EACH of us will have felt the loss of things we loved during a lockdown which at some points felt would go on forever. For me it was live music. Recordings are all very well but for me, music is primarily a communal experience, best enjoyed in a packed room/field with people sharing their enjoyment.

I don’t think I’m alone. Since lockdown restrictions eased I’ve noticed that music is playing a big role in bringing people back together in a way is reminding us all of the power to has to heal and inspire.

I first noticed it in an outdoor bar during the Edinburgh Festival when a number of solo performers with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment sparked mass singalongs from an audience who had only recently emerged from isolation to join together again in a celebration of the popular song.

There was a poignancy in what felt like a communal realisation that joining together is part of what makes us human and cutting ourselves off from each other – even when essential for our health as it undoubtedly was when Covid began spreading through our communities – has a high price tag attached. Joining in with old Oasis songs isn’t exactly an intellectual exercise but watching the smiles spread around the bar after such a long period of apartness made them feel almost profound.

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These feelings have only increased as more and more events welcome back audiences. I spent much of last weekend at Prestwick, which was hosting the return of the local music festival Prestfest after Covid forced its cancellation last year.

Almost every bar in town had a band playing and most were packed with customers, who were clearly overjoyed to be out socialising, dancing and singing again.

In towns all over Scotland, modern life had put the local sense of community under threat. So many of us had started to define ourself by where we worked rather than where we lived. We travelled to big city offices and when we returned home we were too knackered to go out for the night or to socialise.

During lockdown we began to connect again with friends and neighbours in the same town. Now that lockdown has eased we’re more aware of what’s going on in our own backyards. Before lockdown many of Scotland’s towns looked abandoned and run down. Shops were closing and in many cases, main streets lacked the vision to offer a alternative to shopping to attract visitors.

Now cities are less attractive places to live. Shops are closing there too but the experience of lockdown, cooped up with children in flats without gardens, has encouraged many to consider alternatives. House prices are rising in rejuvenated towns, encouraged by home working which makes commuting unnecessary.

Local events like Prestfest are encouraging a reborn sense of community, with music serving as the glue which binds people together. In one bar the crowd was bellowing out Johnny Cash and other country and pop hits, in another an enthusiastic band had the audience dancing until midnight with Meatloaf, ACDC, Abba and Erasure.

It was a fantastic night which encouraged a sense of wellbeing and togetherness after months which have proved tough going for many of us.

The threat of Covid has not, of course, entirely disappeared. A further 5810 cases were reported yesterday after a run of even higher totals. There were 883 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid, 82 of them intensive care.

So Covid hasn’t been defeated yet. The threat of a circuit-breaking lockdown persists, particularly if the return of university students increases the number of cases.

But there is a sense of the worst being over and attentions are focusing on the economic recovery. Those of us who support independence are looking forward to the prospect of a second referendum and the opportunity to put control over that recovery into the hands of a government which we elect ourselves.

But let’s not overlook the effects of lockdown on our mental health. We have been deprived of the company of our friends, families and work colleagues. We have been switching on our computers and staring into the void. Young people in particular have lost out on so many important rites of passage. Instead of hanging out with their mates they’ve been forced to spend almost every waking minute with those who take care of them. There’s a limit to how much fun that can be.

There was an almost palpable sense of euphoria when one of the first major music festivals since the pandemic struck took place outside the Transport Museum on the banks of the River Clyde last weekend.

The Riverside Festival is always a joyful experience but this year’s event reached new levels. The rain failed to dampen spirits as DJ after DJ, including Glasgow pioneers Slam, pushed the dancers to ever greater heights of intensity.

Everywhere you looked people were having the time of their lives. Just months ago it was hard to imagine ever being a part of something so intoxicating ever again. It was almost as if raves had been a figment of the imagination. A glimpse of a world that had slipped from view. The Riverside Festival was a monumental rebirth and reaffirmation of the power of music.

Over on a smaller stage a DJ called Sam was celebrating its effect on her own life. Once homeless and then living in a hostel, she had signed up to the DJ workshops run by a volunteer health and wellbeing service called Turn the Tables.

Sam had found her talent and here she was playing her first gig at probably Scotland’s biggest and most cutting edge dance event, a brilliant advert for music’s ability to save lives.

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Other major music events are contributing to an Indian summer of festivals. Liam Gallagher and the Chemical Brothers top the bill at this weekend’s TRSNSMT festival at Glasgow Green and at the end of the month Culture Club and Chic will be among the highlights of the Playground Festival at Rouken Glen, which runs from September 24-26.

As the music reminds us of the importance of joining together to celebrate shared feelings and experiences in enriching our lives and maintaining our mental health it's also a salient reminder that it’s not just our economy that needs protecting in times of crisis.

There were times during lockdown and the initial easing of restrictions that the contribution of the hospitality industry was underestimated. It not only generates the cash needed to power the economic recovery – although it certainly does that in spades – but it also protects and improves one of the nation’s most vital attributes … its mental health. And that’s something you can’t really put a price on.