Music makes my world go round
I can't hold a note to save my life. And I can't remember the last time I needed to read music (though I'm assuming I still can). But I do know that my love for music has never waned - and now it's time to start righting the wrongs of how I've neglected live music over recent years.
Britpop was my first real music love. Some may try to tell you it was Let Loose - and I would begrudgingly admit that at fourteen I was a little crazy for Richie, Rob and Lee (swoon). But where I put most of my energy and money was into the world of indie music - with Blur sitting comfortably at the top of the tree but ably supported by Mansun, Pulp, Longpigs, the Manics, No Doubt, Suede - my list could go on and on.
All the CD's were bought; posters stuck to walls; Our Price signage for "The Great Escape" obtained (and then stored in my wardrobe as it was too freaking huge to put anywhere sensible); band t-shirts were worn and cut outs of Damon Alban adorned my college locker. Friday nights were spent at the legendary Bullseye - drinking snakebite and black and dancing to The La's and The Breeders. Saturday nights meant a trip to the equally fantastic Pink Toothbrush's indie night - where the floors were sticky, the room as black as night, Red Stripe was the drink of choice and you were always one song away from a mosh pit.
We'd try and be edgy and sit in the Blue Room at college, wearing charity shop finds and threading beads through our DM's (that's Dr Marten's boots - nothing to do with someone sliding a spicy message to you on social media). And we'd go to concerts. Granted, my very first concert was Let Loose (at the Brentwood Centre) but I'm going to bypass that one if that's all the same to you. Sleeper at the Ilford Palais was my first indie concert but very quickly others came along - many gigs at Brixton Academy (including the Placebo concert where I infamously threw up my Maccie D's and had to be comforted at the side-lines by the security guard); University of East Anglia to see Shed Seven and Pureessence; Suede and Elastica in Brighton; V-festival for the Stereophonics, Semisonic and Macy Gray (before it became an influencer nightmare); and so many more.
Inevitably, my music tastes have evolved (or should I say, expanded) - and I like to think that I have a pretty eclectic taste now. Probably thanks to my dad - who had an incredible vinyl collection when I was growing up and still pops a seemingly random CD on his Christmas list (last year it was something by Halesworth and another by The Pretty Reckless). I'm equally happy listening to Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits as I am to Dua Lipa, mixing some Lizzo, Pete Tong, Gladys Night, Lianne La Havas and Greentea Peng into my crazy playlist along the way (this may not sound too mixed up to many - but believe me, look at my iTunes library and you'll be questioning how my mind works). And whilst I would spend most of my time listening to music, as the years went on, attending gigs was something that I did less and less. Even when I first went to Latitude (10 years ago now), a disproportionate amount of time was spent in the comedy and cabaret tents - and not actually listening to the music.
But something changed in the last 3 or 4 years - and I've managed to rediscover live music - and I'm trying to make up for lost time. There's just something magical about being in a venue watching someone perform songs that you've been listening to for weeks and months on end. I know I have a terrible singing voice - but it won’t stop me singing along with gusto. It might have been seeing Tom Odell at St Albans Pub in the Park (how could I not go - it was practically on my doorstep, and I have loved Tom since FOREVER) that made me start considering gigs as an option for a night out again.
I know now that I prefer the smaller, intimate gigs - where it almost feels like the act is performing just for you and a select group of friends, drawing you into friendly conversation and banter throughout their set list. These types of places always stand in stark contrast to the bigger venues. There's something spinetingling when you stand in awe at the power and beauty of a voice that you've only heard through your phone or on vinyl. I've been blown away by the performances of people like Rae Morris and Tom Odell - most recently at Brixton again, as the crowds respectfully listen to songs - old and new - singing along but never disrupting the performance. And it's also the opportunity to see future stars performing as support acts. Most recently I've discovered Edie Bens - whose song "Cashmere Sweaters" has been living rent free in my head for weeks.
Not that I'm against the bigger venues or festivals - a recent trip back to Latitude proved that. And most recently I've been lucky enough to see Elton John perform at the 3Arena in Dublin on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road final tour. That was a completely different experience (and one that I'd been waiting almost 4 years for - damn you COVID). Not only did he belt out over 20 classic songs (let’s not forget he’s 76) but this was a crowd that was there to have a good time - and the effects of 15,000 people singing and dancing altogether was incredible. And I won’t lie - it's been less than a week since I saw him, but my Spotify has had an endless cycle of Elton's hits going for days now - and I have no intention of changing it just yet.
So I'm adding going to more gigs to my already packed life - because why not? Life's too short to be bored and it's about having great experiences right? So tell me - who are the bands or acts you've loved seeing live? Any venues that I should keep my eye on? And who should I put on my radar so I can seek them out and keep my re-discovered love of live music going.