On Monday, a good friend of mine Reece, shared a link to song on Facebook. ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ by Jimmy Eat World. I hadn’t heard this song before, but I like what I know by Jimmy Eat World, and since I was waiting for my dinner to be ready, I clicked on the link and listened. I really liked the song and it was stuck in my head all day. It just brought me back to a different time.
I saw Jimmy Eat World supporting Foo Fighters, way back in July 2011 at the MK Bowl. I didn’t know who they were before then, but I did enjoy their set. I even bought a couple of their albums after the concert. To be honest I still don’t really know them, beyond the Bleed American album. So I think to me that band will always remind me of 2011. This was an important year for me. It marked the end of sixth form and school, I turned 18 and I started university.
I went to the Foo Fighters concert with Tabby, now my fiance, and two friends from school. In many ways it was actually a celebration of the end of the school year and exams. We didn’t know our exam results yet, and it felt like a new beginning of hope and change. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I was listening to the song again and all of a sudden I was there, back in the MK Bowl, sitting in the heat. All of these memories started to pour back into my mind. It was my second concert and all the nerves from the first concert weren’t present. I knew roughtly what to expect so I was just excited.
We arrived early and the doors were already open. We queued up and got in. Even though it was early, there was already piles of discarded drinks and food that the security had stopped from passing. I remember us commenting on how bad that would look in a couple of hours, because it was already attracting flies and a sickly smell in the summer sun. We got in and grabbed a bottle of coke each from the nearby stall. The MK Bowl is massive, fitting roughly 65,000 people. After grabbing a drink we found a spot on the hill, towards the back and set up camp for the rest of the day. I remember there were a couple of short arguements about where to stand. None of us really liked crowds, so being a little out of the way was fine. It was just making sure we could all see. From our spot on the hill, we could see the stage quite nicely and the screens were in perfect view.
We sat around talking, while waiting for the first band to come on. We were talking about the future, mostly. Hopes that university would bring. The first band, called The Hot Rats, I think. Yes, a quick Google confirmed that. They were laughably bad. They were a cover band, and that is all I really remember, other than they played Queen Bitch by David Bowie, and I was glad my mum wasn’t there to hear that being butchered. Even now writing that, something else came back to me. They covered The Lovecats by The Cure. Still bad, I remember us laughing about that.
It was so hot, and one drink wasn’t enough. To keep our place secure we split into two groups, one to stay at out spot on the hill and the other to grab food and drink throughout the day, each time swapping. I remember picking grass out of the ground at one point and fiddling it between my fingers. It was so hot. Jimmy Eat World came on next and they played through their set. I really enjoyed them. I remember making eye contact with Tabby, with a smile, who was also enjoying it, swaying from side to side in the hot sun while sitting on the hill. They were really great. They played Sweetness as the last song on their set and me and Tabby looked at each other. Both of us knew this song, even though we couldn’t place where.
After the band left the stage the whole place started moving again, filling up at the same time. It was my turn to go out and grab drinks. We made our way through the crowd, which was the only part of the day that I didn’t like. It felt like it took an age, weaving through the thickening crowd of people. We went the wrong way at one point and had to double back just to get to a stall selling drinks. When I came back, I remember Tabby saying that she was going to get Ice Cream, so she went off with one of our other friends and brought back Ice cream for us all. I had the nicest 99 flake ice cream in the world. There is nothing like it in the world, sitting their enjoying music in the blaring sun, eating ice cream and just not caring about anything beyond that moment.
Biffy Clyro were next and to be honest I don’t remember much about them. I really liked them before going. Their album, Only Revolutions had come out a year or two before, and I really liked that album. Seeing them live is one of the biggest disapointments of any concert I have ever been to, probably the biggest. His voice was just awful on the day. It sounded so bad. Maybe he was ill, as I’ve been told time and time again that they are usually brilliant. Maybe we were just in the wrong place or maybe the sound wasn’t mixed right. But since then, almost 9 years later I have never listened to a Biffy Clyro song again by choice. I quite liked them beforehand, and I know it’s stupid, but I’ve just really gone off them. There was also someone in the crowd filling out a crossword, which was quite funny at the time. We joked it was a tribute to their album Puzzle. That was our level of humour then, and at least for me, it hasn’t grown much since then.
Finally came the main show, the reason we were all there. The almighty Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl ran out and screamed down the microphone. He ran up and down the stage strumming and shouting out to the audience. They then blasted into Bridges Burning from their recent album. On a side note, that is what I had guessed earlier while we were playing ‘what song will they come on to?’. For the next 3 hours, we watched them go through all the hits. They played Breakout, which was my favourite Foo Fighters song at the time, and Long Road to Ruin, which took that place shortly afterwards and still it my favourite song of theirs, along with I’ll Stick Around.
Even as the show was winding down, the sun almost completely set, there were still surprises in store. A man in an inflatable boat surfing the audience sticks out in my mind. After a funny intermission video teasing us with more songs, Dave Grohl came out and sang wheels by himself. He then started Times Like These and the rest of the band came out as well. That would have been enough, really. Afterwards Dave Grohl took to the stage by himself he introduced Seasick Steve, who one of the people I was with was a fan of. We all cheered, even though beyond the name I couldn’t tell you a thing about him. More importantly he brought out John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. One of my all time favourite bands. I couldn’t believe it and I remember clapping along out of time to a song by Seasick Steve that I don’t know or remember.
After that the Foo Fighters brought the show to a close with Everlong, which I had never really liked that much until I saw it live. It was a perfect show ender, accompanied with fireworks. For a long time afterwards it was a joke between me and Tabby that a last song at a show wasn’t any good if they didn’t have fireworks. It was an unbelievable night that I think back on fondly from time to time and just wanted to share it, after that Jimmy Eat World song took me back in time to a simplier time filled with hope, music and sunlight. If everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again…
Thanks for reading and if you have memories from a better time that you want to share, feel free. I look forward to reading them in the comments. And until next time,