You build a wall, we’ll build a bridge

Grace Petrie – Islington Assembly Hall, London; May 12th, 2022

It had been a long time coming this concert and the long wait and anticipation  made it all the better. When I bought the ticket back in February 2020 I had no idea it would be another two years before I’d finally see Grace Petrie live, but I must say it was totally worth the wait. What an amazing show!

Had a lovely afternoon in London with a friend and showed up at the Assembly Hall around 5:15 pm, very much surprised to b the first in line. There were very few of us until about 6:30, so I could have stayed somewhere warm instead. Oh well. Never thought I’d get a front row center spot at this show. If I had not already been excited, I was now.

We did not have to wait long and first up was support Jasmine Kennedy. I knew I liked her music, but must admit that I could not remember much about it or how she appeared on my radar – The Guilty Feminist I assume? Either way, it was really lovely, soft music, that she described as mostly depressing. We cheered loudly for hr before she even started and she loved it, then played ‘Laura’ for us. After that came a new song and from the lyrics I’d guess it might be called ‘The Things you miss’. I loved it. ❤️ She talked about ‘You made my teeth hurt’ being the title song of her EP, even though it was “a bit early in the set to start selling you stuff, but thats where we are”. What a beautifully sad song. Next was a song about her nana dying and the time se visited her at the hospital. And claimed it wasn’t hard “because everything that happened rhymed”. It was ’14 Miles’. Before her last song she joked that if we didn’t like her or either of the other performers we would not get refunds. She ended with ‘Percy Anderson’ and left me with a smile.

Setlist

Laura
“The things you miss” (new song)
It made my teeth hurt
14 Miles
Percy Anderson

Soft Lad was up next and I enjoyed her set as well, but it wasn’t completely my style. I definitely liked her softer songs better, i.e. the ones that didn’t use so many effects. My favorite was ‘Famous Songs about average people’. She explained how strange it is to meet the people that her mates have mad songs about and find out that these people are nothing special at all. At the end of her set she told us we might see someone looking exactly like her on the drums. 😀

Setlist

Eyeroll
2 Know U Betta
Human Condition
Singapore
Famous Songs about Average People
My Name
Least of My Worries

It felt like a really long wait for Grace then. I hoped she’d start at 9, but it was about 20 past when the lights finally went down and the crowd started cheering. The show was sold out and everyone sounded just as excited as I was. 😀  She stepped up to the mic, introduced herself, told us, it was incredible to be there and asked who had seen her before and for whom it was the first time seeing her. I cheered both times, because it both felt true since my first gig was Grace supporting Hannah Gadsby where she played fours songs, so this was the first full concert. She remarked that the second group sounded even happier.

Grace told us that booking the hall had been a gamble at the time and now this was her biggest gig ever. Sh introduced her band, consisting of Jasmine Kennedy on bass, Soft Lad on drums and Ben Moss on the violin. They kicked off the show with ‘Storm to weather’ that is “very much about the pandemic, but a political song as well”. I had been waiting for a long tim to har this song life and I sang along at the top of my lungs. “I will love you forever, we will dance again next year” – these words meant everything when I first heard them and helped carry my through the early pandemic days – singing them now felt like a great weight falling off of my shoulders.

Grace explained that she only had two types of songs: angry and sad and that she was a protest singer, writing left-wing songs about politics, trying to make Britain a more left-wing place, so ‘Farewell to Welfare’ was next. Quite a few people around me sang along to every word and I remembered surprisingly much of the lyrics. Afterwards she joked about how the young people in the audience don’t know who Theresa May is and she was “as bad as we thought it gets 12 years ago”.

According to a quick poll there were a lot of proud snowflakes in the audience and with ‘You build a wall’ came the first song that had me in tears. It was all sorts of beautiful, especially with so many people singing along. ❤️ After that, Ben Moss got to sing one of his songs, as he said “about how hard it is to be a man” 😁 He explained how masculinity needs to be rethought and that he had vailed all his thoughts on the topic thinly with the metaphor of a tree. ‘Sturdy Oak’ was absolutely lovely and I decided then and there to buy his album. Not only is the man a talented multi-instrumentalist, he is also a great singer. If anyone needed more reasons, he told us he was running a marathon to raise money for rainbow migration and part of the album sales was going towards this.

Back to Grace, asking us if anyone of us had the new record and pointing out how happy we sounded about it. No wonder, it is an amazing album. She mentioned how the next song had a bit of a country feel and how Ben recorded banjo and fiddle for it on top of each other which sounded great until it was time to play it live. Thus, they invited Deborah Chalmers on stage to play with them. Thy could not, however, start playing, before Grace explained about the swearing and how there was “a prominent Dick” in the song that Radio 2 was not happy about. 😉 Of course we fully supported her artistic integrity by singing along loudly to “Last Man on Earth”. There was even some clapping along going.

‘Some Days are worse than others’ followed and I was crying again again. It is my current favorite on ‘Connectivity’  – I love it for the lyrics and the distinct Springsteen vibes I get from. Ben played accordion beautifully and I sang along softly while tears were streaming down my face. ❤️ Next was ‘We’ve got an Office in Hackney’ and w learned how much of the lyrics were direct quotes from people in the music industry that Grace had encountered. 😀

It was time to play the song that was the reason she was wearing ‘Black Tie’ and it was the loudest sing along of the night. There is something very powerful about screaming out that “the images that fucked ya were a patriarchal structure” and we do need and anti-transphobia anthem now more than ever. If songs can change the world, even just a little bit, this is one that will. The set ended with ‘Losing Side’, a powerful reminder that trying is the most important bit and that we may not see the fruits of our actions, but if we stand up for what is right we will hopefully leave a better world to those who follow us. As far as final statements go, nothing could have been more fitting.

We clapped and cheered loudly for more, until we got ‘Northbound’. One of the most upbeat songs of the evening perhaps and another wonderful sing-along. It as all over too soon, but I left elated, feeling I had gotten exactly what I hoped for and more than I was ready for. It was a great night and I took the bus home with a bunch of merch in my hands and a happy smile on my face. Can’t wait to do this all again in Berlin in September!

Setlist

Storm to weather
Farewell to Wellfare
You build a wall
Sturdy Oak (Ben Moss)
Last Man on earth
Some Days are worse than others
We’ve got an Office in Hackney
Black Tie
Losing Side

Northbound

The way you hold my heart

Poets of the Fall – The Academy, Dublin; May 5th, 2022

Seeing Poets of the Fall live again after more than two years was a real emotional roller-coaster, but left me very happy in the end. I had felt somewhat abandoned by them during the pandemic years and didn’t know if their magic would still work for me. I was also very afraid that I would not like their latest album, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t give them a chance and go to a few shows to see what would happen. It turned out to be the right decision and I left with my faith restored.

I’d waited until late to buy tickets for the Ireland/UK tour, but eventually I did and was looking forward to the shows. Since the Ghostlight album came out less than a week before the first show, I decided I would discover the new songs live and not listen to them beforehand. Being on tour helped with not getting tempted.

Having repacked the previous day and with a flight around noon, travel was rather relaxed. Got to Dublin, had a nice room and good weather and even got some food into me before I got in line. Walked by the venue around 4:30 and saw one person standing there. Returned about an hour later and was 18th in lin. Not a bad start. With the VIP tickets gone this tour, there was finally a chance to get to the front again. Everything went smoothly and I ended up front row on Olli’s side. 😀 There was a setlist and it was impossible not to look – I counted 3 song titles I didn’t know plus the single.

The venue was small and packed, with a low ceiling. I kept my mask on, not feeling safe without it. The other concerts this year had shown me, that I’d be able to have fun anyway. Still, I was a bit nervous and felt I needed to find my footing again with the guys. First though, there was some hair metal band to listen to. I can’t remember their name and found them otherwise forgettable too. Not bad, just not the music I wanted to listen to that night and not a good match for Poets. They played a good set though and did their best to get the audience going so props for that. 😉

Once the stage was changed, I was excited and anxious in equal parts, slightly worried that their shows would not do it for me any more. When the lights went out I screamed, just like I had always done, trying to remember how to do this.  The intro started and it took a while before they walked on stage one by one. We cheered and I wondered what it was like for them after such a long absence. Did they feel rusty? Would they talk about it?

Marko greeted us briefly and they launched into ‘Requiem for my Harlequin’, some looking at us, some concentrating on playing and it felt familiar if not quite right just yet. I discovered the advantage of a mask was that they could not see I didn’t know the lyrics. 😉 The song sounded brilliant and when they continued straight into ‘Dreaming wide awake’ I felt the old pull and started remembering. Before I knew it I saw Olli jump high, was head-banging in tune with the music and pointing at each one of them in turn. We cheered loudly and things were falling into place.

Marko never talked about the two missing years, just mentioned that it was good to be back. It was good to have them back too. ‘Temple of Thought’ was beautiful as always and slowly the band getting back to their old moves and old groove. They were sounding as good as ever. ‘Rougue’ had them all showing off their skills and hell yes, these guys still knew how to play. Somewhere around then Jani and Olli spotted me and smiled.

‘Firedancer’ was the first truly new song and it rocked. No idea what the lyrics were about, but it definitely worked for me. Loved the steady drum and the guitars. “Maybe you’ll know this next one,” Marko said, “if you start jumping up and down like mad monkeys, then yeah,  I’d say this is a familiar one. We’ll see what happens.” 😀 It was’My Dark Disquiet’ and I found myself jumping up and down, just as he had predicted. I also remembered some lyrics and gestures. 😀

I really liked ‘Sounds of yesterday’, a slower one and a break from jumping before ‘Choice Millionaire’ brought back the “fingers pointing and arms moving” – dance routine and Glen joined Olli, Jaska and Marko for it. This was the band I remembered – I was smiling. More jumping ensued, I was home. ‘Chasing Echoes’ followed and was my favorite of the new songs that night. I might like this album after all. Phew! Last song in the main set was ‘Stay forever’ and I’d briefly wondered what song that was, totally forgetting that ‘Stay’ had been renamed. It was a good one to close the set with.

Soon we had clapped enough for them to come back and got ‘The Sweet Escape’. It took me a while to remember that I as supposed to switch on the light on my phone and wave it around. Good thing Marko was giving instructions. Someone even had a lighter – it looked beautiful. The guitar solo in the end was perfect and ‘Daze’ turned the show up a notch after.

“Do you ned a lift?” Marko asked. Hell yes! t was so much fun to jump in tune with the song again. No “on and on and on” – gestures though or at least I was the only one who did it. 🙂 ‘Carnival of Rust’ ended the show to great cheers. Of course it did. Glen, who had done his best to replace Tiia and take pictures during the show, took a final one of the band with us in the background. When it was finally over I left a little dazed and very happy, glad I had gone to the show. Since I had not seen anyone familiar I just went straight back to my hotel to listen to ‘Ghostlight’ in full for the first time. 🙂

Setlist

Requiem for my Harlequin
Dreaming wide awake
Temple of Thought
Rogue
Firedancer
My Dark Disquiet
Sounds of yesterday
Choice Millionaire
Chasing Echoes
Stay forever

The Sweet Escape
Daze
Lift
Carnival of Rust

Ghostlight spring tour – on gig down, four tow go. Next stop: Manchester