I don’t usually attend mainstream music concerts, and when I do, I’m generally nowhere near the front of the venue. Until yesterday, my entire [mainstream] concert-attending repertoire had consisted of:
- The Jonas Brothers
- One Direction
- Ed Sheeran
(#noshame) …for all of which, I was somewhere in the middle of masses upon masses of people, or I was in the boondocks. No, of course I didn’t expect tickets to come at a decent price for those acts, particularly since I’d seen them all in their relative heydays, but even then — I didn’t even purchase a ticket for that last concert, that’s how much of a cheapskate I am when it comes to these things.
And yet, somehow, yesterday night, I found myself standing just three people away from Ben Howard at the final concert of his tour.
It was — tall, slightly unfriendly people aside — an incredible experience. I’m not a huge Ben Howard fan (I beg forgiveness from all the diehard Ben Howard fans whose spot I stole.), but there’s something really enchanting about being that close to an artist as he performs onstage.
He’s not got the greatest stage presence; of the three or four instances he spoke, he mumbled into the microphone almost unintelligibly, and barely interacted with the audience otherwise. But when it came to the music, I really don’t have any complaints.
He’s consistent in his vocals. He cares deeply about his performance, so much so that he started “Small Things” twice because his guitar was, apparently, acting up. (I say “apparently” because it’s not like anyone in the audience could tell what was acting up.) And it’s evident that he’s there for the music.
Despite having more musicians onstage than Ed Sheeran had, his show is not only the most stripped-back show I’ve attended, but it’s also the one that had the least dallying time between set changes and songs. (Trust me, my feet and back would have known if extra time had been taken somewhere in the middle.)
It is, perhaps, true that this experience would have been a bit more evocative if it had been an artist with whom I was more familiar, but even so — it was an entirely new experience to watch a show from a vantage point close enough to see every frown, every crease, every closed eye on the artist’s face. I just read a film theory book that suggested, as most would agree, that the face is the most open part of the body. It’s the part of the body that exists most completely for others to see.
After this concert, there’s nothing that would convince me to disagree with that statement. Although I was unfamiliar with most of the music played and I’m certain I’m still as unfamiliar with it as I was about 24 hours ago, I can be certain that I at least have a fairly decent idea of how this music was meant to be presented to and heard by an audience.
Thank you, co-everything, for waiting for so long for us to get this coveted spot, and thank you, Ben Howard for a fantastic show. My feet and back, though sore then are very much fine now, are ready to go through that experience again.