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From my home in Edinburgh to Leeds is a distance of 221 miles. It would be a near three day walk. Four hours by car. Just over three hours by train. It takes a while to get there is what I am saying.
I don’t like travelling.
It makes me tired…age and a chronic health condition combined with long distances don’t make for the best version of me.
I haven’t been anywhere without either my wife or daughter by my side for almost two years.
There have been opportunities in recent times to see familiar faces live…bands I love, bands who have been with me for more years than I want to count, bands with long stories and deep vaults of old favourites.
People I know in the crowd…familiar faces, nowhere spaces.
But I couldn’t find the energy for those journeys.
What could drag me from the confines of my Covid cell to a city I don’t know, so many miles and hours away?
Only something special.
When I first stumbled across Lines Of Flight they hit like my first kiss.
Rhonda Culross at the back of the Mormon Church on Bingham Terrace in Dundee. A sunny, summer, Saturday in 1985. She had red hair and for days afterwards I listened to “Help me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys on a loop as I yearned for her. I was twelve, cut me some slack.
It was the same with Lines of Flight.
On a loop.
Over and over.
They reminded me of things I had stopped listening to for reasons that I can’t explain here, mainly because they are complicated and may show me to be a weak man. Let’s not worry about all the Freudian analysis of my record collection and listening habits just now. Sometimes a seven inch single is just a metaphor for…no, wait, sometimes it really is just a single.
Lines of Flight reconnected me with music that I adored. More importantly they pushed open the door to a world of new music that has flipped my world and my listening habits upside down. Missionaries from the world of electronic and synth pop. Missionaries spreading the good news. They knocked on the door, I let them in and, praise be, I was saved…from myself.
Really I didn’t have a choice in making the journey for their live debut.
Like all the truly faithful, a pilgrimage is required.
Inside Headrow House there are more people than there should be.
This is not one man, an awkward looking dog and someone who has stumbled in to get out of the rain. This is a crowd. Some friends, sure, but more people who are here just to hear the music. There will be three bands over the course of the evening but there is a palpable sense of anticipation about Lines of Flight.
Like Yazoo, Soft Cell, The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure…giants of British pop and electro-pop…Matthew and Helen are heirs to a musical heritage that has delivered more craft, wit, style, guile and heart than…I’ll let you finish this. And just like those bands the lack of “real” instruments on the stage does not mean a lack of sound or depth. The venue is filled, bathed in the golden glow of the heart and soul of their songs. It is a remarkable thing to witness, two humans, two machines… creating a sound that fills every corner of the room and every cavern inside my heart.
They only play four songs but at the conclusion of the last the noise from the assembled throng is huge. A genuine roar. Hands clapping. Feet stomping. Whooping and hollering. Demands for more. Then a silence descends…a space for everyone to think about what they just heard. It only lasts for a moment but it is enough. Enough time to think about who you want to share the music with. Enough time to think about how great it would be if this turned out to be one of those “I was there when…” moments. Enough time to feel happy that it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t turn out to be one of those “I was there when…” moments because, well, you were there and that’s all that actually matters.
I am grateful that my return to live music was for new music and for music that I love…and not just for “a big one” or to “have it”. I had something special, something intimate, something real and something that will live in my memory forever.