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Live Music

August 10th, 2011 | 5 Comments

I am blessed to have known my great-uncle. My grandmother’s brother-in-law. My grandfather’s best friend. I have been told many times that I give the best hugs in the world. I learned this from him – to hug with your whole body. At least in the time I knew him, his emotions were always at the surface; colouring him like freckles and blemishes, and no less visible.

There is no such thing as a perfect concert. But there are perfect moments. Moments where you inhale, as if you can draw more music in with breath. Moments where one tear is wrung out of you as though your chest were a damp towel. Moments where emotions escape from your pores – everything at the surface.

I have been told that armies will break forced-march as they cross a bridge for fear that the precision of their steps in unison is enough to damage it. I’ve experienced concert moments where everyone in the room synchronizes one heart beat. And then the bridge collapses.

These moments may be only four words… in the second chorus… of the 11th song. The opening notes of “Message In A Bottle” played live, 24 years after standing outside the arena and saying “I will see them next year”. Al Green tossing out a rose during “Let’s Stay Together”, and catching it (I still have it). Consuming Stevie Ray Vaughn’s performance of “Lenny”, one month before he died. The collective pause as Elvis Costello stands at the front of the stage with the microphone behind him and, unaccompanied, fills the room. Understanding that the emotion that Eddie Van Halen can elicit in an intricate guitar solo, BB King can accomplish in one note.

They allow you to believe that maybe Nick Drake really did die of a broken heart, and that Elliott Smith may have actually found the strength to thrust the knife into his own.

Entire concerts are not needed to achieve this, only moments. Relationships are built on the first instance of finishing each other’s sentence. Sporting careers are defined by one goal scored…or allowed. Pope’s “The Rape Of The Lock” is an epic poem in five cantos, but I unfailingly remember only 2 lines: “Know, then, unnumbered Spirits round thee fly, The light Militia of the lower Sky”.

Adele’s stage was sparse. No icing. No accoutrements offered at so many other shows, where they condescend to you as if you had the entertainment demands of a dog, and they were releasing squirrels.

There would be impressions made by her shoes on the small rug at center stage, I’m certain of it, as she never moved from one spot. The only dance moves came from the guitarist’s left hand, and the piano player’s right.

I don’t know how many artists I have seen. In one year alone I saw 189 – yes, I counted. Tonight was everything I love about live music, gifted to me in one show.

There are people who are fed by sunsets, or wine, or the small of someone’s back. Others feed through their ears. This show articulated why I maintained a university radio show for almost 3 times the length of time I spent actually enrolled at university; why I play Ray Lamontagne and Ryan Adams in my yoga classes; and why listening to “What’s Going On” on vinyl makes the world fall away.

Unadorned. Brief. Perfect.

5 Comments

01.

kingkabuz

August 10, 2011

So, the concert was good then?! Lord Byron quote, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Ray Lamontagne? Damn.

I heard about this show only hours before it was live, and sadly, I was studiously studying for a Final Exam. I had no doubt it would be an epic event. Your words were actually all I apparently needed.


02.

rickie brandt

August 17, 2011

Comment
Others sing beautifully, but you write beautifully.


03.

G Barber

August 23, 2011

To watch uncle Jack take afresh tomato off the vine, pull out his salt shaker and with a smile that would save a suicide, take a bite and grin was all you ever had to learn about what is precious about life!


04.

G Barber

August 24, 2011

CommentYour ” voice” is unique. I recognized your style before I knew who wrote this piece. Hang on to to it! George


05.

tamara

August 25, 2011

Comment
Your ability to express yourself through the written word is a gift. Just a beautiful piece, I was moved to shivers and am so happy you got to have this experience….live music can do something to our soul like nothing else!
thanks!!!
Tamara A


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