Monthly Archives: June 2015

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 5: Mannheim, and reflections on the journey

(The last of five posts from my adventures: Part 4 here)

Mannheim, 4th June: My final show

We went straight from Munich to see friends in Freiburg in southern Germany for a few days, during which we were seeing Switchfoot for the last time in Mannheim, just to the north. We had a fun few days there in extremely hot weather, lake swimming and exploring the area.

The gig day felt like the hottest day possible! We found a tour poster on a billboard right outside the venue, so M got a photo of me next to it, with the venue and tourbus in the background, wearing my (signed!) Spring t-shirt and other fan gear 🙂 We were totally melting in the heat both on the way there, and waiting in the queue outside in the sun.

But – we connected!! 🙂

This time they opened the set with When We Come Alive, which was really nice. I didn’t capture the set list this time but they also played Meant To Live, Stars, Love Alone Is Worth the Fight (during which Jon came over to where I was stood at the side of the stage and sang part of it ‘to me’, holding eye contact with me till I broke out in a huge silly grin before moving on :D), Dark Horses, Who We Are, Hello Hurricane (with a very surreal intro with drummer Chad on his own!!), Dare You To Move, The Sound, Let It Out and Your Love Is A Song. We were also given a new version of The World You Want, (somewhat imperfect video here!) which was really, really nice. That’s a song that I find very inspiring already, so it was great to get a new version that was even better than the original.

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As an encore they finally played us BA55 – it was total immersion in sound, complete bliss 😀 I just stretched my hands up and soaked in it 🙂 And then Where I Belong – I got the banner out as soon as it was clear they were about to play it and Jon came straight over and took it, and commented on it again, held it up, and looked at me for a moment, then looked round the crowd and spoke about how he’d met people from all over Europe on this tour, and so many new family… 🙂

The crowd was really hyped up again, less insanely energetic than the Vienna crowd but just – they wouldn’t stop!! Any song they could keep on singing they did, Love Alone wouldn’t end, as they kept ‘ooh’ing and Jon had to pick it up again and end it twice 😀 At the end they kept singing Hello Hurricane until they got an encore, and then wouldn’t stop singing ‘oh ay ohh ohh’ from Where I Belong afterwards, even after the second encore (We Are One Tonight/Shadow Proves The Sunshine), even when the crew were packing down the stage! They kept it up without faltering for at least 15mins, until Jon was ‘deployed’ from the stage to clear the venue by means of aftershow!! 😀 😀

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The aftershow was beautiful again! I was at the back of the venue as Jon came out from the stage; I lost him in the crowd pushing to the door but happened to end up right behind him going out, so was right at the front for the aftershow for once 🙂 He played on the grass bank outside the venue, by the road (resulting in much comedy from loud passing traffic). We got Only Hope, Vice Verses, Terminal (‘this one’s even softer – you’re probably the only one who’s going to be able to hear it!’ ‘well, fine with me, it’s my favourite song of the moment!’), This Is Home, and Your Love Is Strong.

Afterwards since I was right at the front I jumped straight in with my chance to hand him my thank you card, but he was thanking me again and I found myself clasping his hand and telling him how much it meant to me – I couldn’t let him ‘out-thank’ me again. However much appreciation I was giving to him, I was getting it back for just being there, I couldn’t out-give the guy! Incredibly I *almost* got a shout out in front of the whole crowd from Jon for being at so many shows, (I forget exactly what he said, I was in shock, but it was along the lines of ‘this girl… she has been here the whole…’) but he got interrupted by someone asking if he’d bring Fiction Family over here 😀 Which I seconded! 😀 Probably good he was interrupted, I think I’d have fallen through the floor! I was so glad I’d written that card!

I can’t remember how but we ended up in pretty much normal conversation briefly as he went to leave, I said it was my last show of the tour, and he asked which had been the best – either this one or Edinburgh, and then said goodbye, and I let him go this time. It felt like a total breakthrough!!!

Then things got surreal – I ended up waiting with M and a couple of others for the bus to leave, but everyone was super relaxed so it was ages this time! Some German guys started singing spirituals on the grass, M and I joined in; the bus driver came out and did a silly dance to our singing, and then whacked ACDC loud on the bus speakers, at which M went off headbanging and air guitarring! We sat on the grass under the Where I Belong banner whilst the bus driver and Ike joked about. Then the guys came out one by one, Jerome first to chat to us all, he came up to me and thanked me, he’d read my card too! 😀 I shook hands with them all, thanked them again, managed to have a funny conversation with Drew since he was in smiley mode, and then a final thank you and goodbye to Jon. As the bus pulled out we noticed someone had written ‘SWITCHFOOT’ and ‘I made a mess of me’ in the dirt on the back 😀

We went and sat by the river, waiting for our 4am train back to Freiburg, M praying with his hands in the water as he sometimes does to mark journeys, me wearing my Where I Belong banner and trying to process what just happened 🙂 All the bittersweet had gone, all was well.

‘Forget sad; I’ll stick with happy’ 🙂

A song for part 5


A Postscript:

So; my reflections on the whole experience:

I think sometimes we don’t know how broken we are till we are healed, or how much of a weight we’re carrying around till it’s lifted.

It’s no less strange to me than it is to you that I should feel like this essentially about music, but the fact stands. Jon Foreman’s work has been so much a part of my life for almost half my life that never expressing the appreciation I have for him and all he does had become a huge burden on my soul, and I’m now feeling such an incredible sense of peace, freedom and release.

This couple of weeks has been an amazing journey, more so within me than the physical journey around Europe. I began as an awkward, emotional, freaking out fangirl, with Jon being very patient and gracious with me but, I sensed, wisely just a little wary of me too. By the end of the trip there had been a real breakthrough; I was, and am, still in awe of him but it all felt a lot more comfortable. I was getting genuine smiles of recognition, semi-normal conversation, and a sense that he was really feeling loved and grateful for the support I was giving. It blows me away to think how quickly and easily things turned around, after all these years and all my worrying, and that I broke through into not just making contact with him but actually finding myself ‘in the family’, a precious middle ground between random fan in the crowd and genuine friendship that I don’t think I’d fully appreciated even existed before it happened. Nothing that happened was outside of Jon’s standard behaviour with fans; he’s famously very good with us, I’m not special, and I don’t care! But what it meant to me was that my message had got through, and that means everything to me.

I’m going to slip into religious language, not because I think this guy’s the messiah; far from it! But it seems the best language I can find to describe what happened. And he is my saint, in the best possible sense, not someone perfect and unreachable, but an ordinary, imperfect human being who is just a little further along the journey in most respects, and whose example and ‘teaching’ is pointing me in the right direction and showing me The Way.

Anyway. This journey has been a pilgrimage of repentance, and a quest to atone for my past failings as a fan. I could never have hoped for as much grace as my repentance has been met with, to be not just forgiven but to feel like none of that matters any more, that I have a new start and am accepted as ‘family’, with thankfulness coming back at me as fast as I can give it away. I feel like I’ve been able to make back a lot of lost time, and that I’ve brought the fan relationship right up to date. I’ve now seen Switchfoot six times in 15 years, during which I’ve met them to say thank you four times, and they know I’ve been supporting them all this time, and know what some of their music has meant to me over the years. Far from being over, it starts here, whatever I’ve been before, right now, I am part of the fan family and will continue to behave like I am. So much grace, it’s overwhelming.

And God’s grace behind it! The whole experience has brought the love and grace of God home to me so powerfully as a faint picture of how he relates to us, responding to our every attempt to reach out to God in love with ever more love towards us, a dance in which God is always a step ahead. Perhaps in our own imperfect way we’re picking up the steps of this infectious dance. It’s unthinkable that God could care about such a ridiculous aspect of my life, and yet God does care! All the time we were singing Your Love Is Strong it struck me as I sang ‘You know what I need’ that God really does know what I need, and was supplying it freely, and the whole experience has given me new insights into God’s grace, reminders of the greater redemption I’ve experienced in Jesus’ acceptance of me.

Every breath is a second chance 🙂

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 4: Munich

(Part 3 here)

Munich, 2nd June

Two shows in two days: Intense! I really don’t know how the guys do this night after night, it’s pretty crazy even for us! We had a half day to explore Munich – apparently the thing to do was, ironically, to go to the Chinese tower in the English Garden(!), so we did, and got some food and drink in the beer garden whilst we were there. Bizzarely, it turns out people surf on standing waves in the river running through the garden, and we went to watch for a while; M guessed, correctly as it turned out, that that was where the band had spent the morning before the show, though we were there too late to catch them attempting it.

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All the shows had been different but this show had a totally different feel this time. It was a really odd venue, a club in a whole huge complex of clubs, bars and takeaways, with no crowd barrier (we were literally up against the stage – I was right in front of Tim this time), but also nothing whatsoever for climbing! 😦 Both the crowd and the venue were far too sensible, and the guys ended up staying back on stage too much. However, since they had been surfing on the river (at least, attempting to!), a new discovery for them as well as us, they were really super happy and relaxed on stage. They just seemed overjoyed to have unexpectedly had the chance to go surfing, in Germany!

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And it was great – we got Only Hope played aftershow-style in the middle of the crowd, my ‘I can feel the ocean’ banner got taken on stage as well as the ‘Where I Belong’ banner, getting more smiles from the guys.

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Where I Belong made me really emotional at the end; it all felt so finite. I just leant right onto the stage and watched through tears as they played.

There was an unannounced aftershow afterwards, which M got to join us for again 🙂 Jon just came out to the waiting crowd and played on a sort of bench outside one of the other bars, it was beautiful. He played us Caroline, Lean On Me (so beautiful!), 24, The Moon Is A Magnet (for the beautiful full moon – video here, the only film I took at an aftershow since they were such precious moments), and Your Love Is Strong, with everyone singing along, it was a really lovely moment 🙂

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This time I got the embroidered t-shirt signed. That felt a bit strange. I’d made a real point about trying to do everything on his terms and not take anything he didn’t give, to just give him affirmation (though that did require me taking a little of his time…), and I’m always uneasy about the amount of people trying to touch him, take pictures with him, get things signed…now I’m one of them 😛 Some other fans told him they were going to be at Mannheim and I said I was too, and he asked if we had any requests; I said Amateur Lovers, and the look on his face..! He looked so taken aback that I’d brought that one up, and he said they’d have to totally relearn it and would be like a Switchfoot cover band 😀 Never mind, at least I asked! It was pretty funny, and also pretty funny he’d asked me for requests – I could reel him off such a list!

I left with intense feelings of happiness and sadness all at the same time – it had first come on during the first show, but now felt really powerful. Posting about it on facebook got me diagnosed with ‘Post Concert Depression’! That would be a new one for me, since I never entirely came down after the Post Concert High I got from seeing them the first time nearly four years ago. We’ll see how it pans out; it was incredibly bittersweet but I majorly had the happies to see that Jon was feeling the love I was bringing.

I was also left with a dilemma; I felt there was more I wanted to say to say thank you (not like I hadn’t said it enough..!), but I wasn’t sure if it would make me too much of an annoying and desperate fangirl to write Jon another letter in addition to the one I’d already given him in Edinburgh, plus I wasn’t guaranteed a chance to hand it to him. After much deliberation I decided to give it a try, since there wasn’t much to lose and still love to give; I made a card with the same design as my ‘thank you’ banner, and tried to keep what I had to say sensible.

A song for part 4

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 3: Vienna

(Part 2 here)

Vienna, 1st June

M and I had a crazy few days between shows whilst we left Switchfoot to play a couple more shows on the continent. We travelled back home for a brief half day to unpack and repack, pick up our passports and leave again on the 2am coach to Köln, for a surreal full day and two nights of travel to get to Vienna. But we survived! It was surprisingly ok spending two consecutive full nights on public transport, perhaps it was because it was for a good cause! We had three fantastic days exploring the city and surroundings, seeing the natural history museum, climbing the eastern most ‘Alps’ (not impressively high that far out!), eating icecream and sightseeing, before catching up with Switchfoot again for the show on our last night there.

This was the sweatiest, dirtiest, craziest rock show I have ever been to! It was around 30oC out, and can’t have been much cooler inside the underground venue even before we all packed into it. We were so hot we were sweating and desperate for air even before the music began!

The crowd were super hyped up, and as it turned out, dominated by Romanian fans, who were really excited to be seeing Switchfoot at all, even if they’d had to travel for it. They yelled and roared and jumped all the way through! When Jon asked the crowd where everyone was from he seemed completely amazed when almost half the audience seemed to be calling back ‘Romania!’; you could see the guys were really humbled by it, and thinking to themselves ‘we need to find a way to play Romania!’.

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Highlights of the set were Oh! Gravity (video here), Twenty Four (mostly! For someone who was 21 that day!), Liberty (video here) and The Sound.

This was the show I was in the best position for, right on the crowd barrier between Jon and Drew. But it wasn’t just Jon interacting with the crowd this time; Tim and Drew both came right out to play across the crowd barrier and connect with the fans, which was so special, and even Chad and Jerome came forward and interacted with us far more than usual – usually they are tied to their instruments at the back of the stage. I was glad I later got the chance to thank them for that. It was really special.

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At one point Jon spoke about entropy – how everything falls apart, and that makes sense, but that there’s something greater, the mystery that holds us together, and transitioned into Your Love Is A Song. I later found this interview he’d given earlier that day, speaking about the same theme. It excites me in a geeky sort of way that he often deals with the idea of entropy, although my ideas on the subject are subtly different it’s a powerful concept that I’ve thought a lot about too. That’s probably for another post 🙂

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The venue was very grimy – I got grimy off the crowd barrier, as did my banners, and Jon climbed something at one point and came down covered in black grime – and then crowd surfed back over us and we got grimy too!! I was crowd surfed on twice during the show 🙂 And then the sweat – we were all soaked, and Jon went through 3 tshirts! 😛 😀 But who cares, it was awesome 😀

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All my banners came out again – Tim really seemed to like the ‘I can feel the ocean’ banner, he kept on looking at it and pointing, and he’d smiled at it when it came out at BCDO too! I had the ‘Thank you’ banner out whilst they played Dare You To Move; when Jon got to the line ‘Everyone’s here’ he looked at me and gave me a smile whilst singing it, it was so sweet of him! The ‘Where I Belong’ banner got taken up on stage this time – Jon came up and took it from me as they were beginning the song and said ‘it’s beautiful!’ 🙂 Here’s a vid of the song. We (…well, mostly those Romanians…) wouldn’t let them go after just one encore, so they came back on to play us The Sound to finish.

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At the end we burst out onto the street desperate for fresh air and feeling really gross! And M was there! He decided to only get tickets to come with me to the BCDO and Mannheim shows, but was starry enough to accompany me to and from the Vienna and Munich shows where I’d otherwise have had to travel back to the hostels on my own. He was rewarded with another aftershow (turns out he’d been listening to the encore literally through a hole in the venue wall beforehand though!); this time it was a bit chaotic as we were crowding the bus. Tour manager Ike came out and tried to move us to the other side of the road where there was a garage, and there was a twitter announcement, but we were given no location so we milled around in the street till Jon came out and took us over there! It was totally owned by the Romanians, they made all the requests, sang along and harmonised, and put a Romanian flag on Jon! I was stood between M and Jon, and it was lovely hearing M singing along with him 🙂

Jon played Only Hope, Caroline, Souvenirs, Vice Verses, This Is Home and House Of God Forever. Afterwards, despite the crowd, I managed to get to him to thank him, and he thanked me for being there!!

We waited for the bus to leave again, and as it pulled out we saw a crazy huge fireball meteor go across the sky!

A song for part 3

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 2; Edinburgh

(Tour part 1 here)

26th May – VIP show day!

I woke up before 7am on the day with the bag-of-coffee-beans feeling again and a head full of Switchfoot! I was staying with my grandparents-in-law, so I feel really bad that I was in such a strange state of mind that morning and couldn’t give them the time I should have done. But there I was, pacing about the house, having minor emotional meltdowns, major freakouts, and trying not to hyperventilate too badly, which wasn’t helped by Jon posting on social media that their tourbus had broken down and that they were stuck somewhere. The VIP event was fairly early in the afternoon, and I was meeting my internet concert buddy Emma at lunchtime, so I headed off early to meet her and go round the castle before the show. I’d got so lightheaded at BCDO I thought I’d better take some sugar with me to stop me getting faint, so I spent most of the day eating jelly sweets, and ended up eating very little else for lunch – besides I figured it’d be much better to meet the guys on a sugar high than to freak out so much I fainted!

Thankfully I had calmed down significantly and regained a tiny bit of common sense before heading to the show! When we got to the venue the (new!) tourbus was right outside – and eventually we saw all the guys going into the venue from it. Most of them came and said hi to us before disappearing inside.

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Because of their delay getting to Edinburgh, the VIP event got shortened, so we didn’t get to see the soundcheck. However, I did still get to meet them briefly, and have my photo with them and my ‘Where I Belong’ banner. I was wearing the t-shirt I’d embroidered with the coverart from Jon’s Spring EP, and they seemed impressed by it (‘Did you make that? Is that stitches?’ 😀 ) Then Jon played us a couple of songs, acoustic, Only Hope and Terminal (vid of that here). Before he left I took the opportunity to hand him a letter I’d sent him for his birthday via a fellow fan in the US, and he exclaimed ‘oh!’ before I’d properly explained what it was – I presume he’d recognised it! I’m possibly overinterpreting of course, but it made me happy to think he’d read it. Then I gave him a copy of my 15 songs blog post 🙂 I managed to tell him I didn’t manage to say in there even half of what his songs mean to me, and that I don’t know how he’s managed to never make a single bad song in all this time. All in all I think I did really well; I froze up pretty badly and didn’t manage to say half of what I’d wanted to, but neither did I freak out or make an idiot of myself, and it was really nice.

And then the show! I got a place on the crowd barrier at the front, near where Drew played. We were treated to a surprise opening act before they came on – Gungor! I’m not much of a fan of their recorded music, but live they were just brilliant, such great musicians, and I now have a new favourite drummer by miles, their guy was so uniquely entertaining I had a silly grin on my face the whole performance and I could honestly watch him for hours!

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Switchfoot opened up with Say It Like You Mean It, which I just love, but sadly we couldn’t hear Jon much for that song. They rocked it out anyway. The whole set was so amazing – they were so full of energy, having so much fun, and so incredibly loud, the most rocked out I’ve ever seen them! My ears, eyes and throat hurt afterwards! Alas it turned out Jon’s own acoustic guitar had been broken in transit (we never did find out how broken), so he’d had to borrow one from Gungor, but it didn’t take away from the awesomeness of their performance.

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We had a great time! Jon was up climbing the balcony for Love Alone Is Worth The Fight and Let It Out (and claimed to have got stuck, which was funny) and he came back through the crowd right by us, so Emma actually helped him back up (video here). Whilst he was up there, a big beardy guy came right up to him on the edge of the balcony, leant over for a selfie whilst he was singing and then kissed him, which was hilarious! They also played Learning to Breathe (video here), which is one of the songs I’d most wanted to hear live, being the title track of what’s been my favourite album for a very long time. It was just amazing; they soloed all over it, and it was beautiful, I’d wanted to hear that one live for so long and they really made it great.

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I managed to bring out all the banners I’d made. Emma was 24 that day, and one of the banners was a request for them to play her Twenty Four, so I brought that one out early on, and then I gave it to her, and she carried on bringing it out throughout the show until they played it for her at the end, but my ‘I can feel the ocean’ banner, designed with some of the ‘Oh! Gravity.’ cover art on it got smiles and points from the guys, and of course they’d already seen the others – I got the ‘thank you’ one out when they played Caroline, and Where I Belong at the end, though there was another more standard one that got brought on stage 🙂 Caroline was pretty special, not just because of how they mixed in Twenty Four (video here), but because it was Sunlight’s release day, and the rest of the band had apparently learnt an arrangement of it to surprise Jon with. Their version was lovely, and the whole way through bassist Tim was looking at his brother with so much pride and tears in his eyes, it was really sweet.

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Afterwards – well the tourbus was right outside, so everyone hung around waiting for them. They didn’t show up, so some people left. We waited on. Suddenly we got the most magical tweet – ‘Aftershow at Advocates Close in 10 mins’. I think I squealed! Everyone began walking up that way, then we got excited and started running – and it became a wonderfully high spirited treasure hunt, looking for Advocates Close, all of us running in a big crowd down the Royal Mile to find it before the front of the group got there and started piling in (‘Steps! Steps..!’), and we descended about half way down. No Jon – but then he showed up, with the Gungor guitar, and suddenly we were very much in The Wonderlands! He played Patron Saint, Chem6A (at least, the first part of it – he admitted that was all he could remember! And I had to call out how M thinks that song’s hilarious now he’s made the Fading West movie!), Vice Verses, and Your Love Is Strong.

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There were some great moments: This guy showed up, smartly dressed and talking loudly on his phone to someone and telling them where he was, he clearly knew and was a fan but his manner was like he was at work, and he handed the phone to Jon whilst he was singing Vice Verses – Jon’s look of confusion and amusement was just priceless… then a woman from Jordan, whose friend interrupted the show briefly to let her hand Jon a letter, give him a sweet message about how much he’s loved in the Middle East, and take a photo… a little girl appearing in the window of one of the overlooking houses, who got shy and went inside when we saw her and waved… a girl who had to leave early for a train throwing him her hat, decorated with the lyrics from Thrive, and him catching and signing it and throwing it back… then he was gone. Then the spell broke and we realised and ran to catch him up, I’m fairly sure I caught him to speak to him twice but I don’t know what I said except tearily to tell him he’d just made my life complete! Then his ‘people’ were telling him he had a ferry to catch, he was trying to get back to the bus with everyone asking for pictures and autographs, but he was dragged off. Then a couple of us chased back to the bus again, at least to wave it off! Finally he came out one last time, I said hi from the fan family and thanked him again, and he finally got away with a small bunch of BritSwitchFam waving goodbye 😀

And we still hung out there another half hour or so, chatting and taking pictures! Eventually my concert buddy and I headed back to the hostel down the Royal Mile, now haunted by happy treasure-hunting ghosts in my mind, for some quiet calming down time before bed, and another night of coffee-bean-time. Happyhappyhappy.

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The next morning before I left I made a little pilgrimage back to Advocates Close, following in the footsteps of the patron saint of rock and roll – partly to check it was really real. I sat on the steps where my imperfect saint had played, for a few quiet moments to think, before I too had to leave. It’s now a thin place between this world and The Wonderlands.

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A song for part 2

My tour of The Wonderlands, Part 1: BCDO

(This is the first of five posts about my recent adventures following Switchfoot’s Fading West European Tour – for context, here’s my post from the week before I left)

24th May: M and I catch the southbound train to Sussex for the Big Church Day Out: First stop on my crazy tour following Switchfoot round Europe.

I first caught up with Switchfoot as they were being interviewed by UCB before their show on mainstage. At first I wasn’t sure I’d even get in the venue, but I managed to squeeze in – and then ended up at the front of the crowd standing at the back, with a great view! So I decided to try filming the interview:

It’s been far too long since I saw them back in 2011, and I was very conscious of having never really communicated any appreciation to them, so I was very on edge and full of adrenalin. However I managed to hold it together just enough – I was shaking slightly, and actually had a minor meltdown when I caught guitarist Drew’s smile at one point(!), but however embarrassing I was, I did at least manage not to pass out! And I managed to call out that it didn’t matter what they played, it’d be awesome, and to pull out my ‘Thank you Jon’ banner, which he saw! Task one accomplished 🙂 But I had to go and lie down in the shade to recover afterwards!!

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I couldn’t cope with going to their signing – I wasn’t yet prepared to meet them, and besides I didn’t want anything signing. So I waited till their show on mainstage. I managed to get almost to the front, off to the side of the stage, not a perfect view but close enough. They entered the stage to a burst of Led Zeppelin! As frisbees flew through the air, they gave us an energetic show of a real mix of older and newer tunes, keeping the tone light for the festival rather than getting into their grittier material. They opened by rocking out with Meant To Live and actually went on to treat us to three more songs from The Beautiful Letdown, including Gone and This Is Your Life. Notably Jon emphasized ‘cash’ in the outro to Gone, after the ‘cat’ comment in the interview! To contrast with the older songs, we had Love Alone Is Worth The Fight, Who We Are, Let It Out and When We Come Alive from their latest album Fading West, as well as classics Dare You To Move, Your Love Is A Song and Dark Horses.

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Jon managed to break down all divisions between the stage, the crew and the crowd as only he can, climbing onto the crowd barriers and getting right in with the fans for This Is Your Life and Where I Belong, crowd surfing, swapping hats and taking photos with people whilst singing, thanking stage crew and even cheekily borrowing a camera off an official photographer to take a film of the crowd from his perspective. I remember the first time I saw them; I had such a terrible position in the crowd I basically couldn’t see the stage at all, so from my perspective it seemed like Jon was just popping up from nowhere at different points in the crowd, I had no idea where he’d materialise next! It was great to actually be able to see it this time!

From their smiles, the guys were clearly having fun; even a couple of minor mishaps when Jon broke a mic stand, and shortly after, a guitar string (rock and roll! 😀 ), were met with good humour, and Jon improvised with a harmonica during Your Love Is A Song without his guitar. I managed to get smiles from them when I got my ‘Thank you Jon’ banner out again too. By the time they closed with Jon again in the crowd to sing Where I Belong, it seemed like just about everyone was singing along with him.

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He had come into the crowd on the other side of the stage from where I was stood for This Is Your Life, but this time he stood on the barrier really close to where I was – just as we pulled out our ‘Where I Belong’ banner! M held It up over my head, so from my perspective I was watching Jon sing just feet away from underneath the banner, and when he saw it he smiled and sang part of the song ‘to me’. As the setting sun lit up a beautiful cloudscape, the reverberating closing lyrics ‘You and I, we begin forever now, forever now…’ were spine-tingling.

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After that, everything else on the programme really was going to be a beautiful letdown – a shame since Rend Collective were up next, I’d quite like to have been able to enjoy that properly! I stayed to watch, but the stage seemed kind of haunted by Switchfoot so I didn’t manage to give it much attention.

Finally – a funny encounter over falafels! We were getting food before going home, and were just finishing when suddenly Drew materialised in the food queue behind where we were sitting! There was nowhere to hide so I decided I may as well go and speak to him – it seemed a bit like a meeting of awkward introverts, but I did manage to thank him and wish that they’d been given the chance to play an encore (we tried!).


PS- Not part of the tour exactly, but definitely part of the journey; the previous day we’d been in Cambridge for the most joyful and inclusive wedding, and we’d been asked to perform a couple of songs there. M actually managed to get me in front of a microphone singing proper backing (just me, singing a different part to him), live – and I was not at all nervous, for the first time in my life! 🙂 I’ll learn to let it out one day 🙂

A song for part one

Thoughts from inside a tree

Earlier this week I was back visiting the town I used to live in, and having a day to spare decided to go for a walk around some of the places I used to visit regularly. One of these was the meadows and woodland on my old university campus. My wandering brought me to a clearing in the woods where some climbable oak trees grow, one of which is an old friend of mine, a tree I sometimes used to climb once in a while, and which became a place of prayer for me. Being suitably dressed I hoisted myself up into it once again, to spend some time catching up with it before continuing my ramble.

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And time slowed down.

Trees know a rhythm that we don’t. It’s very complex, embracing both the chaotic, fast lives of the insects busy in their leaves to the much slower underlying rhythm of centuries. Sitting in its branches and feeling it move at its own pace shifted my perspective again, giving me a glimpse into tree time. Tree time feels the breeze, growth, sap, days, seasons, years, centuries. This tree knows me from my occasional visits here, and I can feel it calmly observing me as a transient but welcome visitor into its long lifetime.

I can’t help but be mindful in a tree – apart from the need for awareness to keep myself safe whilst some distance off the ground, a tree can teach me to slow down and see the world at its own pace, and notice what it notices. I spend so much of my life alternating between being busy and wasting time on the internet, and whole days can disappear almost unnoticed. It’s no wonder I dry up and burn out so often. It’s only when I slow down that I see the fast things I’d otherwise miss; here in the tree, the insects buzzing past, a tussle between rival butterflies, a thrush singing, a rare glimpse of a bullfinch… an unexpected pheasant launching out of another tree (when does that happen?!!).

I wonder if I learnt to slow down and live as mindfully as the tree, seeing the chaos around me and calmly and patiently reaching out into it to make it a little better, would I find a rhythm of life strong and deep enough to sustain me for the long haul? And to be at peace enough to be able to let go easily of this life when it’s time?

Greetings from The Wonderlands!

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A whole world composed entirely of Jon Foreman songs? Yes please! 😉 Greetings from The Wonderlands! It’s beautiful here, and me and my ears are having a great time. I think I was born here, I feel like a native 🙂

It’s been a fantastic, if crazy, couple of weeks following the man himself on tour across Europe, right at the same time The Wonderlands project began to be released into this world, and it really has transported me there. Lake swimming and climbing (The Mountain..?) in the sun, evenings spent catching up with friends or watching the sun set over a festival stage, storms and trains and surrealness in the middle of the night, watching so many sunrises over cities and mountains and orchards… and sweaty, dirty rock shows and magical ‘campfire’ singalongs with new family and the patron saint of rock and roll himself 🙂

I am a memory millionaire. I’m now on my way back to the UK in body, but very much staying here in spirit; you’re going to have a hard time dragging me back!

PS – No idea what I’m talking about? Look at this, read this, then listen to this 🙂