Oh god, I had forgotten how good it could feel. It’s been a while!
But last night, after a couple of years without any, the visceral and emotional pleasure of experiencing live music again felt even more special than I’d expected. It was positively life-affirming. And it was practically in my back garden!
Ah, what a lovely evening. Against a clear blue sky the sun slowly descended into a horizon studded with ancient trees and an elegant church spire; on the other side of the gently sloping field the turrets of the stately home hosting the event glowed in vivid pink illumination. It’s an absolutely beautiful setting for a tiny music festival and incredibly for me it’s only a two minute saunter from my front door (a crow could fly there in a few seconds). I could hear the bands sound-checking through the kitchen window earlier.
But to be there, in amongst it – it’s that thing, isn’t it, of sharing the joy, the atmosphere, the whatever-it-is that live music gives you which is hard to describe – with your fellow human beings, hence my use of the term life-affirming. With no pressure on us and a couple of tickets bought ages ago, my friend and I wandered down for our prescription of festival elixir just in time to catch the three bands we were most keen to see. This being a very small, inexpensive event, it tends to host artists who’ve been around a while (or who’ve gone away and come back), you know the kind of thing. But no prejudice on my part, I’ve been around a while too…
So, all power to Stereo MCs, Electric Six and Ash. I loved them all. And I got a strange kind of pride and sense of connection that they were playing in my home village and were so well received – it felt kinda personal. It was perhaps especially heart-warming too that the festival could go ahead again and had quickly sold out, having been postponed for the last couple of years. Plus there was no mention of that other thing that's apparently going on this weekend... what a delightful, hedonistic bubble.
All three bands completely delivered – Stereo MCs just made you want to dance and smile and celebrate, the sun warming your face, high on energy and life, timeless. Electric Six were slightly, wonderfully mad, as you might expect – especially eccentric frontman Dick Valentine with his introductions (“Song No. 1” , “Song No. 2”, etc.) And Ash – well, I’ve loved Ash for a long time but had never seen them play – and here they were celebrating 30 years since their first rehearsal in June 1992 when they were 15 years old, and now on stage with a little entourage of young offspring at the side – that alone is enough to make you smile isn’t it? They were superb, tight as fuck, with a well-chosen setlist highlighting both characteristic pop melodies and those harder choppy guitars. I have long wanted to hear Girl From Mars under the stars… Ohh, at last.
So yeah, I had forgotten how good it could feel; what a difference it makes to your well-being to be entertained by proper talent and immersed in vibrant, live music with your fellow humans, not to take it for granted either. I’m a little loved-up, to say the least.