Seeing more live music is something that ranks highly on my list of things to say yes to (as you might have gathered from my yespiration page with a whole section dedicated to chasing musical pursuits).
So, it probably seems odd that I’ve categorised this under ‘pushing your comfort zones’. That’s kind of the point though – pushing your comfort zones is about the big things and the small things, and my latest gigging experiences pushed my comfort zones for two reasons… Mainly because I air slightly on the side of claustrophobia. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I am claustrophobic but I get a bit panicky in large confined crowds (rush hour tubes are not my friend). This doesn’t tend to be a problem at your average pop princess gig where you are comfortably seated in regimented rows, but when you get into more rock ‘n’ roll territory at a standing gig, the crowds tend to close in on you a little more.
Which brings me to my second point – the other element that pushed my comfort zones a little was the music genre. I frequently enjoy the live escapades of Olly Murs, Robbie Williams and Take That. But you might argue that’s more of a concert than a gig. This year, I’ve been proper gigging for the first time – once to see Ryan Adams, a singer that I now love but hadn’t really heard of a year ago, and the second time to see Noel Gallagher… an artist that I wouldn’t previously have considered myself a fan of, but I loved them both. For very different reasons.
And here’s why…
Ryan Adams has quickly become one of my favourite singers. My other half, Dean, is a huge fan and has seen him live many times. We listen to his music a lot together so I thought it would be a nice idea to get him tickets to Ryan’s latest tour for his birthday, (see Ryan and I are already on first name terms, I like him that much).
The best thing about giving gig tickets for presents, is that you sometimes get to enjoy the gift too (sneaky) and often the event is a few months after you gift the tickets… so it’s really exciting when the date actually comes around.
Ryan performed at the Hammersmith Apollo as part of a handful of dates in his UK tour. Though I have seen it on telly many times, I hadn’t actually been to the venue but loved the fact that it was small enough that you felt close to the artist as they performed, whilst still having a sense of grandeur.
Fellow American Natalie Prass was the warm-up act. We managed to catch her whole set and I was really pleasantly surprised. She has a beautifully haunting quality to her voice, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of her music. My favourite thing about Natalie though, was how she interacted with Ryan. He performed with her on stage as part of her set (very unimposingly, not talking or intruding on her moment) dueting with her on one of his own tracks. Rumour has it that Ryan actually performed as Natalie at a later gig when she had issues with her flight. Dress and all. The full set – which gives you and idea of both his sense of humour, and his talent.
Back to Hammersmith… later when Ryan took to the stage he performed a cover of her song Your Fool, and Natalie joined him on stage again to duet on his tracks Oh My Sweet Carolina and Come Pick Me Up. Their voices meshed together like they were meant to be one but neither overpowered the others moment to shine.
Ryan’s set was absolutely seamless. He doesn’t need lots of fancy pyrotechnics or graphics to light up the stage, he does it all through his voice and beautifully crafted lyrics. He honestly had me captivated throughout each and every one of his 23 song setlist. I almost didn’t want to leave at the end (apart from the fact that my legs were starting to ache somewhat, I might be coming to this gigging malarky after my prime).
Noel Gallagher’s high flying birds
It was only a week later when we ventured up to Nottingham to see our second gig of the year – Noel Gallagher’s high flying birds. Now, I have to confess that unlike Dean I was not an Oasis fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like their tunes as much as the next person, but I didn’t really dig their indie attitudes (for those that remember the banter, I was obviously 100% team Robbie), so going to one of their concerts was never on my agenda.
One Gallagher brother down, and my boy’s enthusiasm in tow I was apparently a changed woman.
Now, I do have to preface this experience with some of the downsides.
It quickly came to my attention that some of the Oasis / Noel fans were a very particular breed. I will whisper this slightly in case any of them hear me but *there were times when I felt a bit like I had stumbled on an idiots convention*. Yep, I said it. The gig was punctuated throughout with cups of unknown substances flying through the air and spraying those in their midst (some were beer, some were almost certainly calls of nature). There were large groups of fans around me that had definitely said yes to vices that would fall outside of the Year of the Yes legal boundaries philosophy, and a number of the audience clearly didn’t think the law about smoking indoors didn’t apply to them.
But that aside, Noel’s performance was absolutely flawless. I surprised myself by knowing far more of his songs than I had initially imagined, and I found myself boogying away to each and every one (I’m not entirely sure it’s acceptable to boogie at a gig, but I did it nonetheless).
There was certainly much more staging at this gig, which made it much more of a spectacle.
And, despite professing not to be a fan, I loved that he weaved in the odd Oasis song. It made the crowd go wild. Champagne Supernova was by far my favourite.
All in all my gigging experiences have certainly made me hungry for more. It’s encouraged me to push my musical comfort zones and go to concerts of all shapes, sounds and sizes. It’s a great way to expand your horizons, and if nothing else it was a brilliant date night. We don’t really do date night as such, but I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than enjoying music that my boy loves with him.
Make it one of your yeses
You can keep an eye on tickets to see Ryan Adams and Noel Gallagher on Ticketmaster. But more to the point, you can get the latest gigs and tour updates for a whole host of different bands and singers from various sites – sign up to notifications from Gigs and Tours or similar, and remember to try something new…