This year I’m super lucky. I usually have a birthday week, but I’m having a birthday fortnight! Party 19th, birthday following Saturday, party following Friday 2nd May!
It kicked off on Saturday with my Edinburgh birthday shindig. We had good friends around, drank, listened to bad music, watched my wee slideshow of photos, talked and had a good laugh.
I drank a punch I made from cranberry juice, apple juice (replaced by orange later), and feijoa vodka, which I thought was tasty but everyone said smelled like deep heat or germaline. I liked it (despite not liking feijoa).
I also received some truly lovely gifts (so unnecessary! so nice!) – earrings, a brooch, a Japanese cookbook. And my Tiffany pendant from Dave.
Yes, this has taken far too long to write. It was a combination of a lack of time and just not getting the photos and videos uploaded to share with you.
So. After taking the train to Glasgow, finding the venue and having some Pizza Express, we settled in at Stereo for what would be an incredible performance. After so many years of waiting and dreaming of seeing Sarah Slean live, I was in an emotional place before the show even began.
We had three very entertaining opening acts, and during the last one, Sarah herself came out to watch (very awkward – the “backstage” area was off to the side, so she had to walk through the crowd to get onstage!) and I just about squealed and probably bruised Dave elbowing him in his side.
Anyhoo, Sarah started to many cheers and a still half-empty venue. I couldn’t believe that I was effectively seeing one of my all-time favourite musicians/inspirations in a room the size of Wellington’s Bodega or San Francisco Bath House – not large venues by any measure, and half-empty, too. I could be a metre away from the performer if I wanted to.
Sarah began her set with California, a version that anyone with the live recordings will be familiar with, and I almost immediately started to weep! So excited to see her after all this time, I took out my phone and started recording, but not for long as I wanted to just enjoy it.
The order/complete list of the rest of the songs will be much less accurate, because I only jotted them down a few days later, and not in the right order.
She said she would be playing some “oldies” and then played Eliot and Duncan! I nearly lost my shit.
“I’m playing all the sad songs early!”
I sang along, cheered loudly (which yes was out of place in the small room!) and clapped like the ridiculous fan I am. I was delighted, however, to discover some other die-hard fans in the front when I moved down there for Lucky Me, performed just with the string backing like on Orphan Music (totally amazing and over the top and charming as hell), and there were a few of us doing the silly echo pieces from the song (“decline!” etc) so I felt at peace with my geeking out.
I sadly didn’t take any video of that performance, but I did get this slightly blurry picture.
What struck me, and something I hadn’t realised until the concert, was how utterly charming and hilarious she is. Of course I thought she would be a great entertainer, but she is a true performer, with great anecdotes and funny comments; not afraid to be silly and never taking it all too seriously. I could learn a lot from her in that respect.
I think my proper cry of the night was during The Right Words, a song I found so fitting for me during so many periods of not feeling good enough or talented enough or like my life was going in the right direction. She said, “…I wanted to write a happy song about hope, and this song wrote itself, like sent from outer space…”
Other songs she played: Sound of Water/Change Your Mind, Goodnight Trouble (I think?), Parasol, The Rose. I’m probably missing one or two.
She then told a great story before launching into My Eyes and Your Eyes:
And finished with Pilgrim, which is just as amazing as it sounds on Orphan Music. In the below recording you can hear me whoop at the beginning (so embarrassing when no one else joins in!) and sing along.
After the gig we joined the queue to meet her/buy merchandise, and I was shaking and finding it hard to breathe and everyone in the queue was just buzzing. I still couldn’t believe the size of the venue and crowd for such an immense talent. She didn’t seem fazed by it, however, which was amazing. Imagine being quite a well-known musician in Canada and coming to Scotland to perform for maybe 50 people. No ego or drama whatsoever.
When I finally got to the start of the queue, I didn’t even need to say anything – “Kat!!” she exclaimed, with arms outstretched. Giving me such a big hug, she said, “My twitter buddy! Gosh, you’re so pretty!” – I just blinked at her in amazement and explained that I wasn’t going to buy any CDs as I owned them all, but would she sign my tickets? “I’ll sign anything, absolutely whatever you want”. She signed one ticket for me, and one for Chris, my other Sarah Slean buddy.
I then, barely getting the words out (as I started crying again), thanked her for inspiring me in my songwriting and saying how thrilled I was to finally see her live. She told me she read my post (!) and it had brought tears to her eyes. I then promised to see her again live, as I hadn’t heard two favourites this time – The Score and Sweet Ones. And then it was time to move on. And with a “safe travels” and a “so lovely to finally meet you!”, we parted ways.
Out in the stairwell, I gave Dave a big hug, wiped my tears, and headed to the station for our train home.
What a night. What a dream. Who actually gets to meet their inspirations?