#193 – Dido @Terminal 5, NYC – 19 Jun ’19

#193 – Dido @Terminal 5, NYC – 19 Jun ’19

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“Let me face

The sound and fury.

Let me face

Hurricanes.”

 

The general state of my life, when I attended this soul-touching concert by Dido in New York City while traveling for work. It has been a tough couple of years for me, something like a pre-mid-life-crisis (pre- just because I am sure the real thing has to be much worse than this). During this time I have questioned myself on what I really want from life, doubted myself on what I can really achieve on my own, succumbed to weaknesses that I have fought years trying to defeat. During this time my personal relationships had some drastic lows and stabilizing status quos. During this time my carefully crafted life had come undone to the point I have no clue to what my future holds anymore. And the most life-defining moment of all, I became a father to a tiny innocent beautiful baby and though was sure I will do the best for her, still had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind “What if I don’t?” And through all of this, I also started vilifying my one true passion as the cause of all my failures, something that has sustained me through all these years – my passion for (or addiction to?) concerts. There is only so much that one can take before he/she breaks or toughens up. Thank God I toughened up and actually Thank Music for that. And Dido was one of the many who helped me through these years of sound and fury, of hurricanes in my life.

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I was introduced to Dido during my college days back in the early 2000s through her screen-grabbed MTV music videos of “White Flag”, “Thank You” and “Stan” that used to circulate through the different hostels/fraternities. For a hormonal emotional confused teenager yearning for the true love of his life, “White Flag” was a very potent mix of deep love, breakup pain and transcendental soul-aching longing (and the video definitely helped). I remember loving that song but also feeling very frustrated with it as it promised evocation of some very deep emotions and then stopped short at the precipice just as I was ready to let myself go and let the free-falling sensation of uncontrolled emotions take over me. Maybe I was expecting too much from her, something in the ilk of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Cranberries and Chris Cornell, whose music was able to grant me that. I later bought her albums “No Angel” and “Life for Rent” and explored her other songs as well but got that same feeling all over again, a restraint in her songs when she seemed capable of so much more. I felt anger towards her for denying me that and stopped listening to her actively.

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Fast forward to 2019, I am in my mid-30s now, have sobered up, mellowed down, wisened up, whatever, and no longer feel that anger towards her. In fact I now appreciate the becalming sense I get from her songs whenever she comes up on the radio or streaming playlists. And then listening to her newly released album “Still on My Mind” I was finally fully satisfied with what I heard and made peace with her. I mean when she sings that there in no love without freedom and no freedom without love, I am so sold (you can chew on that too)! Early 2019 while searching for upcoming concerts that I can attend I got to know that Dido was touring the US after 15 years and was really psyched, no way I was missing this. Booked two great tickets to her San Francisco show in June during presale for me and my heavy-metal friend who was like “Hell Yeah, I am going to Dido!” But I had to start traveling for work to New Jersey from May and among all the San Francisco Bay Area shows that I would end up missing due to that, this one bummed me the most as I had been really looking forward to it. But I wasn’t going to let go without a fight so checking out alternative shows in other cities that I can align with my travel schedule I was relieved to see that there was one in NYC on Wednesday of the week before the SF show. I usually fly back home on Wednesday nights to spend more time with my baby girl but had to make an exception for this show. Come the day of the show, got out of the office early (in consulting 6:30 PM is considered early) and drove through some heavy New York office traffic and overcast brooding skies to the venue, Terminal 5, which was so nondescript that I had a hard time finding it even though have been there once before (to see none other than Megadeth!) No sign boards announcing the show, no fanfare, a trickle of people at the entry lines, box-office tickets still available, I started feeling a bit sad, surely she deserves better, even in NYC.

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But once I got in, even though it was still early there was already a good but quite loud crowd gathered on the main floor (this was a General Access, Standing Only show, which I liked). First things first, bought her tour t-shirt, got a beer and started paying attention to the opening band Jack Savoretti, who were pretty good, a different kind of music from what I usually listen to but then I am open to all kinds of music. One thing that struck me then was how loud the people were around me, they were just chatting over drinks with total disregard to the performing artists so that irritated me quite a lot and was thinking I need to find a good spot for Dido, didn’t want to let them spoil my concert experience. After the opening act was done, quickly got another beer and jostling through the crowd was able to park myself at a decent enough spot, all ready for Dido to come on stage. Now I was really looking forward to this show, as actively listening to Dido again after all these years and especially to her new album, which I absolutely loved, had given me much solace and peace in the last few months. So I was also a bit apprehensive about how the live performance would be, didn’t want to lose any of the much needed soul balm that her music was nourishing me with. But when she came on stage dressed so simply, elegantly, and with such a radiant smile on her face (‘beaming’ is the word) before starting with “Hurricanes” I knew this was going to be a special one. Song after song, audience cheer after cheer, anecdote after anecdote shared with us, I sank deeper and deeper into her performance, I sang, I danced, I even cried profusely during “Have to Stay” which she wrote for her child and made me feel so deeply for mine. There was that one moment when unable to contain myself I yelled out “mosti” with all my might (means awesome, amazing in my native language) and she heard it and laughing out said “What, did I hear “MOSHPIT”? Obviously, she couldn’t have understood it, BUT I MADE DIDO LAUGH!! :’) She finally ended her 20 song show with “White Flag” that all her fans sang along to and she gave a heartfelt thanks to everyone for loving her music and loving her so much all through the years. And that made it a very very personal concert experience with the beautiful, down-to-earth, humble and wise Dido, and what kept running through my mind after the end was “What a beautiful soul, such a beautiful soul…..” 

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But that was not the end of it at all. After my recent successes in scoring setlists I was very eager to get this one as well, was such a special concert. So I joined the small crowd of similarly-motivated folks asking, pleading, begging for the setlist from the stage personnel. But they turned out to be especially rude and unrelenting, kept saying no, that they couldn’t help us and kept shooing us all out from the stage area. At the end it was only me left, still lingering on when one guy literally took me by my arm and was trying to lead me away which pissed me off and I stopped him and got on to the merchandise line instead saying I will buy another t-shirt, just to spite him. He knew that too so he also stood next to me to make sure I don’t get out of the line. I was planning to just stay on and walk out once I got to the front of the line, when I saw another guy walking towards me with what looked like a piece of paper in his hands. Yes, it was the setlist, in mint condition and was handed over to me as a reward for my persistence and some convincing pleading throughout. I was just so ecstatic, what an absolutely fantastic ending to an absolutely amazing concert. Clicked a photo, posted on Instagram, had a midnight sandwich somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen sitting under a light New York drizzle with her songs still playing in my head and the setlist safely tucked under my shirt. But as fate would have it, somewhere between packing up the next morning to check-out of the hotel, working at the office during the day and taking the evening flight back to San Francisco, I lost the setlist, it was nowhere to be found. Felt really dejected at first, then rationalized that maybe it was a wakeup call to be more careful, more responsible, to have a stronger grip on life. Or maybe it was all really just a beautiful dream….

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