Saturday, 27 June 2015

Times Like These

For those not in my immediate loop of people, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Friday June 19th was supposed to be a special day. It was one my family and I had been looking forward to since November. We'd fought long and hard to get tickets to the concert. For me, it was going to be the gift that marked a milestone in a long recovery process.

Then, in a moment of sheer bad luck, it all disappeared.

June 19th would have been the first of the Foo Fighters two nights at Wembley Stadium. On June 12th, Dave Grohl fell from the stage and broke his leg resulting in the rest of the UK and European tour being cancelled. The outpouring of grief was insurmountable although the majority was aimed at Grohl's injury rather than the concerts being written off. Music fans, thankfully, are both loyal and extremely understanding. While people tried to keep the hope alive it was obvious that the shows wouldn't happen.

The cancellations brought another problem with them. Thousands of people had already descended on London for the shows, many of them flying in from abroad or with travel and hotel costs that couldn't be refunded. Many of them were looking for an alternative night out.

Bristol based music project, Given to Live, had already arranged to have two shows running alongside the Foo Fighters concerts. Beginning in the early afternoon, they'd run up until Wembley's gates opened, before picking up after the concerts ended. They were aimed at giving fans the chance to meet one another as well as raising vital funds and allowing unsigned bands the chance to sign right beside one of the country's iconic music venues.

However, they were now faced with a dilemma. Continue, knowing that the 160,000 potential footfall had now disappeared? Or scrap the shows all together?

Where there's a will, there's a way and, in less than 48 hours, a new plan was formed. On Wednesday evening, it was announced that the UK Foo Fighters would headline both nights. Something was being born from nothing.

I was originally going to go along and review the Friday show. After that, I'd stay overnight and travel home on the Saturday. But the best laid plans don't always pan out and I found myself quickly rearranging plans to stay until Sunday afternoon.

What occurred while I was there were two extremely magical evenings. 1200 people passed through the doors of the Crystal Clubs. Nine bands played over the two nights. And a lot of people had a lot of fun. Something had been rescued from the ashes of what could otherwise have been just another London evening. On the Sunday, the UK Foo Fighters confirmed that they were also going to play the cancelled June 23rd show, too. My pride and joy right now is a text message from that show which simply reads “Sold out” (I couldn't make it due to other commitments). 

There are a lot of people I want to thank from that weekend. But who to thank first?

Over the three dates, nearly 2000 people passed through the doors of the shows. Seeing their sadness turn to joy and happiness was an honour. Hearing them sing every word of every song was a pleasure.

The wonderful Tom who, throughout it all, was a constant inspiration. Never have I seen someone so passionate and determined and, in doing so, he reignited my own love and passion for working with music. He's someone who will have a special place in my heart.

The UK Foo Fighters whose kindness and generosity has taught me a lot. If you ever get the chance, go and see them. They really are worth every moment of your time and I can't wait to see them again.

Darren, Given To Live's artist in residence, for being one of the most beautiful souls I've ever met. He's another of the many people who inspired me over that weekend and it was a pleasure to spend time with him.

Sarah, who propped me up and loved me when I could now longer do it for myself.

The bands who played on June 19th and 20th. All of them have a place in my heart and I can't wait to work with them again. They came from all corners of the country and gave their all on those days.

I learned a lot about myself over those few days. I remembered how much I enjoyed working with musicians. I remembered how long I could work for before I had to give up. Most of all, I learned that grit and determination can get the ball rolling when the chips are down.

It just goes to show that, when life gives you lemons, you truly can create Something From Nothing.

For more photos and information, please visit Given to Live's Facebook page.You can also read Tom's interview with this site here.

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