One of the things I do in life that gives me huge amounts of joy is going to see live bands. I love the energy, the excitement, the sensory overload, the noise, the dancing, the music (obviously!) and the buzz. It is one of the best ways to spend a night out, and I would love to do it more often.
I have been to many gigs where I have been very excited about going to see the band, and woken up the next morning with snapshot memories, or none at all, and a very fuzzy head.
The first time I met Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, I got so excited and hyper I drank FAR too much vodka, and have absolutely no recollection of the band being on stage, not even when they played the song I asked Josh to play for me (although apparently I went into a near orgasmic state of ecstasy at the time, so I clearly enjoyed the moment!)
When I was drinking, I realised that I actually got lots more out of gigs if I volunteered myself to be the designated driver, and stay sober throughout the gig. This usually necessitated a bottle of wine or a 4 pack of cider cans being purchased in advance and put in the fridge to drink when I got home, but at least I got to enjoy the gig. I sometimes got tickets bought for me in exchange for being the driver, which was a double bonus!
I made this discovery at the same time that I discovered a band that was to truly rock my world.
On July 6th 2005, loads of my friends were going to see a band I had heard of but never listened to, Super Furry Animals. The following day, I was going to London with one of them, my gig buddy Paul, to see Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal in Somerset House. Listening to Paul talking excitedly about going to see this and Super Furry Animals, and decided that I didn’t want to listen to him telling me all about the gig I should have gone to, so got myself a ticket. I bought one of their albums (Rings Around the World), which I really liked, and went to the gig happy that I was going to enjoy it. I opted to drive because public transport to the venue was going to be difficult, and I didn’t want a hangover for the drive to London and the epic gig I was going to there.
When the band came on the stage, they completely blew me away. I had enjoyed listening to Rings Around The World, but listening to this had not prepared me for just how amazing they were going to be.
I danced from the minute they came on the stage to the moment I opened the doors of the car, pretty much dancing from the venue to the car! I was on a whole new high that I had never experienced before, high purely from the music, no drugs or alcohol needed.
Within a couple of hours, a band I had only vaguely heard of a week ago became one of my favourite bands, and still are to this day.
They even helped me in my fundraising efforts a few years ago, when I was allowed to rattle a bucket at people who attended one of their gigs, and I got to meet them after the show, which was HUGELY exciting!
I have seen SFA many times since, as well as seeing various solo and side projects the members of the band have been involved with. I think they are probably the band I have seen live most, and seen live sober most. I saw them on Saturday, when they played two albums, Fuzzy Logic and Radiator, in their entirety. It was a very last minute decision to go, after Laura Dernie, who was a fellow speaker at Ingite Cardiff in 2015, shared on Facebook that she had a spare ticket.
I was so glad I went.
It was an amazing gig. SFA have rarely given a poor gig in all honesty. True to my usual habit at their gigs, I danced from beginning to end. My hips were aching quite a bit the following day but it was totally worth it!
Because I had driven to the gig, I was able to stay till the end, rather than having to leave early to catch the train home
I love live music, I love dancing, I love music, I love going to gigs.
Sobriety means that I can drive to gigs I want to go to and not feel that I am missing out on aspects of the gig. Sobriety actually gives me a far richer experience of the gig than I used to have before.