Worlds collided today.
“I’m from Ukraine!” [that was me] – Oh! Wow! *high-five* [that was him]
Good morning from Ukraine! [that was him] – “Wow, so this is surreal.” [that was me]
I heard no rumors, but wasn’t surprised for a second. I was expecting it to fall through. Safety, politics, whatnot. For x’s sake, the man was heading to Russia next.
Don’t miss it because I don’t know when I’ll be back. ❤
If I’m honest with myself, this show was the reason I flew back here. Were it not for him, I don’t know when I’d come here, myself.
A crowd of 500 or so in a venue meant for 3-4 thousand. Looking a bit lost. I’m at the back – which in a crowd this size, is not far away at all, laughing increasingly hysterically every time the frontman of the opening band refers to the headliner as “Mr. Way.” The man will never be a Mr. Way, he’ll stay Gee until he dies.
Disbelief. Through the opening act. Through the painfully long stage change. To the very last moment. To absurd. To the point of when the guitarists and drummer appear, I expect one of them to say that “Mr. Way” couldn’t make it.
Mr. Way made it. I was just hoping that the reception would not make him regret it.
It took a few songs for everyone to get into the swing of things. It was like a first date. Perfectly pleasant. Perfectly awkward. Both parties permanently out on a limb.
Then, a third of the way into the set, something happened. It also happened to happen with the start of my favorite song. Being a live punk rock aficionado, I don’t use the words ‘the crowd went wild’ lightly. But boy, did it go wild.
After that, it only got better. Gone was the awkwardness. There was no room for pleasantries anymore, either. Just sheer passion. From audience to stage, from stage to audience, endless self-perpetuating cycle of energy, the kind that lifts you up, turns the air thin, and the world transparent and golden.
Last songs. Curtain call. Two more songs by way of encore. Another curtain call. I know the show protocol enough to know that one won’t get answered.
I was three steps away from the venue exit when a voice announced from the stage there was going to be an autograph session in a few minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a sweetheart who pleads with every venue to let the fans stay inside for long enough for him to meet everyone who wants a word or a hug, and when even cooperative venues call time, he’s known to hang outside until 3 am till everyone has had a chance to see him.
But surely, not here? Not in the capital of a country with an active war zone. Sure, Kyiv of all places is safe, yeah, except two days before he got here, a live grenade killed three people in the downtown.
Surely, there were explicit instructions from the music label to get in, perform, and get the hell out?
Maybe I’ll get to ask him one day.
The queue is long, and moves fast. Everyone gets five seconds, tops. He signs and offers high-fives. Looking very focused, but lighting up like a lightbulb whenever a fan says something to him.
My turn. I ask him to write ‘Keep running’ on a piece of paper for me. An old message, and one I intend to wear on my skin.
“You wouldn’t remember this…”
“…but I met you after a show in Edinburgh in 2010, and told you I came from Ukraine…”
“…and you traded me a pack of cigarettes for my yellow goggles.”
[he looks up. a spark of recognition] “Oh! Good to see you!”
Worlds collided today.
It was beautiful.