I won't pretend I was a Mineral fan the first time they were around, who would I be kidding if I did? They formed in 1994, the year I was born, and when they played their final show, I was just 3 years of age. Yet for a band that were around for such a short period of time, they really did leave their mark. Their two studio albums, The Power Of Failing and EndSerenading have gone on to become cult hits and are said to have inspired many of the bands that are currently part of the so called ‘Emo Revival’.
I actually only discovered the band last year after a recommendation by a friend, and even then I'm not certain if it was before or after the announcement of their reformation. Regardless of that fact, when a European tour was announced, I made sure to secure tickets, and I'm delighted I did, because despite being the band's first ever UK shows, the night in London truly felt like a homecoming.
The Underworld is a notorious sweatbox even on the coldest winter nights, but even though it was packed out, it was actually bearable for once. There were a few signs that this was a monumental gig, firstly was the level of respect found in the room. There was no fighting or pushing, everyone stood shoulder to shoulder like brothers and sisters in arms, united in their excitement for the band about to play. When that band did take to the stage, nobody reached for their phones, which really is saying something these days. We were witnessing history, but the fans were happy enough just to savour the moment, instead of crudely trying to document the evening.
Mineral reinforces the importance of strong starts to albums, and gigs, as they opened with 'Five, Eight and Ten' and 'Gloria', or tracks 1 & 2 from The Power Of Failing, and then returned to the stage for their encore with 'LoveLetterTypeWriter' and 'Palisade' which play the same roles on second, and final, album Endserenading. For a band who had been away for 17 years, they sounded so tight from the first track, all the way through to the closing notes of ‘Parking Lot’, and what a track to close with. The opening line “I wouldn't mind if you took me in my sleep tonight” probably rung true for a few of the diehard fans in the venue, their dream of seeing Mineral live looked unlikely for a very long time.
The band didn't feel the need to throw themselves across the stage, into the crowd, or anywhere else, but simply stood and performed as if their lives depended on it, and that’s all that was needed. The sheer volume of the crowd singing the lyrics back to lead singer Chris Simpson was remarkable. One of the lasting images that I took away from the concert was the sight of Frank Turner, famed musician and star in his own right, in the middle of the crowd, singing his goddamn heart out. It was brilliant to see music that can transcend boundaries, simply uniting fans, regardless of celebrity status or any other social standing. That's art to me.
By the time the proceedings drew to a close, I firmly believed that I was part of something special. All the people in that room were singing the songs of their youth, and I was honoured to be a part of it. My only wish was that I could have found Mineral sooner, so that I could those songs could mean even more to me as well.