Where's the strangest place you've been to watch a gig?

Readers share stories about unusual locations for concerts

Earlier this week we asked for your stories about the most unusual locations in which you've seen musicians perform. Here are some of our favourites. If you've attended any strangely located concerts, let us know in the thread below.

Bringing Woodstock to Warwick

It must have been in the late summer of 1969 when Warwick's own Edgar Broughton Band responded to the local council's obdurate refusal to let them organise a second Woodstock in St Nicholas Park – it seemed a perfectly reasonable idea at the time – by driving a mobile gig on the back of a Bedford lorry through Warwick on market day.

The refreshing strains of Out Demons Out and a motley audience of hippies, greasers (the nearest Warwick could get to Hells Angels), students and the dispossessed surprised the Saturday crowds and the traders.

Revolution was in the air – it was the nearest Warwick ever came to it – but, sadly, it was never quite delivered. It was fun though!

Jim Sweetman

Freezing in the belly of a ship

Back in January I saw Darren Hayman perform his wonderfully melancholic and witty album The Ship's Piano, on a genuine ship's piano, in the belly of an refurbished lightship docked at Gillingham Pier.

The unexpectedly cold evening, and an unheated hold, forced Hayman to play the entire gig without removing his hat, scarf, overcoat and fingerless gloves.

The huddled and transfixed audience, who had climbed down a near-vertical ladder to be there, provided an eerie smoke machine effect with our collective breath.

The bar was a canteen table wedged between functioning engine control cabinets that tempted the queue with glowing buttons labelled "start" and "abort". It was almost impossible to hold the cold beer cans in the freezing chill down there.

If you went up onto the top deck, you could put your ear to any hole and hear his amazing voice piped from below like it belong to a trapped ghost.

It was one of the strangest, most beautiful and unforgettable gigs I've ever been to.

Reading on mobile? Listen to The Ship's Piano on Bandcamp

John Sutherland

Car park noise cannons

The strangest place I've ever seen a gig has to be a car park in East London. This was sometime in the early 90s, when the Disobey club was making a name for itself with a string of interesting one-off events.

The only way of finding out the location for this one was to call a recorded information line. That done, I made my way to the car park and waited what seemed like an age for the gig to start. It consisted of someone driving Jimmy Cauty's armoured vehicle (it may even have been Cauty himself, we were never told) round and round in circles while the Finnish electronic trio Panasonic (as they were then called, prior to a lawsuit from the electronics giant) issued wave after wave of pulverizing noise from speakers attached to the vehicle.

Indeed, we never found out whether Panasonic themselves were in the armoured vehicle either. It hardly seemed to matter.

Richard Rees Jones

An 'obscure centre of extreme unhappiness'

Leonard Cohen in 1970 and his band doing a warm-up gig for their Isle of Wight festival appearance.

Not a small club, as one might have expected, but in the shabby hall of an old-school asylum outside London.

I'd been a huge fan of Cohen since the first album and, while on a personal journey to investigate madness, worked as a student nurse in the asylum.

The news that he was to play a concert in this obscure centre of extreme unhappiness, where I was working, was frankly unbelievable to me.
When I'd recovered from the shock, I did fear that the author of the undeniably bleak vision of those first two albums might not be a perfect fit for the environment he was to play in.

I need not have worried.

Cohen was not "me big star, you listen and shut up" – he took one look at the unpromising distracted audience, none of whom had a clue of his status and launched into an impromptu hoe-down style of set with himself as the caller.

I can't say that he took all of the 200 or so attendees out of their mental prisons but a significant number got into in it in a big way. He brought some joy into a place of intense misery. I was profoundly moved by his willingness to subsume his ego and his courage in choosing to play such a difficult gig.



Guardian readers

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