(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!!
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂