Meeting Nick and Georgie at 11 at reception and having enjoyed the explanation of why, when they have added the bill up incorrectly, tripling a tip, they can’t take it off the bill because they’ve already handed it over, we get in the car and make our three and a half hour journey to Hannover, heading straight for the venue.
We are to have an extended soundcheck and a meeting to address the monitoring issues I have had. Georgie has notes on the out front sound, and Sean has listened to the monitor desk recording to pin point the places where I’m getting thrown. James has determined that is is where arpeggios and counter melodies are in full force that I am blindsided. There was issues with clicks and some where I had no root note evident that might indicate what the mash was that I was hearing. Add this to the newness of two ear piece practices and a new mic.
Bottom line is EURIKA. Issue resolved.
I get ahead of myself.
We got to the venue where a group of autograph collectors were settled.
They all have the same photos that I’ve not seen before and poke where they want me to make my mark. It’s odd. There is no attempt at a greeting or a howdelly doodly. Just ‘There’. (Prod)
I do a couple a piece and smile for us all.
I am eager for soup.
Arse. There isn’t any.
I meet with Sean where we discuss his findings and James comes to tell me his ideas on how to tackle the difficulties I have been having .
I am beyond tired. I slept maybe 4 hours last night, spent the whole of the drive writing my blog on the phone, and my energy level was on the floor.
So not in the mood.
I was lacklustre at sound check but Sean is not one to be deterred. He has been very thorough and calls me out of condition when it’s a fair call. Never though, without a plan for remedy.
Today, he says, we will warm up for longer. I’m not normally one to be lead at work but if I know someone has the right of it and there has been proper thought applied, then I proceed without complaint. Sean will never not think about something, and there’s nothing superfluous about him. I step in line without remonstration. He does a good kindly school ma’am. I am attentive.
I get some food when it appears while the others are line checking. I note that they’ve not provided a vegetarian option for Sean.
I get motherly about it.
No protein. What’s he supposed to eat?
Everything that doesn’t have meat in it.
Vegetarians are well used to that refrain.
I break it to him anxiously.
‘Noodles and potatoes. I
love a carb fest’, he says and means, happily unperturbed.
He’s not high maintenance, unless you suggest an Uber 😉 but that to be fair, for ethical reasons.
Neither come to that is Paul.
It’s been a sharp learn for Paul. An unknown catalogue I’m guessing and only three days to get off book. It was a big ask and he has been accommodating in the extreme. A great band mate and as easy as sin to be with. My regular team has not had its dynamic changed at all, as with Dave out front who is as diligent as they come. He too feels as though he has been a long fixture in all but enthusiasm. It is as zen as it has so long been the case. If you don’t include Eric’s (lighting) fastidious, perfectionist, completely hard-on-himself work ethic that finds him tinkering in the hours when all others have taken to their deserved leisure. It must be said that however much I protest for his rest, I have reaped the delights of his work. He enhances our show immeasurably.
Dave and Eric have vital roles and yet ironically produce the work that I never get to see or hear. You only get to feel. And I feel very good in the scenes they provide me.
Every gig at soundcheck we time how long it is to walk to our stations so that we might arrive at each together. Then the intro is lengthened or shorted to make it so my cue to sing sounds as I arrive at my microphone.
We totter in the murk like infants being snaked across a zebra crossing. 20 seconds, or 17 or more. All depends on the lay out. I want it to be like this. I don’t like the ‘install the musicians, then enter the Diva’ kind of thing I sometimes am made to do.
I’ve always found it a bit wank, like I do a finale (Shudder) and avoid it when I can.
We are using in-house risers. Mine in taller than the other’s because the house doesn’t have 3 sets of legs the same height.
It makes me feel imperious.
This is a lovely room but I tend to prefer not to be too much higher than the audience and certainly not the band members.
I need Dougie to get me another step. I not chancing that one step down in heels, in the dark.
Dougie mumbles a mild grumble about not having a spare step, but I watch him wander off knowing that he will sort it and it will be great. Dougie is the spiritual daddy of the crew. He gets the virtual TV remote. He is the keeper of the torch. The teller of tales.
I am rushed for time.
I have 45 minutes for hair and make-up and dressing and getting on me tights will take half of that, before we need to get Sean in to warm up.
I don’t like to make an audience wait. G says we can go on 15 minutes later. She has been talking to the promoter. Apparently 8:15 is a bit of a thing in Germany. Go on at 8 o’clock and you’re on time. 5 minutes later and you are late. 10 minutes later and you’re late. 15 minutes later at 8:15 and you’re back on time again.
No one blinks an eye at 8:15. Maybe that’s why they were all late at that gig the other night.
We ‘roast beefs’ as I seem to remember the French calling us, are strangers to the power of 8:15.
As it happens, I was super speedy. My hair was curly enough from tying it back wet. I sprayed the bastard, flattening the pubes as best I could. That’ll do. Face on. Dressed. Heeled. Packed for the car.
I have a brown bread sandwich on my rider but they’ve given me white. Nick finds me a whole meal roll and transfers the filling into it. Good thinking.
When I mention this on the phone later to my husband he says dryly, yeah, that’s not likely to make the book. I laugh. The mundanity and repetitiveness of touring is not how it looks in the Movies. Spinal Tap being less fiction than a novice might imagine.
We have one single stall toilet for everyone backstage. I can’t get in for a wee before I put my big tights on.
We have managed to get sorted in time. The whole door knocking routine has happened and Dougie leads us up or down the metal stairs ( I forget which already) and we are side stage.
Cue sounds and off go, following each other by the torchlight Dougie throws a cross the luminous strips of tape that guide us to our positions and we’re away.
Sweet Jesus I can hear. I can hear myself and that I am singing what I intended to sing. Glorious relief like being a kid and getting told you don’t need any fillings. Or finding all your credit cards when you think you might have left them in the train next to your PIN number. Or pick a winner.
I was so so relieved. So happy. So safe. I could exhale and consequently refill my lungs without restriction.
It felt like my best sing this year. Tape may prove otherwise but it’s a safe-ish punt.
I wondered for a while if this audience may have been an Alf audience. An 80’s audience.
I wouldn’t have blamed them for that. A couple of these venues like to advertise you as ‘80’s Pop’ doesn’t matter if you tell them you are doing a set of shake noises and stiletto Tao dancing, they still paste you up as ‘80’s Pop’
I fucking hate it when they do that.
Getting people in under false pretences or through sheer ill informed laziness. And then everyone suffers except for them
As it happens I am reconnected with plenty of old material and it has a decent place in my set, but it is far from being a merely a breezy nostalgia fest. There are challenges and some tracks are not from well sold records, never mind that they deserved to be.
Anyway. For a while I wondered if that was the case here. I needn’t have been concerned. Yes they loved the hits. They loved to be awash in familiar song. Who doesn’t. But it was much more than this. They were here to listen and engage and be immersed. It was a delight to me that one of the biggest reactions was to ‘Hollow’, a song from my most ignored album ‘The Turn’ which boasts to me some very special songs that were lost for whatever reason. I don’t even think it was released here. I love them for that openness.
It’s not a personal thing. Everyone has a baby that has fallen through the floorboard, figuratively speaking. You always hope someone will find them. I always hope that but don’t count on it.
We left the stage beaming and I went straight to the car. There was a young man pleading a selfie with me. He was smiley but it was cold. I was running sweat and I had a face like a Watermelon, looking much like a sweaty goth on speed who is old enough to do better. Fuck that for a game of tits and teeth. I don’t want to be signing 20 copies of that baby when next I’m in Town.
G up front with Nick and me blinking mascara out of my stinging eyes we head back to the hotel. Mightily relieved and very happy with our work.
Back at the hotel, still noticing the fact that there are lots of lady only parking spaces, I wonder again if they are for women’s safety, or because they’re saying women can’t park, cos I can.
Loaded with bags we check in. Hit the lifts where I say goodbye to G and see you tomorrow to Nick, I get to my room.
Bum. No bath.
The bed is single.
The duvet slender.
When I lay it across me I feel like a Cream Puff.
I call home and we talk for an age and I am happy and feel like sleep will meet me tonight.
We say goodbye reluctantly and I turn to the telly with my cheese roll.
Only English speaking program is Ex On The Beach. That’s a shit-shower.
I can’t complain.
I’ve had my lucky today.