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Getting Dresden up for a night. 19 January. Dresden.

Photo by Sven Hujer

Up and at it.
Goodbye Frankfurt, hello Dresden.
I find the little I see of Dresden most interesting. Post war plain utilitarian buildings, some protesting with splashes from Mondrian’s palate, abut beautiful grand architecture that was not lost in the flattening of this city. Evidence of its convoluted history.
I came to the eastern block sometime in my yesterdays.
Typically I neither remember where or when but that doesn’t make me a liar.
What I do remember was the absence of advertising.
It was magical. A place so clean of commercialisation.
It was like walking through an old film.

The venue is wonderful.
It is smaller – 650 capacity but it is cool and utterly charming, and better still, the sound plays very nicely in it. From stage, certainly.
The walls are heavily peppered with band flyers, and band graffiti tells its tales back stage.

Photo by Alison Moyet

The common Great Tits are omni-present. Drawn perfectly full with their proverbial chins up they are paired with neat little vagina triangles unfeasibly close at hand.
Combined they give the impression of a goggle eyed and contented simpleton.
I wonder on the boys who came to cave paint.
If this was an exercise for memory function or to prove to the generations that follow here that he has actually seen one.
Just like this.

Photo by Alison Moyet

I remember graffiti of a blokes front luggage from my young days.
Depicted as a sturdy column of something or other, with what appeared to be solid globes, one on each side, attached like low-set ears on Mr Tuber-Head man.
The Concorde design I believe was inspired by the same.
You can imagine my later confusion come the day.

Soundcheck ran a bit late which meant I could have some dinner tonight. It was very welcome.

The boys have been working long at re-balancing and when I check I find a vast improvement.
I am buoyed. This is going to be a good night. I can feel it in my belly.

Photo by Alison Moyet

The room is frigid. Cold cold cold. My dressing room happily though is toasty.
The locals too have been warm and accommodating.
There’s a really nice vibe.

Photo by Alison Moyet

My dressing room, that sits facing directly into the crew green room, has conveniently been furnished with a black out curtain to spare our bare-arsed Turn dignity.
Unfortunately the very large thigh to ceiling windows are naked to the elements plus also anyone looking in this general direction.
Spanx don’t go on soon as blink.
I hang my coat on a rack and squirm behind it like a reluctant school girl in a swimming pool changing room, hoping too that no one bursts through my unlockable door and comments on my smile.
Success, I trust.
If I don’t see the pictures, it never happened.

Nick comes and brings me CD inserts to sign.
James comes and brings me my ear monitors.
Sean comes and we warm up.
Paul comes and we chat.
Dougie comes and it’s time.

We are navigated to the stage. Past the back of the audience and along a corridor margined by crates and crates of beer.
I’m keeping my coat on.
It has to be said – being an old lady with a long history of covering up – its win win.
I am bloody grateful for this dress choice with its high neck long sleeves and restrictive undergarments.
I wouldn’t be one of those youngsters who prance around these ice boxes in their underpants for love nor money.
I wouldn’t have it pickled.
Fuck that for a game of Ladies.

Our cue strikes up and we parade in order onto the stage.
Paul, me and then Sean coming up our rear.
As you were.

It takes me a couple of minutes to find my form and settle, but everything is working.
Another tremendous audience. How to say that without sounding disingenuous, merely rolling out the flattering Pay-Backs.
No. This audience is great.
My audiences are great and if they’re not I say it.
Sometimes in seated venues I get wound up when the assumption is that there’s going to be no challenge in my work. When middle aged women approach the sound desk and ask for a mix to be changed to suit their older ears. I’m the same age and my ears cope double-bubble. Noise is what happens in a set not built for chamber music.
The onus is on the punter to research what they are buying into, not the act to find a way to morph into every-man easy listening, just in case.
That brings out my sneery bones, but it happens less frequently now.
I think I pissed most of them off a few tours back.
Anyway. These happily are standing gigs. They deter the fair-weather armchair-must brigade.
This audience are not they.
No less old. No less diverse. No less discerning.
They are perfect. Focussed. Interested. Connected and prepared.
The gig is thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve got that ‘I love this place best in the world’ feeling that I get so often. Every time I am well met.
Suddenly. On the last song I feel I’m going to chuck up my lungs. I gasp to swallow the threatening rise. I struggle to sound the words.
The end comes quickly in a timely fashion.
I leave the stage glad for tonight but nauseous.
My clothes are wet and I am quickly very cold and tired with my Adrenalin tapering sharply.
I exit stage straight to the car. The audience are still clapping but a few of people are there for autographs. Whether they were at the show I have no knowledge but they’d have had to skip songs to be there.
Germany is renowned for its generic autograph collectors amongst bands.
They are omnipresent and demand brusquely that you sign twenty and more items each, often dictating what phrase they want you to sign your name to.
In my desire to be honest I admit it’s a pain in the arse that I steel myself for. I try to be as gracious as I can but it’s a mere courtesy. They are very very rarely followers.
They catch you at breakfast. Outside your hotels. Exiting toilet stalls before you can even wash your hands. Even under the toilet door, let me tell you.
I don’t think these people outside now are collectors.
The two women smile and were kindly.
The professional collectors rarely smile or say thank you.
They just hand you generic Self addressed envelopes stamped with SEND TEN SIGNED PHOTOS on the underside of the seal flap once you have finished signing their pile.
I don’t return them.

I find it terribly hard to walk by possible fans as my team always advise when conditions such as tonight’s apply. I know I can’t be outside wet in this chill air.
If I stop, more people will soon arrive and signing can end up taking an hour and more which is not clever when you have contracted with your fans to do your utmost to ensure your best form for their chosen show.
I can’t ignore them I tell Nick and Dougie.
I approach and try to explain that I’m sorry but need to be quick. I sign one but turning to the man, he rejects the lady’s pen I am using and wants me to use one of his choice.
At that point I just got in the car.
I couldn’t muster energy.
I feel guilty and ashamed not to have been more accommodating. I was cold and tired and wet and aching and still old.

Truth be told, it is a rare event that finds me happy meeting anyone straight off stage.
I avoid it like the plague.
Known or unknown to me.
My mind is frozen. I cannot muster conversation. I can’t think straight and I’m spent.
If it’s any comfort I will worry on that encounter for a good while and repeatedly.
It’s a tyranny.
I am a sole creature by necessity on the road, and completely susceptible to guilt tripping and being decried rude defeats me.
Better when I am a wisp in the night.
No one is offended.
No one ignored.
I try hard to vaporise.
Should that word have an English U, Mum?

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