Live music has always been a huge part of my life from both sides of the stage, microphone or mosh-pit. It was never something I ever really took for granted, but that was before a year without being able to attend concerts became a reality and the silence has been deafening. I am going to look back at the last gig I attended and also look forward to the next gig I hope to go to once the government’s approved schedule for resetting ‘normal’ has run its course.
Lets first look in retrograde to 4th December 2019. The venue: Manchester Academy on Oxford Road, a part of the University Of Manchester’s Student Union. A regular venue for me, even from my teenage days when I would tell my parents I’d be “staying with a friend” so I could get away with staying out late. The last train home was only minutes after the end of a gig, leaving just enough time to get there in time if I kept a steady sprint (this was before the days of Strava so I don’t any accurate stats). That’s enough reminiscing, the band in question was IDLES, totemic socialists and loud with it, as personal hero and Salford legend John Cooper Clarke would say, “give it a name”, Punk Rock. A little older now than in my sprinting teens, I decided that the more genteel approach was required of someone my age, opting not to join the marauding maul of bodies in front of the stage, but enjoy the concert from a reasonable distance. This lasted until approximately the second verse of the third song. I couldn’t resist the immersive racket and echoed call of teen spirit. The following morning, I had been put in my place, battered, bruised, hungover and aches in muscles I haven’t used in over a decade. I swore that was to be my last mosh pit, but alas, that promise has not yet been put to the test.
Gig number 2 of this blog is yet to take place and is in stark contrast to the preceding experience. Confidence Man are a camp, plastic, electro-pop-tastic quintet from Australia, comprised of two veiled musicians (drummer and synth) and two highly choreographed, energetic, yet straight faced singers with pseudonyms: Janet Planet & Sugar Bones. “But Patrick, that’s so different! How did you become so fond of this peculiar act?” Answer, I don’t know. On paper, if you had shown me what I was signing up for I probably would have insisted that it wasn’t really for me. However, my first experience with them was during Primavera festival in Barcelona at about 3am. Maybe it was a combination of the sun and the cocktails, or maybe just the sleep deprivation of a nocturnal festival – whatever the composite elements, I thoroughly enjoyed it! If I were the Secretary of State for Health, I would have it prescribed on the NHS for melancholy. Originally billed for 23rd April 2020 me and my band of Barcelonian bacchanal booked tickets without haste only to be stymied by COVID and lockdown. Dates have been rearranged for October 2021 and I strongly suggest you by tickets if you still can.
So this is my year without Live, a tale of two gigs almost two years apart. A lesson if there needs to be one? Go and see as much live music as you can. Never say no to a gig because you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy it because you absolutely will! The next day, when you’re ears are ringing and you’re body is sore from dancing, you will know you’ve have lived in the moment and enjoyed Live just like me.
Words by Downtown’s Business Development & Events Co-ordinator, Patrick Gaffney