It was March 2022. Not only was it my birthday month, but I’d just been offered a brilliant new job, my most senior post yet in my 25 year strong NHS career. There was only one way to celebrate: by catching COVID!
I jest. It was, of course, the celebratory events themselves that led to my collapsing in a coughing heap a few days later: dinner and drinks with my two excellent mates Lukasz and Peter, followed by an hour or so of drunken dancing and singing to Kosheen, and then, of course, more drinks.
This was my second time seeing Kosheen. The first, back in October 2003, has the misfortune to be remembered as my least good gig of that year: not bad in any way, just a hyper-proficient presentation of songs to a largely unresponsive crowd. But perhaps my whole problem back then was that I wasn’t drunk. I have never been someone who treats gigs as an excuse to get pissed and leap about with a beer in my hand: I have much more often been the person other people’s beer lands on as they windmill about, especially in more youthful gigging times. It’s safe to say that the multiple portions of beer, wine and Jack Daniels I imbibed over course of the evening made this gig without question my drunkest gig ever. Which also makes in one of the most gleefully carefree and celebratory evenings I’ve had in recent years.
On the downside, it means that it’s hard to come up with any kind of commentary on the gig itself. Certainly, it was approximately a million times better than my memories of Kosheen in 2003, and that’s not just because of the drinks. The crowd was much more engaged, revelling in the tunes just as much as we tipsy three were, and Sian’s power and energy as a frontwoman was awe-inspiring. Given that I was about to turn 47, and feeling a little trepidatious about commencing my downhill tumble to 50, it was gloriously uplifting to see a woman of that age giving such a powerful and engaging performance, exuding far more youthful vitality than I remember from the 2003 gig.
Due to the booze-addled state of my brain cells, I retain few details of the night beyond the sheer exhilaration, but a couple of songs stand out. One was “Empty Skies”, which was the first Kosheen song I ever heard and bought on CD single back in the very early mists of this century. Somehow it sounded on this night completely euphoric despite its brooding sense of menace. But most of all, the moment I remember was “All In My Head”. As detailed in my post about the 2003 Kosheen gig, this song has a significance to me due to soundtracking a very particular point of that year when my life was about to transform. It turns out that this song is also full of significant memories for Lukasz, and so when the time came, we hollered the lyrics at each other with all the off-key power our lungs could muster.
Now, whenever I hear “All In My Head”, I no longer find myself flung nostalgically back to 2003, but instead to this night in March this year, when all troubles were cast aside for a few moments of revelling in the drunken joy of sharing music with friends. It may have resulted in a few weeks of coughing fits, fevers and fatigue for all three of us, but for me at least, it was resoundingly worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here’s my vlog of the evening, complete with authentic tipsy wobbliness of footage! My drunken commentary has been redacted, however 🙂