Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Kind Friends, Gather Round

I must warn you, what comes follows is the photographic representations of one of the best night so of my life. I'm not even joking.

I have loved Seth Lakeman for a long time. It must be about 10 years by now. I got to see him live at a seated gig 2009, then again in 2010, and again earlier this year. All of those were great, don't get me wrong, but they pale in comparison to the 23rd of October, 2015.

I couldn't not go to this gig. It was in Chester, which was perfect for me, & it was a small standing venue. So I bought two tickets on a whim and ended up taking Nanna Pat with me, grandmother of mystery and legend in the office. She tried to sit down at the back but I managed to drag her to the front with my camera, which really ended up paying off. I've been secretly lacing her iPod with Seth Lakeman for a few years & it was brilliant to see her dancing along to the songs she knew.

My goal for the gig was to take some pictures that I was really proud of. Unfortunately, coaxing Nanna Pat to the front took a little while & I ended up off to the left, which means that all of my pictures have a slightly annoying microphone silhouette. But on the plus side, we must have been isolated enough to catch his attention when singing every. single. word.

The off-centre position also meant that I had a great view of the collaboration between Seth & Jack Rutter on guitar. Man, they were having so much fun it was utterly infectious.

These two photographs ended up being two of my favourites. Every time I've seen Seth, I've always come away thinking, gosh, I wish I could play the fiddle. & these photographs kind of encapsulate that for me. I think it's the look on his face in the blue one above. He just looks so happy.

I was treated to many instrumental breakdowns with Seth and Jack over to stage-left. Some excellent grimacing faces and banjo work all-round.

Objectively, this was probably the best gig I've been to. Not just Seth... everybody. That is entirely down to the music, but like everything else, your experiences are coloured by the context of your life. & I'll be honest, I wasn't in a very good place when I dragged myself through the door into that grotty bar in Chester.

But Seth brought me out of it. The time I spent leaning on the barrier with my camera, exaggeratedly mouthing song lyrics to my nanna, was the happiest I had been in weeks. There was nothing else in the world for me other than being in that room and taking it all in.

Seth Lakeman playing Kitty Jay live is one of the most intense and satisfying experiences in the world, I swear it. It's in every show, he must have played it half a million times, but it never gets any less impressive or enchanting. Even live videos don't really capture it; there's nothing quite like seeing it in the flesh.

The band leaves the stage, the lights go crazy, & you're left with Seth Lakeman, a fiddle, and a stamping block... all of which look like they've taken a beating by the end of it. I swear this man must keep the entire bow industry in business as it tends to look like he's waving a fishing rod around by the end of this song.

Right about then was when I decided I was going to learn to play the fiddle.

& right about then I realised that Seth Lakeman might actually be my favourite musician. I think he's overtaken Teddy Thompson, even the mighty Bublé, to claim his rightful top spot.

Just to top everything off... I got to meet him, too. & he signed my vinyl. He clearly loves me more than he loves everyone else. It's obvious, you can tell.

I had met him once before back in 2009, and I was determined not to garble my words like a fool this time. I think I managed a very polite, "would you please sign this for me? Thank you!" & "I'm sorry, could I please get a selfie, too? A Seth selfie?" - a request he was happy to oblige. I walked away with this picture, which was the best souvenir I could have imagined.

Everything turned around for me that night, at least a little bit.

& the next morning...

...my mum bought me a fiddle.

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