This beautiful, hairy, ginger-dreadlocked man saved my day last Sunday evening. I woke up at 12 in the afternoon, rolled out of bed at 12.30, drank two pints of tea and knocked back a couple of paracetamols, desperate to shift a tamer hangover than I deserved. I sat in my ice-cold kitchen doing my coursework (checking Facebook for incriminating photos), sending emails (Tweeting, future employers just might take a look, #noguilt) and making lunch (eating Oreos in different and exciting new ways). I was chewing on my pen, editing something I didn’t know how to edit and doing everything but trying to figure out how to. I was barely excited about the Newton Faulkner gig in the evening, wishing I could just go to bed and quicken the arrival of attempt number two at a productive day. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved Newton Faulkner since I was thirteen. Don’t underestimate the power that sleep deprivation can have over your day.
I toughed it out near the front of the queue with a few Uni friends, fellow Faulknerds, for an hour, waiting for the doors to open and made it into the second row back from the stage. Standing and waiting for the gig to start, all I could do was fidget, trying to find the position which placed the least strain on my bladder. I knew it was a psychological trick. Like a true fan I stifled my human needs. I hoped the pain was worth it. Sam Brookes walked onto the stage and boldly faced the quiet boredom of fans impatient for the main act. He smiled into it and the first note raised the hairs on the back of my neck. His voice didn’t waver and moving up and down the musical scale was as natural to him as breathing. His acoustics had us mesmerised. A whole audience, hundreds of people, stood still, and silent, staring at the same lone man on centre stage.
Then he was gone and the stage was transformed. A rug was pulled onto the platform. A bookcase was placed behind it, with a teapot resting on top. Huge light bulbs dangled from long wires above. My hangover was long gone. And suddenly (I say suddenly, half an hour later…) a ginger wookie in socks bounded onto the stage, as if he was lolloping into his living room. His dreadlocks were as long as my entire body and his beard was as substantial as my full head of hair (no disrespect Newton, it really brings out the colour in your eyes). He rolled his shoulders back, looked out over the audience with a friendly grin and stole our hearts. His fingers were like miniature ninjas on his guitar and as soon as he opened that smiling mouth (and wow can that man open his mouth) that was it; a crappy day had turned into a memorable life event. It sounds like an overreaction, doesn’t it? But music does things to people. Especially when you know all the lyrics to every song. And you make eye contact with the man you follow on Spotify and Twitter, the man you’ve philosophised with since you were thirteen, the man that sung you through your GCSEs, your A-Levels, a million car journeys and the years (hmm maybe months) you’ve spent in the library at University. It’s not just a gig and this isn’t just music; it’s a part of your life, it’s a way of life, and it’s right in front of you for two hours of a Sunday evening.
It’s a Long Shot but this gig makes me want to change my life. I want to write everything on my skin so that I can run away and forget everything. I want to change my diet, I’m on a mission. Find me some loaded dice and for once in my life it’s gonna be alright because Newton Faulkner rains positive energy. Newton Faulkner does not sing about bending women over cars or tearing their asses in two. No one is naked or nearly naked in his videos. He sings about the world, and what he knows of it, and what he wants from it and for it. He smiles at everything, and his lyrics do, too. He even sang into his guitar like a madman, played a keyboard with his feet, took a selfie with the crowd (you can definitely see some of my face) and to top it all off, he filmed a room full of people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for his three year old son, Beau. What a dad. What a guy.
Newton Faulkner for Prime Minister, anyone? Then again, David Cameron couldn’t affect my life like Newton has (first named him, keeping it casual). So maybe Newton wins. Oh, the power of one ginger man armed with a guitar. Never underestimate it.