“Cover band? What do you want to be in a cover band for?” He tried to explain it dozens of times to his father. He just didn’t get it. When their van entered the empty driveway of the Brookside Theatre, he tried to explain it to himself.

It was a small gig in a small town. It was more of a community center than a theatre. The hall was so small you could walk from door to stage in ten steps. 120 foldable chairs were arranged in ten rows. The ceiling was so low he could almost touch it. And the soundman came with the place.

Backstage, which was more of a side-stage, he held a small mirror in his left hand, and carefully put on his makeup with the right. He heard the people starting to fill the small hall and dragging their chairs. In ten minutes his band will take the stage.

When the audience is big enough, there’s energy in the air no-one can (or wants to) resist. With 120 people in a community center, you just cannot know how it will be like. These people are here because of their memories. He and his friends are merely echoes of these memories. He knows that, but he also knows that with some luck, the echoes will be strong enough for magic to happen.

He carefully puts on the wig. The soundman, who is also responsible for the lighting, turns off the lights in the small hall. For a second he imagines there are thousands of people in the audience, but this place is so little, he can actually see every face. He can hear every thought.

They start playing their first song. Well, it’s not really theirs, of course. He closes his eyes, trying to imagine again he is singing for thousands of people. But he can sense the stillness of the people sitting so close to the stage. When the guitar plays the final chord of the song, he opens his eyes and scans their faces. He looks in the eyes of each and every one of them (thanks to the amazing lighting experience), and suddenly he knows he can turn them into dreamers if only for two hours.


Before anyone has a chance to consider the dissonance, the band starts playing the second song, and then the next one. The guitarist plays as if he is on stage in the Wembley Stadium and for a moment the blue walls of the small community center dissolve, and everyone forgets that they aren’t.

“This last one is especially for you. You made it so far in life, you should be so proud.” He gently plays his blue 12-strings guitar, and a chorus of 120 dreamers joins him singing…

“We can be heroes, just for one day…”

Later, in the van, removing the leftovers of his makeup, he thinks about the 70-year-old man who got up and started to dance. He recalls the joy in the man’s eyes — the joy only timeless music can create. His father’s voice echoes in his mind: “Cover band? Cover bands don’t change the world…” and he smiles to himself.

Tonight, if only for this one night and only for 120 people, he did change the world.

I wrote this short story during my vacation in London. Like any form of creation, it is based on something I experienced, pieces of reality, bits of things I saw and heard, and some imagination to weave everything together.

I won’t list every ingredient that went into the story, and some of them are probably unconscious anyway, but I will share with you the two primary pieces that made this small jigsaw puzzle. I think it’s a good example of how random dots get not just connected but weaved together to create something completely different.

I was with my son in London, and we were looking for a cool music show. I didn’t know what I am looking for, but I knew I had found it the moment I saw this listing: Absolute Bowie, at the Brookside Theatre, Romford.

Typically, I would have looked up the place, the band, and practically anything that could make the night more expected. But I had to walk the talk, so I deliberately avoided checking anything except for how far Romford is from where we were staying. And planning to be surprised played a significant role in turning that night into an experience.

It was a fantastic show. But it was really more than that. Absolute Bowie’s performance was inspirational, not just because of their talent, but also thanks to the unique setup. If we had seen the same show in the center of London, the experience would have been entirely different. The audience, the theatre, the street the theatre was in — everything was mixed together to create a magical dish that I simply could not ignore. During the entire show, I was partly there, and partly in a different, imaginary storyline.

Later, on the way back to my hotel, the short storyline started to take a more definite shape. And this is when the sentence “Cover bands don’t change the world” came up — a sentence I’ve heard so many times in Todd Henry’s podcast, The Accidental Creative.

Todd Henry’s podcast is a different kind of inspiration. I love the podcast as well as Todd’s books. And until that evening, the phrase “cover bands don’t change the world” really resonated with me. It captured perfectly the importance of creativity and originality. But on that Friday evening, I just happened to see a cover band that did change the world at least for a few dozens of people that went home with a big smile in their heart.

Taken out of context, the phrase Todd Henry coined, was a perfect fit for the story. It was the missing piece — the secret ingredient — that made the punch of the story.

So, I am not really a writer, and I won’t pretend this is some kind of a masterpiece. But I couldn’t go to sleep that Friday night, in a hotel room in London, without writing the story that was weaved in my mind, if only to remember not just the objective details of the experience but also how it made me feel and the magic it. I hope I managed to capture it.

Thank you, Absolute Bowie.
Thank you, Todd Henry.

Goodnight Romford.

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