What a week.

This week has been pretty hectic. That is, compared to my usual weekly routine of computer computer food computer sleep, it’s been pretty jam-packed with activity.

Now as I’m sure you’re aware, Symphony X are one of my all-time favorite bands. And this week I got the chance to see them live.

‘Twas awesome.

Russell Allen, without doubt the coolest fuck on the planet.

On a normal week, I never make it a goal of mine to go and see a band live. The most influential contributing factor to this decision is probably the fact that hardly anyone ever actually visits King’s Lynn. Around here it’s mostly flat land and consanguineous breeding. Not many awesome, well-known rock bands or successful comedians actually dare venture through this neck of the woods for fear of being “dull”ed to death.

But when I learnt that Symphony X and their friends in DGM, another amazing progressive metal band, were coming to England at the end of their Europe tour, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them. And since my time in this country was absolutely and definitely limited, and I had vowed to make the most of it, not attending was not even an option.

It was in Islington, London, though. About 150 miles away.

Well, you can’t alter the geography of the country. Clearly, we were going to have to travel.

My dad and brother came along with me. We travelled down to my nan’s house (a journey that at the best of times takes about 2½ hours) to stop off for a quick bite to eat, and a lift to the train station, which wasn’t too far away. From there we travelled into the heart of London and took the underground tube train to where the venue was. London’s street maps aren’t the most intuitive, though – apparently having the maps upside-down is useful to some people, but definitely not us – and it took some perseverance to actually find it.

So we finally found the venue, a small-ish auditorium that could comfortably house 800 large, hairy metalheads (god damn were some of those dudes big) but at the time was probably only holding about half that many. We were expertly blown away by DGM – the warm-up act – so we were ready to be blasted back to the stone age by Symphony X.

It was at this point that I met up with Alex Taylor, who goes by the name BoldEnglishman on one of my Doom forums, who’d just arrived at the venue. This was my first in-person meeting with a fellow forumite and it was all pretty exciting stuff. Just as Symphony X took to the stage, we made our way into the room and got into a small pocket of space off to the side, next to the bar. As the band went through their set, playing the songs we loved, we screamed the lyrics into each others’ faces, and headbanged with limitless gusto (that is, up until my headache levelled itself up from “annoying pang” to “possible incoming migraine”). In all, huge fun was had by both parties.

Possibly the absolute highlight of the night was the part where a huge choral solo part in the middle of one of their songs was left entirely to the audience. Russell simply tilted his mic towards the crowd and the words sang themselves. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever been a part of.

The whole experience was like nothing I’d had before – and I liked it. There were enough people to not feel claustrophobic (though you did occasionally get people weaving in and out of the mass of bodies with overflowing glasses of beer), and the band weren’t incredibly loud. I mean, sure, they were loud, but not as loud as I expected. I was honestly expecting to not be able to hear for several days afterwards and come away with mixed feelings of amazement at having finally seen my favorite metal band in the flesh, and chronic misery at my eardrums having been sonically assailed. But I left the venue with only the former sensation, and in place of the latter, a feeling of peace and fulfillment, like having just taken a really good shower. Odd, considering I’d been shrieking lyrics pertaining to eternal damnation, unbridled technological devastation and “unleash[ing] the fire”. But it was a sense of peace. My sense of hearing wasn’t even that numbed. It was magical.

…My feet sodding hurt, though. All that jumping and screaming had given them a pretty thorough workout.

Also, seeing the raw synergy in both bands’ performances cemented my desire to actually be in a band one day. I’ve been a solo artist all my life, and it’s been awesome and all, but the adrenaline and the positive energy gotten from playing songs live with your mates has got to be a massive step up from that – especially if they’re songs you and they have collectively written. To find a place in a band will be high on my list of priorities once we get out to Australia.

This guy is also pretty cool, but I feel slightly less inclined to call him a fuck.

That’s just one of the things I’ve been up to this week.

Yesterday my brother and I got driven down to the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange to see one of my favorite comedians, Tony Hawks.

No, not Tony Hawk. The guy we saw was quite a bit funnier than the guy you’re probably thinking of. For one thing, he’s frequently mistaken for the professional skateboarder to whom a seemingly unending array of video games are attributed, and he gets hundreds of emails from rabid American youths asking him to teach them how to do a 909.

And he replies to them. He reeled several of them off in his routine yesterday. To be honest, the emails themselves are hilarious – let alone his snarky replies.

Despite all this, he comes across as a genuinely friendly guy, like an old mate you haven’t seen for years, giving you an update on his life in the form of a deliberately joke-saturated and slightly overtheatrical soliloquy. Some comedians come across as a bit overbearing and self-superior. Not Tony.

He’s a musical man, as well, and there’s no questioning his lyrical ability, especially when it comes to writing gut-bustingly funny stuff. I can really identify with his over-analytical, literalist sense of humour, that really stands out best during his “rhetorical questions” song. My parents didn’t tag along this time, but I don’t doubt that they would’ve loved it, especially my dad, who is into music himself.

All in all, this week has been pretty damn epic. Just four more to go before… “the move”.

Bricking it.


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