My girlfriend got covid 2 weeks ago, and then I got it on the tail end of her. I'm free to leave the house as of today, but we had to miss gigs by L Devine and Salem. I think they odds of me seeing them again are pretty slim, but there are worse (better??) acts to be missing out on.
Since returning to gigs with a social distanced WARGASM and a Sleeper/Bluetones twofer, I've been to:
Godiva festival. The free festival that costs £12 for a weekend ticket. Supergrass on the friday were good, but didn't blow me away. Crowd was decent, but the sound is aimed at a very small area, despite the field really filling. We burrow in down the left hand side. Meanwhile snakes of teens would slither into the pit, wait for a mosh that would never come, then slither out again 30 seconds later. This would happen constantly, with numerous different snakes. When I started going to gigs, there were people to learn from, but now it feels like there isn't, and kids want to replicate what they've seen, but don't really understand the context for it, or how it organically happens.
Saturday's crowd was much worse. At one point during Craig David I felt pressure on my back and turned around to find some scutty man clad in patchwork denim leaning back to back on me as if he was a cowboy falling asleep in the hay bales. I threw him off and he rounded up his group of mismatched friends. A white guy with dreads tried to give it the biggun, and I'm sorry but I am not one to be intimidated by some Big Mountain wannabe. They soon left.
Craig David himself I expected more from, but the sound was not good. Performed his own songs, and others, doing what Sophie Ellis Bextor just did, but nowhere near as well. Sophie was great with her full band (especially doing Like A Prayer) but Craig stepping out from behind the decks to sing at 7/10 his capability, kinda reminded me of those terrible bottle service nightclubs that hire lads to do live drumming over dance songs.
Couple weeks later and my girlfriend tells me Joy Crookes is doing a gig 1 minute from our flat. I get home from work, throw my bag down and walk out the front door to see her setting up in Victoria Square. She did maybe 6 or 7 songs, but wow. I've seen her before at the Hare and Hounds, but the surroundings here were surreal. A crowd of people stood around the Floozie watching an act buzzing with nervous excitement, laying it all out there with her voice, while in the background, chanting anti-vaxxers try and form their own version of Hands Across America down New Street.
A proper talent with no upper limit to her potential success. The history of popular music is littered with also-rans, but if Joy connects with the general public, she's gonna go all the way.
Saw Billie Marten after that. Not much to report. Sounded good but her set was front loaded, much like the current album. Castle and Falcon is a great venue that they keep physically improving. The bar is at the back now, so there's more side space, and you don't get trapped round a corner.
The big one was Bring Me the Horizon. First arena gig back. Got there 40 minutes before Nova Twins, the first support. Normally that'd be a 10 minute wait, then straight into an empty floor. Not tonight. Whether it was the covid checks, arguments about bags we were instructed not to bring, or the all new staff, but the queue was insane. If anyone is familiar with the NIA (now 'Utilita' Arena) in Birmingham, the worst I ever found the standing queue was when it looped from the door, then down onto a bit of the canal. This time it went right down the canal all the way to the Distillery (fka The Fiddle and Bone). Sunk cost, we went off to the shakey, knowing full well were weren't going to see Nova Twins or You Me at Six. After sinking a few we walked back near 2 hours later, just as they opened the upstairs queue for downstairs people. After being questioned about the contents of my pockets ("what's that?" 'the fob for my building' "if you say so") we managed to see the last 2 YM@6 songs. Dunno if they sounded great or if I was just overwhelmed at being in an arena again, but with the lights, the sound and the atmosphere, it was a shot of adrenaline I hadn't felt since Halsey at the Millenium Dome in March 2020.
Bring Me...were incredible. So many songs to choose from, and everything they played went off, including an phone-lights-on acoustic version of Follow You - a style I normally find anathema to a good time - which was actually lovely. The closing run of Obey, Throne and Can You Feel My Heart was pure euphoria, and I gotta hand it to the inventor of the 2 pint cup for creating the perfect vessel for non spill when you're jumping around. The band aren't to everybody's tastes, but I can't think of anyone else from the UK doing anything this big. I want to go back.