Taking the metro to the gig tonight, at Stadion station hordes of sweaty Stockholm Marathon runners jammed themselves into my carriage like it was the Tokyo metro. It was a claustrophobic experience and I worried that my newly showered and made-up self would arrive crumpled, sweaty and dishevelled to the venue. As it happened, the ride there was a faint echo of what would follow!
When all of us gathered in front of the stage for the sold out gig, packed tightly to get as close as possible, the room quickly turned into a sauna. Once the gig started and we got moving and dancing, it got worse! I got home completely soaked through from top to toe, no make-up left apart from the water-proof kind, and my long hair as wet as it was a few hours earlier when I stepped out of the shower.
But it wasn’t just sweat wiped from brows this night. At the beginning of the gig Matt Johnson went to his mic and told us that he’d received bad news earlier in the day after he arrived in Stockholm; his dad had died. He apologized in advance for being more ponderous than usual on stage. A gasp of shock and sympathy was heard from the audience, followed by applause for his bravery to go through with the gig in spite of this. This created a special atmosphere during the night, lyrics took on even stronger meaning and you could see big burly men wipe away tears streaming down their faces during certain songs (for once I didn’t feel like the lone cry-baby in the room).
But the tears were mixed with plenty of joy as well; the band was very good (was especially impressed by the keyboard player, whose piano soloing on ”Uncertain Smile”, to name but one, were brilliant and better than Jools’), Matt’s voice was as great as ever, they played one favourite tune after another, and everyone was excited to finally see him again. We sang along, we danced, best friends hugged when their favourite songs started. And to share this moment in time with him felt very special, and moving. Before the encores he talked some more about how difficult it had been and apologized for not being in a more joyous mood during the gig, but of course he had nothing to apologize for. The strength he’d had to muster to go through with the gig seemed superhuman and the gig was absolutely brilliant, so his speech was of course met with more heartfelt applause and shouts of love and encouragement.
Very enthusiastic, looked like 50/50 men and women, unusually. Almost all between 45 and 65, I’d guess, except a couple of young ones who looked like they were having a night out with a parent. Plenty of different languages spoken. And as always when I go out to a gig I just happen to choose the same day as the annual meeting of The Big and Tall Men’s Club of Scandinavia… 😉
It made me think..
…of absent friends that went too soon.