Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Profundity at Music Gigs

Last night I went to see the incredible Frank Turner. If you don’t know who he is, then give a couple of his songs a listen straight away! It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to in my life, for several reasons.

Firstly, Frank himself. All his songs are very emotive – they’re more than just wishy-washy love songs. They are intended to be heard, to be consumed and to be sung along to. They are war cries and drinking songs. A lot of his music is politically motivated (I did my A level English Language coursework on his lyrics) and that, combined with his performance creates a very strong sense of collective identity. Nearing the end of his gig (or even during the encore) Frank made a small speech on this point. I didn’t record this and I didn’t write it down, but it has stuck with me. He was thanking us for being there to support him and he made the point about how beautiful a music gig is. He basically said “You come here and you leave everything else at the door. You put aside your differences, of class, of religious beliefs, of political beliefs and you come together as a collective. As one.  As a community of people who just want to listen to some music, to dance, to clap to sing and have a fucking good time. And I thank you for that” (note: this has been paraphrased slightly but this was the gist of it). That really struck a chord with me, how a couple of thousand strangers could all come together, united by one thing. And there wasn’t any hatred that night. There wasn’t any fear. It was just about sharing a beautiful experience with friends. Music gigs really are beautiful.
Secondly, the support. The first support band were ok, as far as supports go they were even pretty good. Not sure I’d pay to see them, but I wouldn’t switch stations on the radio and I might even check them out on line (Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun – although I didn’t remember that from the night, I just looked them up through Frank’s website). The second support act was INCREDIBLE however – although not for the reasons you might expect.

He played traditional, old American-Woody-Guthrie-style acoustic music – and anyone who’s heard Woody will know that’s not exactly pretty or dancey. What it is, though, is powerful. It’s strong and emotive and it tells a story. Tim Barry was probably one of the most sincerely humble support acts I’ve ever seen. He didn’t just say “thanks to Frank for having me” but he told us how much he admired and respected Frank, how much of an amazing performer he thought it was. He said how he was honoured to support him and was honoured to be playing for us and that we’re standing around listening to his stuff. And that in itself was deeply touching. He also said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard at a music gig (and I wrote this down on the back of my hand when he said it):

“I’m not afraid of dying; I’m afraid of not living”

I thought that was a beautiful sentiment. It summed up perfectly the message of the tour – it was called the “Last Minutes and Lost Evenings” tour which is taken from a line of Frank’s song “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” which ends with:

“Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, about fire in our belly’s and about furtive little feelings, and the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering and help us to remember that the only things that’s left to do is live. After all of the loving and the loosing, for the heroes and the pioneers’ the only thing that’s left to do is get another round in at the bar!”

And isn’t that a perfect little sentiment.

Anyway, all of that got me thinking how ridiculous it is to spend your whole life worrying. It reminded me a lot of the view that is expressed by Margo Roth Spiegelman, a character in John Green’s novel “Paper Towns”. She see’s how vapid the world is, she see’s its faults, how “life has become the future”, and how wrong that is. Now I don’t 100% agree with her view – I think you’ve got to think about the future a little bit. But I do mostly agree with Tim Barry.
It’s ok to be afraid of dying, so long as you’re not afraid of living.


Links:  - Frank Turner  - I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous

Currently Reading: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Art Of Writing Fiction by Andrew Cowan

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