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Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-star Fantasist [Paperback]

Simon Armitage
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 May 2009
A poet is a rock star without the sex'n'drugs, or the rock'n'roll. But that never stopped Simon Armitage dreaming, and in Gig, he explores how music and the muse intertwine in work and in life. Crammed with stories, anecdotes, jokes, absurdities, the odd informal homily, pitfalls and pratfalls (not all the author's own), Yorkshire life and death, Gig is about the dream and reality of what you are, and what you might have been.

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Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-star Fantasist + All Points North + Walking Home
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141021241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141021249
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Engaging, eccentric, hilarious, incredibly good company. A wonderwall of moments and memories... one of our most entertaining authors' Independent 'Armitage is incapable of writing anything that is not wry, warm, witty and layered with meaning. Poignant and extraordinary' Metro 'Witty, terrific, stupendously funny' Daily Telegraph 'Profoundly affecting... probably the greatest joy I'll find on a page all year... reads like a transcript of the funniest stand-up you'll never hear' Herald 'I read this book in one sitting. It moved me to tears, to shouts of laughter, and made me look at even the most mundane things in a different way' Sunday Times


"Dry, deadpan and pant-wettingly funny...Armitage is not capable of writing anything that is not wry, warm, witty and layered with meaning" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock n Droll 3 Aug 2009
This really shouldn't work. A series of ramblings connected only by the love of music theme, mentioning a large number of bands I have never heard of and being, at times so personal that it could be hard to connect with. Also there are strange decisions about how to deal with or write about people in his life- his wife, only referred to as speedy Sue and a range of other "characters". So- does it work? Triumphantly yes. Armitage has a wonderful droll tone as he describes his early musical influences and his kneejerk progression through punk, mod and new romantic as he fell in love with all aspects of the ever changing scene. There are Alan Bennettesque riffs on booksignings; poetry readings (gigs); writing projects and inevitably his family. The list of possible names for his own band is worth the price of the book alone, as are the short dialogues of remembered exchanges between him and the grouchy reading public. This is laugh out loud funny and brilliant writing deserving the cliche "heartwarming" and hilarious at the same time. His habit of going off on a tangent is not irritating but wonderfully unpredictable- just as you think you are reading an article on the Artic Monkeys it becomes one on the Comsat Angels and you are beguiled by his ability to riff and stream of consciousness to his hearts desire. Buy and smile and laugh and read again. He's a poet and he does know it- but by god his prose is magical as well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical anecdotes from a Northern giant 14 Jan 2011
As Simon Armitage's stock rises ever higher - surely he'll be the next Poet Laureate..? - it seems curmudgeonly to criticise him, however, as witty and droll as this 'autobiography' is - and it is - there is a whiff of smugness about it that grates, and for anyone who's read previous works such as the excellent All Points North there's a fair bit of crossover.
These grumbles aside, there is plenty of charm here, and descriptions of some of the gigs Armitage has attended are brilliant - the Morrissey one in particular.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shirley Curley LOVES GIG 15 Oct 2009
This is an excellent book. Simon Armitage is a natural writer. He does wander about a bit but only in good way and always with a purpose, even if it's only a roundabout route to a cracking punch line. I found myself nodding in agreement with several parts of the book, especially when he's describing the yell/shriek at the beginning of The Damned's "New Rose". It's a very funny book. I read it on a long coach journey while listening to my ipod and my fiancé kept prodding me and saying "You're laughing very loudly". To which I replied "I know". It also has its disturbing and quite frankly harrowing moments. None more so than when Armitage describes the murky goings on in a Travel Lodge near you. If you've never really understood the attraction of bands such as Simply Red or UB40 read this book and you'll laugh like a drain. If you think the aforementioned bands are some kind of musical colossus read this book, you might learn something. Five stars and no mistake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gig 22 Jun 2009
By TonyR
How to describe this book? Part history, part autobiography, many songs and some poetry - but all good. Simon Armitage takes highlights of his life, as rooted by a series of gigs by a selection of 70s and later bands, and provides stories to illustrate his state of mind at the time. So his development, both as a person and as a poet (if the two are divisible), is linked by a series of musical events - some of which were cancelled.

The poetry is inevitably good: readable, accessible in the best sense and never less than deserving of several re-reads. The song lyrics from the films he has made for TV (and which I must now try and find on DVD) are similar, but with the addition of a feeling of desperation - perhaps not surprising as they are written as the words of prisoners.

Varying between moving, laugh out loud funny and a witty and dry observation of the world, this book is one of the best of the year; not least because, in the end, this man can really, really write.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second volume of witty, superbly written memoirs 18 Feb 2009
Simon Armitage occupies a fairly unique cultural position. On one hand he is one of the nation's best-known poets; tipped for the Poet Laureate and known to students across the land from their GCSE anthologies (it speaks highly of his work that he is known and liked by said GCSE students, according to some very rough polling by your reviewer). Simultaneously he is something of a counter-cultural icon; many will have first come across his work in the halcyon days of Mark and Lard's Radio 1 show in the early 1990s and he has a passion for post-punk groups such as the Fall and Young Marble Giants.

Gig is Armitage's second collection of memoirs, alongside 1998's equally excellent All Points North, and as with the previous volume this is a varied collection of recollections, poems, anecdotes and gig reviews. These, in part at least, have a common theme in exploring Armitage's forty-something reflections on his career as a poet and frustrated rock-star, including the formation of the band The Scaremongers (I know, but it's better than Fantastic Gammon; Armitage's father wryly suggests Midlife Crisis), through which he lives out some of his adolescent dreams of rock stardom.

The book is infused with his usual self-deprecating humour, as well as Armitage's genuine passion for rock music, poetry and that corner of West Yorkshire that "begins where the goalpost of the M1 meets the crossbar of the M62". At times, it's also a moving account; Armitage reflects thoughtfully on the condition of the forty-something male, and on the events and individuals who have influenced him in a touching, sensitive way. As a (nearly) forty-something frustrated rock-star myself, I enjoyed every page of this; and if you are contemplating a mid-life crisis, buy this before you spend thousands of pounds on a powerful sports car you don't need!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Gig
As a fellow Rock-star fantasist I looked forward to reading Simon Armitage's book. Unfortunately I found it a disappointing read. Maybe the subject matter is only for oneself.
Published 13 months ago by Jeff Newall
5.0 out of 5 stars A One-Sitting Read
I first saw Simon Armitage at a poetry reading in 1993/4 when I was an A Level student who thought poetry was Heaney and Hardy. Read more
Published 15 months ago by benino76
4.0 out of 5 stars Gig
I enjoyed this book - not quite as much as 'All Points North' - probably because of my age! - but still 'laugh out loud' in places.
Published 24 months ago by foxy lady
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining
The fact I read this in a day says volumes for how enjoyable it is. Simon Armitage is one of the country's top poets. Read more
Published on 16 Oct 2009 by Mr. Peter Steward
3.0 out of 5 stars Tyre Rolling Down A Hill
This is not a bad read at all and often funny although I get the feeling that I have read a lot of it before. Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2009 by K. Hannay
5.0 out of 5 stars Less Is More
Strangely enough Simon Armitage and his band The Scaremongers, described within, have made one of the best 'records' of recent times 'Less Is More'. Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2008 by jackiewilsonsaid
5.0 out of 5 stars Low-key genius...
I bought this book on the strength of a great fondness for Simon's work and the desire to hear the shared experience of someone, like me, who is a frustrated musician. Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2008 by Neil
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy but the odd flash of comedy
Gig - The Life and Times of a Rock-star Fantasist

Simon Armitage

My interest in poetry is fairly low level, but I had heard of Simon Armitage, mainly because... Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2008 by Peter Wade
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