Community Jam

One of the best things I’ve done lately is join in a weekly jam session held at my local music studio. The fact that we have a local music studio is amazing. The fact that I can just drop in, join a bunch of strangers, smash out some tunes and blether about music for a few hours, all for free, is incredible.

I live in a medium-sized town – by Scottish standards – around 15,000 people, but one with very few amenities. All over the country, local services and facilities are being cut or forced to close. Places like this – not just music studios, but libraries, community centres and cafes are so valuable. Places where people can gather for a particular purpose, or none. Places run by people who know the community want to make it better. Erskine Arts offers music lessons to kids and adults, various projects for young people, drop in soup & chat sessions as well as the jam sessions. It’s run by a great group of guys who are always looking for ways to contribute to the community and to get the community involved in what they are doing. My older child went there for guitar lessons for a while and I loved going there, seeing what they were up to and secretly (ok sometimes not to secretly) wished I could jump on the drum kit and have a play.

I took up drums again a few years ago, well twice, I wrote about it here and here. The second time I did end up joining with some others to form a wee band, playing covers. Unfortunately that petered out, then the pandemic happened. I continued to practice a bit at home, sadly my acoustic kit had to be relegated to the attic when I needed more space in my bedroom for home working, but I have a cheap electronic kit that is fine for a bashabout. Not having lessons or band practice meant I lacked any focus or motivation, plus there’s always something else to do with the kids, work, house, etc drumming just got lower in the priority list. Then I started to get a weird thing happen to my foot, then leg then whole left side (it’s being investigated by neurology but so far there’s been a lot of ruling things out and not much agreement on what it actually is) so that was scary and I stopped playing at all for over a year for fear that I wouldn’t be able to or that it would show up exactly how much function I had lost.

Then started the adult jam sessions. I didn’t go immediately, but eventually made tentative enquiries, told them about my weird foot/leg/arm thing but was encouraged to come along and just watch or join in if I felt like it. I was reminded that everyone brings something, maybe they have just started learning to play their instrument, have physical or mental health issues, or just lack confidence playing in front of others. It’s on a Friday afternoon, which luckily is the 1 day I don’t usually work. It’s usually me and a bunch of older men. The demographic of the group definitely influences the song choices – we’ve done Eric Clapton, Elvis, Cat Stephens, Kenny Rogers, Chuck Berry and a load of blues numbers that I don’t really know but that doesn’t matter. Someone suggests a song, gets cajoled into taking the mic, gives a quick rundown of the chords and we give it a whirl. People join in with what they can, whether it’s simple strumming along or contributing a lead solo. We are good at starting, the middle bits sound great we’re usually not so hot on endings, but nobody cares, it’s all good fun.

Jam session in progress, that’s me on drums! – photo by Erskine Arts

I’ve written before that improvising was never part of my learning before, I was taught technical skills but not anything about interpreting a song. That combined with never having access to a kit to play about on meant that now I struggle with adding my own elements into playing. I can play along to most song with a basic beat but am still reticent about adding fills or variations. At the moment it’s mainly confidence, but as each week goes by I get more comfortable behind the kit, more familiar with the songs and more aware of how I need to adapt my playing to suit my wonky arm and foot. The guys are nothing but supportive, to me and to each other. It’s great to see everyone helping each other out and encouraging them to have a go of singing or improvising a solo.

Continuing the theme of my last post, we’re lucky to have this facility in our town. I most likely wouldn’t go if this was in Renfrew or Paisley. Practically, it’s only a 5 minute drive away, but more than that it feels like something that is for me because it’s here just down the road. Almost like it would be rude not to get involved with something so amazing, friendly and welcoming for my community, for all of us, for me.

I’m not going to patronise you all…

Earlier this week one of my favourite bands, The Airborne Toxic Event, announced they were launching a new platform on a subscription basis to allow fans special access to some of their output. For a monthly fee, members get unreleased tracks, members-only shows, VIP access to gigs, videos of concerts, contact with the band etc. Lead singer Mikel Jollett put out a video explaining their reasoning behind the move. In it, he makes a lot of very valid and persuasive points, delivered eloquently and passionately, about how the music industry is changing, the importance of the band’s relationship with its fans and their search for new ways to connect with us.

Aside from logistical questions about how access to in-person shows would work for those of us not US-based and the practicalities of livestreams scheduled for 5pm PST, which is 1am UK time, I’m struggling with the whole concept of payment for access.

I have no problem with the general idea of crowdfunding, or the Patreon type model. I know it can work well for creatives and fans alike. Spotify notoriously pay artists shockingly little for streaming their music, and other platforms aren’t much better. I pay for a Spotify account but I always try to support bands I listen to on there in other ways, especially if they are smaller or newish and haven’t got a massive record deal. I personally have signed up to Patreon and support a couple of smaller-scale musicians and have subscribed to a podcast to get extra content. I’m also a subscriber to Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women project which I strongly believe in. Today, on International Women’s Day, that kind of action is more meaningful and productive than posting some soon-forgotten social media meme. I also like the Bandcamp model of accessing music, where you can buy direct from the artists who get to keep more of the funds for themselves. Some have a “pay what you can” arrangement which allows fans to contribute according to their means. I like that there are these new and innovative ways to access and own content that artists produce that are less reliant on big corporations and offer more control to those who create the work.

The Airborne Toxic Event have been a firm favourite of mine for over 10 years, and exactly as Mikel says in his video, from the first time I heard them, I felt an instant connection to the music, the lyrics, the storytelling and the *vibe* of the band in general that ran deep. I absolutely understand why a band, especially a band like this would opt for such a venture. My instinct was to say yes, sign me up! And yet…I have reservations about the whole idea.

I’ve never had a large amount of disposable income. I put myself through 4 years of university then a Masters. In London. I worked in the voluntary sector for years, then in education. I gave up my salaried job to go freelance in a new career then 6 months later the pandemic hit. I have 2 kids and have been a single parent for the last 7 years. I’ve worked hard my whole life but have never had much spare cash at the end of the month. I don’t go out much, don’t drink or smoke or get frequent take-aways. I’m pretty frugal but the one thing I would happily spend any spare money on is music, whether that be buying albums, concert tickets or merchandise. But these are one-off expenses and if I was a bit skint I would buy the album but not the ticket, or the ticket but not a t-shirt. When you have limited funds you make judgments about which albums or gig tickets to buy. This can be more frequent in good times and something you sacrifice in hard times. The subscription model asks for a regular monthly payment, or an annual fee (often discounted compared to monthly but obviously a significantly larger amount in one go). This is quite a commitment. Each individual band might only ask for ~£10. Ok, so I’m a fan of TATE so I hand over my £10. But what if other bands I like adopt similar models? Then it’s another £10, then another £10 and before I know it there’s a financial commitment of £50 to £100 a month, which is just not feasible on my budget and nowhere near what I would have spent on music related things before. Does that mean I’m any less of a fan of those bands that I can’t afford to patronise? Not at all. Any less committed to supporting the band? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I’ve been priced out of offering my support and have become a 2nd class fan, while only those with the financial means get the privilege of higher-status super-fan.

It’s this idea of there being segregation among fans that doesn’t sit right with me. Those who can afford it get top tier access while those who can’t, miss out. The one good thing about going to gigs was that we were all in it together. Fans from all backgrounds could come together, put differences aside and enjoy the collective experience of being fans of the same band. Now with VIP access, early access, special areas, backstage passes etc for the select few, a 2-tier fandom has been created for the haves and the have-nots, separated by disposable income levels and not according to loyalty or enthusiasm.

Covid hit us all hard, and as we were locked down, staying at home and wanting to be entertained, most musicians and other performers were unable to make any kind of living. Furlough schemes often didn’t apply to them and as venues shut down, some of them for good, those in the creative industries were left without a living or a lifeline. Understandably, many have looked to these alternative means to earn an income. However, at a time when food prices are rising, energy prices are rising at an alarming rate, covid is still having an effect and we still don’t know the economic impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine, we are living in very uncertain times. Asking fans to make a regular commitment is, I think, asking too much.

So how do we square this? Musicians, bands and artists need to make a living in difficult times. They want to keep creating and sharing their work with fans. But if playing live, touring and international travel is going to continue to be affected by covid and/or war (ffs this is seriously a thing) in the coming months and years, they need to find a way to get that connection with fans back, as Mikel said. Fans want that connection too. We want to see our favourite bands perform, either live or recorded. We want them to create new music and be creatively fulfilled. We want them to continue to earn a living from their craft and we want to support them. I’m sure no band sets up such a subscription scheme with the aim of excluding a portion of their fandom, but they inevitably will. I’m sure they think that as long as some of their output is available in the traditional way that fans are still being served. However it really feels to me as though this is only going to create a system that is inherently unequal and unfair. The best music, live experiences and access to bands will end up behind a paywall and that is a very sad prospect indeed.

And don’t get me started on NFTs…

Stumbling into jazz

It’s been a long time since I “discovered” something that just plain outright changed my life.
If you had asked me what I thought of jazz music 6 months ago, I would have shrugged, made a face and said, “yeah, I don’t really get it….”
Despite being a life-long music fan, who can, in all honesty, say that I have an eclectic taste and have listened to, watched, played and enjoyed everything from classical to traditional Scottish to country music, I have never really got a handle on jazz.  The free-form nature of it, the noodling, the way the performers always look like they’re having more fun than the audience.  I just wrote it off as not for me, not something I understood or frankly made any attempt to understand.
I played the trumpet when I was younger, from the ages of about 10 to 15.  I had 1-1 lessons and played in brass bands, wind bands and orchestras. During that period don’t recall being exposed to much jazz music.  Certainly, improvisation wasn’t encouraged.  Lessons were structured around workbooks.  Band rehearsals involved copious sheet music.  On one memorable day, I was invited to participate in a jazz workshop with some guest musicians.  Initially, I was intrigued.  But, to my utter horror, it was an improvisation session.  I was petrified. I had never done anything like that before, had no idea where to begin and was terrified of doing it wrong. We had to take turns improvising on a given theme. After a seemingly endless rabbit-in-headlights moment, I remembered my music theory, spewed out some notes related to the key we were playing in and hoped I hadn’t embarrassed myself or my teachers. The encouraging words I received afterwards were recognisable in their tone as the kind of thing people say when someone is crap, but gave it a bash.  I beat myself up about it, but looking back, nothing in my musical education had ever encouraged improvisation, imagination or straying from the sheet music.  But that awful day stuck with me and this fleeting encounter with jazz was enough to make me give the whole genre a wide berth from then on.
I also played drums back then and my drum teacher was a jazz drummer.  A lot of kit-based lessons involved brushes and swing rhythms but drum kit was only a small part of the percussion curriculum so I never got to develop it much. And not having access to my own kit meant that opportunities to play around and improvise myself were few and far between.
My cousin plays piano, for a while as a semi-professional, and I was vaguely aware that he sometimes played with others but, to my shame, I never saw him play so I never really knew what kind of music they were into.  His band did play at his own wedding, and he joined them for a couple of numbers. Turns out they were a jazz group.  I thought the music was alright, good background for the reception.  I discovered at this time that my brother was also a bit of a jazz fan, but he was once into Meatloaf so clearly his tastes aren’t to be trusted.
But a few months ago several things came together to push me in the direction of jazz and I have rarely felt such excitement at finding something new (to me).  It has led me to experience some kind of revelation and changed my whole outlook on music and possibly life.
So how did this come about? Well, several things coincided.
I started playing drums again.  Jazz drumming was coming up in conversations, in articles I was reading, in the backgrounds of teachers at the studio where I take lessons, in demonstrations and talks at events I was going to.  I seemed unavoidable.  If I was going to take drumming seriously, I was going to have to get familiar with the story of jazz drumming and some of the great names associated with it.
I read Jack Kerouac.  He is always banging on about going to clubs and watching bebop performers.  His writing made me want to explore that world, to put a soundtrack to the scenes he created.
I got moved into a shared office at work.  I used to have the radio on at work, but sometimes even that is too much and I need straightforward music with no talking that mingles with the chat in the office and forms too much of a distraction.  I tried listening to classical music but it wasn’t right.  I wasn’t keeping me focused and motivated.
I was getting bored of listening to indie/rock music.  I just suddenly couldn’t find anything I wanted to listen to. Nothing was interesting anymore.  Or rather rock music wasn’t fulfilling an emotional need I had at the time.  Or rather I realised that I was listening to too much loud rock music to block out emotions that I really should have been paying attention to and dealing with.  I tried branching out into pop/electronic and listened to the likes of Chvrches and Years and Years.  They are both good.  I got diverted into a Bon Iver phase when he(they?) released a new album.  It is astounding.
But I needed something else.
I spent a while browsing around Spotify looking for some inspiration and a few jazz tracks popped up.  They struck just the right balance and made for decent background music while working.  But now and again I found myself stopping, my ear caught by a particular phrase, section or piece.  What had previously been an indecipherable jumble of notes in an incoherent pattern was suddenly making sense to me.  To be honest, I freaked me out. I don’t do jazz! It’s just not my thing! Except suddenly it was.  I didn’t know who I was any more.  All those lazy metaphors about doors opening, light dawning and worlds opening can be inserted here.
I turned to my jazz piano-playing cousin for help.  He very kindly made up a playlist to get me started exploring the world of jazz.  I put it on while doing housework one day.  I really can’t explain it other than to say that IT ALL MADE SENSE. I had to stop cleaning to sit and take it all in.  It wasn’t just making sense, it was making me emotional.  Some of the pieces I found deeply moving.   I didn’t know what was happening to me.
I had already requested that he avoid anything too “big band” and anything too “easy listening”.  I reported back that I preferred the tracks at the start of the playlist, and was less keen on ones at the end.  Unbeknownst to me, the playlist had been in chronological order. So it turns out I prefer older, more traditional jazz.   He sent me some links to recordings that he and his band had made a few years ago.  Hard-bop standards. So Jack and I have the same taste.  I prefer instrumental stuff, although am not averse to vocals.  I’m struggling a bit with the more progressive / fusion styles, although perhaps I have to evolve with the music and in time I will come to understand and love these too.
It occurred to me that one of the reasons it all clicked with me is that I was now listening from a drumming perspective, not a trumpeters perspective.  Trying to follow a melody line left me dizzy. The drum part gives more of an overall impression of the piece, with a clearer route through the sections and the variations in texture and feeling.
And Oh. My. God. Jazz drumming is just ART.
Any old idiot can bash out a rock drum part. It takes proper skills, technique and musical understanding to execute jazz drumming. Every so often I am just blown away by the sheer artistry of the drumming.
So I have explored a bit more, I have sought out some radio programmes that offer not only the music but a bit of info and background too.  Last weekend the BBC did a pop-up jazz station, so I have caught up with a few programmes from that.  One surprise presenter was Colin Murray, whose Radio1 late-night show I used to listen to back in the day.  It transpires he is also a relatively recent convert to the genre and it was good to hear him talk so enthusiastically about his journey, as I am making mine.
One thing Colin Murray spoke about was when he “made public” his interest in jazz, that it is something he had to “admit” to. I feel the same.  I am reluctant to mention it to people, aware that it elicits a certain perception or judgement from people. Hell, 6 months ago, I was one of those judging people!
I am aware that I now need to experience jazz music live.  I have no idea what may be on offer in Glasgow but it is now my mission to find out.  Unfortunately, I have few friends who are interested in going to “normal” gigs with me, so I reckon my chances of finding folk to go to see jazz with me are small to non-existent.  However, I will not let that deter me and I hope to report back here on some jazz gigs in the new year.
So I am excited to explore this new (old) world of music.  Weird keys and odd time-signatures no longer frighten me, they excite me.  I have stopped trying to figure out what the artist is trying to do/say/mean, and have spent time figuring out what the music means to me.  I know I have a lot to learn and discover and I can’t wait.

Twin Atlantic, The Hydro, Glasgow, 9th May 2015

A few years ago I came across a wee band from near Glasgow called Twin Atlantic.  They were among a new wave of young Scottish bands that were emerging at the time – Admiral Fallow, The Twighlight Sad etc. There was even a documentary about a group of Scottish artists trying to “make it” at South by South West in 2011.  It was an interesting time in Scottish music, following the rise of Frightened Rabbit. I liked what they were all doing but as is the case with this kind of thing they all sounded kinda the same and there was nothing that stood out to make me want to pursue any of them much further. I thought Twin Atlantic were the best of the bunch and listened to them a fair amount but never got round to seeing them live.

Fast forward 3 years or so and they are all over the radio with “Heart and Soul”. Hey, I remember them! I resolve to look them up properly but never really do.  They release “Brothers and Sisters” and it is stuck in my head for literally a month.  I find them on Facebook, Twitter, etc and watch the videos for “Oceans” and “Hold On” and realise that this wee band have come quite far in those few years.  They announce a tour. Right, I should go and see them.  At the Hydro? What? The Hydro is huge! Rod Stewart plays there. I felt nervous for them. They’ll never fill that! The tickets went on sale on Christmas Eve.  By the time I get through the standing area has sold out. Again, What? Ok, what do I do? Sod it, I’ll buy a seated ticket. Can’t believe this is even happening so don’t dwell on it too much.

May comes round and I head off to the Hydro.  I have only ever been there once before, for the rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games.  Part of the reason I bought a ticket was because I wanted to see what it was like as a music venue.

It is exactly like the Commonwealth Games.  Security everywhere. Corporate. Stupidly expensive food and drink.  Can’t find the ladies toilets anywhere but pass 3 lots of gents’. More security. Can’t find my seat even though I go in the allocated Section L. Fuck this, I want to be back in a dingy club seeing a band that no-one has ever heard of with like-minded people. Instead I am surrounded by teenage girls, beards, people who don’t normally go to gigs and more teenage girls.  The toilets (when I eventually find them) are full of girls in party dresses with massive hair doing their make-up. I’m sorry, am I in the wrong place, isn’t this a ROCK CONCERT?

I find my seat. This is bloody weird. I expect to see gymnasts coming in, not bands. It is so far removed from any gig I have ever been to.  I have only been to 2 big concerts before – REM which was in marquee in Glasgow Green cos they had double booked the SECC (yeah) and U2 which was hastily re-arranged due to Bono’s father’s death and was in a small hall in the SECC. So no arenas. I couldn’t compute.


The place was, however, packed. I don’t know if it was a sell out but it must certainly have been close.

There were 2 support acts – Lonely The Brave and Eliza and the Bear. Both were good, but to be honest my head still wasn’t in the right place to enjoy them properly.

Bang on schedule at 9.15pm the lights dimmed and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” came over the PA. After a mass audience sing-along, that music from 2001 A Space Odyssey came on. I was filled with trepidation. They’ve gotten too big and are going to be all full of themselves. I’ve made a terrible mistake.


I was wrong.  They were appreciative, humble, excited and just happy to be there. And most importantly they rocked.  They abso-fucking-lutely rocked.  I wasn’t familiar with all the songs but I was pleased to hear plenty that I remembered from when I first came across them years ago, in fact those songs benefited from the years of experience and were much more polished and better arranged.  And of course all the ones that are now familiar from the radio. It finally dawned on me just how big a deal Twin Atlantic had become.


The whole floor was jumping. Not just the usual curve of enthusiasts at the front, the WHOLE floor. It was like a sea of pink anemones as the whole of Glasgow raised their arms and sang along with gusto. I felt a pang of regret that I wasn’t down on the floor. Then some idots started charging round and chucking suspiciously full beer cups around and I was glad of my old lady seat.

There was a string quartet, a solo cellist and lead singer Sam had the whole place captive for a few slower ballads.


Sam said he was nervous and emotional, but it didn’t affect his voice, which was strong and clear throughout.  I was impressed by Craig on drums, he even got a drum solo at the start of the encore.

It is testament to the band that they turned the venue from a soulless corporate arena into what felt like Glasgow’s biggest house party.  The atmosphere was one of pure joy and celebration, as they welcomed the band home.  There were cannons down the front that fired out glitter and streamers, and at the end giant balloons were released from the ceiling.

20150509_230004 They had completely turned me from a grumpy sceptic to a full-on dancing, cheering and singing fan.  I was so lost in the music and party atmosphere that when Sam said the name of their band I was brought back to reality. Yes, that is Twin Atlantic up there, that wee band from a few years ago. I still couldn’t believe it.

Sam himself admitted they weren’t a great band, just a lucky one, but they hit the spot with me becuase this is just my kind of music. Proper rock music but not too rock that it veers into shouty screamy metal.  Kind of indie, but not taking itself too seriously. Just lots of guitars, drums and good tunes. What more can you ask for?

Also, it is so nice to be able to sing along in my own accent! Well not quite, it’s a lot more Glaswegian than I am, but there’s something very comforting about being able to sing “more” as “mo-ar” rather than “moh” and “fear” as “fee-ur” rather then “fee-ah”. Love it!

They were due to finish at 10.30pm but there was no stopping this party, it must have been around 11pm by the time they finished, giving us almost 2 hours of non-stop entertainment.

I left with the biggest grin on my face, glad that this wee band had made it so far and done themselves so proud, rocking the roof off the massive Hydro.

The Airborne Toxic Event, The Garage Glasgow, 18th April 2015

I love The Airborne Toxic Event. No-one else even seems to have heard of them, even among my music friends, so I rarely get the chance to celebrate this.  Luckily, they tour fairly often and Glasgow is always on their schedule. Thanks guys!

It was at the Garage again. Last time, I got there lateish and wasn’t familiar with the venue so ended up perched on the only raised section I could find, which turned out to be the steps to the male toilets. Oh my actual god, the stench was atrocious. But I suffered it to get a view of the band.  But to say it spoiled the occasion would be putting it mildly.

So this time I arrived in plenty time, handily the gig fell on Record Store Day so I was in town already. (See previous post). By the time I got in, deposited my bag in the cloakroom an went to the loo, there were a few people on the barrier.  I went up, but found all of them were saving spaces for friends. So poor all alone me had to hang back and hope I could squeeze in somewhere.  As it later turned out, the lady I was stood behind had a photo pass, which she apparently hadn’t known about, so she scooted off, leaving me in prime position. Yay!

No stinky toilets for me today!
No stinky toilets for me today!

The support band came on pretty quickly, they were Dead Man Fall, a local band.  At first they sounded like a bog standard rock band, competent but kinda predictable.  Then they brought on a brass section.  I didn’t predict that. They veered into tropical rhythms, the singer wielding maracas (one of which flew out of his hand in his enthusiasm and whacked a fellow barrier-stander in the face – he survived and the singer apologised profusely) So that was more interesting. I liked them.

Dead Man Fall

A fairly quick turnaround and we were welcoming TATE to the stage. I was extremely glad of my barrier spot – the Garage is a smaller venue than the Arches, where I was also on the barrier, so here I got a much closer experience.


Without any introduction they bashed on with the tunes. In fact there was very little interruption to the wall-to-wall tunes for about an hour.  I didn’t want it to end, but I was exhausted after the hour.  They played  a few songs from the newer albums at the beginning, but later in the set they reverted to their first 2 albums.

I was interested to hear how the latest album would play out live – it has more electronic influences in it, and I feared a laptop, pre-programmed, soulless element, but it turned out to be largely Anna playing those elements on the keyboard, and the rest of the guitar-based sound still remained.

At first Mikel seemed annoyed at some sound engineering problem, but it either got fixed or he let it go and relaxed into playing.  He also seemed to be playing and singing more aggressively than I remember from before.  If I was new to the band this would definitely have put me off.  Not sure if he was pissed of or just getting into the mood of the songs.  Steven Chen is the coolest – most of the time he stands stock still when he’s playing, looking down, concentrating on his guitar, looking all tense as if he’s terrified of making a mistake, then he bursts into full-on rock guitarist, jumping off the monitors, posing like he is in an extreme air guitar contest.


I can’t figure out TATE’s audience. I was about the youngest person I saw, which NEVER happens at gigs now. There were particularly a lot of “older” women, which also never happens.  People who don’t look like they normally go to gigs. For me, TATE sit comfortably in my field of indie-rock bands that I like and go and see.  I get used to the kind of crowd at these gigs, but TATE gigs look completely different.  I don’t know who a TATE fan is.  I don’t know where we cross over, who else they like or go and see. It’s good, and a refreshing change, don’t get me wrong.  It’s a relief not to be amongs kids discussing their exams. Or be more akin to their mums who are chaperoning them. And it was a more diverse audience. I met people from Spain, Italy and some Chinese (maybe, sorry if wrong) Canadians. People had travelled from far and wide to see the band, taking in several UK/European shows.


The crowd obviously gave the biggest reception to the 2 older albums, but I felt really uncomfortable when Sometime Around Midnight started and got a massive cheer. That song (watch video here) should be met with revered silence, not a raucous rabble “yeah, I know all the words to this one!”, then appropriate appreciation at the end, once we are all reduced to tears and shaken to our cores as we share in this man’s intense grief and pain.  But it wasn’t to be.  I’m just glad I wasn’t at the back where undoubtedly people would have been STILL TALKING throughout.  I would not have been responsible for my actions.

I almost lost it when a phone was rammed in the back of my head for the hundredth time as people held them up behind me constantly trying to get a good shot/video. I took a few, but as I was right at the front I could keep my phone quite low and not disturb anyone. A few shots and it was away in my pocket again. I looked behind me and saw not faces, but a wall of phones. I’d be happy if they were banned.

On the first song of the encore (I’m sorry, I have completely forgotten what it was. It was a bouncy one.) Mikel jumped off the stage, on to the barrier. He was over to the left of me, then suddenly he was right in front of me. I mean RIGHT in front of me. I got a face full of sweaty t-shirt. I got shoved from behind and had to (yes, I HAD TO!) put a hand up to hold on to him to stop myself suffocating. Although that wouldn’t have been a bad way to go. He was encouraging us all to jump, so I was pogoing along as it would have been rude not to. Also I was clinging to him for dear life. I was mildly sweaty beforehand and extremely sweaty afterwards. He leapt back on to the stage and I could breathe again.

A few songs more and it was all over. It had been intense. Back-to-back songs, lots of jumping, singing along, shouting out the expected chants, “Gasoline!” and apparently we even got a world exclusive of “Poor Isaac” from their recently released Acoustic album “Songs of God and Whiskey”.

Mikel threw all his picks into the crowd and personally handed his setlist to the Canadian guy 2 along from me.  I was just turning to go when drummer Daren came forward and started handing/throwing drumsticks.  Setlist guy grabbed one, but I protested at his double haul (in fact he had gathered some picks too) so I got the stick. Woo! On closer inspection they have been properly used, and signed by the man himself. Double woo!

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Due to the early start, it was all over by about 10pm, so I headed round the back to see if I could catch any of the band.  After a short wait with some of the people I had met last time I was stalking them, I met Steven (again – he’s so cool) and Daren.  I thanked him for the stick and told him I was a drummer, he was pleased and I told him I’d definitely try to use it.  Canadian guy was there and was bummed that I had it, but relieved I wasn’t going to sell it on eBay. Daren was really nice and chatty too.

Me and Daren. And drumstick.

Me and Steven Chen. He's so cool.
Me and Steven Chen. He’s so cool.

I met new bass-player guy Adrian Rodriguez too, but I look hideous in the photo, so that’s not going up anywhere. They all signed my ticket. Daren told us it was unlikely that Mikel or Anna would be coming out, so we headed off.

A great night, after a great music-filled day.