When Daniel Johns shows up at your gig

Local Hunter musician Nate James experienced a surreal moment on stage at the weekend.

James, who also performs his original tunes under the moniker Lo Monaco, headed to a regular covers gig at Murray’s Brewery on Sunday afternoon with no clue as to what was about to unfold.

Since he was just 12 years old, James has been a fan of Silverchair and, in particular, the songs and art of lead singer/guitarist Daniel Johns. Now, we don’t mean an ordinary fan, we mean a massive fan. Nate has listened to all of the songs, band and solo, watched all the videos and interviews and admits he is more than a bit obsessed. From ‘Shade’ on the Frogstomp album to the entire Diorama set, Johns’ work has been a huge inspiration for James.

Imagine turning up to the gig, setting up the gear and getting ready for the performance. Then, out of nowhere, your idol walks in and takes a seat right in front of the stage. James admits that he was nervous and actually scared to play. He wasn’t sure if he could do it but, being the seasoned pro that he is, James hit the stage and performed his first set. He left the stage and sat with his family.

And then the magic happened. 

James was being encouraged by his wife to go and say hello to Johns when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around and, to his surprise, it was Johns. 

“It felt like I was in a movie. He said that he wasn’t necessarily a fan of acoustic music but he could see what I was doing with my voice and was so positive,” Nate told Newcastle Live.

“He compared it to Post Malone and commented on my vibrato saying, ‘that can’t be taught’, it was amazing.

“It was the way he looked at me – it was almost like something telepathic – as if we both just understood what I was doing and what he was saying – it was just absolutely incredible.

“If my 12-year-old self was told that one day Daniel Johns would walk up to me at one of my gigs and compliment me the way he did, I just wouldn’t have believed it. It was pretty special.”

And, more than anything else, for Nate, the meeting was a self-affirming experience.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work into my sound and, like most musicians, I worry about how it’s going over. But now, I literally don’t care what anyone says about my performances anymore – I’m done and dusted. If I’m good enough for Daniel Johns, then I’m good enough for me.”

Check out the video and hear Nate tell the story. And make sure you hang around till the end to see the treasured pic from the day…

You can catch Nate James live this weekend at 5 Sawyers on Friday, at the Clarendon on Saturday and Dullboys on Sunday.