Cool, hip music concerts are designed for the cool and hip amongst us. They are designed for people who wanna stand as close to the action as they can and those who are happy to get yanked over the front barrier when things get hairy. They are designed for bopping and moving and grooving, for dancing and jumping and bouncing, for the young and the young at heart, the indefatigable, the cool hipster-hopster folk. In short they are not designed for those wishing to sit sedately and listen nor for those who have little choice but to sit down and listen (sedately or otherwise). Not so long ago as a teenager I discovered real proper cool gigging – tirelessly jumping up & down at the front, singing along and getting pushed & shoved & showered with sweat and beer – I loved every minute. During these heady days I had one particular friend who wasn’t as cool or hip as me and she asked me to accompany her to a concert to celebrate her 16th birthday. I have never forgotten this day. We were surrounded by a sea of blue rinses and wrinkles and everyone was seated on actual seats in an actual theatre. As soon as the support act came on (a harpist – I’m not even kidding) I wanted out of there but out of loyalty to my excited (ex) friend I persevered and watched the main attraction (Jimmy Nail – again, I’m not even kidding). The point I’m making here is that on that day I made a promise to myself that I would never attend a ‘gig’ of this sort again – gigs are for standing and jumping and dancing, not sitting – Oh dear dear dear, poor unsuspecting 15 year old me.
Fast forward 20 (ahem) years and where do I find myself? That’s right, SITTING on a CHAIR at a gig in the local Arts Centre. I’ve often heard it said that one of the ‘perks’ of being disabled is that you get swanky seating at concerts with the best view at a discounted price, well, give me the legs to stand and jump full price at the front any day. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the gig, on the contrary it was flippin’ awesome to see one of my favourite bands from my youth re-join for a night of energetic ‘90’s nostalgia (the band was Sleeper if you’re wondering). As far as music venues go Norwich Arts Centre is right up there for friendly, helpful service. They went out of their way to ensure that I was escorted to my reserved seat raised above the crowd so I had a kick-ass view; and because it is such an intimate venue I still felt very much a part of the concert. I came away buzzing. I just wish I’d been able to stand at the front. Thinking back to other concerts I’ve taken my MS along to this one at the Arts Centre was far and away the best. Sitting in a wheelchair in front of the VIP stand in Hyde Park to see Blur 3 years ago was both an amazing and hideously depressing experience. It’s no fun remaining static while thousands of people are having the time of their lives and jumping around in front of you. Plus there was simply no way Damon was gonna hear my screams of ‘I Love You’ from that distance!
You know what? I just don’t think I was designed to sit down…
First published 12 April 2018