As we approach the anniversary of the first lockdown here in the UK, our writers reflect back on their first concerts. We may miss live music, but we hope our writers remind you of why music is so special.
I was always the person in our primary school choir that sang the loudest, perhaps in an attempt to hide that fact that I really had no vocal skill. In some sort of Year 5-fever-dream twist, our school choir grew to the size of the entire school as we were whisked away to one of Birmingham’s top spots, the now-called-something-else NIA. There we were joined by thousands of other schools, filling out one of the largest arenas in the country, about to engage in the Young Voices concert. I know I did this two years in a row, but I cannot separate the two experiences. I know there was a Michael Jackson melody, a heart-wrenching rendition of Fireflies, and a smushing of 80s hits that all seemed to be on B&Q adverts. This wasn’t the first concert where singing along was just expected, it was the entire basis of the concert itself. It was an incredible experience and the best atmosphere I have ever been sucked into, even if the singing itself left a lot to be desired; a true cacophony of pre-pubescent screaming. Plus, there’s nothing better than eating your packed dinner next to your favourite teacher, while making childhood goo-goo eyes at the back of your crushes’ head, singing along to the chorus of Crazy, Amazing.
After her unforgettable hit ‘Swagger Jagger’ making it to number 1, I was lucky enough to see Cher Lloyd live. Although sadly this was before the age-old meme of “Cher Lloyd by Cher Lloyd” had been invented. Picture it, Folkestone 2011, Cher Lloyd is rocking out to her Sticks and Stones album, with other covers I can’t quite recall, and my 11-year-old self is stood watching, starstruck, in a pink leopard print Cher Lloyd tee. Though I can’t remember many of the details, the feeling of being in a room with other fans, listening to your favourite musician (of the time) was an amazing experience. I just feel sorry for my mum having to come along with me, and pretend to get down to ‘Swagger Jagger’ and ‘Want U Back’.
I used to think its embarrassing that my first gig was the one and only JLS, yet 10 years on I like to think of it as a brilliant welcome to the world of concerts and festivals. Back when I was just 11 I’d never been to anything close to a gig, nevermind one held in a castle – yes, castle. Fresh out of X-Factor stardom, JLS performed at the beautiful Warwick Castle in my hometown to a crowd of thousands. The fact that my first concert was an outdoor one held in such an incredible venue really is a brilliant way to *soon* become addicted to going to gigs. Since that day back in 2011, I’ve gone to approximately 200 concerts around the country and I look back at that JLS experience (which we apparently had VIP tickets for and didn’t even realise) with fond memories of being in a huge crowd singing along with kids and parents of all ages, feeling that strong community vibe for the first time. Also, ‘Everybody in Love’ just is a banger – always has been, always will be.