“What’s going to make this band different is our live show. I love being on-stage more than anything. When you are up there you can do whatever you want. You can be whatever you want. If there’s one person in the back of the room not involved, then that’s my audience. I’ll do whatever I have to do to blow that person away. I want everybody in the audience to remember where they were when they saw Kitten for the first time.”—Chloe Chaidez
live moments of 2012
instead of making a list of gigs i went to and enjoyed in 2012, i thought it would be much better to do another ‘live moments’ from shows of this year list. i’ve seen some amazing bands this year - not least, some of my favourite musicians over the past 12 months - and there have been many moments where i’ve come close to imploding, tears, or losing it completely over a happening at a live show. so here we go, my live moments of 2012 in list form.
- at the bruce springsteen show in june, i wasn’t expecting a lot of old tunes and i surely wasn’t expecting to hear ‘thunder road’ (keep your expectations low, i told myself). as he broke out the harmonica and played those first few bars, my heart skipped beats and i felt a little hazy. just as he hit “what else can we do now? except roll down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair” the heavens opened and a heavy rain shower started. i shouted all the words and let the rain fall on my face and it’s a moment i’ll never, ever forget. hearing one of my all-time favourite songs in the rain, guarded by two amazing friends and with a heart full of happy.
- the whole of the national’s set was incendiary, but to share it with a room full of proper, hardcore fans of the band was so much better than a normal show. all of these people were there because they adored the national. all of them knew the words, all of them thought this was one of the best bands in the world. all of them knew the band member’s names, all them owned all the records. to hear old songs like ‘secret meeting’ alongside new like ‘sullivan’ was just all i could ask for. to have them play ‘about today’ and ‘abel’ and ‘england’ in the same set was heartbreaking (i was heard to say to my boyfriend “why don’t you just stab me in the chest?!”) but beautiful. i wouldn’t have had it any other way and i wish that i could live in those few hours forever. to hear those songs, to lose myself completely in the music. these top two points are the high points of my year and what it is for me to be alive. i couldn’t be more grateful to have had these moments.
- seeing ryan adams live after such a long wait was fabulous in all the ways you can imagine. ryan is one of my all-time favourite musicians and to share this evening of music with the man i love (and the man i share ryan’s record ‘love is hell’ with, a record we listened to a lot in our early days) and to hear one of our songs played live was incredible. to hear whiskeytown stuff was not something i was excepting, to hear ‘16 days’ played so beautifully was just perfect.
- when kathleen edwards played ‘house full of empty rooms’ at the beginning of this year, it was hard to choke back the tears and you could tell that she herself was struggling. she didn’t play it when i saw her at atp, but she did play ‘run’ and my boy and i stood side-by-side gulping and doing our very best to hold back the salty waters in our eyes. both times, kathleen just got it at the right moment. she’s an artist i didn’t know much about before i met my better half and each time, she was fantastic but she broke my heart. i wish i’d thanked her for ‘getting it’. right on, sister.
- i also managed to see sharon van etten twice this year and i feel very lucky to have done so. the first time, she played ‘don’t do it’ at a time when i was struggling horribly with my health, my depression, my strange life circumstances. i don’t think i’d ever shouted the words to that song so loud that night and it made me feel like i was flying. the second time, also at atp, i had just heard of a death in the family and i was determined not to let the news ruin anything (it’s not what the person who passed would have wanted, she was such a fun-loving kind of soul). when sharon played ‘ask’ - a song i have played repeatedly since january, a song that sums up my 2012 on its own - i felt my heart break. “like cigarette ash the world is collapsing around me” just felt like a kick in the solar plexus, it was a moment that i doubt i’ll shake for the rest of my days.
- after having a terrible week of terrible news, seeing elbow was quite a relief for my poor old soul. to hear guy garvey sing ‘puncture repair’ again gave me the shivers and that song means more to me now that it ever did.
- perfume genius breaking my heart into a thousand pieces during his show in my home city in front of very few people. he was funny, he was sparkly and he was wonderful. i feel completely head over heals in love with him and his rendition of ‘lookout, lookout’ and ‘dark parts’ moved me in a way i can’t even talk about now without welling up. it was a heartfelt, emotional evening headed up by a witty and honest gay man with gold nail polish i was admiring from my seat.
- seeing the staves on valentine’s day was fun and pretty and lovely and i swooned. we had a lovely evening, but the hear the staves play ‘winter trees’ (a song i first heard whilst lying awake with the guy in question) just helped everything come full circle. there was kissing. it was soppy and sweet and i felt lucky that day.
- hearing franz play ‘do the struggle’ for the first time in january. franz knows why and i thank him from the bottom of my heart for that evening. i needed it.
- watching jeff mangum at atp in march. hearing ‘o comely’ and ‘in the aeroplane over the sea’ and singing with a room full of people. introducing my favourite person to his music and feeling like he got a great little education from that short set alone. there was poetry and beauty and there were members of the audience in tears.
- seeing two thirds of the minutemen play minutemen songs. even if i was exhausted at it was 2am. mike watt was on fire.
there are many more gigs that were very excellent indeed, but these were moments i’ll remember 2012 for. the top two in particular seemed to be the only times i felt truly alive this year - when the stars align and you feel everything that is gorgeous and natural all at once, when you feel like nothing can go wrong and you’re on top of the universe screaming “I AM INVINCIBLE.” music has been one of the very few things that has kept me going this year, and 2013 will be no different. without moments like these, my life would be a lesser thing and i’m grateful for each of these in their own way. i’d also like to thank my best half for making all of them happen, because without him none of them would. i shared a lot of these events with him and, somehow, i can’t help but feel that he helped make them so special for me.