I Was There!
Who are you to tell me I wasn’t?
Above is a video shot at Video Games Live 2018 in Orlando, Florida, USA. At 4:00, Jason Paige, the original vocalist behind the English-language version of the ‘Pokemon’ theme music, once again takes to the microphone to belt out one of the world’s most famous intro songs.
And I was there!
I can see Jason Paige on stage. I can hear the crowd roar along to a Rapidash bounding along next to an Arcanine. How did Ash keep up!? I can see the little violinists with their tiny little bows slicing away at the strings. Our focus is fully on the vocals though. The man is lighting up the stage, like he’s got HM05 flowing out his pours, and the crowd is going Primate-shit for it. I’m loving it. For those brief moments between 4:00 and 7:17 I am where I want to be.
Nostalgia. Running home from school to catch the newest episode. Genuine wonder at the world on-screen, yearning for it to be real. Mew is not under the truck. No, there aren’t scientists creating real-life Pokemon. “They’re starting with Pidgeotto, because it’s the closest thing to animals that we have” are words that left my mouth one morning before school started, to a classmate who will never read this.
‘Pikablu’, a water-version of Pikachu, is not a thing. The rumour that swirled online before most of my class had access. No, it ended up being Marill, a spheroid little fuck that would make its first appearance in Pokemon Gold & Silver. Another thing no one believed me for, but I had the scoop. I was playing the Japanese ROM of Pokemon Gold before anyone had a clue. I’d describe these new Pokemon, and people would think I was bullshitting. The Boy Who Cried Porgon 2.
Jason is killing it. The unnamed guitarist (sorry guy) is going for it. The audience are singing along now. There was that moment just before 4:00 when the lights were dimmed, where Jason and the whole orchestra had us in the palms of their hands. Bated breath, anticipation — then fuck yeah here’s the Pokemon music. “He’s still got it!” I say to myself. “This is magical”.
Skeptics will say that I wasn’t there. That I’ve never been to the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando. That I’ve not been to the USA since the early 2000’s. They’ll say: Adam, you weren’t there. You didn’t film it. You weren’t even in the audience. You’ve just watched the video, like 169k+ others have. You’ve never seen Video Games Live in-person. What you’re describing is the act of watching a video on Youtube.com.
Are they wrong? No. But in reality — no one will say otherwise.
What’s to stop me saying I was there? What is to stop me reciting all the things I did leading up to the moment the first chord is struck? Who are you to say I wasn’t there?
It’s not like I’m Stephen Rannazzisi, the stand-up comic who lied about working in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I’m not saying “I was at the Bataclan when it got stormed. We were watching Video Games Live”. That would be mad.
It’s not like I’m Brian Williams, the news anchor who lied about being in a helicopter that got shot down in Iraq during the height of America’s invasion. Lying about that would be really weird. Spooky fella.
And there were repercussions for their actions, “cancelled” as the right-wing leaning modern-day press and morons would regurgitate. I didn’t even know who Stephen whatshisface was before googling. And Brian Williams — he could be in a ditch for all I know. These mad lads (read: fibbers) told some porkies and got themselves in too deep to be rescued. Like being asked about a classic film you’ve not seen. The understood rule is this: if I say “I haven’t seen it in ages” — I am talking bollocks. We all know what the deal is, no need to call each other out. An agreed upon lie. A ceasefire of correction.
“I laughed, I cried. I was left speechless” film fans will tweet after watching a film they enjoyed. Am I slightly, let’s say deranged, for thinking these people are talking complete and utter pish? No you did not. You didn’t cry. You’re just lying! For likes! You did not cry. But no one is saying anything on the contrary to you, because it really isn’t hurting anyone. I may think you’re daft, but there are plenty of other, let’s say deranged people, who will retweet you and reply “me too!” and no one is calling you out. It’s a waste of time.
I’m not saying I was in Iraq doing loopdeloops in Budgie. I’m not saying I was at Live 8 and that Paul McCartney (did he perform?) said “nice hat, kid” to me as he shuffled off-stage. Encore Sir Paul, encore! No, I wasn’t there for that, and I’m not saying I was. That’s kind of a monumental gig, isn’t it? It was on TV, well over a billion people watching. I wasn’t at the gig, and I didn’t go watch any of the Olympic Games when they were in London. I’ve never been to Cardiff. I’ve never seen The Godfather, and at this point I never plan to.
I was at the singalong of the Pokemon theme song, and what the fuck are you gonna do about it?
Really — what’s it to you if I say that? I bought a shirt right afterwards — it said ‘Video Games Live: Pika Pika! #NeverForget!”. We clapped. We cheered. I cried.
I remember that gig. I will always, always remember that gig. Because I was there.
“You teach me and I’ll teach you!”. Yeah Jason, we’ll show them. We’ll show them all, one way or another.