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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.