Overcoming My Fear of Concerts With a Little Help From the Rolling Stones

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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As the music started, the crowd stood and cheered. I followed suit. Well, almost. I stood with more intention than balance. And as I did, I veered toward the person seated in the next row.

Hello, secondary progressive MS.

Two years ago, I went to see Paul McCartney at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. I enjoyed the show and the shared moments with my husband, but I grieved afterward. Getting to and from our seats had shaken me to my core. In the dark of night, I had to shuffle down the cement stairs that led to our seats. Without a railing, I squeezed my husband’s hand. More than once, I asked to stop, and I considered leaving altogether.

As I soldiered on, my head was spinning. At that moment, I resented everything. But beneath the anger, fear, and anxiety was a deep sense of loss. I left the stadium that night dejected, vowing never to attend another concert in my life. As a music lover, that decision leveled me. As a human being, I was just sad.

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In the past two years, I have passed up every opportunity to attend a concert. That night at Dodger Stadium had defined my fear more than my disease and increased disability level had. I would often replay that night in my head.

And then the inequity of it all struck like a lightning bolt. I felt angry that I had experienced such fear. I knew I wasn’t the only one who had been through such a thing, and I certainly wouldn’t be the last. So, I refused to allow that night to define my ability to try. Multiple sclerosis has rendered me disabled, not dead. I quieted my fears and decided to change the narrative.

I chose to attend another concert: the Rolling Stones.

As I veered toward the seat in front of me, I caught my fall. I laughed at the close call. Sometimes laughter is required. The larger area between the seats was roomy. The new stadium came equipped with railings on all of the steps. The steps themselves were wide and shallow.

I enjoyed the Rolling Stones, and I stayed present without worrying about how I would ascend a stairway without rails. I felt safe, and that perception was everything.

As the band began to play, I looked around. My eyes caught the gaze of a woman in a wheelchair. We shared a smile before I witnessed her dance to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” I knew that one day that might be me. I smiled because I knew I would be here, too.

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Comments

Steve avatar

Steve

“You can’t always get what you want…….but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need…”👍

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Bernard Gorman avatar

Bernard Gorman

Hi Jenn,

Just read your posting and wanted to reply.

I live in St. Albans, about 20 miles north of London, UK with my wife.
I was diagnosed with PPMS in 2006.

Over the years, my walking has slowly worsened (left leg affected) and I now walk slowly with a stick.

We went to a number of music concerts each year pre-covid and have currently got a few lined up over the next few months.

A number of the London venues are accessible friendly and I usually make my situation known at the time of booking. Quite often, they will reserve front row seats or help me identify seats which are straightforward to get to. Some of the larger venues (e.g. Barbican) have their own car parking facilities which have blue badge parking spaces which are free to use. For some of the London venues, my wife goes free at the time of booking tickets which is a nice bonus.

It might be worth starting again with concerts in smaller venues to get the ball rolling; just a thought.

Please don't lose heart; live music is such a fantastic experience.
In fact, my email sign-off reads ...

‘Without music, life would be a mistake.’

Friedrich Nietzsche
19th Century German Philosopher

All the very best,

bernard gorman

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Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

I haven't been to a concert in a few years (last one U2) and experienced the same issues with stairs, crowds and dizzying heights. But I loved it anyway. I understand there are designated seating for disabled people/wheelchairs and this is how I would be travelling next time.

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Jennifer Powell avatar

Jennifer Powell

Steve,

That was my favorite of all songs that evening. It certainly has its own meaning. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Warmly,
Jenn

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Jennifer Powell avatar

Jennifer Powell

Leanne,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You understand the chaos well It is hard enough to maneuver the stadium but to do so among throngs of hurried people is too much. I am sorry you had that experience.

I encourage you to try again. I spent some time learning about accessibility before going to the Stones. Absolutely take a seat ear marked for a wheelchair as you will avoid having to use the steps. There are also people there to help you access the exits.

Let me know if you choose to attend another, I would love to hear about you experience.

Warmly,
Jenn.

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Jennifer Powell avatar

Jennifer Powell

Bernard,

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to respond.

You sound like a kindred spirit. Live music is an ethereal experience. I am happy to hear that London/UK arenas are accessible to those with disabilities. And I like your suggestion about seeking smaller venues. I enjoy more intimate concerts and have my eye on Jackson Browne.

I love your email signature and agree. Music breathes meaning into my life and defines iterations throughout my life with just one song.

Thank you for you perspective.

warmly,
Jenn

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Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Jenn- I am taking my mom to see Andre Bocelli at the Capital One arena in December. I was reluctant but asked for assistance to accommodate both of us. The box office has a person to help with accommodations. Kudos to you for getting back to what you love to do!

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Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

I'm going to see the stones in Atlanta in November. I can't wait! :)

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Joe Pierce avatar

Joe Pierce

"Music breathes meaning into my life" -- well put!

Reply
Jennifer Powell avatar

Jennifer Powell

Lori,

I am so excited for you to see Andrea Bocelli! You are so wise to pre-plan and make accommodations as your experience will be wonderful. I cannot wait to hear all about it!

Cheers to music and accommodations so we can enjoy it!

Warmly,
Jenn

Reply
Jennifer Powell avatar

Jennifer Powell

Jamie,

They performed so Incredibly well. I hear they play different sets for different shows. I look forward to hearing about your experience. The opening was my favorite.
Warmly,
Jenn

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