Warning: I'm drunk and pretty sure no one reads long posts anyhow so this could be odd.
I will admit that I don't know s**t about music. I feel the energy, though, and, for an atheist, it is a deep religious experience. I don't know what it is about tsom, but I could write forever about what the music does for me and what hearing it live means to me. And that is 100x more true after Norwich.
So, I was having a bad day by the time I got into the Birmingham show. This is my first time in England since I wandered here for 6 months when I was 17, crapping away a bright future and looking to see if maybe belonging would follow crossing an ocean. It didn't, but I've done really well over the last 25 years anyhow. I know how to steer the world around me and I'm super successful and all that s**t. But wandering around Birmingham, it struck me how much NOTHING had changed since I wandered 25 years ago. Still awkward, isolated, and the glimpses of belonging come in small things like music.
It was f**king freezing waiting for the gig. And I went to the wrong place first and ended up trying to get John Robb's attention because it seemed he was walking to the right venue but couldn't and I ended up taking a taxi just because I was discouraged. I started drinking after getting inside because I felt "off" and the crowd had an energy that triggered my extreme introvert tendencies and all that. Ive been away from home and unable to recharge for days and days, anyhow. So, it is in this context that I tell you that something felt missing.
It wasn't that the magic wasn't there at all. It was, and honestly, I'd still cross an ocean for that show. But there was something not working. You had to strain and try to catch what sometimes flows and it evaporated before too long when it did flow, IMO. Maybe there was a technical issue and im just personalizing it.
The crowd, though large and enthusiastic and filled with people I like, -'also included some agressive people who were trying to get a space advantage and it was distracting. It felt like a lot of people didn't "get it", but again, that could have been my state of mind.
There was something slightly painful about the encores but I'm not sure what. The magic was just elusive.
I don't keep track of the number of gigs I've seen, but I'd say it is around 20, going back to 1991. There was one show that I would say was not good in all that time, around 1996. Every other show, i would put in a class completely separate from other bands. And this show still had enough of that "other" quality to be worthwhile. It was just...altered somehow. And I kept drinking so that could be influencing my judgement in more than one way.
My goal for Bristol is to stay totally in my own world until the gig is over.
I'm interested to hear what others who go by facts rather than by gut thought about it.