This gig came after a crazy but fun week of travel and gigs. For several years now, I have followed the band Combichrist to several dates on their UK tour, and so it was that I saw them in Glasgow, Manchester, and London in the space of three days, drinking with them after each gig as they made rare appearances at after-parties, before heading to Brighton to see them on their final date three days later. This tour saw them embrace their gradual expansion from a duo to a full five-piece band, band members joining those on stage one by one over the course of the first eight songs – it was an interesting concept, which worked beautifully, and also saw Shaun F back in the band after a six year hiatus. An absolutely fantastic week, truly memorable, and great fun. The experience was shared with other dedicated fans who also made the trip up and down the country to several dates, and so it is something we will all recount for a long time yet.
An unexpected surprise came in the form of an email I read after getting back to my hotel in Manchester – their PR company, on the recommendation of the band’s manager, asked if I could write a short fan review of them. It has been written and accepted, so barring any further edits or omission due to lack of space, my review will hopefully surface at the end of this month, in a place that I haven’t made public yet, sorry. Even if it doesn’t make the cut, being asked was still a pleasant addition to an already great week.
My set tonight was due to be ten minutes long, for the first time at The Halt, but I didn’t time it. Instead, I bundled together all the new material I have been writing and accumulating/assimillating over the year, adding in a new bit I want to use in the Jerry Generic character act. My theory is that if it works as a lay joke, it will work in character. In hindsight, I actually missed out a couple of jokes that I used once or twice then forgot about.
My aunt and uncle came to see me perform, and it was nice of them to make the effort. They recently became grandparents for the first time, and they reminded me of the times when I used to write pantomimes for all of us kids to perform to the adults on Christmas Days long past. Really, I’ve always written in some way or another, and my aunt told me she reckons it’s where I’ll make my fortune. At this point, I’m not convinced I’ll ever make my fortune, but writing is something I do rather enjoy and – with the relative success in the reception of my short film, and having been asked personally to supply a review of my favourite band – I continue to have very, very moderate success with it. One day I’ll do the redraft of my novel too, which had mild interest and decent reviews when I first tried to pursue publication with it. I need to remove all the libellous bits though.
I managed to get badly sunburned in the three hours I spent sitting on a bench in Brighton, and there was no way of avoiding mentioning it up front. It was so bad that I considered withdrawing from the gig in advance – it would make me self-conscious enough if I were still in a sunny seaside resort, but now I am back in a city that has had nothing but rain all week, making me look not just like an idiot, but an idiot with an inexplicable affliction. Instead, not wanting to cancel at such short notice, I took the stuff I’d written on facebook about it – how my face is so red that someone tried to post a letter in my mouth – and used it to open my set.
Other bits followed – all new but none brand new – about defibrillators and finding dead bodies, George Square and film franchises. The mic cable was damaged, and so the mic had to remain in its stand throughout. Usually the first thing I do is remove it and place the stand behind me, so that was a wee bit of a challenge and rooted me to the spot. Ordinarily, I’d be standing tall at the very front of the stage – imposing and confident.
Despite this minor hiccup, and a couple of interruptions to my right, the set went pretty well. My uncle seemed genuinely impressed with the confidence of my delivery and stage presence, and my aunt enjoyed the underlying silliness that pervades much of my humour, even the ostensibly menacing stuff. The bit I wanted to try out for the Jerry Generic set went kind of okay, I think it can be made to work with practice, and as it involves directly addressing someone in the audience I need to build my confidence with that. I think if that character act is going to work then I need to put more of myself into it, and (as in normal gigs) give myself room to deviate from the script. I think it’s a case of getting into the right mindset in order to think onstage as the character, but that is a completely new experience for me and one that will take time to perfect, or even address.
I stuck around to watch some of the other acts, but a week of partying, travelling, gigs, and checking in and out of hotels had left me knackered, and so eventually I bailed during the headliner’s set.
This is the second of three blogs I need to write, and the next one will be about the gig I did in Balloch this evening. It was boisterous, to say the least…