ME, EU AND THE MUSIC
9 days ago the country was shocked at the senseless murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.
This past Friday morning - after an often bitter and undignified campaign from both sides - the country, too, woke up to a Britain that had just voted to leave the European Union.
Regardless of personal opinion on the EU debate or otherwise, you would be hard pressed to find an individual that doesn’t agree we now live in a very divided country, in an often unpleasant atmosphere. Since the EU campaign even begun there have been accusations of xenophobia and racism. In Westminster there have been political resignations, whispered coups and party betrayals. It has been a bitter month for Britain.
When passions were perhaps at their most flared on Friday night, I was invited to Americana music festival ‘The Maverick’ in London’s Granary Square. Now, sure, there were many heated debates amongst friends as the whiskey began to flow, and the beer was poured, but as the night went on...Well...Something began to change.
As bluegrass group Hot Rock Pilgrims took to the stage, a circle began to form in front of the band. Throughout the night the mix of country music lovers, hipsters, older couples and individuals gently tapping their foot to the accompanying music barely mixed, but here, now, as the music began to play that was no longer the case.
Smiles spread from ear to ear. Arms linked. Feet began to move. As the music got louder, the debates, arguments and bickering of the last month or so simply drifted from people's minds. People forgot their differences, and instead began to actually enjoy each other’s company.
See for yourself:
A simpler time comes to mind, doesn't it?
And then we come to Saturday night. Specifically, we come to Saturday night and Adele at Glastonbury. Undoubtedly now the biggest pop star in the world, Adele was a big, big coup for the festival. Although, no, she does not have the most upbeat back catalogue, she knows how to work a crowd, and she knows how to put on a faultless vocal performance. A special night was about to take place.
There has always been something charming about the vast contrast between Adele the singer – with her elegant, powerful voice - and Adele the person. Adele the person sweared an impressive 33 times during her headline slot, and is well known for explaining her frequent bowel movements on the eve of an impending gig. Throughout her ninety-minute performance she is in almost constant conversation with different members of the audience - inviting several onstage with her throughout the night - and her status as global superstar has all of a sudden never been less apparent.
The set is comprised almost entirely of hits, but it is not until she sings Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love' - surrounded by 100,000 raised and lit mobile phones - that the impact of the night begins to take hold. After such a tumultuous two weeks in Britain, it is hard not to listen to the song and be anything less than moved. Here, on a Saturday night - just like Granary Square the night before it - people have forgotten their differences and come together. They've come together for music.
'It's amazing the way music brings people together' she says. A cliche, sure, but it is a statement that has never sounded more relevant than it has this weekend.
Adele of course ends with 'Someone Like You'. An obvious choice as it is her most famous of famous tracks, but, again, it is significant this weekend of all more than most. It is a sombre, downbeat ballad that brings many audience members to tears, but it also inspires a huge communal singalong. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is that not one of the greatest gifts music has given to us all? We can feel down, we can feel divided, and we can feel hurt. Through music though - through a mass, out of tune and drunk singalong - we can feel that together, and we can feel better, together, too.
In a muddy, dirty and wet Glastonbury field that is what Adele gave us. I implore everyone to just STOP this. Stop the social media name calling, stop the arguments, and stop the moaning. We all still have many, many things to be grateful for, one of which is music. It brings cultures together, it brings people together, and it brings emotions together. We don't need the EU for that - We have Adele.