Far, Too Soon. He will be reliving these stories at the Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester." Mason's will be in conversation at 7.15pm on 14 Novemver, Head to Louderthanwordsfest.com for full details, but here's his guest column...
What’s the story?
Sunday 31st July, 1994 4pm, King Tuts tent Strathclyde Park. “C’mon Glasgow, put your hands together and make some fucking noise, for the greatest rocknroll band in the world... Oasis.” Noel begins to unwind the opening notes of Supersonic, the seething mass of mashed up Scottish indie boys and girls melt into each other and collectively reach out toward the stage. There are approximately 10,000 people in this tent, a tent which should really hold no more than half that number, but it appears nobody’s counting, it’s rocknroll right? If the devil does indeed have the best tunes, he’s serving them up today inside this tent at a temperature that’d make Hell seem like Glasgow in midwinter; It’s hot in here, there are kids and footballs bouncing off people’s heads towards the stage. It’s like indie Agincourt,’ kids replacing arrows as wave after wave of skinny bodies, bottles and footballs fly towards the stage. The stage that currently holds six men tapped into and fuelled by the barrage of emotion, sweat, drugs and hormones in this musical Manc/Celtic-communion. Six men? Yeah, six, the five members of Oasis and the bloke who just introduced them, who’s still standing at the front of the stage as Liam continues to tap him on the shoulder so he can get on with being the new rocknroll messiah without sillybollocks getting in his way. That’ll be me then. How the fuck did I get to be standing in front of Liam Gallagher, drugged out of my tiny mind, arms aloft demanding the crowd make even more noise than they already are?
It all started in Manchester a few days and a thousand nights ago, of course it did, it’s 1994 and we’re all fucking mad for it.
Hulme shopping centre, two days previously... “You’re fookin kewl man, gis another of them pills, two for £15 though eh?” We’re on the roof of a soon to be demolished shopping centre in Hulme, Manchester. Surreal Sid, Liam and The Cat in the Hat, on a roof, off our tits observing the rave taking place 30 feet below us, standard really. The next day band and entourage are due to travel north to Glasgow, but that’s tomorrow so it doesn’t count, we’re all about today, tonight, the Pills the thrills, the boys the girls, supersonic trains, living the dreams that won’t fade away. Tomorrow never knows, but we do, mad for it. Have another line, you might as well.
5 September, 1995 The Hacienda Manchester, backstage. 24 hour party people, scally’s, football players, drug dealers, DJs, music journalists and of course, The Cat In The Hat, here we all are again, post-gig noses in pharmaceutical troughs, bring it on down? Not yet, soon though but right now, we’re busy scraping your life off the sole of our shoes tonight. It can’t last of course, not like this but for most, there’s years left to run. The clubs become arenas then stadiums. People come, those who can’t cope soon go, whether they jump or need to be pushed, either way you’re gone. New houses, new money, new girlfriends that become wives then ex-wives and for some of us, 'while we’re living, the dreams we had as children, fade away...'
10 August, 1996. Oasis at Knebworth making history, I leave before they come onstage, my heroin addiction doesn’t like big crowds.
June 2006. I try and kill myself by injecting a heroin/crack speedball on a stairwell in Hackney.
April 2008. My daughter Tabitha is born.
June 2013. My memoir, Too High Too Far Too Soon is published on the same day I celebrate seven years clean and sober.
November 2014. I begin a six-week run performing my one-man show in London to critical acclaim from critics and a certain Jimmy Page! The show travels to Liverpool in March 2015 and sells out both nights at The Lantern Theatre.
November 2015. I return to Manchester for the only the second time since 1995 for two nights at the Kings Arms Theatre pub in Salford, on 11/12 where I will be performing the play in its entirety. Saturday 14 November sees me appearing at the Louder Than Words Literary festival at The Palace Hotel at 7.15pm. I’m in conversation with Martin Johnston a writer I went to school with as we discuss much of what happened prior to, during and after those days and nights in Manchester I’ve mentioned above. Martin Johnston gave me a cassette once; you can read about that here, it’s all part of the story. I look forward to seeing you this month.
Simon Mason @simonmasonsays
Head to Louderthanwordsfest.com for the full line-up and ticket details.