It’s a bit late, I know. But I went to a really amazing gig last weekend and I wanted to write about it, it inspired me to create.
At the start of the show there’s the usual short-person-clamber to higher ground. It’s busy, but there’s room on the steps up the back, which is unusual for The Corner. There are hazards at the back of the room though, there’s a price I pay for being short and wanting to see over people’s heads and shoulders. The back is full of short people, sure, but also full of wankers. On one side are people who are talking about Facebook and what one girl said to her boyfriend via it. The other side harbours people who shout towards the stage too loudly between songs but as soon as the music starts they talk amongst themselves and pay no attention to the musical mastery that’s going on in front of them.
Chuck Ragan’s music has a message. He’s a story teller, he’s a poet. He writes love stories to people he knows. He thanks his mum. He has an unbelievable amount of co-ordination, playing guitar and harmonica and singing.
It’s a strange place, this gig. It’s acoustic music, but the lineup is all people who previously played in punk or hardcore bands.
There’s punk finger-pointers at this gig. They point their hands at the men with their acoustic guitars. The people up the front who scream lyrics through their sweat and point their fingers to the rafters in time with the good bits. Up the back too, tonight, there’s a man with up-the-front hands. He holds his arms with palms face-out, pushing the air like at a real Southern revival.
Jon Gaunt is much hairier than I ever expected. He’s such a beautiful strings player that I pictured someone with delicate hands and a clean shave. But no, not Jon Gaunt. He looks like Grug with a trucker cap, you can’t see his eyes and hair has taken over his whole head… but his strings! Oh, they sing!
One guy keeps jumping up on stage and leaping into the crowd. The music is not low-key, but it’s certainly not what most people would stage dive to. But here, they do. He does.
Chuck Ragan does a Bob Dylan cover, and there’s the punk finger-pointing for that too.
There are no set breaks – this is the most democratic stage I’ve ever seen. It’s a group of men and their strings and harps making joyous heartfelt music together. There’s no hierarchy. Someone plays a song, and another wanders on and joins in. People meander on, shuffle off. The fancy takes Chuck while Frank Turner plays, he comes on and sings along, you can tell the man’s having fun. We all are.
When I go to the ladies’ there’s that bloody woman looking at me sadly from the back of the toilet door, reminding me that “anxiety is paralysing…”. She always pops up when I’m feeling great, just to remind me that it’s just a matter of time, just wait…
Here, though, someone has written “LOVE” on her arm. “TWLOHA” under the ad. And that’s what this gig feels like. A bit room-hug.
“It’ll be okay,” the room says, “We’re all singing the same song! Very loudly!”