seeds of hope
The other night I watched a video on YouTube recorded during the first rehearsal of Broadway's 'The Lion King' following 18 months of theaters being dark. I cried like a baby. There was so much emotion from the performers, crew and staff; the simple joy of being back together again, the shared grief of all they've lost over the past year and a half, the power of the music they were bringing to life which speaks to the journey we are all on. Not a single person was unmoved in those moments, the gratitude seems palpable.
I challenge you to watch this and allow it to move you, too (crying is optional but highly encouraged):
Something that struck me while watching this is how it likely represents the feelings and experience of untold individuals who work in the performing arts as they attempt to take steps towards live shows of all kinds within our communities. Timelines and COVID mitigations may differ depending on local spread and many other factors, but the knowledge that artists around the globe and all those in the industry which supports them are preparing to perform again is so hopeful and (to me and many others, I'm sure) desperately needed.
In a few weeks I will attend my first indoor play with a full audience. It's my son's capstone design show, and I know it will be emotional for me, I just hope I can keep it together to a reasonable degree. A few weeks after that, we have tickets to see 'Hadestown'. These feel like normal things to do and yet I'll never take seeing a performance for granted again.
I wonder how it will be when a-ha goes back on tour. Will it be as emotional for the band, crew and audience as we see in the video above? When they come together for the first time for rehearsals, will there be a sense of profound gratitude for having reached 'the other side' of the pandemic (acknowledging of course that the other side is actually quite far off, but it's certainly going to be the other side of a difficult, lengthy, involuntary pause), and joy at being together again to play the music that binds them and forms a huge part of their personal history?
Will they have any idea how their music and the promise of live shows at the end of all this has sustained fans around the world, who have used this hope — in combination with others, of course — as a lifeline during periods of great suffering in their lives? How many in their audiences will have lost loved ones, or spent months battling the virus, or been made redundant, or otherwise faced enormous challenges (fires, hurricanes, floods, civic unrest, protests, violence, war...)?
At every fan party I have attended, I have met fans from around the world who tell stories of what they went through, what they sacrificed, how they saved and planned, sometimes for years, to find a way to be in that place together and to experience a-ha's music in person and to meet other fans. The stories are a reminder not only of the power of music, but the power of community. And in the days 'post-COVID' (although again that's kind of a fallacy at this point, but one people need to believe in), the stories will be even more powerful in terms of everything folks will have overcome in order to reach that place and time together.
I can't wait to hear the stories, and to see everyone again, perhaps cry together, certainly to celebrate together after all we've been through. I hope the band will somehow acknowledge this difficult time, after having been silent since last March. It would be nice to get the feeling we all went through something together apart, and that when we are together in person again, it will be a true celebration. Every night on the coming tour, IMO they need to make mention of what we've all been through, if only as a gift for those whose hearts drove them to seek each other and the live music once again.
It has not been easy, in fact it has been pretty fucking hard for a lot of people. And making an effort to go to a show in the before times was much more straightforward than it is today, especially when travel is involved. There are COVID regulations to consider, local community spread at the destination city, higher prices in general, social pressure not to travel unless 'necessary' (many people's family and friends will see concert travel as frivolous in these times, I imagine), not to mention the constant sense that things could get much worse before they get better, and that booking any travel is a complete leap of faith.
Nevertheless, we do have something to have faith in, the tour will resume in due course. And in the near future, Magne has teased, "we’ve been looking for ways to brighten the days for y’all…and i think we may have stumbled onto something - so stay tuned this coming week!"
Stay hopeful, friends. In this and in all things. We will get through it together, and share joy in the music together again, too.