As I was soliciting stories for the Aya Gooin’ Down De Mont blogs, one theme started to emerge that had less to do with music and more to do with us being teenagers: the never-ending games we engaged in to stay one step ahead of the De Mont security and get to see the shows for free.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We weren’t bad kids. Far from it. But we never seemed to have enough money to get tickets. So we developed some pretty elaborate schemes to see our idols and stick it to the man.
Or so I’ve been told….
1) I’M WITH THE BAND
Steve Hill: A couple of times, I walked up to the backstage door with an empty guitar case and my long hair and I said, in a phony London accent, “I’m with the band, mate.” And the security guard–well, the bouncer–he opened the door and let me in. Straight in, backstage! Years before proper security.
2) WHITE TICKETS
Paul Canny: In the pre-Ticketmaster days, we had to queue for our tickets at the Town Hall office. No security holograms or full-color printing then, just a black, slightly impressed overprint on a pastel colored, squarish raffle ticket. So it came to pass that one day the tickets for Wishbone Ash (I think) were printed on pure white paper, which gave every concert-goer whose dad had access to a photocopier at work every opportunity to engage in a little amateur forgery. Consequently there must have been scores of fans with ticket number 142, and I’ve never seen the De Mont quite so full. I’m sure the band were suitable impressed at their popularity.
Bruce: Yes, I remember it being Wishbone Ash, probably for the October 25, 1977 gig. The trick with the tickets was duplicating the perforations down the middle. You had to do it just right, or else they wouldn’t tear cleanly and you’d arouse suspicion. I also remember white tickets being printed for Be Bop Deluxe on one of their dates in the late seventies and for Deep Purple’s infamous gig at the Granby Halls on March 11, 1976. At the time, we thought the City Council printing office had screwed up royally, but looking back, it was probably the promoter papering the house.
Paul Canny: The only other occasion I heard of where they issued white tickets was the sad schoolyard anecdote of the lad who was on his way to see the mighty Sabbath one winter’s evening and happened to drop his ticket … in the snow.
3) THE COAT HANGER
Al Roberts: I saw anyone and everyone that I could by purloining tickets in any nefarious way possible and becoming unconsolable if a ticket couldn’t be begged, borrowed or stolen. Then, one day, my great friend Mr. Glenn Williams introduced me to the coat hanger method of entry. The bulky bars of the fire exit doors could be accessed through the small gap of the doors and manipulated with a cleverly bent coat hanger!
4) SNOWY & BOB
Steve Hill: There used to be a lovely old bloke at the front, he was one of these Corps of Commissionaires. And the bloke’s name was Snowy. Now the Corps of Commissionaires are basically some ex-soldiers that were a cross between a security guard and a bouncer. And they’d have a uniform with gold leaf over here and military medals over there so you knew who they were. You’d see these guys outside a five-star hotel–they were like doormen.
Now I don’t know much about him other than we used to kinda take the piss out of the bloke. As you get older in life, you realize that the old fella deserved a lot of respect. But when you’re a teenager and you’re a cocky little f#!ker and have no respect for anybody, we used to take the piss out of the bloke.
Now this old bloke Snowy, we became his nemesis, ’cause it was his job to keep us out. He’s stuck out the front of the hall, he’s not allowed to move, and we could outflank him.
Al Roberts: Sometimes Bob would would turn a blind eye and let us past; sometimes a small bribe was necessary, and occasionally the sheer desire and number of us simply barged past him and into the venue.
Steve Hill: It was a cat-and-mouse game, thats for sure! There was no malice or deliberate vandalism. In fact, the name of the game was to get in and not be noticed nor do any damage. But we used to walk past the Snowy on the way out at the end of the show, wave him goodbye and say “See ya next week Snowy!” He knew we’d got in for nothing, and we’d outsmarted him!
5) THE MEN’S TOILET IN THE BALCONY: THE INSIDE JOB
Paul Canny: On January 15, 1977, the unforgettable 2-shows-in-one-day stint by the newly depleted Genesis, complete with malfunctioning inflatable monster flowers during “Supper’s Ready” and the even more monster drum kits for Phil and Chester Thompson, Glenn hid in the gents and managed to see both shows for the price of one. Tight git!
6) THE MEN’S TOILET IN THE BALCONY: THE OUTSIDE JOB
Steve Hill: But if we couldn’t work our way in and we couldn’t blag our way in, we used to break in.
Now I wasn’t into devilment in those days. I was more into rock and roll and the physics and the electrics of it. But some of the other lads I used to hang out with had a bit more technical knowledge than I did, and one of our gang, his old man was a builder, and he had a diamond glass cutter. So park benches were taken from Victoria Park and carried 100 yards and used as ladders to get onto the side, on the flat asphelt roof of the De Mont. Then the park benches were hauled up so we could gain access to the glass window of the gentlemen’s toilet in the balcony, where certain people, who I will not mention, used the aforementioned glass cutter to cut the glass out of the window, so they could reach inside, open the window, and let half a dozen youth climb through and let themselves in to the Thin Lizzy concert for nothing.
Bruce: Probably Al Roberts’ first show on December 5, 1977.
But the De Mont personnel got wise, and the next time this little stunt was attempted, Al’s entry into the Whitesnake show on November 21, 1978 was both painful and far more complicated than he bargained for.
Al Roberts: Getting on the roof involved placing a chair on a wall and shimmying up a drainpipe to the upstairs toilet window where we imagined we would gain access. However this proved impossible, as the windows had been screwed shut and our acrobatics were futile. Being the first to descend, I decided to hang from the high wall and drop down onto the chair, itself balanced on a wall several meters below. As soon as I was in the air, I sensed doom, and sure enough, as my feet landed on the chair, it skewed off the wall and I landed horrifically on my arms and face, sensing both scraping down the side of the wall until I landed in a heap in thick soil. I was bleeding profusely from a wound on my forehead as well as the deep grazes on both of my arms as my friends all jumped safely and painlessly onto the soft soil! They carried me, dazed and confused, to the front of the venue and pleaded through the glass doors for medical help and helped me in when Bob complied. As I was rushed to the medical room, I saw them all run past and into the heaving venue abandoning me! After being patched up, I myself feigned at the door as I was being escorted out and sprinted past the aging doormen through the double doors into the concert hall, triumphantly rejoining my friends at the front!
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