I think about the things I should be missing sometimes, and I realize that there are not many at all. I think part of why I am happy to have had kids later rather than earlier is that I got a lot of stuff out of my system, stuff that I would be very happy never to do again. If I never have a shot of whiskey again I won’t be upset. If I never set foot in a club again I won’t be sad. If I never end up in some random party full of celebrities again I won’t care. But one thing I do miss is going to shows. Live music.
The anticipation of waiting to see one of your favourite bands go on stage and play those songs that you have listened to day in, day out, right there in front of you. Randomly going to a venue and hearing a new band that sends you into a tizzy of excitement and emotions. Standing with two feet on the alcohol-sticky ground of ages being transported to another place by the sheer sound of a voice or a guitar. Of course, you can do this at home with your stereo, or in the streets with your headphones, or blast music from your car or your workplace, but there is nothing comparable to seeing musicians on stage playing the music that makes you happy (or sad, or both). Whatever type, or types, of music you may like, whether you prefer stripped bare or spectacle, there is something so amazing about a live show that has the ability to make you feel like a different person, to inspire you and to take you to places you couldn’t really imagine.
It’s not that I will never go to a concert again, or that I can’t physically go now, it’s just a little difficult right now. Hopefully we will be able to take Luna to some outdoor shows this summer, before her sister arrives, and then when the little ones are toddlers and not in any weird separation anxiety phase we will be able to start going out here and there and leaving them with a babysitter. But until then I shall reminisce on some of my favourite live music experiences. This is going to be a tough one as there are so many! I feel very, very lucky to have lived in a city where most artists play, and also very, very lucky to have seen most of the artists that I have wanted to see. There remain a few, such as Tom Waits or the Rolling Stones that I would really love to see, and some that I unfortunately will never get to see, such as Tim Buckley, who will always remain my number one favourite singer of all time, or Type O Negative, that I could have seen and now never will due to the untimely death of Peter Steele. And then also some that I regret not seeing when I could, like Marilyn Manson, but will hopefully have a chance to see again. There are also those that I regretted spending money on as they weren’t what I thought of them, and others that I thought I didn’t really care about but who changed my mind once they were on stage.
Here are some highlights of my favourite moments, in no particular order and definitely not exhaustive:
Anytime I have seen Nick Cave. I can’t choose a favourite time, he is has blown my mind in both the Bad Seeds and in Grinderman live, multiple times. I’ve seen him perform in both Lyon once and NYC many times and will never get enough! He has so much charisma and talent, but it’s not just him alone, his band makes every performance into everything. That voice! Deep, sexy roar, sarcastic shout and oftentimes beautifully in tone and fitting to the music. One day I will put my 20 favourite Bad Seed songs together, but in the meantime all I can say is that every song has its place live, whether stripped down of full force. I actually posted a review I wrote of the 2001 tour here .
The Cure Beacon Theater (Reflections Tour 2011) - I wrote about this one here . Although I don’t really think I actually wrote about the show, more like I strung a few sentences together to say that I was there and that I couldn’t explain how amazing it was. Another band that I have seen more than once, and also one of my absolute favourite bands of all times, so every time I see them I leave giddy and happy. But this performance was just way above anything else. One of my good friends scored us last minute tickets and we ended up making our way to the front of the venue (the act of which got us kicked out during the encore, but by that point we had seen what we needed to see anyway). I saw the entire performance of Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and Faith with the original line-up from about 10 feet from Robert Smith and Simon Gallup. Amazing. Seeing as these albums were released when I was learning to walk, talk and try to pull my baby sister’s head off I’ve only ever seen certain songs performed, never the entire albums. Actually, I’m going to listen to them in their entirety now. I doubt I will ever see such an amazing Cure show again in person (one can hope), but it was definitely a lifetime experience for a fan like myself. Oh, and if you haven’t already realised, I LOVE THE CURE.
Interpol’s last show of Antics tour Webster Hall – October 2005. I had only been in NYC for a few months, and one of my best friends was over from Ireland, and we were a little giddy about seeing Interpol together on the last show of the tour. We managed to get the really enviable spot on the right side balcony right above the stage at Webster Hall (still my favourite spot for any show). While it was my second time seeing them amongst many to come, this one was just really special. That tour had been really long and extensive and you could tell they were so happy to be home, and really gave it their all. And for me it was kind of a closure of my days walking the streets of NYC city alone, exploring and discovering, while listening to Interpol, because not long after that I started to find good friends and places to go.
Each and every Spiritualized show – just like with Nick Cave, I can’t seem to choose one that stood out more than any other to me, they were all just absolutely brilliant. Wait… Ok, maybe I lied. Radio City Music Hall, July 2010. Spiritualized played Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space in its entirety and it was sublime. The acoustics in that venue are the best and the album resonated perfectly. The album itself is already just wonderful (and I think most likely still my favourite), it just sounded even more exceptional that night. Spiritualized are also the last band that I saw live, Webster Hall September 2013. The only band that my daughter has seen live too, albeit in utero. Every time I have seen them has a very special meaning to me, one that I share with one of my best and closest friends. A Spiritualized show is not the same without her.
Portishead – Autumn 2011. I blogged about my Portishead experience here . Not only did I get to see my wonderfully talented friends Thought Forms open for them, I got to see one of the bands I never thought I would get to see. I think my previous blog post says it all, so I will only add that the experience was just magical.
Leonard Cohen, Radio City Music Hall, May 2009. If I’m not mistaken he played here for three nights, and he hadn’t toured in a while. I never actually thought I would get to see Leonard Cohen perform. He is one of those artists who came to me from my parents, his voice soothing and probing at the same time. I tried to get tickets as soon as they went on sale, but they sold out in seconds, so I paid double. I would have paid triple if need be, because this is without a doubt one of the best shows I will ever get to see in my life. I went alone, although I had friends with seats elsewhere and ended up laughing and crying with the lady sitting next to me. He sang for 3 hours and I just didn’t want it to end, pieces from his entire repertoire. He danced, he joked, he talked, and that smile!!! Amazing. Since then he has released a couple of albums and has toured some more, but I haven’t had the chance to see him again. It doesn’t matter; I will always, always remember this!
NIN Summer 2000 – I’d never been to the US before, and as my mother was moving to California with her work she took me with her on a trip to look for a house. A couple of her friends were going to see NIN on The Fragile tour, so they got me a ticket and took me with them. It was in an amphitheater in the middle of the desert at the end of June and it was BOILING. We were right down at the front, in the pit, and A Perfect Circle opened (it was around that time that Maynard had shaved his head and started the shows with a wig on and then whipped it, and most of his clothes, off a couple of songs in. When dusk fell NIN started their set, with the awesome lights, projections and sound I was completely blown away. I had loved them for so long (and still do), and it was absolutely amazing to see them live, there, in the middle of the desert, under the stars. I lived in a small city in France where you didn’t have that many big bands come (although we did have a few, The Cure played there once, as did Oasis and The Verve), and Paris always seemed so far away as a teen and then a poor student. Just for a show anyway.
Bauhaus 2005 – I bought tickets for this gig as soon as they went on sale. Bauhaus reforming just to tour?! Dream come true!! I then interviewed the drummer Kevin Haskins for a zine, and he actually put me and two friends on his guest list, so I not only got to see the whole show from an awesome spot, I also got to meet and hang out with the band members (apart from Peter Murphy who had disappeared off to a private location). We all went down to Lit where David J’s photography was being exhibited. I had only been in NYC about 6 months and I remember being in awe of the fact that I was hanging out with some of my idols. The show itself was sublime. As much as Peter Murphy doesn’t seem to get along with anyone else anymore (or maybe that is just hearsay), they were all in it together and made it work. I’ve seen Peter on his solo tours multiple times since then and he is a real showman. But this was just so cool, all my favourite Bauhaus songs live, right in front of me. I posted my interview with Kevin Haskins on my blog a few years ago right here
I could add a few more, but I don’t want to overdo it… If you have actually read this far then I applaud you! It’s taken me about 4 days to write it, 5 or 10 minutes here and there. If I start thinking of more it will take me another week! I have to start looking into which bands and musicians I can take Luna to see this year. I want her to have the same love for music as her parents do, and as my parents instilled in me. My mother is still an awesome music photographer, averaging one or two shows a week, and if you want to check out her work you can peruse her website here. We have to keep the love going through the generations! If anyone saw the same shows as I did (listed above) I would love to hear about your experiences!
Photograph: Beth Gibbons, Portishead, NYC 2011 ©JadeAnnaHughes