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hozier, koko, london, 11th september 2018

okay, so hozier concert experience.

to get tickets, you had to pay to enter a ballot, which was then drawn. i wasn’t lucky, i didn’t get through. but, BUT then i got an email on the monday saying some people hadn’t bought their tickets and did i want some so i clicked very, very quickly and got two tickets. 

i emailed the venue about disability access because i suck at being nervous and standing up for long periods of time and not having panic attacks, and they were super nice and arranged for me and my dad to sit somewhere quieter and out of the way. they totally didn’t have to, koko is a standing venue, but they did and it made all the difference. 

we arrived at just before 7pm and because of the email i’d sent, when the doors opened i was able to skip the queue and be escorted to the seats, which was nice and i was practically vibrating out of my skin with nerves. it was on the balcony, and the bars came up above my head which meant i spent most of the concert watching through them like some weird, slightly bewildered zoo animal. the venue itself was gorgeous, properly ornate and oldschool. 

time ticked by, and nothing was really happening. below us, the venue was slowly filling up and it wasn’t until 8pm that the support act came on. i have never felt more sorry for a support act as i did for them, because they hadn’t been advertised so nobody was expecting them - they had come for hozier and hozier alone. a lot of people spent the entire time talking (loudly too, i had my earplugs in and could still hear them) and on their phones, which lit up the dark bright enough that the people on stage had to have seen. i’m sure they are a great band, but it wasn’t their night. 

they played about six songs before leaving, and then, finally, at 9pm, hozier arrived.

everything about it was magical, it felt like… this sounds dumb, but it felt like every song was a hymn, a sort of heathen hymn for the masses and the lights and the accompanying vocals just hit somewhere deep and primal and made it feel otherworldly. hozier seemed to be having a really great time on stage, and as the songs progressed, the audience warmed up more and more, until everyone was singing and clapping along. it felt like we were all part of something magical. 

when he played nfwmb it felt like the price of admission was worth it.

when he played arsonist’s lullabye, my favourite song by someone who is, ya know, still alive, i felt like… this was worth it, all the anxiety, the fact i was still shaking like a leaf, the brief panic attack in the bathroom, all of it worth it. i haven’t been to many gigs (obviously), so i don’t have much to compare to, but this was… i know we joke about hozier being a fae or something, but i swear to god if it came out that he actually was, it would not surprise me. something was in the air.

by the time he got to take me to church (or take me to the church as my dad calls it) everyone was singing along and it was over too quickly. the band left the stage and it looked like that was it.

but then he came back on and played three more songs. three! that’s what i call an encore. 

the staff who had looked after me were amazing, and checked up on us as we left. i honestly can’t fault them, and sent an email the next day thanking them and the woman who set it all up for me. it’s so important when people do make things accessible to thank them - i know things should be accessible as a matter of course, but often they’re not, and thanking people who help out makes it seem more worth their while. i couldn’t have gotten through the concert without their help.

i bought a t-shirt with the tour dates on, the first tour t-shirt i’ve ever owned where i’ve actually been to one of the dates, and then we left, catching the tube back to my uncle’s flat.

and the magic followed.

as we unlocked the gate, there were two foxes right in front of us, just stood there, without a care in the world. i’ve always had a connection to foxes, probably from watching animals of farthing wood so much as a child, but i’ve rarely had the chance to see one. so to see two, their light adolescent cub coats pale in the moonlight, walking only a few steps ahead of us, it felt like they were spirits or something. i learnt, unfortunately, that foxes do not respond to cat calls (when you make an idiot of yourself and try to call a cat over, not the other kind) and they left, but still. STILL. it felt so magical.

we got up to the flat, and i was sure i wouldn’t sleep.

but there was one last piece of magic left, and i slept like a log. 

10/10 would recommend to a friend.

oh, and as the concert was to raise money for war child, here is the link again: https://www.warchild.org.uk/

six lethargies, keaton henson, 20th july 2018

what can i say about this that hasn’t been said more eloquently by people much smarter than me? arriving in the room, with the smoke and the haze which felt like an old bookshop with the dust slightly disturbed, it felt like it was supposed to, if that makes sense. we weren’t allowed to take photos during the concert, so that’s why i only have the three. i admit i don’t know anything about classical music, and this is the first orchestra i’ve ever seen perform, so at times i was lost, and at times a little bored (which i can only apologise for). there were moments of pure beauty, refrains that just, if i could play them on repeat i would never get sick of them. there were moments where the music turned to something more brutal, the idea to invoke anxiety and the feelings it causes. the whole premise of the concert was to address anxiety and trauma, and the leaflets left on seats even mentioned that should you feel it was all too much, to call an usher and there would be a quiet room. i didn’t see anyone leave, but my eyes were fixed to the stage, not really looking around. the audience clapped after the first three lethargies, but after that things bled more into one another and it was hard to tell where one started and another ended. the ending of the concert itself was abrupt and unexpected, it seemed both that it had gone on for hours and that no time had passed at all. there was a standing ovation that went on for ages, and then keaton arrived on stage and the crowd went absolutely wild. one person (and i love whoever this was) shouted out ‘we love you keaton’, echoing the thoughts of everyone in the room. keaton left, but the standing ovation continued, so out he came again (and i can’t imagine how much that took for him, given his anxiety) and he was there for mere seconds, but to see him, to know he actually exists and isn’t some kind of collective hallucination producing such beautiful music, was amazing, and it was an honour to just be able to realise that this amazing bambi-gangly man was real and that his work had been realised. 

afterwards, we sat outside the barbican and the night was warm and the lakes and pools were surrounded by people talking about what they’d seen and heard. it was nice to find people who listened to him, because, as the booklet i bought about the concert said, his fans tend to carry the same anxieties he does, so i think it’s fair to say, some of us don’t get out much. he’d brought us together and created something beautiful and shared. 

if this tours, and i think it’s supposed to, i’d really recommend seeing it. i would warn for people with epilepsy or sensitivity to flashing lights, during the third movement the lights strobe dramatically and as i was struggling with a migraine i had to cover my eyes as it was, so for someone who is triggered by flashing lights it would be probably quite dangerous. that was the only bit i really didn’t like, but other than that, i would love to have it as a record, to play in the background as i do other things, because i did notice that about myself, as much as i tried to pay attention to the stage, i did find myself drifting, maybe because i do spend so much of my time listening to music whilst doing other things, whether it’s reading or writing or just browsing the internet. i’ve managed to program my brain into some kind of hyperactive beast, unable to focus on one thing at a time. in total, it was only an hour and a half long, and was definitely worth the trip to london. i feel honoured to have seen it, and so lucky to have seen keaton, and to see his work come to fruition. 

whatever he does next, i’m sure it’s going to be even more amazing.