A year ago today I went to the first gig of my 40th year celebrations. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and I had no idea where any of this would lead.
The band were C Duncan, I’d never heard of them, but my friends had and they took me as birthday gift. I loved the band. I wound up seeing them support Elbow at gig 6 and asking Chris if I could have a photo pass on their May tour. He readily agreed and I spent the night of my birthday at another C Duncan gig, taking pictures! That was just one highlight in an amazing year of highlights.
Yesterday Lauren Laverne played a C Duncan track as part of my memory tape as she interviewed me on BBC6 Music about this whole experience. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that a year ago. Nor had the confidence to write in, to speak live on radio, or to share this story with so many.
Then I was lacking confidence and was coming to terms with losing my Mum and having 2 major surgeries and surviving sepsis in a short space of time. Now I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I have met some wonderful people, been shown incredible kindness and feel more comfortable in my own skin. Losing a parent, especially your Mother, young, is hard. It will remain so. I will never stop loving or missing her. Being open and honest about that grief has helped me, and in turn helped others too. We aren’t alone, even when we think we are.
Major surgery once is scary, twice in 8 months, when complications from the 1st one left you battling sepsis, pretty terrifying. I survived. Many don’t. Without the work of Sepsis UK, the medics at the hospital thinking sepsis and taking swift action, I wouldn’t be here now. I remain deeply grateful to the NHS staff who saved my life.
That gratitude is extended to everyone who made 40 gigs possible. Every friend, colleague and stranger who bought me a gig ticket, donated or guest listed me. Collectively you made my dreams come true, my heart soar, and gave my life renewed energy and purpose. Dozens of you. Thank you so, so much. To all the bands and artists, your creativity, your dedication, your ability to connect though music, has been my inspiration. I met many of the artists and most of them loved this idea and were really happy to be part of it. To those of you who took the time to listen to me, sign tickets and in some cases give me a hug (I’m looking at you, Guy Garvey) your humanity and warmth made this.
On the 1st February 2017 I went to a gig on a boat (Thekla, I love you) to see a band I didn’t know. I had planned to see 39 other gigs before the 31st January 2018. By the end of 2017 I had been to 51 gigs, travelled to 8 Cities, visited 30 different venues (mostly independents), cemented friendships, made new ones and fallen in love.
Today marks the start of a new gig year. I am seeing Nadine Shah at the Roundhouse in London tomorrow, Mogwai in Bristol on Saturday. February will also bring gigs from Willy Mason, India Electric Co and Nils Frahm. March sees me travel to Birmingham and Manchester to see Elbow with John Grant twice, Solomon Grey, venture to the Bristol Jazz Festival to see Arun Ghosh, Evelyn Glennie, Ghostpoet and Lee Konitz as well as a classical concert at the beautiful St George’s Hall. April is more classical music, Public Service Broadcasting and Joan as Policewoman. I’ll be celebrating my birthday in May with Max Richter and Ex Eye and a few weeks later there is Ezra Furman. So I am not stopping.
Music, live music, is everything.