It doesn't need saying, but it's been an awful week or so for music lovers. The morning after what happened in Paris, the first event for Safe Gigs for Women was held with Camden Council. After this, I met up with friends last in a rock bar in Camden, in a fit of "have to get out, have to see people", the one thing all my friends had to say was "a gig venue? Too close to home". It's fair to say everyone was in some degree of shock. How can the thing we all love so deeply come to have been targeted like this? Some of us had been at a gig the night before whilst our French counterparts were facing some horror we cannot imagine.
Music transcends everything. We mark so much in life with it, from first dances to funerals. People define themselves by it. It moves us, educates us, teaches us we are not alone and brings us together. I know metalheads, punks, emos, bluesmen, country singers and indie kids. My own Twitter bio has me down as a "music obsessive" first and foremost, before my profession, my political and social identities. And most definitely before any idea of a nationality. And surely that's the great thing about music? Music is the great leveler. The collectivism that can be found in music, that feeling that comes with standing in a venue or field with hundreds or thousands of others, singing along together and sharing that moment... There is nothing better in my eyes. With music, we can be truly egalitarian.
That's a big word, big concept for this time at night (actually, make that morning). But it's no coincidence. Last week, I was lucky enough to meet Frank Turner prior to his second night at Nottingham's Rock City, initially on the premise of talking about a blog for the Safe Gigs for Women project. But sat face to face with someone who knew some of the victims, that seems like a very surreal notion.
A few hours later, and Frank is on stage, whilst many big names in music have pulled out of current tours, citing the situation in France. But yet, here he is "playing twice as hard", exuding more love for music than I think I've ever seen in anyone before, and reminding the crowd of his belief in egalitarianism and that we are all equal in his eyes. And this feels right.
No-one can condemn those directly involved in what happened at Le Bataclan for packing up and going home. I cannot begin to imagine the horror they faced. And at Rock City, is clear it is not far from anyone's minds this night, and it feels, rightly so, like it'll be a long time before anyone forgets.
But for the rest of us, we can't give up. The minute we do, those that seek to scare, judge and threaten us win. And we'll lose. We lose the battle, we lose our freedom, our expression, our way of life. And to those who music is their way of life, for those that it offers a lifeline, that feels far too awful right now. Safe Gigs for Women, yes. But right now, I'm holding on to safe gigs and music for all, cause life without it doesn't bear thinking about.