Band Member Journal :
Is it all in my head, or do I sense there's something going on? Over the last year or so I've become conscious of a growing spirituality amongst our followers. (Okay, relax - I'm not getting evangelical but..) It's like we've all become caught up in something that transcends any relationship a band has had with its' fans in the past. It feels to me like the dynamic has started to shift. The atmosphere at our gigs has changed.
Over the years we've been spoiled rotten and we had come to expect audiences infused with anticipation and excitement, just as we'd come to expect a feeling of celebration at the shows. On the odd rare occasion, (most notably in Paris Le Zenith on the "Seasons' End" tour my first!) this feeling would spiral upwards into an expression which felt to us more like affection. But those nights used to be rare. However, since the beginning of the Anoraknophobia tour, the vibe has become increasingly warm-hearted. I noticed it in Manchester right at the beginning. Amazing. Then again in London at that unforgettable gig at the Astoria. I never witnessed a crowd reaction like that in London at ANY time for ANY band.
The recent international fan club convention at the unlikely, but now legendary, Brean Sands cemented this feeling beyond any doubt. We spent almost three days and nights with our most "hardcore" fans from ALL OVER THE WORLD without the slightest need for any security. I saw the Security men on the site, shake their heads in disbelief at the vibe. They had nothing to do really, and spent the weekend standing around grinning at me saying "This is great, innit?". In three whole days not one person was rude or intrusive. We never got mobbed. No one expected anything from us as their right. Everyone seemed to be thinking about how WE might feel. The best example of this: after queuing for two-and-a-half hours in a chilly sea breeze outside the building where we were frantically signing autographs, the last people to be allowed in visibly shaking with cold and transferring their weight from one aching leg to another finally got to the front of the queue and stood before me, only to THANK US for hanging on!
"You must be really fed up with this by now!.." they said. I wasn't. I was a little ashamed of the people we'd had to turn away so we could leave in time for Saturday's show. (I think we managed to catch up with them on the Sunday morning, though.)
The vibe at the convention shows was incredible, as anyone there will tell you.. but it hasn't stopped. At the time of writing, we're just back from two shows in Bonn and Geleen at the beginning of May. Again, I felt the feeling both nights despite some technical problems with guitars and sound in Bonn. The affection from the Geleen audience in Holland was unprecedented and, for me, the best audience reaction I can remember. Love and thanks to all who were there. Mind-blowing. I hope your voice has recovered by now! And it doesn't stop there either. The emails still keep coming in and the messages on my guest book at stevehogarth.com regularly move me to a tear (both definitions!).
Some years ago at the end of a song simply called "Beautiful", I said "What are you so afraid of? Show us what you're made of." Well you've done that all right. There's something going on.. and it's as rare as it is precious.
We're going to have to vanish for a while now and cook something up in the Racket kitchen. We'll try to live up to the feeling. Don't forget us! In the meantime, my h live CD should be available here at marillion.com in the late-Spring. It's a gem.
Love and respect