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I had one of life’s special experiences this week as I took my kid and her friends to a concert in Sydney. As we walked through Circular Quar it occurred to me that this would be the first gig for at least a couple of them. They’d probably remember it for the rest of their life! My kid’s first gig was as a swaddled baby when I supported Paul Kelly’s Spring and Fall Tour and she seems mostly unfazed by the magic. Sometimes she’ll hint at a certain pride that her old man works in these places but mostly doesn’t seem to care!
And so here we are at the Opera House among 1000s of people. We walk by the merch queues and the bar, into the hall and find our seats. Murmurs abound until the lights go down and the crowd roars in anticipation. Notes from the dramatic opening song ring out and sudden onset of super loud amplified music comes to life. It scared the crap out of one of her friends and it was fantastic (she was safe, but it was loud).
Songs feel different when performed live. Is it because I’m sharing an exclusive space with others who have similar taste, or the sound and the movement of the band? The lights and stage design or is it the crowd response? Is it the excited hushed chatting with friends to explain why a song means something to you? That its inherently tied to a memory or a relationship or a sharehouse or school yard and so on?
I’ve heard people talk about how live music brings out feelings, and feelings make us feel more alive. We cant skip songs like they’re playing on our phone. It’s not digital and disposable, it’s real and flawed and beautiful and when the songs mean something, it’s transcendent.
I’m so glad I went to this concert on the eve of my last farewell tour. It brought home how special live music is and how fortunate I’ve been to play so many cracking gigs over the years. It also reminded me how precious it all is, every single person in the room has a version of how the night went.
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