The following was written 25 minutes after the gig, sat on tarmac waiting for the train (it was platform 12 and the 2324). It is purging through typing. (also, people imagine I carry this misery with me for days afterwards, but it is a picture of specific post gig frame of mind.)
When you have failed at a gig, everyone in the busy streets before you was there.
Sure, the room may have only had 200, 100 or 50 people there, but now, every casual late night browser by the shoe shop window sees you reflected and nudges their partner, “there’s that bloke that was shit”.
All that has happened before, all the triumphant gigs and celebrations are forgotten hastily, you’re in this business to feel shame and judgement.
When you walk through the streets after a great show, you don’t feel as if everyone sitting opposite you on the bus or bench is thinking, “wow, there’s the guy who was briliant”, then you wander from spotlight glow and approbation to anonymity. Failure is more potent. It has glue. Horrible, sour-syrupy, gloopy glue, and it is on you.
I have generally kept to my promise of a gig-less life, though I do the lovely Old Rope new material night and most benefits I am asked to do. It would be mean-spirited not too, though after tonight’s showing at Gloom Aid, it would have been more generous to have said no.
It was Monkey Cage recording day, so Brian, Sash (our excellent producer), and I spent the day talking sex and statistics. This was the subject, not a leisurely pecadillo chat before the hard physics. I think the recording went well. Not our best of the series, but hopefully fun and informative ,especially when it came to the sexual allure of Henry III and the statistical interrogations of Alfred Kinsey. (As Liam Neeson played Kinsey in the film of that name, I am plagued by images of the statistician saying, “I will find you, and I will kill you…unless you are utterly truthful about the number of times you have partaken in anal sex”).
I then scooted off (yes, I scoot, but not on a scooter, I don’t have a beard) to Old Rope. I had no time to gather my new material, so strode on with Pukka Pad in hand and Duffel coat still on, and projected fury and nonsense. I necked a beer with my mouth and hand, the second since Monkey Cage, and rushed to the 100 Club for Gloom Aid (in aid of the excellent charity CALM). Max and Ivan were being splendid as I arrived. Adam Riches then performed a superb Sean Bean exhibition, then it was me. The host could not see me as he want to introduce me. There was some fiddle faddling, so I just wandered up and said, “here I am”.
This was mistake one. It broke the rules of walking on to applause. They didn’t know me, and by breaking these laws, they valued me less. Then, I picked the wrong idea to start with. Knowing I was tired and stupid, I should have begun with something big and noisy and ridiculous, especially as Adam Riches had delighted them so much with his virtuoso Sean Bean. The second beer was a mistake, it dulled my frontal lobes. There was no connection with the audience. My improvising spirit, that had been hectic and lunatic at Old Rope, was dead. I squandered my time trying to fulfill my obligation with anything my head could find. I underwhelmed, and for too long too.
You have pooped the party.
The splendid evening is deflated.
You sneak out behind the promoters back, carrying your disease.
Only the night before I had bathed in praise when I had been the last minute host of a film award ceremony (and had a lovely chat with Tom Courtenay), only 48 minutes before I had been a live wire at Old Rope, now I was a chewed sponge in a bin.
And that is what I carry with me, the squibbery drowns any triumph, the triumph was an illusion. It is lost.
And so I turn to Malcolm Middleton’s A Happy Medium, it is jaunty.
“Woke up again today, realise I hate myself. My face is a disease”
(and then I moved on to Yes by McAlmont & Butler and Rubber Ring/What She Said (live) by The Smiths)
I am less bad on the Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles (with Mark Gatiss, Stewart Lee, Sara Pascoe, Chris Hadfield and more) I Don’t want to sing these shits anymore – when the good night goes bad HERE
Our Vitriola music podcasts, including our Bowie tribute, are HERE