Nitin Sawhney,James Walsh & Bill Ryder Jones

Friday 24th April, 2020

A trio of livestreams. I was worried there would be a clash, but it worked out. Yes, many of the livestreams are being put up on youtube or are available to watch again (and some are pre-recorded anyhow), but, there is something special about watching them live. It makes it feel more like a real gig and less like a facsimile.

Nitin Sawhney’s set was part of PRS Lckdwn, a 24 hour live music event to raise funds for the PRS emergency relief fund. Musicians have lost an enormous chunk of income and if we can afford to support them, we should. We need music, art and entertainment now more than ever and it cannot be made for free.

Nitin is someone I’ve wanted to see live for a while, his music is such fusion and joy. Besides Anna Phoebe is in the band and she is the most dynamic and exciting violinist I’ve seen. This 20 minute set didn’t disappoint. I hope, really hope, that one day I’ll be able to get out to see and hear the real thing live. Until then, this wonderful combination of guitar, violin and two voices will have to do. It was calming and uplifting and I wish it had been longer.

James Walsh is playing live on Instagram every Friday night, what a treat right? Tonight’s highlights included Tell Me Its Not Over and Boy In Waiting, which I’ve not heard for ages and was aces. There were some excellent covers too, including Ring Of Fire and there was also a new tune, written this week, which I liked the sound of. See you all there next week?

Bill Ryder Jones. Bill. Oh Bill. Lovely, lovely Bill. He was just as shambolic and brilliant as ever. I fell in love with Bill’s voice the first time I heard him live, when I had no idea who he was. The fragility, vulnerability and beauty with which he sings just gets me every time. There is a very special quality to his voice, a tone, a magic something that melts me. He is one heck of a guitarist and is also very funny and sweet. He gives good hug, too, I mean not as good as Guy Garvey, but you know, it’ll do. Christ, its been seven weeks since I had a hug with anyone other than my stroppy teenage son and who the heck knows when I’ll next feel close to another adult again. 

Don’t Be Scared I Love You made me cry, it always makes me cry when I hear Bill play it live. That line “with six words and one kiss” is lyrical perfection. God Only Knows sounded fantastic, and the rock organ, well, I didn’t expect to hear a Procol Harum cover this evening! That’s the thing about Bill live, and live in lockdown as well it seems, you never know what you are going to get. Other than that gorgeous voice, of course. 

Thank you to all the artists I saw and heard tonight, it is a vital lifeline for me. Live music is one of the few things that makes my life worthwhile and to be without gigs for months, possibly years, has been breaking my heart. Being able to tune in live and hear you play eases that pain. I am not alone when I am listening to music. Music is my family and my home. All of you, in some shape of form, have helped to fill the void. That is why I made a donation (small, sorry) to the PRS and will be buying Bill’s music on Bandcamp ASAP. James, I already own everything Starsailor ever released in every format (including test pressings, promo copies and DJ copies) so I don’t feel too bad about watching you for free. Hope that’s alright.

To anyone reading this that loves music and has a little bit of spare cash, maybe go and buy some music on bandcamp or order CD’s or vinyl from an independent record shop, or direct from an artists website. Or donate to the PRS fund. Music has given me so much, it is only fair to give a little back.

Folk on Foot Front Room Festival

Monday 13th April, 2020

A seven hour long folk festival, broadcast live from the artists living rooms to mine. Oh yes, thank you very much, Folk on Foot. I was directed to this festival by Peggy Seeger, who advertised it in her newsletter.

The line up is stacked with fantastic folk artists so I was more than happy to make a donation. Half of the money going to the artists, half to a musicians charity.

Each artist is playing a short set of about half an hour and with 16 acts on the bill that’s a full afternoon and evening of music. I may not review each one in full, forgive me that.

Karine Polwart was funny and sweet, and has a beautiful voice. I will be looking out for chances to hear her live in person when all this is over as I found her whimsical humour very charming.

Bella Hardy is an artist I’ve been trying to see live for ages, but the dates never seemed to work, so getting to hear her singing as part of this festival was pretty cool. She played a relaxing set that fitted the late afternoon slot well.

Sam Lee’s voice is one of those I could listen to forever, deep, connecting and soulful. Enclosed in his cosy living room with fire going and low lighting, it felt very intimate.

Lisa Knapp did a fantastic version of Stepping Out on the harmonium and the family harmonising sounded amazing.

I’ve seen Kris Drever solo and with Lau and loved him both times. I am hoping to see Lau unplugged later this year, pandemic willing. He has another of those voices that transport you somewhere beautiful and relaxing but with the hint of something darker waiting round the corner. A bit like the landscapes of the Scottish islands I suppose. It must be my Scottish roots that make me find empty islands, moors and mountains shrouded in mist comforting. Kris Drever’s voice is like a fine single malt, smooth, rounded and warming. This sort of music is comfort food for the soul. And yes, he made me cry.

Kerry Andrew made clever use of the corridor outside her flat to create a cavern like sound, with reverb and echo, making it sound like she was in a Church rather than a block of flats! One day maybe I’ll get to hear Kerry’s lovely voice in person, I would like that.

Jackie Morris painted a pair of beautiful otters, with Kris Drever on guitar as backing. It was tremendously relaxing to watch and I was glad I had a wee dram on the go. All bank holidays should be like this, pandemic or not!

I had to duck out for a short while, I needed to eat for goodness sake, which meant missing a couple of acts, honestly the music has just been non-stop for hours. I vaguely caught some gorgeous harp sounds but that was all.

Peggy Seeger, the the artist who had drawn me to the festival in the first place gave us a sing a long set for all the family. Deceptively simple songs to join in with, including sung times tables. That was toe tapping and I couldn’t help but have a go. It felt like your Nanna was singing down a video call, rather than an icon of folk of decades standing. I’ve been lucky enough to see and hear Peggy Seeger more than once, meeting her both times. She is generous, witty and still has a wonderful voice in her 80’s. This was a mini folk masterclass.

The last act I caught was Seth Lakeman, one of the most popular folk performers out there but one I don’t really know. I’m contrary and if something is popular that is usually enough to make me not like it! I can see why he is so popular, but his music isn’t for me, sorry.

It has been a wonderful day of folk music. Huge congratulations to Folk on Foot for collating it all and raising so much. Touring is about the only way most artists make any money and with months of income gone in one fell swoop, well, it will be hard for many of them to keep going. Events like this one today help on so many levels. As I’m writing and publishing this, the festival is continuing, but I am leaving before the end. It’s been fantastic to stay in touch with some of the music, musicians and fellow fans today. See you all again soon, I hope, from your living room or in a concert hall. Music unites us, wherever we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Walsh live from his living room

Thursday 9th April, 2020

Love is Here, Starsailor’s debut album will be 20 years old next year. There will hopefully be a tour to celebrate that, but for now, James Walsh, the bands lead singer, decided to treat us all to a play through of it acoustically from his living room with the aim of raising £2000 for NHS charities.

I have loved Starsailor’s music since almost the very beginning. It was 2001 that I first saw them play live and well, life never was the same after that. There have been dozens of gigs, dozens of stories and almost two decades of friendship and music. Those friendships and this music have lasted longer than and meant more than almost any other relationship in my life. There aren’t the words, really.

James was in tremendous voice this evening and the sound quality was far better than I expected. Perhaps helped by me remembering to use headphones this time round, and not my phone speaker!

There are tracks on Love Is Here I’ve not heard live in a very long time and ones I’ve heard in almost every set. They all sounded wonderful tonight, just James and his guitar. There may have been a few tears shed. There may have been some very bad singing along and yes, I did clap at the end of every song even though James couldn’t hear me.

It has been another strange week for us all, full of emotion. One friend has recovered, another is now ill and in hospital. Someone else lost their wife. Another their father in law. This awful pandemic is starting to circle ever closer. I needed the escape and release of live music.

It may seem silly, but for this lockdown live, I dressed up and put on make up and I turned all the living room lights right down low, so I could get the closest feeling I could to being out at a gig somewhere. It has helped. It has lifted and lightened. Seeing the numbers climbing, the comments rolling in and recognising some of the names, helped me feel connected to that musical community again.

I am nearly three weeks into a twelve week isolation. I live alone. Other than my son (and his Dad when he picks him up/drops him off once a week) I see no-one. I cannot go for a walk or to buy provisions. I have become reliant on the kindness of others, often strangers. I am working in the NHS during this, thankfully admin jobs can sometimes be done at home, thinking of my colleagues who are continuing to care for patients every day and hoping that they will all still be there when all this is over.

Thank you, James. For tonight making me feel less alone. For raising over £5000 to help.  But mostly for nearly twenty years of music. That fabulous voice of yours continues to move me. Until I can hear it again, live in the same room, from your living room to mine is a pretty amazing substitute.

 

Chris Simmons live from his house

Friday 20th March, 2020

My second live gigcast of the evening! Chris is a singer/songwriter who I saw supporting Gaz Coombes a while back and I’ve kept an ear out for him ever since.

This was a simulcast on both facebook and instagram, go Chris. Just him and his guitar belting out an hours worth of tunes and good humour. The sound was decent enough and Chris’ voice sounded great. There were plenty of new songs and ones I’ve not heard Chris play before, with a sprinkling of ones I did, something to keep everyone happy I think.

Being able to share in music again, like this, while we have nothing else, is helping. Thank you.

James Walsh live from his living room

Friday 20th March, 2020

The world has changed for many of us. We are living through extraordinary times. A pandemic illness for which we currently have no cure and not especially effective treatment for is sweeping the globe, killing thousands. A lot of us are anxious. A lot of us are scared. A lot of us are grappling with new normals. In the UK we are not in full lockdown as yet, but we are encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible and events have been cancelled. How do we face this uncertainty? How do we maintain social contact while distancing? How can musicians and music fans stay connected?

Many artists have answered by broadcasting live from their homes. Instagram and Facebook are full of online gigs. Everyone is at it, from megastars to locals. This was to be the first one I tuned in for. James Walsh is Starsailor’s lead singer and guitarist and they are a band with a very special place in my heart. I happened to see James announce that he would be playing for us all and it lifted me. I messaged some of my old Starsailor mates to say I was thinking of them and would they be watching too. Some were able to, others not, but at least it kept us together in each other’s thoughts and that is precious enough right now.

James had an impressive jigsaw on the table in front of him, so he is clearly keeping busy! He opened, in fine voice, with Good Souls and also played Fever, Four to the Floor and a few others, including some of his solo stuff. It was short and sweet, over in about half an hour, but it made me smile for the first time in days. For a little while I was back in the world of music and its community, albeit remotely. It was a lovely way to reconnect and feel part of something positive.

The world now feels very small and scary, confined either to homes or only essential movement (on foot in my case as I don’t drive). There is no possibility of a mass gathering like a gig for months, which for me is a very hard thing to contemplate. Last year I went to 103 gigs, or an average of 2 per week. Knowing I will be without the thing that means most to me, after my son, in the whole world, for that long. Well, it is hard.

Knowing that many of the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, the musicians, the road crews, the band management and office staff, the fellow fans, will be ill, lose their livelihoods, possibly their lives, is frightening. To everyone, everyone I have known through music, stay inside as much as you can, wash your hands, look after yourselves and look out for others. When this is all over we will need you, more than we ever have, to celebrate the good things with.

Until we can gather together in person again, please, where you can, keep gigcasting. It made me feel less alone. Other than my son, I may not have contact with another human in real life until June. I need music now more than I ever have, and records and the radio are wonderful, but there is no substitute for live. Even if it is one man with a guitar in his living room.

Now wash your hands, don’t go outside unless you have to, don’t buy more than you need and be kind. We will only get through this together, if we think of others as much as we do ourselves.

 

Welsh National Opera – Marriage of Figaro, Bristol Hippodrome

Thursday 12th March, 2020

Having waited three years to see another opera, I wound up seeing two in a week. On consecutive nights, the same theatre and the same opera company. WNO play a season at the Hippodrome every year and they alternate between a couple of operas over the short run. The cheapest seats are £13 and although that does means sitting in the Gods, it is an affordable way to see great opera. You could always chance your arm and sneak into an unoccupied seat lower down in the interval if you were feeling brave (not that I have ever done this, you understand. Wink).

Having seen Carmen the night before I had a handle on the subtitles this time and even managed to follow sections without. The staging and costumes were period this time, we were firmly in an 18th Century setting. Somehow that both helped and didn’t make a difference. The whole company were excellent, but the stars really did shine. The whole thing was a farce of epic proportions and I had a good chuckle at all the misunderstandings and subterfuge. The duet between Susanna and Marcellina contained burns of the highest order. Their irritation and annoyance with each other, escalating into insults and put downs as fresh and modern as anything Kathryn Ryan could come up with.

That Mozart was a musical genius almost goes without saying, sometimes we overlook those known as being the greatest (or like me, wonder what all the fuss is about), but he clearly was a prodigy. The musical flourishes and accents sprinkled throughout were such joy. Anytime you can hear a full orchestra play like this is a wonderful experience.

The Marriage of Figaro is a great farce and it was easy to trace a line from it to the Whitehall Farces of the 1950’s and beyond. Secret identities, people hiding in cupboards, plummeting out of windows, pretending to be someone else, wearing masks and big reveals are staples of comedy and indeed soap operas now.

This was by far the easiest to follow and most fun opera I could have gone to. If you would like a way in, this is one worth seeking out. New York’s Met Opera and the Berlin Phil are making operas and classical music performances free to view online right now so it is an ideal time to try out something new.

When the pandemic is over and I can get out again to hear music live, I plan on finding more opera. It may be long, very long in Figaro’s case, but that just means you are really getting your money’s worth. Nearly three and half hours of live music and theatre for less than £15. Yes, thank you very much, WNO, I will take that.

Welsh National Opera – Carmen, Bristol Hippodrome

Wednesday 11th March, 2020

I went to my first, and until this, only opera as part of 40 gigs in 2017 and vowed I would see another. It may have taken 3 years but I finally got round to going again.

Carmen would be a lot jollier a prospect than La Boheme I thought, and it was, even if there was still death and jealousy and rage.

The orchestra were fantastic and the singing excellent, but I found the 1970’s costumes and set a bit jarring. I can see where there were coming from but it didn’t really work for me. Or maybe it was just my lack of opera knowledge showing. The subtitles were welcome and gave enough to follow without being a word for word translation, although it did take me a while to get the hang of reading them, listening and watching the action. I did try to do without them a couple of times, but found myself confused. What also helped was knowing quite a lot of the music, I didn’t know I did, but a lot of the movements are so famous that even if you think you don’t know them either, I bet you do. It was stirring and passionate and lifted me.

The Welsh National Opera are known as some of the best in the business and as a way into opera they are very, very good. If you have never been to one, when we are allowed out again, maybe give it a try. Or stream an opera, many of the great opera houses are making performances available online at the moment. I plan to find a few in the coming weeks.

 

 

Wicked – Apollo Victoria, London

Saturday 7th March, 2020

The world has changed much in the past two weeks. It hasn’t felt right to write this and yet I need to keep writing. I need that part of my life to continue.

Remember the beginning of March? The sun was shining. A virus had appeared in China a few weeks before but although we talked of it, it was far away and not something we were frightened of. Perhaps we should have been. But at that time we were all carrying on as normal. And I had been gifted tickets to BBC 6 Music Festival, train travel to London and a hotel. Which I had taken excitedly and enjoyed thoroughly. I took myself to the Steve McQueen exhibition at the Tate and then decided to treat myself to a show. I have wanted to see Wicked since it opened in 2006.

I am a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan (I even own the special edition Monopoly set for goodness sake). It is an expensive show to get tickets for and I thought I would try for a standby seat while I was in London and managed to score one. This weekend trip felt like it was meant to me. Now, I look back at is a last hurrah, but I couldn’t have known then what was going to happen. I was just taking the opportunity to enjoy myself.  Having lived with inclement health for most of my life, I do not take chances for granted. A lesson previously healthy people are now having to learn as we all socially distance and isolate.

I was thrilled walking into the beautiful art deco Apollo Victoria theatre and really looking forward to what I was about to see.

I left the theatre bitterly disappointed, wishing that I had seen this show many years ago, before I had the knowledge I do now. Wicked annoyed me! There is a gaping plot hole at the end that spoils the whole show. That the two heroines fall out over both loving the same man is a tired and boring trope. That the disabled characters are feeble, helpless and indeed wicked is abelist and lazy stereotyping. That the beautiful, blonde, in all her duplicitous privilege gets to bathe in all the glory just wound me up. That Elphaba would have fallen for the vain, shallow man is pathetic. More than anything though the songs weren’t very good! How has this won numerous awards? Generic, bland and uninspiring. The performers delivered well, the staging, lighting and costumes were good, but there is only so much you can ever do with a script and story this poor isn’t there?

I am not the only disabled person who has issues with Wicked. Nessarose, a wheelchair using character, is treated as helpless and lesser than her contemporaries, until she is magically given the ability to walk (eye roll) and then her pent up bitterness explodes into anger and evil behaviour. I mean, come on. In the lyrics of Dancing Through Life she is described as “tragically beautiful” so the ableism isn’t exactly hidden! And I think it would be reasonably easy to read Elphaba as autistic, or in another way neurodivergent; her affinity with the animals, her sense of justice and wanting to do the right thing at all costs, her inability to fit in. At the very least she is disabled by the disfigurement of being green. She is mocked, vilified and ostracised for being different at every turn. Even her big song, Defying Gravity, felt flat.

It wasn’t her the little girls in the audience left wanting to be, it was Glinda. It is always the Glinda’s who win.

This was neither a deserving prequel or a very good show. I was sad that this huge mega-hit has been so lauded. I felt cheated. It was a disappointing end to what had been a spectacular weekend.

Do not waste your money on tickets for Wicked. Go and read disabled writers, campaigners and academics talk about ableism, learn and be better. Please.

 

 

 

 

Steve McQueen – Tate Modern, London

Saturday 7th March, 2020

I had been planning on seeing this exhibition later in the year, but seeing as I was somewhat unexpectedly in London and the hotel was right round the corner from Tate Modern it seemed churlish to not take the opportunity to go while I was so close by.

Steve McQueen has long intrigued me. I’ve not had the opportunity to see his work before, so the chance to see so much in one place and in one go seemed like a real treat. I had not been to the section of the Tate that the exhibition was held in before, either, and I really liked the Tanks, vast concrete spaces that held oil in the days when the building was Bankside power station but that are now used as gallery spaces for performance. They were empty when I went in, even of other visitors, who mainly popped their heads through the door and wandered off. I slowly wound my way round the insides of both, listening intently to the sounds of scuffled shoes as they echoed around inside the chamber and breathing in the dank smells of strange rooms. I can imagine they are very interesting spaces to fill with dance and music, maybe I’ll see something in there on day. I also really liked the winding, concrete stairs, huge windows and sense of grand scale and space in the rest of this half of the building. Finally, a part of Tate Modern I enjoyed!

The exhibition itself isn’t huge, but there is a lot of content within, and it is laid out in a way that you can dip in and out of many of the films as you wish. The open, yet dark layout partnered the art in contained well; I have nothing but praise for the curation of this. Plenty of seating options, well maintained queues and sound baffling inside the cubes that contained each piece beautifully so that you were suitably enveloped within. As I was there not long after opening time it was also blissfully not that busy, so I got to take my time and savour what was there.

As you enter you are assaulted, jointly, by Static and Once Upon a Time, and the swirl of the soundscapes of both are quite jarring. However, once adjusted to the sounds of glossolalia and whirring helicopter blades you can either train one eye on each piece or wander between them. They are both monumental in size and scope, huge screens projecting on both sides (a very clever trick), beaming out light into the cavernous dark room. I found Static to be both comforting and disconcerting and despite it being light on content (not of subject matter) it was impossible to not keep eyes affixed onto it as the camera circles round and round and round the Statue of Liberty. What you take from this would very much depend on who you are I guess, and it struck me as asking a lot of questions but providing no answers. How you see things, how you view, who you are as a viewer was the point. Of the whole exhibition, but this opening salvo really showed it to me.

Western Deep could have been an all senses assault, if the rest of the small audience had been less noisy. Beginning in complete darkness and with bursts of ear splitting sound, it is not the easiest short film to watch. Noisy, relentless, and hard, a perfect vignette. I was left disoriented and wondering about the fate of the men who worked so very, very deep underground.

Cold Breath and Charlotte were reliefs after that, and the way they were displayed, projectors on continuous loops in front of you, so that you could move directly in front of the lens, almost becoming part of the art, made clever use of tight space. I stood behind and then to each side of the cameras, taking in different viewpoints. Both pieces are surreal and reminded me of the Yoko Ono installations I’d seen earlier in the year (which I forgot to write about), but also with echos of Bunuel and Dali.

7th Nov. well, that was heavy and my mind has been spinning with all sort of questions ever since I walked out of this room. The stillness of the image contrasted with the dynamism of the audio, the scar across the top of Marcus’ head, laid out like he was on a slab at the morgue, but he is the surviving one of the tale, how he came about the gun, McQueen’s relationship with his cousins, what happened to Mum, all left unexplored, frustrated me greatly.  Yet it distilled focus so tightly on the words of the soundtrack that I can still hear his voice in my head now. Unemotional, detached, factual and also very powerful. Instead of the usual, standard documentary about such a tragedy, where racist tropes and biases would tell this tale so very differently, we were allowed to hear Marcus’ voice say Marcus’ words and develop an empathy with him, a deep sense of connection to someone very different to ourselves. It was about as human and humane a response to something so utterly tragic that I’ve ever seen.

I sort of boomeranged about after watching 7th Nov as I had found it so unsettling, so despite finding the subject matter of End Credits and Carib’s Leap fascinating, I was unable to engage with either particularly well. I found Ashes gently moving, and the way it was presented mused over mortality, senseless death, the fleetingness of life and the way we mourn. Ashes will forever be immortalised as young, carefree and handsome in this film, even as we watch his grave being prepared and decorated.

I am glad I left Girls, Tricky, until last as it left me smiling. As a Bristolian who loves her music, how could I not love this intimate and revealing portrait of Tricky at work?

All told I had been in this exhibition for over two hours and it would have been very easy to have gone away and come back for at least as long again. It felt as if I’d been there less than half an hour, the art was so engaging. My advice to you if you are going would be to allow an awful lot of time to linger, to go back, to wander and to think. You are going to need it.

It struck me, that with the exceptions only of the one still photograph in the exhibition, and the eye of Charlotte’s Eye (which is shot in red and huge close up, rendering it almost beyond colour in a way) that every single human image is of a black male. Steve McQueen has turned the lens on himself, literally in some cases, but metaphorically in others. Think about how often the black male is offered up in art. Not often, and certainly not often with this level of sensitivity and grace. There was and is huge power in that.

Steve McQueen’s work is eloquent and powerful. It has made me think a great deal since Saturday morning. I may even go and see this exhibition again. I will be listening to his Desert Island Discs episode again, that is for sure and I will seek out his feature films too. I was intrigued by Steve McQueen’s art before I went to this exhibition. I left more so. I liked very much the ways in which he challenged me, as a viewer, to see and hear things that were not always easy, but were incredibly engaging. I liked the ambiguity of many of the pieces, the surrealality, the sense of the absurd even. There was an otherworldly quality to a lot of it. Sometimes the clearest view of something comes from a very long way away, out of focus, drawn like memories, non-linear and jumbled. This is what Steve McQueen’s art did for me and I love any art that can make me think and make me feel. This exhibition achieved both.

“I’m interested in a truth” he has said “I cannot put a filter on life. It’s about not blinking”.

6 Music Festival:Nadine Shah & Brittany Howard – The Roundhouse, London

Friday 6th March, 2020

Oh now where do I start? I was offered free tickets and an overnight stay in a hotel on the Thursday night as my brother and his girlfriend were no longer able to attend. All I had to do was get myself to London. Which, given that my friend Ian had sent me his unused return train ticket in case I could make use of it, I absoloutely could! It felt like fate was conspiring and I had to say yes.

This was to be my second BBC 6 Music Festival, I had such a memorable and special weekend when they came to Bristol in 2016 that any chance to get to see anyone playing at this would be worth taking. I invited Ian to come with me. Apt as we met as 6 listeners! Thank you, Lauren Laverne, for bringing us together.

The line up had altered, Michael Kiwanuka was forced to pull out due to illness, get well soon Michael, so Nadine Shah was drafted in as a last minute super sub. What a sub to have on your bench, though. Her smoky, jazzy voice, bringing funky and socially conscious music is the sort of stuff I like very much. I’ve seen Nadine live twice before, so seeing as I had arrived late and had missed Black Midi completely, I decided to hang right at the back and simply soak up the atmosphere. I’ve had one of Nadine’s songs stuck in my head ever since, she was great.

As Ian and I are both vintage gig goers (a polite way of saying older) we sat down against the wall at the back of the venue and had a damn good natter. Partly with Grace, who was interviewing for 6 (a clip of us was used on the Saturday morning, I am such a 6 Music slut). I would normally hate such a long gap between acts, but that’s the nature of a festival and tonight I was happy catching up with my mate.

Neither of us had heard of Brittany Howard but I fell in love with her sequined jacket and then her voice pretty quickly. We moved round a little, still at the back, where I could just about see over the rest of the, by now, pumped crowd. Brittany Howard bought the funk. Then she took us to church. Her own stuff was tight, funky, soulful and superb, but the covers, man those covers. It takes some balls to take on Prince and The Beatles in the same set, but Brittany did both. Well. Higher and Higher made me want to worship and praise. I was dancing like my life depended on it. It was so joyous, wonderful and life affirming. Nothing brings people together in a spirit of togetherness like great music and dancing “we are all brothers and sisters” yes we are, Brittany, yes we are. It was exactly what I needed. Sometimes, just sometimes, you are in the right place at the right time to experience something magical. Brittany Howard was that.

I saw Nadine Shah dancing away and told her she was great, earning a cuddle in the process and got to meet and thank Mark Radcliffe for turning me onto folk music at the festival in 2016. All round it was a brilliant night. Thank you universe for bringing together all the factors that made it so.