[sic] Magazine

How (not) to meet your favourite band.

If ever you wanted to meet your heroes by proxy or you simply want to have a good laugh at my expense, then read on. This is the article for you.

It’s everyone’s dream, isn’t it, to meet your favourite rock/pop artists? Picture the scene. I’m sure you have already, a thousand times. You’re at the airport, the hotel lobby, the elevator….wherever…. and in steps … (insert artist of choice).


We all have our idols and icons. Mine, throughout my young adult life were Cocteau Twins. Sure, there are hundreds of people to look up to in music, no matter whether virtual unknowns or megastars. Yet for me the top of the very top were always Cocteau Twins. In the studio they nuanced every album they released and never put a foot wrong. As live prospect no one could accuse them of rocking out and yet you simply couldn’t take your eyes off them. As one journalist said, it was like a scene from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Everyone transfixed by these non-terrestrial …..geniuses. Cocteau Twins weren’t real people, they were Gods.

Then, one day, I got to meet my Gods.


Let’s rewind. It’s February 1994 and I’m inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth, waiting….. for my favourite band. The Guildhall had a sort of faded glamour back then. It has been modernised since. I liked it though, despite (or perhaps because of) the old drapes and sticky carpet. Seefeel were the support act. I remember them being pretty darned good. Cocteau Twins often had interesting supporting bands. My first ever Cocteau Twin gig had been in this exact same venue in 1986 and Dif Juz were the support band then. Dif Juz were astonishing. I think Simon from Cocteau Twins (and possibly Mick Allen from Wolfgang Press) stood next to me beside the mixing desk during that Dif Juz set. Magical stuff.

Dif Juz! Followed by Cocteau Twins! Imagine it. It was only my second ever gig!

That night ruined me for other concerts.

Anyway, as the impressive Seefeel packed their gear away and the denizens of Portsmouth shuffled off to the bar I stood firm, holding for my position. (Front and slightly to the right.) As a tall man I don’t like to arrive late to gigs and block off other people. Instead… I arrive early and block ‘em! Some people will be seething at this but it’s not my fault I’m tall. My protocol at least gives folks the opportunity to adapt unless of course they arrive late.

Suddenly, I felt a tap on the shoulder.

‘Brett, it is you! I thought so. I spotted you from up there.’

I’m easily spotted tbf. You can probably see me from space. It was my new work acquaintance, Jeanette.

(NB As a matter of courtesy and respect, I’m not using Jeanette’s real name here. I lost touch with her after Cocteau Twins split up and after myself moving job and country. I actually only have positive things to say about her in fact but I still prefer to maintain people’s privacy.)

‘Don’t move’ she said, ‘Stay here after the show. We’ll come get you.’

‘We’re going backstage.’

That’s when my world started melting.

I probably mumbled some words of bewildered gratitude and waved the already disappearing Jeanette au revoir. After that I simply stood and waited in the sure and certain knowledge that in a couple of hours I was going to meet them, my heroes.

It was at that point that I kinda lost the plot if I’m honest. You know that scene when Mr Bean is waiting to meet the Queen? Yeah, that. My Inner dialogue went something like this:

‘Oh my God, oh my God……(literally my Gods) What do I do? What do I say? I mean, what the Hell do you say to Cocteau Twins?

Calm down Brett. They’re just people too. Whatever you do, don’t be needy. ‘Don’t fawn over them. Play it cool. Be different. Stand out from the other fans.’

I mean, heaven forbid don’t act like a….. NORMAL HUMAN BEING.’

Yep. I totally overthought it.

And this was just the interval, remember. My legs were jelly, honestly. My legs were gone and they stayed gone throughout the bands main set. I couldn’t tell you anything about the gig. The one show of theirs that I ‘missed’, I was actually there albeit in a trance-like state. I remember it ending very clearly though. Realisation dawned. It’s happening. I waited as instructed, rooted to the spot like a limpet. Jackbooted Security were sweeping the room making everyone else vacate whilst I clung to the barrier like an indie suffragette. Patience was wearing thin and I was seconds away from being physically ejected when Jeanette finally popped up to rescue me.

The rest is a bit of a blur.


How did this all come about, you ask? That’s a whole other story.

Oh go on then.

Rewind a bit further to 1992 when I used to work in a College Of Nursing. (A tough gig for a young man making his way in life but someone’s got to do it! Am I right?) Not to bore you too much with Governmental administration but at this time Nursing Colleges belonged to The Department of Health and needed to transition to the Department Of Education.

(Stay with me here. I know… The Civil Service is not very rock n roll but we are getting to it.)

That’s how it came to pass that my College had to host dignitaries from a nearby University and that’s how I met Jeanette. When my boss took Jeanette’s boss for a tour around the campus, I invited her for coffee. You can maybe imagine my surprise when she looked up at the artwork in my office and asked:_

‘Brett, do you like Cocteau Twins?’

‘Like them?’ I chortled. ‘They’re my all-time favourite band. Just peerless. Wonderful.’

‘Oh really?’ Jeanette said, matter of factly.

‘It’s just that my daughter is married to the bass player.’

Just like that she said it.

Stunned silence.

At this point I’m pretty sure Jeanette went on to say something like: ‘This is great news Brett, I’ll get you a signed photo (she did) and you can meet them’ (we did) I physically couldn’t respond. My office was dissolving.

‘Sorry Jeanette (regaining a modicum of composure) for a moment there it sounded like you said….’

Well, she had said it. Poor Jeanette. What must she have thought of me? This Nursing College twit!

(As an aside, if by some small chance you are reading this Jeanette and I’m aware that things changed and a lot of water has passed under the bridge, but… THANK YOU, sincerely. What you did for me back then was a wonderful kindness. I don’t know if I expressed that properly at the time. I often wonder how you are doing these days. I actually think back to that day in my office MORE than the backstage thing.)

PS That artwork I mentioned was This Mortal Coil so kudos to her for making that link. Simon Raymonde, incidentally, is the only Cocteau Twin to have contributed to all three TMC albums. The stars aligned for me that day.


Fast forward to the Guildhall again and ‘Backstage’ had previously looked like a door to me. Nothing more than that. A door or a curtain. Well, Jeanette took me behind the curtain. Or should I say, through the looking glass as it really was a rabbit warren back there, a whole other world. We turned left. We turned right. We went up and suddenly there he was, Mr Simon Raymonde, Cocteau Twin bassist & multi-instrumentalist, This Mortal Coil mainstay….hero.

What a nice guy!

A total sweetheart in fact, selfless, patient and generous, it was Simon who was the ‘normal’ one, the cool one. Me, I was a rabbit in headlights. I completely dried up.

As Simon led us further into the Guildhalls’ labyrinthine tunnels I recall babbling something incoherent about a footballer. I’m a Portsmouth fan. He’s a Spurs fan. So football seemed to be the perfect icebreaker, at least in my heavily rehearsed mind. (‘Play it cool Brett’)


I discover much later on that Simon knows a lot of footballers personally and had already met his own Spurs idols. Pat Nevin took him to training at Chelsea! Thus the South Coast origins of Darren Anderton probably didn’t register especially high on his list of interests. I also remember walking past Ben Blakeman and Mitsuo Tate on a stairwell and not saying a great deal to either despite them both also being really nice to me. (Sorry guys.)

We emerged into a large Green Room area and there in the centre of everything, was the one and only Elizabeth Fraser. Elizabeth was absolutely radiant. She was a beacon of light while I was a wreck, honestly. At that moment I couldn’t feel the ground any more. My heart was pounding and yet Liz somehow put me completely at my ease.

Looking back, my biggest takeaway from that moment was how charismatic she was in person. We all know, from promotional shoots in the NME, Maker etc how beautiful she is. Her eyes are incredible. They’re like oceans. However there’s a difference between photographic beauty and attraction. I’ve met models before with all the appeal of an ironing board. Attraction is more ….multifoiled. In Frasers case it was a thousand things – the way she held both hands in front of her as she stood, the way she tilted her head as she laughed. She was a modern day Judy Garland. A star. And the maddest thing of all is that I hadn’t really paid attention to her in that way prior to that moment. You have to remember I considered the music of Cocteau Twins to have been authored by non-terrestrials. Liz wasn’t a woman to me….she was an Angel, a divinity. Meeting her took me by surprise, in the nicest of ways. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying so. I mean it respectfully.

Then came the pièce de résistance.

She hugged me.

Elisabeth Fraser hugged me. Now, I’m tall and lanky as I’ve mentioned whereas Liz is quite petite. I’ve no notion of how that quite worked or ‘what’ quite went ‘where’, so to speak. Did I stoop? Did I lift her up? No clue. I’m pretty sure she then asked me if I thought she had sounded okay during the performance. The greatest singer of all time! Asking me! I would have babbled something in the affirmative for which she then thanked me. On reflection I now realise she simply knew how to put her fans at ease. I found her a wonderful and fascinating person.

The one and only Cocteau Twin I failed to speak to that night was Robin Guthrie and that was totally my decision. I looked across that vast dressing room and there, to the side, was Robin bouncing Lucy Belle on his knee. Even though it was my one chance of a lifetime, I just thought ‘leave the man in peace’. He was clearly having a precious father and daughter moment. I don’t regret it either. It was the right thing to do.

Simon then let me know, with the gentlest of diplomacy, that there would be no backstage party. Put bluntly, they’d all had a big one in Paris the night before and nearly missed their sailing. I knew not to outstay my welcome so I followed Simon through those Guildhall catacombs until eventually a fire door exit was thrown open and realisation hit me like the cold February air outside….

….I’d left my jacket in the cloakrooms.

What an absolute dunce! Guildhall Cloakrooms were a mile in the opposite direction and poor Simon had to lead me all the way back there. So embarrassing! Even now I’m going pink just recollecting this. Talk about long and winding pathways. This was a Spinal Tap -esque expedition. I’ll swear we went past decorators, step ladders, the works. Possibly twice.

I got my jacket back in the end- the sole garment, hanging forlorn in the dark with no staff to be seen. Finally I could exit this ridiculous venue. Finally Simon could be rid of this charisma vacuum of a fan. (I am so sorry Simon. I just choked. I blew it. No excuses.) He was as good as gold about it though – patience of a Saint. What you see, in interviews, running Bella Union, etc, is exactly what you get with Simon. I liked him a lot.

I didn’t ask for any autographs. It wasn’t yet the selfie era either. All I have are these memories (plus a cool, signed photo from Jeanette that I now have framed in this very room.) I now run a music magazine and meet musicians all the time but I’m still weirdly inconsistent when it comes to behaving naturally. My wife often tells me off for being “aloof” with certain artists when I just think I’m playing things cool.

What’s wrong with me?


I’m lucky though, that’s for sure. I got to meet my heroes and they were lovely. (Not all are, believe me.) It’s just a pity that they never met me. Not the real me. If had just one piece of advise for anyone about to meet their idols it would be this…

…don’t listen to a single word I have to say on the topic. Do it your way and just let it happen.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it raised a smile or two. It was a particularly niche and singular story to be honest. You probably have more of an insight into me than Cocteau Twins.

Well now you know.

I am a complete spanner!

Robin Guthie continues to put out ambient solo material. His latest album was 2021’s Pearldiving. Simon Raymonde runs the acclaimed Bella Union label and has returned to music himself with the wonderful Lost Horizons project. Elizabeth Fraser participated in Massive Attack’s Mezzanine tour and returns to music with her new project Sun’s Signature. EP out tomorrow.
On 19th May 2022) Cocteau Twins were awarded the Ivor Academy’s highly prestigious Visionary Award. The award was presented to Robin and Elizabeth by friend John Grant at the 67th Ivor Novello Award ceremony in London.

Suns Signature

Bella Union

Lost Horizons

Robin Guthrie