10 of the toughest gigs for guitarists

How many have you survived?

10 tough gigs
Zakk Wylde - at home in biker bars, struggles in retirement homes...
(Image: © Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/The Hell Gate/Corbis)

We've all had bad shows, but sometimes the situation is just out of your hands. Here are 10 gig scenarios that should set the alarm bells ringing...

10. Biker bar

You should have read the warning signs: the revving choppers, the barmaid with the black eye, the chickenwire across the stage. Now, as you launch into Mika's Grace Kelly, there's a sea of lawless motorheads doing the throat-slit motion.

They're all facing the wrong way, watching Soccer Saturday, and periodically telling you to shut up because they can't hear Chris Kamara…

Unless you can pull off an unrehearsed cover of Free Bird, these men are going to bury you in a shallow grave.

9. Village fete

You thought the most humiliating moment of your rock career was spotting your band billed below a troupe of morris dancers. But you were wrong: it's actually when the Women's Institute pull the plug on your set to announce the winner of the marrow-growing competition.

8. Guitar trade show

Not only does your audience consist of five paunchy men in gear company t-shirts, but you're also contractually obliged to break off every two songs to sing the praises of the strap locks you're here to endorse. This just isn't sexy.

7. Wedding

It seemed like such easy money. Until a week before the big day, when you're summoned by Bridezilla and ordered to hire morning suits and top hats, learn the full catalogues of Celine Dion and Michael Bublé, and let the page boy sit in on drums for Come On Eileen.

6. Orgy

Take it from Joe Satriani. "I remember, back when I was in the Squares, we used to do this gig called the Exotic Erotic Ball," he once told us. "It'd be midnight, you'd be playing and there'd be 20 people naked onstage, having sex. There's good naked and there's bad naked, and in that situation, it was pretty off-putting…"

5. Working men's club

As children called Tilly and Oscar dance ring-a-roses where the moshpit should be, you've never felt less like Keith Richards

After being forced to change in the disabled toilet, you'll emerge into a roomful of sallow regulars playing dominos, who barely even notice when you have to abort your set because someone's dog has pissed on your pedalboard.

4. Retirement home

They've asked you to turn your Marshall stack down to the 2, meaning that nobody can actually hear you play, even with their hearing aids in. And don't get us started on the geezer at the front heckling you to play We'll Meet Again…

3. Sports bar

On the plus side, there's the healthiest turnout you've had in months. That said, they're all facing the wrong way, watching the scores on Soccer Saturday, and periodically telling you to shut up because they can't hear Chris Kamara…

2. Bourgeois music festival

The crowd of yummy mummies clutching organic falafel are only in the Live Tent waiting for the 4.15pm cookery demo. As children called Tilly and Oscar dance ring-a-roses where the moshpit should be, you've never felt less like Keith Richards.

1. Black-metal all-dayer

This wouldn't be a problem if you actually were a black-metal band, of course. But as you take the stage, you're suddenly very conscious of being a fresh-faced folkie doing the acoustic-slappy-tappy thing, and the only act on the Filthstock bill who doesn't have stitched-mouth make-up and upside-down crosses tattooed on your nether regions.

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