On the 13th of November, two of my best friends and I got to go full circle, and get in the mosh pit for Gang of Youths, a band we saw for the first time live back in February at Let Go Fest.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gang of Youths, they’re an indie-rock group from Sydney, Australia, and our concert was the last of a stretch of 8 shows they did in Melbourne. Considering they initially had two shows scheduled and set for tickets to be sold, the increase in shows during the couple of hours tickets were on sale is a clear indication of this bands reach.
It was an incredible show. The night started off very well, we managed to find a pub a block down from the Forum Theatre where the concert was being held, and grabbed some hot chips and a few drinks, before joining the crowds of people making their way inside the theatre.
It was packed inside, and crowds continued building by the minute, but by 9:50, we were all ready to kick off.
As soon as the band (David, Max, Jung, Joji and Donnie) walked out, it was like everyone was jolted with this huge electrical energy. One thing I noticed was, besides from having a girl break her beer cup and having the back of my feet and ankles splashed with beer, it was a really respectful, chilled out crowd. There was no-one shoving or pushing their way through, there wasn’t anyone screaming or talking loudly when it wasn’t necessary, everyone was just there to have a good time.
We didn’t even catch the two supporting acts, and we were still able to make our way quite easily to the front right of the stage, about six metres from the front.
The beginning of the concert was electrifying. I’ve always said this whenever describing their music, but for me, listening to Gang of Youths is like going to church and being baptised. Or what I think that feels like. You feel so refreshed and spiritually awake, it’s an incredible experience, and seeing them live only amplified that feeling.
Their entire set was incredible. It was just song after song of chest-pounding anthem-ic songs that hit you right in the gut in the best possible way.
For a large majority of the show I was completely spaced out, just watching them on stage. It was hypnotising to watch David move up and down the length of the stage, with or without his guitar and Donnie, the drummer, was a huge stand-out for me. By the end of the show his button up shirt had completely come undone and he was a huge mass of energy and limbs up on his throne at the back of the stage. Time and time again I just felt my eyes being drawn to him and how much passion he put into each song.
But like I mentioned before, David was absolutely hypnotising to watch. The way he danced and moved wasn’t like anything I have ever seen before, and there were plenty of songs where I didn’t move or sing a word because I spent the entirety of them just staring at the band on the stage. They entire band, especially David, had total control of the audience.
At one point David even got down into the crowd, as he had done at Let Go Fest, and ya girl just happened to have her camera ready when he did.
When they started performing Let Me Down Easy, the volume in the theatre just increased tenfold. I nearly lost my voice, considering I was already sick, but everyone’s energies just combined beautifully and it was genuinely like an out of body experience. On the train ride back, all of us mentioned that the entire concert was like one big dream, and listening to Let Me Down Easy live was a huge highlight for me.
Another song I really loved was one of their most popular tunes, The Heart Is A Muscle, another song that made the crowd go crazy. It was when they performed this song at Let Go Fest that Kate, Jess and I all realised we all loved the band and the others just didn’t know. It was a great experience realising we were all singing along and yelling the lyrics, equally as passionately.
It made for an even better show that the guys in front of us were just as enthusiastic about all the songs as we were, if not more.
The Heart Is A Muscle basically ensured I lost my voice completely, but I’m not complaining.
One of my favourite songs from Gang of Youths is Magnolia. I honestly think it highlights how eclectic and unique their instrumentation and song-writing is. There’s so many layers to the song, and the story behind it is so incredibly sad, yet the song is this huge anthem that the crowd just went wild too.
A huge problem I’ve come across, especially in the last two years, is that every concert I go to, ends up being so spectacular that I think it belongs in my top five concerts ever, when the fact is they’re all so different, you can’t possibly compare them. It was something that was brought up at the end of the concert as we joined the hordes of people leaving the Forum. The Gang Of Youths concert was incomparable, as are many concerts. It was honest to god like baptism through fire in the best way. If you ever get to see Gang of Youths live, ever, be prepared for the spiritual awakening.
Here are a couple of my favourite moments, from my favourite concerts and gigs, seeing some of my favourite people live, in a mood board. Majority of these also have links to posts dedicated to each artist and concert I went to.
“Priya. You can’t possibly be growing any savings by going for so many gigs.”
And you’d be right. My bank account is constantly in a state of despair, shaking it’s fist at me as I continue to sign myself up for pre-sales and wait in criminally long online waiting lines for ticket sales, but alas, I can’t be stopped.
This particular gig, was one of my own.
You may have remembered I mentioned that I had an upcoming performance in my Week In My Life, as within the week I had a rehearsal with my band.
Well, that was tonight (9/08), and yes. I am freshly showered, after spending the day anxiously waiting for my drummer and guitar player to pick me up, panicking that we were late, getting head shots, grabbing a traditional cheeky Nando’s for lunch, sound-checking and then performing to around 300-400 people, including family and friends who had come along to support. It was a hectic day. But I enjoyed it immensely.
The gig was at a large artist showcase, where artists, designers, hair and makeup artists, jewellery designers, dancers, photographers and musicians are selected to showcase their work. We were one of the three acts performing that night.
If you caught my ‘Week In My Life‘ post, you’d recall that for the last couple of Sunday’s I’ve been rehearsing with the boys in the band, trying out some songs, picking and scrapping songs and writing some of my own. About two weeks out from the show we even ended up swapping a song for a different one that had come up with while we were mucking around and jamming, but we finally settled on the set list of covers and original songs, which looked something like this;
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Stockholme – ORIGINAL
Who’s Loving You – Jackson 5
Toast – ORIGINAL
Finesse – Bruno Mars
Compared to the last time I had played the showcase, it was a lot more energetic and up tempo, definitely down to the addition of our drummer. Even the original songs, which the boys helped me finish were some of the grooviest I’ve ever written, and we got loads of compliments on my song Toast.
//possible single cover??//
That said, it was a long day in the lead up to the 20 minute set.
The boys picked me up around 3:20, and we made the mad dash of a drive to get just outside the city before 4:00, considering out head shot time slot was between 3:40 and 4:00. We definitely broke some speeding laws.
Taking head shots was both awkward and stupidly hilarious, as none of us are professionals in front of the camera, which resulted in all sorts of stupid conversation and questions arising in an effort to get ‘candid’ shots, which also resulted in the photographer pausing in between takes to laugh at our stupidity.
After we had our photos taken, we decided to run the risk of potentially losing our incredible parking spot, and head out for an early dinner. As has become the tradition during rehearsals, we headed to the nearest Nando’s for a feed.
By the time we finished up our dinner, it was time to head back for the sound check.
Sound check went great. It was the perfect opportunity to run through a couple of our songs, and we got a few claps from some of the artists who were setting up their work around the huge function hall.
Once we were done with soundcheck, it was basically an half an hour long waiting game for the doors to open, which we spent going around and looking at some of the art, chatting to (up) some of the artists, talking to one of the other bands and overall preparing for our set since we were first up.
A little after 7:00, the doors open, and people started to make their way in. A few moments later, and all our friends, as well as my family had joined us, and it was a great couple of minutes catching up and chatting with everyone.
A bit closer to 8, I was tapped on the shoulder by my guitarist, and so we headed towards the stage to get ready while the MC opened the night and began our introduction.
Honestly, the set could not have gone better. All of us improvised a little bit, much to the excitement of the other two musicians on stage, and having the boys behind me made me all that more confident. My guitarist absolutely nailed all his solos, and our drummer was a huge standout, especially during Finesse where he got a huge solo in place of me singing the bridge.
It was heaps of fun to get up on stage again, especially with the boys backing me up this time. Definitely keen to get going again.
Once again, I’d like to apologise for the how absent I’ve been, although this time I don’t exactly have a huge reason as to why. University has finished for the semester, which means that while I am working a little more, I have a bit more free time as well. However, I’ve also been going into the studio to make music a lot more, as I discussed in my last post apology, and I’ve been taking a bit of a break. However, I have no shifts scheduled this week, and next week is pretty busy for me, so I’ve kicked myself in to gear and decided to write up a couple of posts for you today.
That said, this post is offensively late. I finally saw Niall Horan, my fave, live last week at Margaret Court Arena. Now you know, usually I’m the one to sit down mere hours after the concert is finished, either the night of or the day right after and make a post all about the gig, but I really procrastinated this one. Not that I had a whole lot to do exactly. Aside from going into the studio the next day, having a couple of family dinners and lunches, working and having a much needed night out for drinks and a sleepover with two of my cousins, I haven’t actually done a whole lot, and I’ve had a few moments here and there where I definitely could have written this post. That said, those moments were actually utilised by falling down the YouTube rabbit hole of short documentary’s, of which I’ve watched a total of 16 so far. Not a single regret.
We’re here to talk about Niall Horan, and Niall Horan, live. So let’s get into it.
My best friend Kate spent the Wednesday night at my house, and we filled it with pizza and movies, and continuously exciting ourselves at the prospect of the following night.
Following an amazing brunch the next day, and a moment of pure spontaneity resulting in me cutting Kate’s fringe, we got ready and made our way into the city on the train.
It was a pretty cold evening, so thankfully the line at Margaret Court Arena wasn’t too long, and we were inside quite quickly. The first thing we did was buy our shirts. Now, I used to loathe the idea of forking out that much money for a shirt. I used to be the person who’d walk past the merchandise stand shaking my head at how expensive some of them are, promising myself I’d just buy it online later, which evidently never happened. But them I became nostalgic. I started collecting all my ticket stubs, starting really getting into concerts and gigs and now I’ve made the conscious decision, following seeing Harry Styles live and all his amazing merchandise, to set aside money for a shirt at most of the concerts I go to. Besides, I’ve waited nearly three years to see this guy again, so I was definitely buying a shirt.
Since we had a bit more time we decided grab something to eat, go to the toilets and find our seats, and it wasn’t long before the support act, Maren Morris came onstage. If you’ve never heard of her, you’ve definitely heard her voice. She’s a country singer from the USA, but she’s featured on the absolute smash, The Middle by Zedd, as well as appearing on one of my favourite songs on Niall’s album, Seeing Blind. I was pretty pumped to see her, considering how good her voice was, and she didn’t disappoint. I loved her selection of songs, especially some of the slower ones she did that really showed off her amazing her voice is. I definitely came home and added some of her songs to my playlists. Check out Rich, and Once. 100% recommend.
In the break between Maren and Niall, a bunch of small slips of paper were handed down every single row of seats, and looking around the arena, it clicked that it was one of the popular fan projects that have become so well known at One Direction concerts. I’ve never been at one where it happened, so Kate and I were pretty excited to see it in action. Our side of the arena were given little orange rectangles of paper, while the other side of the arena were given green. The instructions on the paper were to hold the coloured slips in front of our flashlights during Too Much To Ask, with the idea being our side would be orange, the middle would be white and the opposite side would be green, to create an Irish flag. There was definitely a huge buzz of anticipation as we watched the slips of paper go around, and people testing out the lights.
Finally, finally, the lights went down, and he was on stage with his band, opening the show with On The Loose. It’s one of my favourites from the album, and it got everyone up and out of their seats dancing. It was great to see him working a stage with such a great band supporting him, playing the guitar and interacting with the others on stage.
His next song was another of my favourites, The Tide, which started my slow descent into having absolutely no voice at all. His album was definitely better live. There’s so much musical intricacy and arrangement going on that you don’t notice while listen to the studio version, but watching it live you actually see how hard the violin player works, the amount of guitar in the songs, how much the drummer really drives a lot of the songs, especially in this song.
This Town, his first single was next, which obviously hyped everyone up, followed by Paper Houses and You And Me. The last two songs definitely showed off how much he’s grown as a singer as well. The variety in his music isn’t hugely broad, but they take a good effort to sing, and having mentioned that he woke up that morning without a voice, it was an incredible vocal performance.
The next song nearly had Kate peeing herself, and that was a cover of Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen. If you read my last Courtesy Of, Kate shared her favourite songs, and Bruce definitely featured on there, which is why she had a fit when he started singing, and was one of the only people in the entire arena who knew the song word for word.
After his Bruce Springsteen moment, he brought out Maren, and they sang Seeing Blind which again, was so much better live. If you haven’t heard the song, definitely give it a listen. You wouldn’t think it, but their voices blend perfectly, and they sang it beautifully.
The next song was the title track, Flicker. To be quite honest, I never listened to this song as much as I may have listened to others, but I’ve explained the pre-concert and post-concert favourites, and it may be one of my post-concert favourites. I don’t know if it was how quiet the arena was while he was singing, how nearly everyone put away their phones to just watch and create a moment, or how clicked on I was to listen to the lyrics and what he was actually saying, but this song rose to the top of my list of favourites as soon as he finished.
He followed that song with another tune that made everyone lose their heads, and it was one of the songs he wrote for One Direction, Fool’s Gold. Incredible. Again, it was like muscle memory and the lyrics flew out of everyone’s mouth on command.
Then Niall surprised us all and walked over and sat down behind the piano, openly admitting he too had no idea what he was doing, but then continued to play this beautiful riff as an intro to an unreleased song, So Long. There isn’t a studio version for the song, but you can listen to it HERE.
The next song he performed was another cover, this time of Camilla Cabello’s Crying In The Club. It took a little while for people to clue into what the song was, but as soon as we did, everyone was screaming the chorus back to him and dancing.
As soon as he began Too Much To Ask next, there was a collective shriek that went around the stadium as people hurried to switch on their phone flashes and within a couple of seconds, there was a huge Irish flag glowing throughout the arena. While he didn’t mention it afterwards, it was cute to see his face as he looked around the arena, singing the song.
Fire Away, Since We’re Alone and On My Own followed, and On My Own well and truly stole my voice. Have a listen to it, and you’ll understand why. It’s like an Irish pub song mixed with the ultimate single, zero-relationship anthem and I’m all about it. It was a great song to finish up with before the encore.
The encore began unexpectedly and nearly everyone lost their heads when they realised it was Drag Me Down, another One Direction single, that had everyone shrieking the lyrics like the fifteen and sixteen year olds most of us were when it was released. The next song was Slow Hands, his second single, and he stepped away from the guitar and the mic stand to move around the stage, waving to his friends in the audience and interact with his band a bit more, before he returned to the guitar to thank us all, and finish with Mirrors. Again, a favourite.
It was a magical song to end on, and really captured the atmospheric nature of the album, the arena, especially the song and the allowance for an audience to just scream the lyrics of the chorus.
Niall Horan’s concert was well worth the wait, and I had an insane amount of fun. It didn’t matter that we weren’t right down in the first few rows or even on the ground seats. The intimate nature of the gig made it incredible for everyone around the stadium and I enjoyed every second.
I finally came to this conclusion, last night on the 24th of April, watching him live, when I realised that no-one who sounded like that, acted like that, performed like that or looked like that, could in fact possibly be real. The moment of realisation allowed everything I had ever known for the past seven-eight years, to click into place.
But for the sake of content fluidity, I guess I can start from the beginning.
The night started earlier that evening with some train delays that set us off a couple minutes later than we intended. However, considering we were meeting on the train two hours before the opening act got on stage, it wasn’t a huge issue, and Kate, Jess and I met up on the crowded train a little after 5:30.
It wasn’t a long ride into the city, but soon we were getting off at Richmond station for a drink and something to eat at Precinct. A cocktail and bowl of chips later, we decided to head off towards Hisense Arena, following the clumps of girls all making their way over there.
It was a short walk, and an even shorter line to get inside, followed by the usual bag search and metal detector thing, but soon we were in, enveloped by this hugely nostalgic feeling, seeing hundreds of girls, some young, but mostly our age and older, a couple of boys, either fans or best friends and boyfriends being dragged along and a couple of older groups, all walking through the arena. At this point Jess and I had to split up from Kate who had bought her ticket later and was on the other side of the stage.
Finally we found our seats. Hisense Arena isn’t a massive arena, compared to Rod Laver and Etihad Stadium where One Direction have performed previously, so to be quite honest, you could see perfectly from any seat. Still, my blind self made sure to bring my glasses with me. I hadn’t waited a year and half to not be able to see the man.
A couple of flash light signals later, we spotted Kate across the arena and began enjoying the opening act, The Preatures.
I can’t say I’m a massive fan of the band, but I definitely enjoy their music whenever it comes on Triple J during work, so I really enjoyed their set. Jess and I continued to marvel at the complete 70’s/80’s vibe they had, that surrounded their whole performance. It was a really fun set to watch, as well as listen to. I particularly enjoyed their song Your Fan, a song about being a fan of a huge band who splits up and wanting to continue being a fan….fitting as hell?? Definitely recommend listening to that song, I’ve linked it for you, especially if you’ve gone through the experience of being a massive fan of a group or a band only to have them split up or end their journeys. It was a tear jerker no doubt.
Harry Styles, in a black and gold embroidered suit, walked out.
We love an on trend king.
It was insane. As I recalled in the car drive home, I definitely broke some skin on Jess’ hand from how tightly we were clutching each other as he and his band walked out. You have to understand, the whole experience was so special because we’d literally been on this ride for nearly eight years. It was insane seeing him again, especially considering the last time we had seen him live, it was the three of us again, watching One Direction at Etihad Stadium in 2015.
However this time, rather than having Niall, Liam, Louis and Zayn standing beside him, he had Mitchell on lead guitar, Sarah on drums and vocals, Clare on keyboard and vocals and Adam on bass guitar and vocals, with Harry’s voice front and centre.
My first major melt-down was when he opened with Only Angel. The angelic build-up for his entrance set the entire tone for this song, and when the song got to that 0:52 mark I was never more ready for the song to kick off into the groovy rock sound I have learnt to align Styles with.
There was only a few seconds between Only Angel and his second song, Woman, which set the crowd off again. The amount of screaming was incredibly reminiscent of an entire period of my life, and anyone who knows, knows. There is something so distinct about the scream from a fangirl that you know instantly. It was insane.
Ever Since New York had tears welling up in my eyes within the first few chords being strummed, and it was the first of many songs where I was thrown back to my first time ever seeing One Direction in 2013, where I was standing right at the back of Rod Laver Arena, completely frozen, my hand over my mouth, on the verge of tears but just in awe. The final few accapella moments of the song, with nothing but the band’s backing vocals and his voice filling the stadium was magical, and I’m so I was quick enough to whip out my phone and capture part of it.
Two Ghosts had me shooketh. Shooketh. That’s all for that one.
Carolina nearly started a riot. I can’t describe the feel of this song adequately without you just listening to it.
One thing I will say before I continue. His entire album was made for a live experience. All the songs were 10 times better in the arena than they are in the studio versions.
Harry then blessed us all with Stockholme Syndrome, a One Direction song released in 2014, that had everyone going mad. Every single word came flooding back like muscle memory, it was insane. Harry also wrote Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, which is performed by Ariana Grande, and I definitely love his version of it a little bit more, but I’m obviously biased.
His next song can’t be linked like all the others, because there’s no studio version of it since it’s not been released, which frankly, offends me. Medicine is up with there with Kiwi as one of my favourite Harry Styles’ songs and I’m in desperate need of a recorded version. My Spotify is dry without it. If you’re keen to listen to it, here’s a link to a YouTube video with the song recorded at the concert, in surprisingly decent quality.
His next song was Meet Me In The Hallway. Another topic we discussed in the car back, was how bloody sad all his slow songs are. For a man of his age, he writes about incredibly deep topics and his lyrics always seem to just, punch you in the gut, take your breath away. There’s so much weight behind them all and this song is no different. It also definitely links back to this constant stigma that he and the rest of the boys faced in One Direction when they were writing songs, that led to most people shrugging them off as cringe-y and fake. Their current careers, especially Harry’s and Niall’s have honestly proven just how talented they all really are when it comes to song writing and it’s a shame people are missing out on it because they refuse to give it a chance.
Meet Me In The Hallway is incredibly cinematic and atmospheric. It’s soon become one of my favourite songs on the album. It created the perfect segue to allow him to climb off stage and walk down the partition in the middle of the mosh-pit, stopping to clutch hand’s and give hugs on his way down to the back of the reserved seating, where he and his guitar played Mitchell climbed up onto a tiny stage right in front of the back seating to sing Sweet Creature. One of my favourite slower songs, Sweet Creature is this perfect acoustic song, that seemed to shrink the size of the arena down and put everyone in the palm of his hand.
A lot of the atmosphere he created, I believe came down to the person he is. It’s rare you find someone who’s so talented, yet has remained so kind and humble as Harry Styles has. He obviously isn’t ashamed of his beginnings, or the fact that his main demographic is a group of incredibly loyal and supportive females (…) and everyone felt incredibly safe in the space he created. There was this really obvious underlying understanding that majority of us started from the same place, around the same age, with the same group of people, and he just embraces it. Whether it’s pulling up a country’s flag or proudly wearing the array of LGBTQIA+ and varying sexual orientation’s flags thrown on stage around his shoulders as he sings, he manages to shrink whatever stadium stage he’s on, into this tiny space where everyone is having the time of their lives, and it’s something he’s managed to do since he started in One Direction.
Though, nothing compared to when Mitchell left him on the stage alone, and Harry started another One Direction song, one he had written, If I Could Fly, undoubtedly, my favourite song from their last album. Again, it was another song where I’m pretty sure had Jess and I frozen just watching him. He let the audience sing the final chorus and it was ridiculous how loud we all sang it back.
He moved back to the main stage, and continued with another song that isn’t yet released, Anna. This song again, is a tune. It’s a bop and I’m in dire need of a studio version. You can listen to it here.
Intent of making everyone lose their minds once again, he did his own rendition of What Makes You Beautiful, the song that started it all, and I have to say. His version shits all over the original. It was amazing and his style of singing it, the style the band played it with, made it so much more edgier and rough and jaw-dropping to listen to, let alone watch live.
Harry’s banter with the crowd was nothing knew. He regularly paused to hold entire conversations with people in the crowd, tell us about how much he was enjoying the tour and Australia, singing Horses by Darryl Braithwaite and egging us on to finish the chorus. It was one of the best parts of the concert.
He made sure to thank everyone tremendously before he started Sign Of The Times, the song that kicked his solo career off, as his ‘last’ song.
Three minutes and the entire song of Horses later, he was back on stage for the encore.
From The Dining Table was the perfect warm-up for the encore and it was just another opportunity for everyone to really get an opportunity to hear how incredible his voice actually is.
After the song, he took the opportunity to introduce his band, before kicking off into his iconic cover of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. If you’re a regular around here, you know how much I lose my mind over that song and the intense love I have for it, which made it all the more special.
But, again, if you’re a regular, you know there’s one Harry Styles song that gets me going like no other, and the absolutely tease that he is, he left it as the final song of the show.
Any bit of my voice I had left was completely obliterated as soon as he sang the first line of Kiwi, and that whole song was unforgettable. His stage presence was off the charts, and he practically did laps, stalking up and down the front. Having honestly spent the last year going mental over this song, singing it in my room too many times to count, singing the guitar solo and screeching “I’m having your baby” from the top of my lungs, it all culminated into the most insane 2:56 minutes I have ever experienced at a gig.
/a whole man/
Harry Styles was everything I wanted and ten times more than I ever could have imagined.
Only 42 days until Niall Horan. Twelve year old ‘Niall girl’ Priya is quaking.
Hello friends! Today’s post is one I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. I also have some extra blog posts coming soon that link in with this one too, so keep an eye out for those ones. However, let’s get into this post, because *warning*, it’s gonna be a long one. Really. It’s long as heck.
I was absent for just under a week, though I did have some posts scheduled to keep ya’ll sated, and hopefully you caught those! Me, on the other hand, I was enjoying a week or so away in sunny Byron Bay with my mum, dad, sister and best friend for my first Byron Bay BluesFest.
So what is BluesFest?
“Byron Bay BluesFest is Australia’s Premier Contemporary Blues and Roots Festival.”
I mean, Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon made an appearance, sneaking their way into the thousands of fans, so surely it’s a big deal?
Running over the Easter long weekend, and in it’s 29th year in 2018, the festival showcases music from all over the world at the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, which is about a twenty minute to half an hour drive north of Byron Bay. The five days run for 12 hours each, with over 200 performances across the weekend. Roughly 6000 people camp (we shall get to that), enjoy over 100 food and market stalls, as well as drinking gardens and activities for children. It’s honestly one of the most well-rounded family friendly music festivals I’ve heard of, and I’m so glad I got to go.
The culture in Byron Bay is very relaxed. It’s an easy, chill, previously sleepy town, that’s transformed into on of the most loved vacation destinations for families, tourists and back-packers alike, the beach is close by wherever you find yourself to be, the people are lovely, and they’re all incredibly conscious about the environment and preservation. I don’t think I touched anything throughout the whole weekend that wasn’t recyclable, compostable or bio-degradable. It was very eye-opening in that sense.
But, we’re here to talk about the music, and I think the easiest way to do that is to outline the itinerary for each day, what we did and who we saw. Beginning with the flight into Brisbane, QLD.
Day 1 was an early day. My best friend Kate slept over on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning, bright and early at 4:45AM, we were loading our bags into a maxi taxi and heading off for the airport. Due to running just a little bit behind schedule, we rushed through the airport and made it onto the plane all within a half an hour time span. Thankfully, flying from Melbourne to Coolangatta isn’t a long flight at all, two hours max, so we reached Queensland around 8:00. Immediately the weather was noted. Where we had been hoodies and running pants to deal with slight Melbourne breeze, I had to strip off my jacket straight out of the doors due to the humidity and heat. Foreshadowing, noted on reflection.
We picked up our hire car, and with about six hours to spare until the campgrounds opened, bypassed the Tea Tree Farm and made our way into the Byron Bay town centre. Now Kate’s very familiar with Byron, having regularly gone up there with her family since she was a kid, so relying solely on her recommendations, we walked around the town for a short while, before my sister spotted a noticeboard directing down a small arcade alleyway, that led to a cute little cafe, The Hideout, which we decided to stop at for breakfast.
/breakfast at The Hideout/
After one of the best breakfasts of my life, we got back in the car for some more drive-by sight-seeing and a stop at the beach. Having just got off a plane, we were severely under-prepared and over-dressed for the weather or a swim, so ended up enjoying some of the sunshine out on the grass, before bundling back into the car. A short shopping stop later and we were driving into the farm. Since we arrived incredibly early, we were amongst the first few cars to pull into the festival, meaning the whole check in process where we were all ticked off and christened with our wristbands was over relatively quickly, and we began the short drive to our site.
Now this is the camping situation. Blessed be my parents, for we are not a huge camping family. So driving past the rows and rows of vacant camp sites was mind-boggling to imagine how many people would begin to gather there over the course of the next two days. While it is predominantly camping grounds, BluesFest does offer three other types of accomodation. I say accomodation lightly.
The first, is a basic ‘tent motel’. Outsourcing the entire debacle of setting up the tent, you arrive to a better than average tent, ready and set up for you, all you need to bring is your sleeping gear, camping gear and everything else.
The step up from that is the Rainbow Tipi Village. Having to suppress the urge to point out the complete political incorrectness of the whole idea was a challenge but I wasn’t the one paying for the majority of the trip, so it had to be done. In a completely hypocritical change in tone, the Tipi Village was quite cute. Rows of tall tipi’s filled another lot of grass, spreading out 18ft in circumference each, alongside two rows of private parking, pre-booked so you’re as close as you can get to your tipi. Inside you get camping beds, a mattress, a pillow, both covered, small bedside tables, and a solar panel lamp. As well as the upgrade inside the tents, the village also comes with a ‘chill-out’ area, complete with hammock style lawn chairs, board games and beanbags, and a conjoined chai kitchen, with free chai made every morning.
And finally, there was the Flash Camp Glamping. For an extra $1000 you get a huge canvas bell tent, private toilet and shower facilities, fresh towels every morning, private kitchen, charging facilities, private parking, bamboo furniture, skin care and toiletries when you arrive, a rug, ‘mood lighting’ and ongoing staff assistance on site throughout the festival.
As I mentioned before, my family aren’t really used to camping, the last time we went being nearly five years ago, but we’re also not up for spending $3000+ on accomodation for five nights, so we found ourselves at the Rainbow Tipi Village. Which is where we reach our first hiccup. As I mentioned, we had a hire car for our trip, a Toyota Kluger, which made it a whole lot easier for us to move around Byron. However, it’s more of a city 4WD rather than a rural, off-road kind of car, and we were definitely not driving on roads. The rain the day before also meant that once we reached the Tipi Village, we encountered a little bit of mud on the roads. When I say ‘encountered’ I mean, we followed the road too far around the village, found ourselves bogged, had to leap out from the car to avoid landing in the mud, call for help from the nearby Tipi Village staff and get our car dragged out by a tow-bar. It was an experience. But within half an hour we were sorted and assigned to our five-person tipi.
/dad and sis roaming the ‘village’/
For five people, there wasn’t a whole lot of room, but it was cosy. Since we had arrived the day before the festival started, which began on the Wednesday, we had majority of the day to ourselves, sorting out our bags, making ourselves comfortable. However, the humidity was pretty intense, meaning we were all pretty worn out from the early flight and ready to lie about and generally do nothing. Which is basically what we did for majority of the Tuesday. Kate and Sonali, my sister, and I explored the village a bit more, especially the chill out area, and discovered that our prime spot would be opening up the car boot and sitting inside to let the occasional breeze pass us by, while we battled through relentless games of Uno, chewing through a whole pack of gum.
/chill out area, behind the Rainbow Tipi Village/
Our afternoon naps turned into deep sleeps, and we eventually woke up right about dinner time. To cater to the early arrivals who were making use of the early camping availability like us, there was a Campers Cafe just outside the festival grounds, serving food and drinks, so we made our way there for dinner, enjoying burgers and coffees, before heading back to our tipi for an early night.
Day 2 heralded the first official day of BluesFest, which started at 3PM that day. Being woken up early by activity around the campsites meant we had plenty of time to eat our breakfast out of the boot of the car, shower and suss out the amenities. Pleasantly surprised, the showers and toilets available for campers were actually really great and clean. A whole lot better than I thought they would be. This followed through for the rest of the festival. The toilets and showers were regularly cleaned and washed down at the end of every day and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had with portable showers and toilets.
After our showers we changed for the day and made our way back to the Campers Cafe for lunch.
And that’s when the rains started. We had been warned, Byron can be known for stop and start weather, and we experienced it in bucketloads during the first day, where it rained, like literally poured, on and off for the duration of the whole day. A little bit after 3, we made our way into the festival to begin our five days of BluesFest.
/a wet opening day for BluesFest, as indicated by Kate and my dad, equally as drenched/
One of the first acts I saw with my family was the Bali Blues Brothers, a blues bands from Bali who were playing in one of the smaller tents on the site. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, the frontman was entertaining and my family and I really enjoyed having a boogie to the music they were playing. Their guitar players were fantastic, hypnotic to watch and their guitar solos were amongst some of my favourites.
The next act we saw was on my mum’s list. She’d been raving about Caitie Baker from the moment we had woken up, so there wasn’t a way she was missing her set. I have to say, I really enjoyed her set as well. She was dancer performer as well, which is something I love when I watch singers live, and her band were very talented as well. I got huge Amy Winehouse vibes from her, and there were several jaw-dropping moments within the crowd hearing such a huge voice come out of such a small woman.
We had a four hour break between Caitie and our next act, so Kate, Sonali and I took the opportunity to roam around and have a look at the stalls. Jewellery, candles, clothes, headbands, artwork, henna, hair pieces, boutiques, it was all available, and we also took the chance to choose out something to have for dinner when we met up with my family. The food was in excess. So many options, we were genuinely spoilt for choice, there was so much on offer. Jambalaya and chicken baguette’s with a side of cajun spiced cone of fries was the move for the first day, and even today, there are no regrets. It was amazing.
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Our final act for the day was Leon Bridges in one of the biggest tents of the festival. He filled it up quite well and his set was a great mix of high energy stage presence and the crooning he’s become so well known for. His back-up singer was equally as beautiful to watch as he was, and I loved his movement and marching around the stage. My dad found it a little amusing, but his in-tempo pacing and marching up and down the front of the stage was really fun to watch for me.
That brought our planned acts to an end, and we met up in the Crossroads Cafe, infront of the Crossroads tent to have a coffee. The early morning and slow day from Tuesday was still catching up to us, as well as a slight frustration with the amount of rain and slush we were having to put up with, so we called it a day around 10:30, and headed back to the tipi.
Day 3 began nice and early again. It became apparent that daily activity at the tipi village started very early in the morning, so we made the most of it and took our time showering, getting changed, having our car boot breakfast, smashing out a few games of Uno, then walking over to the grounds at 12:00. We did’t have any acts scheduled until 3:00 that afternoon, so wandered around a bit more, finally stumbling upon the Delta tent, where a young girl was sitting on stage with a guitar and a stamp pedal. I have to say, Molly Millington, soon became one of favourite new acts from the bill, and a discovery who I’ll be sharing more of soon…
After a few stop and starts around the tents, as well as some more browsing, we made a pit stop for 15 minutes to watch All Our Exes Live In Texas. Now this is where I have to say that I’m being completely, 100% honest about how I feel about each artist that I saw. I enjoyed the fifteen minutes that I saw, but when my dad suggested we move to another tent to see another act, I agreed straight away, purely because it got a bit slow and it dragged on a little bit for me. There’s no denying that they all have incredible voices and the blend of their harmonies combined with a mandolin, ukulele, accordion and guitar was lovely to listen to, but I couldn’t say that they were a stand out for me. It was one of the slower acts, and when considering how long the days were and how much time was spent standing around, I really wanted to utilise my time well and see acts that excited me, though I definitely understand why so many people flocked to the Crossroads tent when they were performing.
Next was a favourite of mine who I had been preparing to see since the lineup came out; Darren Harts, better known as Harts. He played a lot of the favourites that I’ve enjoyed since I saw him a couple of years ago at council music festival for a gold coin donation entry, PLUS all the new stuff he’s released. He’s a machine on the guitar and his production style is incredibly unique. His bass player and drummer were equally as well rounded, filling in all the places that he couldn’t perfectly. However, I had to collect my jaw up from the floor when he mentioned that this might be the last year for his Harts project. His performance definitely left a lasting impression when he ended the set smashing his guitar due to a ton of built up frustration and uncertainty about his career as he’s gone on to say on Twitter and in the follow up interviews he’s done since. I’m definitely glad I got to catch him before anything changes.
Between Harts and the next act we had another four hour break, as we grabbed a late lunch and moseyed around some more, looking at the stalls. I purchased a ring for myself and my mum stocked up on cotton head bands that I have been using to death recently.
/the cutest dresses that I still regret not buying for myself/
At 8:00 we made out way back to the Mojo tent, to catch The New Power Generation, a collective made up of Prince’s past band members, as well as three vocalists joining them for their performances. Hands down, this band are in my top five of all the people we saw at BluesFest. I was obsessed with two of the singers; the young girl who had this ridiculously huge voice, was full of sass and power, and the ‘young cat’ who had one of the best voices I’ve ever heard, and was an amazing dancer. They both grabbed my attention every time they came on stage to sing a song, and all the musicians in the band were so talented and entertaining to watch. The first time I saw them we were all there off to the side a bit, dancing along and singing with the other families, but I couldn’t stop just staring at all the magic going on onstage. When they performed Purple Rain, the entire tent exploded and everyone roared in the audience, singing along and cheering at all the right moments. It was a fantastic moment to experience.
The final act of Day 3 was an act I had been waiting for, ever since she was announced as a final late addition to the bill earlier in the year and that was Ms. Lauryn Hill. I’m a huge Lauryn Hill and The Fugees fan, so I’d been counting down to seeing her set at BluesFest for quite a while. While dad, mum and Sonali were elsewhere, Kate and I grabbed a quick bite to eat for dinner, then made our way back to the Mojo tent to get in nice and early. While the crowd was still pretty strong, we managed to get in quite close with a decent view. Now this is where the audience was split. Lauryn has a DJ who comes on before her, to get her in the mood and hype up the audience. I love this aspect of a lot of RnB and hip hop live acts. Kehlani did it at her concert, and I’ve seen countless others. He played a ton of classic RnB, rap and hip hop songs, old and new, which I was loving. However, with a crowd who are running back and forth between tents and trying to stick to a schedule, you have to remain pretty tight on time, which was something that was never going to happen with Lauryn, who is notorious for running overtime due to coming out pretty late. While I was having the time of my life, it became apparent that a lot of people were quickly becoming fed up of waiting, and as well as a chant for her to come out starting up, there was also some mild boo-ing to the DJ. Eventually at 10:30, a half an hour after she was scheduled to come on, Lauryn made an appearance and began her set.
/lauryn hill, an true icon/
In a split second, the frustration pulsing from the crowd turned into screaming and cheers, as she began her set. She was like a conductor up on stage, directing her band and back-up singers with the flick of her wrist, all the while periodically dabbing at her forehead with a towel to keep up with the heat and humidity that had only heightened during the evening. She sang so many classics and my voice cracked only half-way through Killing Me Softly, making my screaming and cheering pretty much useless up until she closed the set with Doo Wop.
At the same time, my mum and sister were at the Crossroads Cafe tent, my dad inside reliving his childhood listening to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. As well as a ton of the original LZ songs that the huge crowd were waiting out to hear, he also shared some bluegrass tunes and new originals. On his return my dad couldn’t stop talking about the intensity of the crowd, how grown men were crying and how all he could think about were some of the first songs he got on record. At the end of the show he joined us at the Crossroads Cafe, we all enjoyed an ice chocolate and made the walk back to our tent with the thousands of people leaving too.
Day 4 was another early start, as we headed to the smaller Delta tent to watch the Byron Bay Busking Finalists for 2018. Due to several pitstops at food stalls, market shops and other tents along the way, we managed to catch the last two performances. One was a young girl, Cecilia Brandolini, who was a talented piano player and had a really beautiful, haunting folk voice, and the last performers were my favourite, the winners, SameTime. The band comprised of two brothers, one on guitar, one on a standing drum arrangement and both on vocals assisted by two of their mates on bass and electric guitar. I 100% recommend that you listen to the one song they have on Spotify. They are incredible. They both have amazing voices for a 16 and 19 year old, and all their songs were catchy and interesting to listen to. The younger of the two, on the drums, was an insane singer, harmonised incredibly, and smashed it on the drums as well. My whole family thoroughly enjoyed their set, especially the medley at the end that included You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, Ice Ice Baby, Africa, Thriftshop and a ton more songs that had the audience cheering and singing along each time a new tune was introduced.
The next act my family were all keen to see were The Wailers, another tribute band, made up of past members of Bob Marley’s band. They were incredible to watch. Despite some of them being well into their 60’s and 70’s they performed the songs so well, and with so much passion. It was clear to see the love in the tent, hearing, seeing, smelling, all the things Bob Marley was about and is known for. It was an interesting experience, my mum, dad and I enjoying it especially, being huge reggae fans.
When we were done at The Wailers, we stopped for lunch in the food court, enjoying Vietnamese that afternoon, and making use of the huge amount of spare time we had yet again, looking at more stalls, stopping in between tents to see what was on and chatting in the food courts. A popular stand was the Byron Music Shop, a sponsor for the festival, and everyday at 7 they had jam sessions, right after some live performances from locals. It was incredible to watch people jumping up from the audience that was steadily growing around the shop, and after chatting to one of the musicians who had sang a song with the Bali Blues Brothers during their set I even jumped up and sang Superstition, my absolute favourite Stevie Wonder song and it was a ton of fun, especially having a couple of interesting people approaching me after to tell me how much they enjoyed the song. After sticking around for a bit more of the jam, Kate, Sonali and I headed back to the Mojo Tent to meet up with mum and dad.
The next act we saw was a repeat that was agreed upon by the entire group and that was The New Power Generation. This time, mum and Sonali stayed back at the side, and somehow Kate, dad and I found our way to the front of the mosh pit that had doubled in size for their final show.
/NPG ft my faves/
Their entire set was yet again, a huge party and honouring of Prince and all that he was, and it’s still one of my favourite sets I saw at BluesFest.
The final act we ‘saw’ for the night was The Original Blues Brothers Band. I say ‘saw’, because like I mentioned, it was a long day, and Sonali, Kate and I were slowly winding down. So while my mum and dad headed over to the Crossroads tent, Sonali situated herself right outside at the Crossroads Cafe with a hot chocolate, and Kate and I went to the food hall to grab some dinner, before we all met up with Sonali at the end and headed back to our tent for another sticky, warm night.
Keen to get the day started, we made our way back to the Delta stage nice and early to catch the Busking Competition Winner’s, SameTime, do their own set. Due to a longer time for performing we got to hear some more songs from them, and of course, enjoyed the medley at the end. The boys were definitely too humble for their own good. Sam, the younger brother, especially was not shying how low his expectations for their own set was, stating he would have been happy with 20 people coming as he had expected. We managed to get right to the front, and every time I glanced behind me, the crowd had grown by a good thirty people. By the end of the set they had over 300 people stopping in the Delta tent watching them.
We didn’t have much planned at all for Day 5 until later in the evening, so it was another day spent sitting on the lawn, moving between food halls, market stalls, and the Byron Music Shop again. Kate and I mainly roamed around ourselves for the rest of the day, until we moved to the Mojo Tent to catch the end of Ziggy Alberts. The couple of songs we saw were all so beautiful and he left a lasting impact on the crowd as he got us to join in with his last couple of songs, and dance and jump around in a folk dance. And then the rains came. It was five minutes of the most intense torrential rain I’ve ever experienced and Kate and I had only been out there ten minutes before it started. Thankfully it stopped towards the end of his last song, and we made our way back to the Mojo food tent to grab a really quick dinner, before running back for one of our highlights, Tash Sultana.
Tash’s set, was unreal. It was one of the sets at the festival where people really didn’t care and just let loose, me included. Tash’s music, if you haven’t somehow heard it, is this huge build-up of intricate layers and steps that she sets up with her artillery consisting of a monster of a guitar board at her feet, her insane guitar skills, percussion pads, trumpet, mandolin and several synths. Her entire set up stations her in the middle of the stage, on a bohemian carpet, several salt lamps behind her, surrounded by her instruments and half the show is watching her build each song with the array of loop pedals at her feet.
/tash sultana mixing up the magic/
Not only is her artistry fantastic, but her voice is amazing. It’s incredibly powerful, but at times it would feel like she was even crying as she reached for insane high notes. It was an emotional set, euphoric and high in spirits. We made friends in the mosh pit, danced with strangers and spent several entire songs with our eyes completely closed feeling the music, or wide open in a trance of awe, watching the woman on stage create such magic. It’s easily in my top three sets.
Day 6 marked the final day of the festival, and we headed to the far corner tent, Juke Joint to watching the Local Area High School Showcase, which showcased several bands from high schools in and around Byron Bay. I swear it’s something in the water because even the kids in Byron are talented. All the bands were crazy good, like on par with some bands we were seeing during the festival, yet all incredibly humble and visibly excited to be on stage.
After a quick stop for our final lunch, Kate and I headed back to Juke Joint to see the Bali Blues Brothers again, and stayed on for Ryan McMullen, a singer/songwriter from Ireland. Fans of Ed Sheeran, Niall Horan, James Morrison or James Arthur…give this guy a listen. Ryan has one of the most soulful voices I heard at the festival. He was so understated and humble, yet all his effort and emotion went into his songs, whether he was on the guitar or the piano. It was just him and a drummer on stage, but they managed to fill the tent entirely with their sound and the soon the audience size reflected that as well. It was big enough to the point where his attempts to get the crowd involved paid off beautifully, with us singing entire lines with a nod of his head. It was a lovely set to watch and I left the show after get shivers several times, just because of how much I was loving his voice.
The final act we actually saw was Benjamin Booker, which was a discovery for Kate and I. Having only heard of the New Orleans singer here and there around the festival, we decided to catch his last set at the Jambalaya Tent. We were pleasantly surprised as we were able to walk right up to the barrier, considering we were about twenty minutes early, but turning around five minutes before the show, we were definitely surprised to see his audience consisted of a lot of older men. During the soundcheck for the instruments, Benjamin and his band were all on stage for the test, and not only was he this little, cute dude in jeans and a white t-shirt, but he was chatting and joking with the audience, grinning widely for photos and laughing whenever a white middle aged man called out to him.
He started singing and we were both mind-blown. This little dude with his soft-spoken, mid to high range talking voice, literally growled into the microphone with every word he spoke and had this intense stare that honestly hypnotised you for the entirety of his performance.
/benjamin booker everyone/
It was so crazy to watch and hear, having just seen him five minutes before during the soundcheck. His songs were all so easy to groove to and bang your head a little, and his topical content was catchy and easy to sing along to, even for the two of us who weren’t all that familiar with his music. It was a very proud find for us.
The last couple of hours of the day were spent at food tents with the family, watching Lionel Richie up on big screens due the absolute zero chance of squeezing into the tent, and just generally enjoying the final evening at BluesFest.
Omg the waffles. Incredible. Kate and I shared a plate of waffles with maple syrup, swipes of Nutella, ice cream and jelly babies and most definitely did not regret it, even with the sugary mouths we were left with.
It was a great ending to a great long weekend, and we were all thoroughly satisfied as we made our way back to the tipi for the final time.
Day 7 was nothing crazy. We packed up the car and left the farm around 10, driving back into Byron Bay for breakfast at The Hideout again, roaming the streets, checking out some shops, making a stop at the Byron Bay Lighthouse at Kate’s great recommendation, taking some photos, driving along the beach and finally heading to the airport, where we whiled away another three hours before our flight, charging our phones and catching up.
I swear, if any of you find yourself in Australia around Easter Time, make it a priority to head the the Byron Bay BluesFest. It was an insanely fun weekend, especially considering my family booked the tickets on an impulsive whim, something we rarely do, that left mum panicking from that moment on. There’s so much on offer, good food, good markets, good stalls, amazing people and incredible music. Heck, my family already took advantage of the early bird sale prices and bought our tickets for 2019 at the festival itself, so you know it’s something worth checking out.
As the lady who sat next to Kate and I on the flight home said to me after we swapped our experiences at BluesFest, I’m probably hooked for life, hun.
Hello friends! I hope you all enjoyed my latest post, a dedication to the absolute experience that was seeing Bruno Mars live in concert on the 10th. Let’s kick on to the sequel.
So on the 11th of March, literally two days ago, my best friends, Kate and Jess, and I met up on the train (someone count the hours I spend on the train between university and getting to concerts), and found ourselves at Etihad Stadium, a short walk from Southern Cross station, joined by a huge crowd of people, quite obviously preparing themselves for the concert like we were.
We were very aware of the fact that our chances of properly seeing the man in HD were slim. People had been lining up since the early hours of the morning, and by the time we were getting on the train and making our way in, the main door for the mosh had been open for two hours. One thing you have to know about Etihad is this. It’s frigging ginormous. It’s massive. The first time I saw Ed Sheeran, Jess and I managed to find ourselves basically front row of the mosh pit in Rod Laver Arena. Etihad Stadium is a whole other ball game, one that we weren’t willing to play to be quite honest. I had a friend who had been lining up since 2, and was still in the front/middle section of the first mosh pit. Yes you read that correctly, the first mosh pit. But on to that later.
Wait time was next to nothing seeing as the doors had already opened, but we had plenty of time to spare. We found our way to the shortest line, scanned our tickets, got our GA mosh pit wristbands and entered the stadium. After concluding that our stomachs would most definitely not withstand the rest of the night, we bought ourselves some food to eat and made our way out onto the mats. It was insane how big the General Access ground space was. It was so big in fact, that one of the light rigs was literally in the middle of the mosh pit, meaning they split it into two. Those who got there extra early, managed to squeeze themselves into the front mosh, while we were in the second mosh, a bit further back. That said, we were closer to the front of the second mosh pit, so we definitely didn’t have the worst view ever.
Bliss N Esso were the first opening acts, and to their credit, they were fantastic. Not everyone were fans of theirs, I had only heard a few of their songs but knew who they were, and I found myself singing along, joining in whenever I knew the lyrics and genuinely enjoying their set. By the time the second act made her way on stage, the crowd had at least tripled. Partly due to the fact that it was one of Australia’s most loved singers, Ed Sheeran’s musical crush upon his discovery of her during his first trip to Australia years ago, Missy Higgins. Her set was incredible and her songs were all beautiful. Definitely check her out if you haven’t heard of her. She’s been singing for years and years and years, her song Scar broke my 8 year old heart, and it did again when she closed with the song on Sunday night. The entire crowd was singing along and it really lifted the vibe of the entire stadium in preparation for Ed.
And a short twenty minutes later, he was on. I’ve only once, in my life, heard a roar like I did in that moment, and that was when I was in Etihad Stadium three years ago, with Jess and Kate again, seeing One Direction, in their prime. The roar was deafening and the huge crowd surged forward as expected. Still, all we saw was little, teeny, tiny Ed.
I could quite honestly count on one hand the times I actually saw Ed Sheeran in the flesh, rather than on the giant screens but it didn’t matter at all. The sound he created time and time again, song after song, was so insane, and so admirable, I found myself not even looking at the stage sometimes.
Castle On The Hill was quite possibly the best opening song he could have chosen, and all the songs that followed after were even better. My favourites were definitely his medley from Feeling Good by Nina Simone, into I See Fire, his medley of Don’t and New Man, Bloodstream, Galway Girl, Nancy Mulligan (which caused both the girls to look at me knowingly as I screamed because it’s one of my favourites yet I didn’t expect it to be on the setlist at all), Sing and of course his encore which consisted of Shape Of You and You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, which went absolutely crazy. Bringing the old with the new to close the show was one of the best decisions he made, the crowd went absolutely mental, screaming and shouting whether they knew the lyrics or not.
I spoke a lot about the atmosphere in my Bruno Mars post. I can’t compare the two concerts in any way because of how polar opposite they are, and how they appeal to two completely different sides of me as a person, but the atmosphere at Ed Sheeran, was one of the craziest’s I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. When thinking of the size of the crowd, take into consideration that this was a record breaking tour for Ed Sheeran, especially in Australia and New Zealand where he sold more than a million tickets. His four shows in Melbourne sold over 250,000 tickets.
A lot of the awe and just absolutely wonder I continuously found myself feeling, was mainly due to what was happening on stage, or what I could hear of it.
By now, it’s common knowledge that Ed Sheeran doesn’t perform with a band. He doesn’t have a backing track, or pre-recorded samples that he sets up for himself. Everything he does, every sound he made, was with his monster loop pedal and loop board, of which I’m forever envious of, his guitar, and his mouth. The percussion, the harmonies, the choirs you hear on his studio versions, the intricate guitar riffs and the booming bass. All him. Live, on stage, and once he clicks over onto a new track, the previous song is gone forever (a little part of my heart died when he said that).
Knowing that all the sounds and ambience that was filling this bloody huge arena, reaching out to over 60,000 people, was coming from this one man, is still even now, something I can’t wrap my head around. It blows my mind, and it gives me so much respect for him. The atmosphere in that stadium was irreplaceable and one that cannot be replicated.
After the show we were discussing how we all found ourselves, at one moment or another, standing completely still, in a total trance, just watching the screens, I See Fire is one of my absolute, if not, favourite song by Ed Sheeran, specifically because of how emotive it is in translating this really magical story, drawing from such a fantastical film, to create this sound that carries everything it holds and more. It gives me a roundhouse kick to the head of nostalgia from reading fantasy books, old Enid Blyton adventure novels and not questioning the lengths to which authors went to describe magic forests and fairies, old English country-sides and characters that you really can’t begin to imagine existing, and that song captures all of that for me. Perfectly. Take that whole chunk of words I just spewed, put it into a feeling, and that’s all I felt for the entire concert. It didn’t matter if I was screaming back the lyrics in a particularly up-beat song, belting out his slower tunes or dancing along to Shape Of You with my best friends, that’s how I felt for the whole two hours that he was on stage.
You Need Me, I Don’t Need You was the perfect note to end the night on. Not lyrics wise cos it’s very much an ‘eff you’ type of song, but just due to how much emotion and energy it evokes. He rapped all the verses perfectly, got the crowd so hyped up, got everyone involved, stepped away from the guitar after all the loops were set and looked so at home up on that huge stage. Singing that specific song, with the amount of people who were screaming along with him, felt like the perfect goodbye.
Another concert done, definitely up there with the best, 2018 is shaping up to be quite the year.