Words by Adam Tudhope
Right from the beginning of my career, at this time still a student at University College London, I was interested in bringing people together to show off something brilliant. Keane barely had six songs to their name, Tom was 19 and the rest of us were twenty two without a clue, but they were desperate to play in front of an audience and I was convinced people would love them.
A man called John Shearlaw who I later encountered as the publicist for Glastonbury used to sell books in Guttridge’s Yard just off Stoke Newington Church Street. He let me use the space for two nights. I suppose I must have had literature on my mind when I named the event Okaziya – a word I’d spotted in a Nabokov short story meaning something along the lines of ‘unexpected luck’.
The budget was extremely tight so I set up a cronky sound system and some theatre lights I rented from a dusty back room at Matt Snowballs, and then badly operated them. No money for an engineer. It was a sit-down type show with beanbags and low tables. I didn’t believe in the moniker at the time, but I guess in retrospect we really were proponents of what the NME called The New Acoustic Movement.
Through Chris who was on the same course as us at UCL we managed to persuade Coldplay to come and support. Slightly absurd billing given that they were already selling two hundred tickets up the road in Camden clubs like The Falcon (which sadly disappeared a few years later). Chris was always such a positive force, and unambiguously supportive of everyone around him, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that he’d said to Tim that it was the only time he’d ever felt like Coldplay had been blown off the stage. Albeit a stage made out of chipboard, in front of a crowd of 30 people, candles guttering in the light rain.
It took me a while longer, and a few more half-decent self-promoted shows to realise that we’d be better off partnering with experts to actually realise our event ideas, but I can’t deny that there was something nerve-wrackingly fun about trying to do it all.