14.03.2004 13:35 - A Vindication (Of Sorts)
Last night I stood up on an \"Offene Bühne\" (Open Mic Night) and played three songs. All on my own. I hate to blow my own trumpet, but it went down quite well. I got what was possibly the biggest reward of the night : 7 Beer Tokens (real beer tokens, not slang for money).
It was also a personal vindication for me, as for a while, I\'ve been suffering from stage-fright.
This all began when \"DeadEndStreet\" was still in existence. We did a gig in some far-off place arranged by someone. Basically it was a birthday party gig, with borrowed equipment. The PA was unmarked, so it was difficult to get good sound. I wasn\'t in the best of health and was, to put it mildly, so tired I kept dropping off. The first set was good, the second wasn\'t. It didn\'t make much difference as not many were listening, except two Kinks fans who\'d come down to hear us. They weren\'t too keen on us as we were doing \"the hits\" so to speak : the popular 60\'s stuff that everyone remembers, rather than more obscure stuff from the 70\'s, 80\'s and 90\'s.
The trouble was, after they expressed their opinions, one of our band-members became somewhat disenchanted with the rest of us, and started bringing a lot of pressure to bear on the others. There was a certain amount of muttering in corners, especially after the person in question started openly criticising my playing and singing. I countered that I was having to carry most of the load because I was the only one in the group who could play the lead stuff. Then he started criticising that, mainly saying that I wasn\'t playing note-perfect copies of the leads. It was diplomatically decided that I would let this person sing a few more songs. The person in question then started demanding key-changes for the songs he wanted to sing : something he\'d been dead against for me, as he insisted he\'d learnt the song in that key.
That\'s when I started getting sharp stabbing pains in the back.
The coup de gracé was administered the following Monday. I wasn\'t there as I was ill. The person in question confronted the other two members and threatened that unless he sang everything, that he would leave. The other two diplomatically said that if that was the way he felt, then they should play two songs he had prepared and see what it sounded like. They did so, and apparently it was quite evident to them that he was not a satisfactory front-man. He packed up and left. The band continued for a while, but this month it became obvious that our Drummer had serious health problems and so we knocked it on the head.
I didn\'t realise that because of this, I\'d suffered what would be called in some circles \"psychic scarring\". This, in laymans terms, meant that the constant put-downs of my former bandmate had gotten to me. The first time I stood up to perform after this debacle was at the UKMG Wigan get-together. Despite having an excellent backing band - Jim Nugent and his Son, James - things went a bit awry and by the time I got off the stage I was shaking like a leaf. It has to be said that Jim did the best thing he possibly could to counter this - got me out of the bar and away from the stage and into a chip shop up the road - for which I am enormously grateful. The next time that I got up in front of people was at Martin Iordanidis\'s wedding, and about an hour before that I really freaked out. I couldn\'t remember the song I was going to play. The words, chords, everything had vanished. It took a lot to get up there, but when I did, everything came back and it went well. I was still shaking like a leaf, though.
I didn\'t even think of playing in front of people until last night. My german teacher had noticed that the \"Offene Bühne\" was on and persuaded me to play. As the place was named after a Kinks album, I thought I\'d play three songs from \"DeadEndStreet\"s repertoire. Then the old fears raised their ugly head. Was my voice actually good enough? Could I do a solo spot with nothing but an acoustic? Was I going to make a fool of myself. I wasn\'t shivering when I got up to play, but I was very nervous. The previous act had gone down rather badly.
I went down an absolute storm.
The soundman was singing along with the choruses. Afterward he thanked me.(!) My German teacher said that it came across that I was really into the music, and several members of the audience congratulated me. I did two songs and then asked the audience if they wanted more. They wanted more. I have never felt so vindicated in my life.
Quite where I go from here, I don\'t know, but I\'ll see what happens.