Bit of a misleading title, I haven’t been on stage performing, no one on this planet would pay their hard-earned cash to suffer through my singing voice.
I went to a gig!
I went to gig for the first time since March 2020 and my God, it was absolutely wonderful!
During my twenties, I spent an awful lot of money I couldn’t afford on festivals, concerts and gigs. While the amount of time spent in fields and sweaty venues has tapered off a bit in my thirties, live music is still a huge part of my life, so, when the opportunity arose to cover Lancaster’s Highest Point festival for work…..I could not turn it down.
The acts weren’t necessarily my favourite bands, I just wanted to dance, sing badly with thousands of other strangers.
I can’t say I felt worried about being in crowd, the afternoon felt normal.
Okay, there were some differences, I did have to prove I was double jabbed though that was no biggie and didn’t add time on to getting in, the biggest difference was the fact I was working, writing bulletins from the site, interviewing and voxing; still it was joyous.
Every person I stopped to chat to was beaming, thrilled at the thought of being surrounded by other people about to hear live music; many like me attending a gig for the first time in more than 18 months.
I knew how much I’d missed music and of course over the past 18 months I’ve heard many artists talk about how much they’d missed it but that hadn’t really cut through until I sat backstage chatting to Sam from Get Cape Wear Cape Fly.
He sat on a swing with the widest smile, I’ve ever seen. He told me it was his first time on stage since Valentine’s Day in 2020. He admitted it’d take a long time to sink in that he’d been back performing and that he was perversely looking forward to packing up and sitting in a van all the way back to Essex. As he sat swaying on that swing, I could hear the relief and happiness in his voice, it was a joy to listen to.
I did get to enjoy myself too.
I sat and listened to The Lightning Seeds, and realised I knew far more of their songs than I thought. I paid an obscene amount of money for cheeseburger, topped up my festival band repeatedly with cash so I could go to the bar and enjoyed a few pints with Scott while waiting for James to take to the stage.
I have a confession to make, for all years of pogoing around muddy fields and sweaty venues to various rock and indie bands….I have never seen James live.
I enjoy their music, I sing along, I turn it up, yet still never seen them live, so that added to my excitement.
It was worth the wait – I’ll even forgive them for originally agreeing to an interview and then changing their mind and essentially standing me up (it happens, it’s fine).
I don’t think I stopped moving through the entire set.
I even managed to sing the right words to Sit Down, as a teenager I’d convinced myself and argued vehemently that words were “if I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being tall” rather than “live with being poor”, which actually makes sense unlike my made-up shit.
I realised I missed the anticipation of waiting for a band to play your favourite song, hearing those same opening notes and getting excited. I’d missed sprinting to the toilet during a song you aren’t keen on in case they play favourite next; Christ I’d even missed holding my breath, desperately trying not to touch anything in a portaloo.
Williamson Park was filled with people enjoying themselves, granted there were an awful lot of bucket hats and a fair bit of 90s fashion on show, and it was marvellous. The only other time I’ve seen that many bucket hats was while watching The Stone Roses in 2016…it’s a Madchester thing, I guess.
James ripped through their back catalogue; it’s a line up that’s been added to, they’ve only played as a nine piece on a couple of occasions it didn’t feel like it, obviously I’ve no previous experience to base it on but the die-hard fans I spoke told me they were as good as ever.
Tim Booth didn’t stop moving, donning a faux fur coat that he could have nicked from my wardrobe. It was a set bursting with energy, it felt spontaneous. Basically, James were a bloody belting live act to watch after a long 19 months.
I don’t think I stopped grinning all the way through, I definitely didn’t stop moving, no one did.
Making our way to the exit with thousands of others after an exhilarating night, hearing the crowd repeatedly singing the chorus to Sometimes in perfect unison, listening as other excitedly recount their favourite moments was magical.
As nights out go, it was wonderful, even if I did work a bit of it!
So, welcome back live music, please don’t leave me again, I promise I will never take you for granted again, you absolute beauty.
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm