One thing that has been seriously lacking in my life since lockdown is live music. At the end of a working day, or week, there is little I love more than going to a gig. Losing myself in the music is how I relax – it feeds my soul and lifts my spirits. Dancing my socks off in a sweaty moshpit is my idea of heaven. Life under this pandemic has been hard for everyone, harder still when the one thing you really need for your mental health is unattainable. But I’m still working – I feel for all the musicians who are now workless, the stage crews, the roadies, the unsung people who make live music happen.
I have soaked up as many streamed gigs as possible while venues remain shut. Artists are working hard to keep their music in front of audiences and they deserve our support (as do the arts generally while we’re in this mess). The other week I enjoyed an incredibly intimate house gig by Patti Smith, who I think was streaming from San Francisco – it was as if I were in the room with her. Coming up, I’ll be tuning into an epic marathon night of music and poetry fronted by the legend that is John Cooper Clarke, with assorted guests.
Next month, I’ll be buying tickets for a pair of special gigs in Manchester and Liverpool under the banner of The North Will Rise Again – yes, I know that ought to be Andy Burnham’s slogan given how tirelessly he has worked for Greater Manchester under the pandemic, but music is one of the great engines of the economy here in the north-west of England. Live music will be back here before too long. And until then, there are streaming events to relish like NWRA.
The promoters have curated two amazing line-ups. The Lightning Seeds are headlining the Liverpool gig, with support from Red Rum Club and Zuzu. If you haven’t seen Red Rum Club, now’s your chance – they are the hottest new band on Merseyside and I’ve seen them a few times already. Here in Manchester, the Charlatans are topping the bill at Gorilla – I’ve never seen them live, but Tim Burgess’s listening parties on Twitter have been a must to join in. Also playing are 1st 1st and the magnificent Liines (no, that’s not a typo – they really do have two i’s in their name, and they’re dead good). Both nights, John Robb will be MCing and interviewing.
If you need another reason to buy a ticket – and you really shouldn’t – the proceeds go to supporting shuttered venues and the artists and crews who keep the music playing. If you need yet another reason – and you really shouldn’t – embrace the fact that Manchester and Liverpool are at least temporarily shelving their legendary rivalry (!) to celebrate their cultural ties, while the cities’ two mayors are also getting involved. Crikey, the north really is rising again.
These are some very good extra reasons for me to buy a ticket – I’ve been doing my bit since March to support local businesses, and here’s another chance. And I get to enjoy some cracking live music again while I wait patiently for us all to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and the arts can rise again.