I’ve never been a hard-gigging, road-warrior kind of guy. I’m not, in truth, the most natural live performer (I know, shocking, right?), and have always preferred rehearsing, recording and writing to playing live.
But I’ve also been a musician playing solo, in duos and in bands for over 25 years, so I know as well as anyone else what a live performance can be at its best, what it can mean to both musician and audience. The adrenaline of a set that goes well – those rare occasions when you’re so in the zone you’re no longer consciously performing, you’re just a conduit, allowing something powerful to pass through you – that’s a hell of a thing, no question. It’s not easily replaced.
In the UK, live music stopped abruptly back in March, and barely restarted over the summer. Not everywhere has been equally affected, of course, and some musicians have been able to find ways to function that work for them – low-volume home rehearsals, outdoor rehearsals and gigs for small audiences, live streams and so on. But for a band like the one I’m in, which is more or less a rock band and therefore reliant on amplification, and whose members live miles away from each other in a densely populated city with neighbours all around, and where public transport is a Petri dish, it’s not been possible.
Things are once again dire here – as bad as back in April and May. To complain about missing the opportunity to play live shows and rehearse with my friends seems tone deaf, I know. Nonetheless, I do miss having live performance and the attendant rehearsals as a part of my life. Maybe, as Joni Mitchell put it, we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone. We all have many wishes for 2021, and the main one is of course that we can somehow get through the next few months until the vaccine is rolled out widely, but a return to playing live shows, and the survival of the venues that host them, is high among mine.
I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.