Would you forgive me if I told you the first live act I saw was S Club 7? I was about twelve years old, my mother had already broken my heart by denying me the opportunity to see The Spice Girls live so she reasoned with me and my wish came true to see this seven piece bubble pop group (a septenary perhaps?) take to the stage at Sheffield Arena. I instinctively loved it; the bass kicking you in the guts, the screams of thrill that were unbearable; my poor mother on the other hand wanted to stick pins in her eyes. But really despite this manufactured cringe-worthy act being my true first experience I was really introduced to the thrill of real live music when I saw The Rasmus play Nottingham Rock City in 2004 at the tender age of fourteen.
The bands anthem In The Shadows was pissing everyone off global, but to a fourteen year old teenager who was susceptible to anything ‘mainstream’ this was like crack to an addict; not to mention lead singer Lauri Ylönen was, like totally the ‘fittest’ thing I’d laid eyes in all my decade of existence. The eyeliner, the feathers, the cute Finnish button nose… oh it was love. (I actually went on to develop a major crush on guitarist Pauli Rantasalmi later in life.) Up until the age of about eighteen I was obsessed with this band; but there was a reason, it opened me up to a new world of music that I never dared venture near before. Whilst nu-metal was what all my converse clad friends were obsessed with throughout my GCSE’s, I had Nightwish, Apocalyptica, Von Hertzen Brothers, PMMP, Within Temptation, Muse and Bjork on my MP3 player.
It went so far that in 2006 and 2007 I went to Finland in search of this mystical land that was pumping out iconic rock and metal music and quickly fell in love with this mysterious forest filled cold and lonely country, because despite anything when music became involved a new passion rose in everyone and anyone that surrounded you. A country that clearly is passionate about arts and new music they frown upon the words ‘tribute act’ instead opting to write their own distinctive music that has the world mesmerized.
Now back to that gig in 2004. I was young and impressionable to anything this band could perform live, I only knew the one song but danced, sang, cheered and chanted like a free spirit. When depression was just about to start strangling me and puberty was going to destroy most security I had of myself this hour long gig gave me freedom and that’s why whenever I hear live music my heart skips a beat. There is nothing quite like it. It’s also why whenever The Rasmus are in town I shun the unkind words about them instead dragging friends along for a surprisingly good night out (and to spy on my first loves). It takes me back to that innocence, that new adventure and that place where people come together, they dance their socks off, they smile, they laugh and they love. I reckon live music is a prescription that should be given at the very least once a year; it will light up the soul like no other experience can truly replicate.