She told me she wants to be a scholar"
"It's lovely to be in Oxford"
There is a nano-second pause, I know what he is waiting for.
"Woooooooooooooo!" I shout, even though I am mere inches away and, at least this once, not even moderately drunken. What can I say? I am, by nature, a whooper. In my defence I went to a lot of boy band concerts in my youth.
"Oxford - one of the three great Universities".
My whoop now turns into an oooh. Obviously Oxford is not one of three. It is one of one.
"The other two being Cambridge -"
I boo. Again it is an immediate reaction, rather like an academic version of Pavlov's dogs.
I laugh. Which probably speaks volumes about the truth in the sentence.
The banter turns into the first song, I find myself strangely un-selfconscious as I wave my arms in the air and sing with very little regard to pitch or tune.
Mid song, however, I make the mistake of glancing to my left. If there was ever something to sap the spirit out of me then this sight is it.
Technology. Any gig you attend there's a large chance that at some point you'll get a camera phone in your ear. I, on occasion, take (utterly terrible) photos. My friends take photos, occasionally record bits. I do not have a problem with that. Should you choose to record the whole thing - that is your choice (unless you are in my theatre in which case I will be confiscating your camera). But when the recording or the photo taking becomes the central preoccupation? And when you stand at the front of the crowd to do this so that this is all the performer sees?
Download with your fucking eyes and ears, I want to scream. Live this moment. It will never be like this again, you will never be able to capture it, however hard you try. This is the joy about live performance. Those moments between performer and audience that are simply experienced, not filtered through a lens. You might as well stay at home and watch YouTube if you want anything less. And, yes, you will forget and gigs will blur but the euphoria will never be entirely lost and you will never entirely forget what it was like in that second. This fractured, transitory magic will always remain my drug of choice.
I am angry. And sad. Intensely, painfully. The music seems to seep under my skin, feeding my emotions as I stand at the front, dancing, in the upstairs room of a pub in Jericho, my Jericho, in a City that is haunted, to the voice of a boy I have heard so many, many times before and which fires a thousand synapses into action.
I do the only thing I can. I close my eyes, dance harder and sing louder.
It is the only oblivion I can offer.