I wouldn’t normally use a medium like this to comment on terrorist attacks. I wouldn’t normally comment at all. The reaction of someone like me is meaningless next to the pain and horror felt by the families and friends of anyone affected. Their voices mean so much more than mine, and I can do nothing but show sorrow and support.
But the attack in Manchester yesterday shook me, as it did with Kier, for different reasons to the deaths around the world reported in the news every day. They don’t mean any more, or any less, than lives in Syria, Turkey or Westminster. They just feel so much closer.
Why? Because the attack happened at a show. It doesn’t matter that it was at a pop concert, not a rock gig, like the attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris. It could have been jazz or classical music and the reaction would be the same. At a gig, we’re all the same.
Shows are where so many of us go to pour a part of ourselves into an artist, band or group that we love, and share that feeling with people who feel the same. It might be thousands in an arena, hundreds at a small-town music venue, or just a few other people in a dive bar. For many of us, shows represent the best part of a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime.
The flush of elation I felt at my first gig (Offspring at Wembley Arena). The utter joy with my arms around the friends who kidnapped me to see Prince when I couldn’t afford it. I count them among the best moments of my life. The idea of specifically targeting people in that moment, whether that’s because they are fans of a certain artists, or just because it’s a good way of hurting a lot of people at once, is truly evil in a way that feels incredibly close to home.
It’s especially close this week because we’ve just started a run of gigs, so I can see it from another angle. I loved the first show, in London, as I always do. It didn’t matter that it was one of those gigs where everything technical goes wrong. Guitar amps fell over, snare skins broke, vocoders come out with a two-second time delay, samplers simply stopped working. We didn’t care, and neither did anyone else, because it was so much fun. And it made the whole thing so much better to meet people after who told me they’d loved it too. We shared something very simple, and I can’t possibly imagine having that feeling turned back on us and used as a weapon.
I’m going to react to this in the only way I can, and do everything I can pull people together. Not just people like me, people who share the same political or cultural views, people who share my feelings at the same shows as me, but with anyone who needs it.
Not uniting against something, continuing a cycle of hatred and fear, but uniting for something.
I hope you can join me.