In a Kingdom by the Sea

Today I thought I’d have a change from book reviews and talk about my second love (after reading): music. In fact, I would find it impossible to make a choice between music and books, and feel happy that I can have both in my life! Listening to music and going to gigs are some of the things I enjoy most in the world.

I am lucky enough to live in a city where live music happens quite frequently, and the bands and singers I like do sometimes tour here. However, sometimes I am forced (poor me) to go to gigs in London, as there’s a million times more choice and excitement there, and I can hear the bands who aren’t visiting any local venues. I think going to hear live music (when it’s good!) is a unique experience. Sometimes, when I’m at a gig by someone I love, the vague background feelings I often have – wishing my life was more exciting or the uneasy feeling that I should be somewhere else, doing something else (rather pathetically I often feel this, especially as I’m at a bit of a loose end at the moment…) – disappear, and I feel as if I’m doing what I should be and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. (I don’t know if there’s a specific word for this emotion but I think there should be.) I imagine that many other people who like music feel this way, and that’s what makes the atmosphere at gigs so fantastic.

I am thinking about this because on Tuesday, I went to London to see an American singer, Marissa Nadler, who I’d discovered through the recommendation of a friend I went to the gig with. She has a beautiful, ethereal voice and the songs she writes are nearly all quite melancholic. If you like sad, downbeat music, you really should check her out! (Actually at the gig she made a few comments sending up her gloomy image, which was quite funny). I think she is seen as a folk singer but her music is quite otherworldly at the same time. One of my favourite songs, Ghosts and Lovers, shows her style much better than I can describe it!  She also does a great cover of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat, and much to my happiness she sang this on Tuesday. Anyway, this gig had the kind of special atmosphere I am talking about, with everyone in the audience mesmerised by the music, and Marissa Nadler even said it had restored her confidence! This is my favourite kind of concert.

Marissa Nadler has some gothic influences in her music (she said at the concert that when she started out, she was always listening to Nick Cave) and on her first album, she has a song called Annabelle Lee, which is a setting to music of the Edgar Allan Poe poem. I really like this poem, and, just to end on a more literature-related note, I thought I’d share the song with you. I like the sense of mystery of the ‘love that was more than love’ and the idea that angels in heaven could envy lovers on earth. It’s also interesting that the poem influenced, and is partly quoted in, the beginning of the novel Lolita. It’s definitely a beautiful and haunting poem.

 

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2 comments
  1. Nymeth said:

    I’m just the same – the only reason why I don’t have a music blog is that I find my feelings about music far more difficult to articulate than my thoughts on books. But honestly, I can’t pick between the two passions, and going to concerts is one of my favourite things in the world. I considered going to the Marissa Nadler gig as well, but the train fare was pricey so in the end I didn’t. I especially wanted to see the opener, Cat Martino, though friends have told me she had technical issues :\ I’m glad to hear it was such a good gig, though! I know exactly what you mean about that moment in a show when everything feels just right with life. It’s a precious thing.

    • Sarah said:

      I also find it easier to write about books than music – I find it very difficult to describe music, especially in terms of different genres. I think it’s difficult to convey my experience, or why I like something, in words. And the expense is definitely the main problem in going to as many concerts as I’d like to! There were a few technical problems with the sound in the support act which was a shame, but it didn’t spoil it although I think I prefer Marissa Nadler’s style. I’m glad you know what I mean about the special moment at a concert, it is a great feeling.

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