HE’S travelled the length and breadth of Britain, shelled out thousands of pounds and even once made his wife spend the night in Halifax.
But to Mike Lawton – 65-year-old music lover, part-time DJ and full-time anorak – it’s all been worth it.
“People look at me like I’m strange when I tell them,” he says. “Maybe if it was The Rolling Stones they’d understand but I don’t know. Everyone needs a hobby.”
Mike’s hobby is watching Irish rock band The Saw Doctors.
He has seen them 49 times – and will make it 50 not out when the quintet play Sheffield’s Plug nightclub this December.
“They’re fantastic,” he says. “I saw The Beatles a couple of times and the Stones too, but there’s no comparison. Give me The Saw Doctors every time.”
The obsession started at Sheffield University’s Octagon around September 1992, and has since taken in venues from Cambridge to Chester, Liverpool to Leeds, Holmfirth to Halifax. On Steel City soil, he’s clocked the band – whose hits include Downtown and I Useta Lover – at the City Hall, the Octagon and several times at Plug.
Sometimes he takes his wife, sometimes he takes his step-children and sometimes he goes alone.
“If they’re doing a UK tour, my wife Anne might come to a show – she enjoyed seeing them in Whitby because she got a weekend away out of it,” explains the fuel salesman of Halifax Road, Grenoside. “But then I’ll want to see them again so I’ll get in the car and follow them to Manchester or Leeds.
“I remember the second time I saw them. I was full of trepidation because you rarely see a band the second time and enjoy them as much but they were fantastic again.”
He doesn’t like to think how much he’s spent on tickets, travel and the inevitable T-shirts and posters.
“But when I first went it was £7,” he says. “These days you’re looking at in excess of £20.”
It’s not Mike’s only music love.
He’s well known for his first Friday of the month DJ sets at The Office, in Upperthorpe Road, where he spins 1950s rock and roll. And he’s seen dozens of other big names, from Bruce Springsteen to Tina Turner. The grandfather-of-five is also a huge Elvis fan, holding an annual tribute night on The King’s birthday.
Still, when it comes to his biggest musical love, there’s no question.
“While ever they’re still touring I’ll go and watch The Saw Doctors,” he says. “Their last album was called The Further Adventures of... The Saw Doctors. I just thought that summed me up. I wonder what further adventures I’ll have with them.”