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York. Barbican. 19th Nov.

November 21, 2017

We left our Bristol hotel at midday and made our way to York.

Another beautiful city I will but dip a curtsy to and never get past a By Your Leave.
We headed straight for the venue for my soundcheck and Vinny took our cases to check in to our rooms.
Back stage was rather arena like.
Concrete blocks lego-brick neat.
My room was large and boasted a long bank of make-up table, a shower room and cubicle toilets. The type of space which would accommodate a chorus.
It was to my shame later that I discovered that which had been allocated to John and Sean, and in which they had spent their day, was small even only for one.
They are good natured in the extreme.
The men and women working this tour have long, long days.
The crew who start in at 9am and finish around midnight, have precious little time for recreation between, and then are met with few comforts.
It is testament to their mettle that they turn in such fine work month upon month, and with good cheer.
It is a vocation indeed and I have been blessed by their talents and their company.

We sound checked early, so I put in my curlers and then I had dinner, looking not unlike Vera Duckworth. I was joined half way through by some of the crew and was able to enjoy their bantz and our community.

In my room the odds are getting upped in my audio Weaveworld and I was ready with plenty of time to spare.

When it was time for the boys to come in for warm up, instead Dougie appeared.
Did I see his text?
No.
There is a problem with the seating.
It is of a demountable nature and having been taken down for the band playing a standing show the night before, its reconstruction did not appear safe.
There was too much movement.
We would either be going on late or the show would be pulled.
Neither of these options are remotely good, but a collapsed tangle of metal and audience must be prevented at all costs.
The short of it was that the seating was eventually made and certified safe.
Both Hannah and I had to cut a song to meet curfew and we both took to the stage some 30 or 40 minutes later than we were scheduled.

That in itself is stressful to me.

I am always ready well in time to meet my commitment.
I arrive and stay at the venue a minimum of 3 hours before showtime.

I remember playing Liverpool, once, the hall I am in fact playing tomorrow, and due to a problem that the venue was experiencing, my onstage time was delayed for half an hour or so. In the wings ready and waiting as I was.

The subsequent review I got was skin peeling.
It was a thoughtless, arrogant arsehole that stained the stage that night.
I had made all wait on my rude, feckless whim.
This was his fact.

I even replied to it online explaining, but he was having none of it.
The show went up late and at my behest.

I have a horror of making people wait, always half thinking they are there under sufferance anyway.

I was anxious, thus, that the crowd would be feeling the same as any of us when a flight delay is announced.

The auditorium is of a steep bleacher seat configuration.
Giving the impression that the audience was both close and sky bound.
The sound onstage, even with James’ talent for second guessing my ears, proved all night however to be a force I needed to work against.
It was the kind of sound where any semitone might imitate the pitch of the next, so I had to rely on my muscle memory more than usual.
I convinced myself people would be upset with me for making them wait.
I thought I read displeasure.
My head was winding me up, poking me, and yet confounding this, approval came in response to what I had to say and resonated at the end of every song.
I was fighting the sound and my feet and my inner turmoil, and I was pushing myself into the song like a frigid cat under a duvet.
Cover me.
Here was not a crowd that moved until the very last, and being of pop vintage it is easy to assume they have not been adequately enticed or rewarded, and then it becomes clear.
They had been listening. Concentrating.
Connecting.
The very thing I long for yet find so hard to recognise.
In the end, my fatigue was wearing me like a dress, and it felt good.
Immediately after, and in the car, Vinny and I made for the hotel where I was awake until I was not.

Post Script.

The next day I fell upon a link to a review by Ian Donaghy for The York Press.
Yes. I read reviews.
It floored me with its openness to me. Unused as I am to what feels like unbiased appraisal.
What feels like.
Here I feel as though I had been seen.
My chest thrummed with happiness.

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