She took a shine to me, said we were going to dance and hauled me off the bar stool. 1990. A country and western bar in Texas full of Stetsons, chequered shirts and denim held up with leather belts with bold buckles. Repeat – country and western, up until then a run-a-mile-to-avoid anathema.

Then they stopped the piped music and the band let rip; steel guitar, slide guitar, tapping cowboy boots, the works. The air pulsed with energy and unbridled happiness. It was a buzz... because it was real.

2014. The Brighton festival on the English south coast. Emmylou Harris was set to pack out the Brighton Dome Concert Hall. I wasn’t there. I was in the town’s St Nicholas Church, in tears. Our friend, the baritone Nigel Cliffe of the Royal Opera Company, was singing the words of his great uncle Joe. The beauty, range and pathos were overpowering, the sensitivity a shiver down the spine. In a palpably personal and graceful commemoration of loss during the insanity and mass slaughter of the 1914-18 world war, Nigel sang from Private Joe’s letters to his sister, written in the muddy killing fields of Ypres in August, 1917, and recently set to music by composer Roxanna Panufnik.

I get that shiver when I reflect... because it was real.

Live music, that is the point. It can be on a street corner. It can be in the auditoriums large or intimate, it can on be a rocky headland, it can be in a basement bar, it can be one or more players finding harmony for themselves.

My partner Maggie is fulfilled artistically by her time as assistant to the director of a leading European chamber music venue and by the festivals she has directed.

We have an insatiable need for live performance. It engenders wellbeing. Many of you will know exactly this, even if it is hard for any of us to adequately describe the sustenance, the feeling. You are right, though. It is about being alive. It is worth the effort to come together. And science is now proving the alchemy of being in that moment, rolling with the wave of positive emotions evoked by live not streamed music, whatever your preference.

Our lives in Catalonia have gifted us many priceless moments and we have willingly driven the length of this country to experience the buzz. We have also, in some tiny way, supported the arts. All I would ask is that if you have a comfort zone, you consider breaking out of it. Never been to a classical music recital? Go. Jazz? Seek it out. The busker is good? Lighten your pockets. Els Pets pop rock band are not for you? Oh don’t be an old fart. Forget the maddening world and get to a gig. Support the venues and the artists.

Footnote: Watch The Last Repair Shop documentary. Music is medicine for the soul. We were again moved to tears....

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