Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Unification!

I have just re-watched Shane Meadows excellent documentary 'Made of Stone', a film about the history, and reformation, of the rock band The Stone Roses. He is a massive fan of the band and the project was (obviously) a labour of love. There was a scene in which the band announced a free gig, in which the first 1,000 people to arrive at the box office (with an item of band memorabilia) were issued with wristbands to gain entry. All of this was filmed. Within minutes, people arrived at the box office, running, sweating, in a panic. Many were interviewed. They couldn't believe it. They were beside themselves. Their favourite band - no, not their favourite band, one of the reasons that life was worth living - were playing at this venue after a gap of 20 years! Forget about the second coming, this was up there and beyond it! Such devotion was obvious, but such oneness - a collective understanding about the relevance of this event - was even more palpable. They entered the gig as one, and left it believing that they could change the world. I recognised it...

Last September I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to see Kate Bush's comeback tour. Here was an artist that I had a strong affiliation with, through a love of her music and identifying with the era that her music was a backdrop to. Some artists 'speak' to you. Kate spoke to me. On arrival at the Hammersmith Apollo on that special night, it was obvious that the 3,500 other souls who were attending the gig felt the same. When the, admittedly, mature woman in her mid-50s entered the stage, we all saw the same Kate of our youth. Nothing had changed. We all saw. We were all one. We left the venue thinking that we could change the world.

Whether or not I am in the car singing along with One Direction, Katy Perry or Taylor Swift with my wife and daughters; or sitting in Mark's front room getting misty eyed with a healthy dose of Neil Young, music is a great unifier. It makes you believe.

And so does natural history.

I have been at some great twitches in my time. The (yet again mentioned) Wallcreepers. The Cornwall Varied Thrush. The Scilly Orphean Warbler. The Portland Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The Kent Golden-winged Warbler. The Norfolk (How Hill) Black-and-white Warbler. I've seen rarer. But I've not been present at other birds that have elicited such oneness, such connection. Each was anticipated. Each was welcomed with collective gasps and appreciation. The same could be said for sea-watches, visible migration spectacle and falls of migrants that I have been lucky - no, privileged -  over the years to witness. The sharing of wonder, the knowledge that you are not alone in the appreciation of and, yes, obsession of the world around you.

You are not alone. This collective power should be used to shape the way humanity treats our fragile world. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to plunder my music collection for a healthy dose of unity.

9 comments:

  1. Steve, couldn't agree more with the music thoughts, music has always featured heavily in my everyday life, can't do without it. In two weeks time I will be at the Albert Hall enjoying Bob Dylan in concert, the latest in a long line of his concerts that I have seen, and continuing an obsession that I have had with his music since 1964.
    As for One Direction and twitching, well I'm afraid that neither does anything to unify me, very much the opposite.

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    1. Derek, please give my regards to Mr. Zimmerman...

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  2. Crikey Steve, that was spooky, Al Stewarts`s seminal album, Year of the Cat was playing in the background as I read your post! `Music is my first love`, as John Miles once sang (I`m afraid I`m stuck in a 70`s time warp), but yes, music concerts are one of the great human art forms, `and to be without my music (sorry, its John`s song again...) would be impossible to do...`I know where you`re coming from though, which takes me back to 1971 and my first ever concert as a nipper, at the Hammersmith Odeon with the Jackson Five, what a memory, a sea of high octane kids going mental; six months later I was walking to Blakeney Point with a small group of birders, that included RAR, experiencing what still remains the largest and most diverse fall of migrants I`ve ever seen, the unity of both occasions still fresh in the memory.

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    1. Come on Paul, put pen to paper (or finger on keyboard) and get some of these memories out there for us all to share! I'd love to know more.

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  3. Stone Roses never my thing. Was thrilled about the Velvet Underground reforming, but that was really creaky. Lush have now reformed, for shoegazey fans like me!

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    1. Whatever your bag, music has the power to inspire. I've sea watched with musical accompaniment, and they make good bedfellows!

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  4. I'll do my best Steve, as a member of his fan club I have priority seats near to the front and so will shout out "Steve sends his regards", knowing Bob he'll simply grunt back.

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  5. Sorry to disappoint you Derek, but the last time I saw Bob, 12 years ago he was so raddled he forgot the words to half of his songs! Still a legend though.

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  6. I've seen a couple of bad one's myself Paul but the last one, two years ago, was one of his best for years.

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