In this First Concert Ever segment, the singer-songwriter, BENN, talks about the story of his first experience with live music. You can check out the story, after the break.
My first concert ever was Paul McCartney…. so not a bad way to start experiencing live music, right? This concert took place sometimes close to the year of 2002 (I think) and in the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland, with approximately 40K people in the audience. This was in the late Spring, so the seagulls had just flown back to Finland from the warm south (I have no idea where they go over the Winter) and flew over the audience on the open stadium (which Sir McCartney also with great joy mentioned a couple of times – “look, there are seagulls!”).
I was around 11 years old back then and I don’t come from a musical family/background, so I went with my friend and his dad, who kindly enough gave me the concert ticket as a birthday gift in advance. I didn’t know back then exactly how valuable it was but I remember that I insisted on paying for my own ticket, until he insisted more and I gave up.
A fun side story is that my first concert ever coincided very closely with my first own live gig ever. I played solo guitar in an ad hoc instrumental trio and played the melody on “Rock Around the Clock” for the whole school. I had learned to play the whole melody on the high E-string by looking at the dots on the guitar neck (had no idea what notes I was playing). Unfortunately, my E-string broke after the first verse – so I made a tough decision and continued playing with the exact same finger positions on the B-string… “no one noticed”. But Paul McCartney’s gig a couple of weeks later was a great benchmark for future gigs.
Back to Paul, who started his concert with “Lady Madonna” (which we and the whole Helsinki had heard him play on soundcheck a couple of hours before the show) and it seemed like he had a whole circus standing on stage with him with dancers and huge choreography and colorful screens and banners etc. After the first number he continued with “Jet” and this was the first time that I heard how a band can sound live when the volume is LOUD. But it was awesome. Other than that, I don’t remember the repertoire that well except for when Paul played a couple of songs on his own with an acoustic guitar (yes “Blackbird” was one of them) and had a red “No More Landmines” T-shirt on him. Then there was, of course, the mandatory firework in “Live and Let Die” on the stabs.
I have to say that I, now afterward, feel quite privileged to have had my first ever concert experience to be a legend like Paul McCartney. And it sure lightened a flame inside me to exploit the magic of live music more, which I have done very, very much. Both through playing live myself and by going to many concerts. Addicting stuff, these out-of-body experiences on great live gigs.