On being moved by music


Following hearing/seeing one of the most powerful musical performances I’ll ever hear.

I’ve just got back from our last-but-one rehearsal before our show at the Cambridge Corn Exchange with We are Sound – so if you want to see me singing in a very small group piece to a fast-tempo electro-swing number, tickets are at http://www.we-are-sound.com/gigs – oh, and the track is in French.

When it comes to anthemic arrangements our musical director Andrea Cockerton is more than good at them. I was on stage when we sang this number in December 2014 at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge – our city’s largest concert venue which we sold out. You’ll need to play it through a decent sound system to get anywhere near the full impact of what I felt/heard/experienced in the middle of the collective.

Oh – and the loud applause of well over 1,000 people in an enclosed space all facing you is…electric.

I was going through an old DVD of ours from just before my time joining what was the Dowsing Sound Collective – now rebranded as We are Sound. They played a wonderful set in Ely Cathedral in summer 2013 – a gig I wish I was at. Will Cramer and the wonderful Cathy Elks were the lead vocalists in this clip, which left me blown away, speechless and feeling…kind of vulnerable yet inspired too. Have a listen.

I can’t put into words what it must have felt like for Will and Cathy to have been performing that to a packed out county cathedral with over 100 vocalists behind you – many of whom are your friends, booming out that anthem.

The track itself reminds me of this time a quarter of a century ago. At the time my older brother was in a band at school. I was in year 7 at the time – very emotionally dark days where I struggled with the transition from primary to secondary school. Not least because when I tried to talk about them to adults and teachers, my concerns were brushed off. I felt so strongly about it that I included it in my personal statement in my end of year report – something that my form teacher said she couldn’t see what the problem was because I got 3 commendations that term.

At that time – very late 1991 was also when the great Freddie Mercury died. My older brother and his band were big Queen fans. They covered a number of their tracks as 4-piece all-male guitar-based bands inevitably do. Funnily enough it was some of their less-played songs that stuck in my memory – one of them being ‘Save Me’ – written by Brian May.

I barely remember in 1991 what I now see as an incredibly well done music video for this song.

“Save me, save me, save me I can’t face this life alone;

Save me, save me, save me I’m naked and I’m far from home”

Given what I saw in Cathy & Will’s performance at Ely with the DSC, there’s a bit of me that would love to do the above number as a duet (assuming I don’t freak out in the quartet of us that has to face the biggest concert venue in my home city).

…And that’s my worry.

Or rather one of many given my current health which isn’t great. The biggest longer term one if I’m honest is expressed in the chorus quoted in the grey box written by Brian May. Although he was writing about a relationship break up, in my case it’s more about emotional connections that mental health problems simply suck the life out of. It also makes people like me harder to ‘read’. At a single event – whether rehearsal or council meeting for example, I can switch from being this ball of intense activity (filming or tweeting), to delivering a hard-hitting speech/intervention, to being half-asleep, to being a bundle of fun. On the first one, the solution is remembering to breathe. (I’d love for someone to do a study on people’s breathing patterns when using social media – or computers generally when focussed on the work at hand). On the feeling half asleep, for those of you who have read the Harry Potter books, imagine a dementor has just swooped into the room to feed on my soul. It’s a bit like that.

Note, I’m posting this after having decided not to post a previous blogpost which has a theme something along the lines of: “What if I told you that…?” – with one statement after another beginning with those words.

In writing it, I’m acknowledging that paradox that as personal and unique as these experiences and feelings feel, it’s just like everyone else with their own personal and unique feelings. Just as I read through the tweets and status updates of various friends, acquaintances and online correspondents posting about their own life struggles, I – like them – struggle with knowing where the balance is between wanting to call out for help but not wanting to have your social media taken over by it or being seen as a burden on others.

I’ll leave it here for now, but there’s more on the mental health/long term anxiety side of things that I’ll need to return to.




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