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Take it from me, going to gigs by yourself is life-affirming

It’s opened my mind, and if nothing else, let me witness lots of ridiculously funny scenes. Be it a middle-aged woman clambering over five rows of seats to chuck her bra at Michael Bolton’s face, or a violently angry-drunk man being cartoonishly carried out of a Saturday night Elton John concert by four burly security guards, each gripping a different limb, to the sound of Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.

But paid gig reviewing opportunities have dwindled as media budgets have shrunk, especially since the pandemic. About a year ago I moved to a different country, and that was mostly that.

I’ve made my peace with not routinely reviewing concerts any more; I had a great run. But I’ve struggled to make peace with ending my regular sacred ceremony of solo gig going. So, I’ve kept it up. Just for me.

While I love going to shows with pals too – I’m not a complete introvert – there are a wealth of practical advantages to doing it by yourself. You don’t have to coordinate with anyone. You can be more impulsive and spontaneous in your choices, and you can go as often as free time and budget permits. You can miss having someone to chat to, but then you can’t do much chatting at gigs anyway, because people who talk over concerts are dickheads.

It is, I suppose, a sort of therapy. Music is a wonderful conduit to social experiences. But the bond we share with it is ultimately deeply individual and personal. Awash in a sea of humanity, alone with my thoughts and emotions, having my ears frazzled by feedback or soothed by gentle song, I feel comforted, exhilarated. I feel a peacefulness and wholeness which, as I journey deeper into adulthood with all its worries and responsibilities, seems to become rarer and rarer to feel.

I realise that solo concert going is easier for me as a man than it may be for a woman, who might feel uneasy in a space which is, let’s face it, still too male dominated. I acknowledge that for some, the courage to go to a concert on their own may exceed their courage to make friends, and that being alone in a crowd isn’t something everyone is lucky enough to be able to do by choice.

All I’m saying is, if you’d like to go out to gigs more but don’t because of hang-ups about looking like a saddo loner, then take it from an expert: you may find it liberating, even life-affirming.