My First Concert: Michael Learns To Rock – Part 2

There were only twenty-five minutes left, but that seemingly short amount of time was excruciating – my back ache had worsened, probably because a particularly garrulous couple was pushing up against me from behind and I was squeezed between them and this lady in front of me. There was also this woman in front of my mother who kept passing things to someone behind me by passing them over my head and I had to duck constantly to avoid getting hit. However, the silver lining was this girl diagonally in front of me who was a super fan of MLTR – she was the most ebullient person there and her energy was infectious. She was there with her boyfriend who didn’t seem to know who MLTR were and she was most probably introducing him to the band. He was the polar opposite of his girlfriend – phlegmatic and composed. Yet, he looked slightly embarrassed by her antics which included shouting at the bouncer standing in front of her for blocking her view. Nonetheless, they were fun people to have around me and I enjoyed their company.

It was now eight o’clock by my watch and MLTR had still not taken the stage. Just as I had that thought, the giant screen on stage started counting down from 25; the stage went dark and I saw four silhouettes enter the stage from the left. Each of them had taken up their positions and was standing still on stage. It was too dark for me to make out who they were and I was squinting and standing on my toes to get a clearer view. Just as the countdown hit “0”, I heard the first few notes of Someday; I was hoping it was them, but without visual confirmation, I couldn’t be sure. Then I heard Jascha Richter’s familiar voice and the lights suddenly lit up the stage – it was MLTR! Mikkel was playing his guitar, Kare was on the drums and Jascha was on the keyboard. I couldn’t believe my eyes; it felt so surreal seeing them live. After all these years of listening to their songs, to see them in person, in front of my very eyes, was a dream come true. I was so caught up in the moment that I hadn’t noticed the crowd’s reaction – everyone was on their feet, screaming their lungs out, waving their arms in the air and the girl in front of me was going crazy. I’m quite certain she screamed throughout the song and she had a smile that stretched from ear to ear. At one point, she left her boyfriend red-faced by shouting at him for not waving his arms in the air. When the first song ended, there was a deafening roar from the crowd and I at this point I knew that this night would be something I’d fondly recall forever.

MLTR churned out favourite after favourite such as Sleeping Child and Out of the Blue and my mother and I sang along with joy. However, there were some songs whose lyrics even I didn’t know and I was surprised to find that up till that point, the girl in front of me knew every word to every song. MLTR’s one of my favourite bands because of the raw emotion that they can convey through their songs and how good they sound while doing it. What particularly impressed me was that they sounded just like they did in their recorded songs – many artists are terrible live performers and leave you wondering whether it was them who had recorded the studio album in the first place. MLTR is thankfully not one of them. Jascha’s vocals sounded so pure and sincere and Mikkel was on point with his guitar, treating the crowd with several solos which we lapped up with great joy.

After about the sixth song, the band stopped playing and Jascha and Mikkel left the stage. From where we were standing, it was impossible to determine where they went. I was straining my neck trying to spot them, but to no avail. Then I got confused when I heard the Gold and Platinum crowd screaming their lungs out. I soon found out what was happening – Jascha and Mikkel were going to perform one of their softer songs on this tiny circular stage right in front of the camera tower. I really envied the people near the stage and the girl in front of me felt the same way as she was screaming, “That’s not fair! Why do they get to be so close to them?” After finishing that song, they started another one while descending from the stage and walking near their fans, all of whom had their hands and phones outstretched. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I read in the paper that while singing that song, Jascha obliged a fan’s request to take a selfie with him. Funny thing was that that particular fan was out of the frame in the picture that he had taken.

Soon, the entire ensemble was back on the main stage and was singing Complicated Heart. The people in the Gold and Platinum areas had, much to my annoyance, started standing up on their seats to get a better view. Even a very old and feeble looking man had stood up on his chair and was bobbing his head to the beat; he had turned his chair around and was holding the backrest of the chair with both his hands, but his grip seemed tenuous and he looked like he might fall at any moment.  Anyway, I digress. In doing so, The Gold and Platinum people had deprived everyone behind them from a good view of the band. Most of the people in the general area where I was standing were afraid to say anything, but the girl in front of me was outspoken in this matter and was shouting at the people in front, “Sit down! There’s a reason you’ve been given chairs!” In her indignation, she didn’t even leave the old man out in her rant, “Uncle, sit down! You’ll break your back! You’re too old for this!” When that didn’t work, she took to complaining to the bouncers, who conveyed her angry message to the administrators of the event. In a while, everyone in front was back in their seats and all of us at the back heaved a sigh of relief.

 Jascha then made an announcement – “I think I’ve found the perfect goodbye song for this crowd. You’ve been great, but we have to leave.” He started singing even though the entire crowd was screaming, “Don’t go!” in unison. The band broke into 25 Minutes, one of my favourite songs of theirs, and even though the crowd dreaded them leaving, it still sang along with glee. As the song ended, MLTR waved to the crowd and disappeared backstage. The entire crowd broke into a chant of, “One more! One more!” Much to everyone’s surprise, the band returned to the stage after a few minutes. My mother and I were beaming when we saw this and so was the girl in front of me, so much so that she couldn’t contain herself and was giggling and screaming simultaneously, inducing laughter from my mother and me. MLTR sang three more songs – Wild Women, The Actor and Paint My Love. The crowd knew that the concert would be coming to a close very soon and thus, everyone appreciated every minute more with the band. After their last song, the band along with their Danish bass player, bowed to the crowd, thanked us and left the stage amid a roar of claps.

As we were leaving CCFC, I thought even though the crowd wasn’t as big as it should have been, the people there still did a great job of receiving the band’s music, especially the girl in front of me. I would be remiss not to mention what a great influence she was on the mood of the people around her. She was extremely energetic and bubbly and my mother even said, “I wish all the fans there were like her. The concert would have been even better.” There was also some very (probably unintentionally) funny guys near me whom I overheard saying in Hindi, “Which one of the guys on stage is Michael?” Watching these guys who I used to revere as a child play live in front of me was truly amazing. The band, the crowd and my good memory will ensure that this is something that I never forget.

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