Wednesday night was gig night – much anticipated, much planned and prepared for, but all the
preparation in the world can only ever be a prelude. We were playing at the Grand, Clapham,
to raise money for the Red Cross. I was there in my capacity as bassist for two bands, Cathy Ray and Bone Turtle. Things started off
painfully slowly, as they always do at gigs. We arrived at the venue early (very early)
afternoon. Got excited over the mixed Victoriana/Art-deco/disco kitsch decor and 15-foot
high stage (gonna have to play with safety harnesses), ran around getting used to the place,
fiset up instruments & fiddled about with stuff & more stuff, covered my small amount
of hair with peroxide paste, got onstage and played through a few songs, washed of the
peroxide gunk after 90 minutes and uncovered hair like a tabby cat’s, mottled brown and
Duracell-orange, went off shopping for a quick release, plastered my hair down completely
with more (LOTS more) peroxide gunk, had a sound check, washed off the peroxide gunk,
discovered a head of hair that was custard yellow with tabby drop-shadows, met up with the
members of my other band….
Finally we got to play. First on Cathy Ray. Our first
gig in over 6 months, with only 1 rehearsal to tide us over, but we were tight as… no,
I’ll avoid the obvious comparisons… tight as we always are these days. It was fun playing
the old numbers, but there was no atmosphere – the audience was half-a-mile away. We tried
to throw in some comments between songs (or I did, mainly) as I’m always so aware of the
huge & painful gaps where audiences start shuffling their feet & getting awkward,
but the talking felt forced & painful. All in all, I know that we put in a good
performance, but it was far from what we are capable of, and because I didn’t have the
audience feedback I didn’t feel able to start boogieing and losing my inhibitions and
swinging swaying & swanking with the music, which in turn would have pushed it back to
the audience & made this whole kinda Princess Diana-style mental feedback loop of
intensifying emotional vibes. So overall, satisfactory but we know you can do better. Much
Came off stage feeling incredibly unfulfilled. Knew that everyone who might possibly be
impressed by our music would have been impressed enough… just. Mark summed it all up. He
said, in a slightly embarrased (very wierd for Mark) sort of way… "Cathy Ray were great."
(….. long pause….. ) "but not that great". There’s nothing better than the truth.
Seriously. Pain is pleasure. Occasionaly.
(shit… just realising how drunk I am… writing on a Friday night on a lonely long
Sheffield-bound train again. This text is starting to disintegrate into mere words again…)
And then finally we had Bone
Turtle. A far longer set (18 songs, compared to the 6 of Cathy Ray), far more populist,
far easier for me, as I could hide at the back and just get on with it rather than
singing/speaking and exposing myself to possible ridicule within my own brain. I really
enjoyed myself, despite the odd (fairly minor really) cock-up and the fact that some of the
songs are really starting to bore me. It was pretty predictable good-time party-type
Commitments/Blues Brothers music (though, if I do say so myself, with a tiny bit of a
twinkle-dust crunch-funk magic touch). We were good. Damn good. And people got up and
partied, danced all around the stage (like to see them do the same for Cathy Ray), waved at
me and pulled faces. I got to feel good about the whole thing.
And then, 18 songs later, we came of stage, and the emptiness came back. Dunno quite how to
explain it. A sort of philosophical feeling, the type of which I’m sure there are words for
in German or French (euuurgh, what a horrible sentence). In German, it would be a crunchy
painful life-kills-me how-can-I-continue-with-this-pain type of word like Weltschmertz or…
shit, what was the other one, I dunno. In French it would be far more existential, like what
am I doing here, what is life all for,
do-we-really-exist-and-if-so-is-it-worth-going-to-parties type of word, like… shit,
somebody pass me one of those French philosophical terms quick, I know they exist. Ah well,
maybe it’s in the nature of the thing that words are not enough to contain the feeling.
Sorry, do I sound poncey. Ah well, it’s probably intentional.
So anyway, as I was very slowly getting around to saying, I came off stage and felt kinda
happy in some parts, at least as if I’d given it the best that I possibly could under the
circumstances, but also like… you know that song, “Is that all there is?” Well, that was
pretty much exactly it. So I spent the rest of the evening, drifting around, trying to latch
onto people without much success… had one or two really nice chats but never felt 100%
there. Still wanted more experience.
I ended up going back to JCs with Niina and Josh. Probably the best said about the lest. Or
vice versa. Or… sorry, do you follow me? Had a lovely time, but only because I was already
hell-bent on having a lovely time and… no, it was really nice company, but… bizarre. And
having had less that 8 hours sleep in total for the last 2 nights, and being well on course
to catch about 3 hours for this night, I finally threw in the towel and drifted off to the
sofa for a couple of hours snoring. Bzzzzzzz. That was probably the best part of the night.
But the rest of the night was nice. Or sweet. Or something.