So last night I went to see my favourite musician at Eventim Apollo (previously Hammersmith) – James Bay. My boyfriend drove us there after work – I refused to go by train because they cause me major anxiety, but it turned out that I would be experiencing major anxiety anyway.
The journey wasn’t too bad. I was a little bit on edge but was able to control it, until we got to the venue. As we went straight from work I hadn’t eaten, so sat outside the Apollo with a sandwich but I just couldn’t eat it. That familiar feeling of intense nausea was back.
We got to our seats and the support act – Rukhsana Merrise – was playing, me still an anxious mess and my boyfriend trying to comfort me. I sat for a few minutes and it wasn’t too bad, I’d never heard of Rukhsana before but she was a fantastic singer and it gave me something to focus on. She finished singing and we were left with a 40 minute wait before James came on. Those 40 minutes were an absolute nightmare.
I kept feeling waves of anxiety come over me and I all could do was sit, facing forward, staring ahead and not saying anything. My legs were shaking, my heart racing, my breath short, my head dizzy. My boyfriend was trying to distract me by talking to me about all sorts of nonsense but I couldn’t move. In the end I decided that I needed to get out of the venue. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick so I ran into the toilet and just stood for a few minutes, eyes closed, deep breaths. People were probably looking at me like what on earth is she doing but I didn’t care, I needed to get outside for a minute. I was determined to not let this spoil my night. My boyfriend followed me outside and I stood with him in the fresh air for a few minutes and managed to get rid of the nausea, so we went back inside just as James was coming on stage.
He sang phenomenally, as expected. Now I had something to focus on and could feel the anxiety going away a bit but it kept coming back, going again, coming back.
And then he sang When We Were on Fire, a favourite of mine. Now the funny thing is, whenever I’m feeling anxious, listening to James Bay’s music always helps. And yet again, it did. He sang all my favourite songs: If You Ever Want to Be In Love, Need the Sun to Break, Let It Go, Move Together. And it was amazing. We got to see him just chilling, jamming with his guitar, and he sang absolutely amazingly – I think he’s better live.
Despite being alright all the time he was singing, I was still a little jittery and we decided that leaving at the end with everyone else rushing to get to their trains and cars would be a very bad idea. So we left before the encore which unfortunately meant that we missed Hold Back the River, but I was okay with that. I had seen my favourite songs be performed by my favourite artist absolutely stunningly, and that was enough for me.
So we left, and as soon as I got back to the car I was fine – as expected.
Moral of the story – it’s tough. Really tough. But you can do it. Yes, I left before the encore and missed Hold Back the River and had to pop outside a few times, but I did it. I saw James Bay. And although some moments of the night were absolutely hellish, I’d do it again. Because the show really was amazing – I cannot emphasise enough how good he was – and as soon as I heard those familiar, calming songs, I was good. For that reason I will still look back at that night with fond memories, not only of the support my boyfriend gave me, but of that familiar feeling of comfort that James Bay’s music gives me.
Does anyone else suffer from anxiety in concert venues? How do you beat it?