Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sign of the times

Now I don't know about you, but I for one am outraged. How dare they suggest that us, the 'ladies and gents of the band', would ever use naughty words, and in doing so suggest that the Chicago Blues Brothers themselves wouldn't?!?

More about that in a minute. On to much weightier matters… I’ve had a cold all this week. It’s been awful. No really, it has. I know that like all 6 ft tall men (that's 183cm for my younger readers, assuming that I have any) I’m a complete wimp, and anyway it wasn’t a cold, it was flu, and man-flu at that- but it’s been awful! AWFUL! I nearly sneezed my bloody brains out! Argh! I even had to forgo helping Stu at the theatre on Thursday, such was the terrible depths of my suffering. Fortunately I woke up yesterday morning feeling a bit better (although that doesn’t alter the fact that I still felt awful, I just didn’t feel quite as awful as I’d felt earlier in the week) and I even called Pete to tell him how horrific my week had been; he’d been up all night working on the brochure for our upcoming theatre shows. I suddenly felt a total fool for moaning, although this of course still doesn’t alter the fact that, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I felt awful… I also called Mario who was due to be coming along to the gig with us to warn him of the millions, maybe even billions of germs that could easily be lying in wait for him in the ensuing few hours; he didn’t sound too concerned (notice how I’ve avoided mentioning a possible but potentially heightist reason why) ‘though did say that he might call Tracy to go with her. In the event he came with us, seemingly oblivious to the frightening level of risk he was exposing himself to by doing so. And I still felt awful.
In a desperate attempt to launch ourselves into the 21st century (and to save me from looking blankly at slightly out-of-date maps and realising that I need a new pair of glasses) myself and the long-suffering Shirley have finally bought ourselves one of those new-fangled sat. nav thingys. An initial experiment during last week’s visit to Brighton was encouraging- but we already knew the way there; so what better way to test it out than to use it to find our way to The Mercury Theatre in Colchester?
When I woke up we were nearly at the Colchester turn-off on the A12. I didn't feel quite as awful as I had felt earlier which was a good thing, but I now had to attempt to work the sat. nav. which I hadn't yet switched on- well, you don't want to rely on these things do you? By the time I'd managed to get it to tell us where we were we'd already got lost. That's where following the signs for the theatre gets you eh? (Yeah I know, it's supposed to be on when you leave home- but that would just be silly wouldn't it?) Still we found it eventually- it was just around the corner from the Nip-pon Japanese restaurant; Shirley remarked that it had the same name as the well-known brand of ant killer just as the sat. nav. advised us to 'turn around where possible' and sent us in the opposite direction. Time for a map and some new specs then...
Colchester clearly specialises in amusingly-named oriental eateries as the Orientation Chinese restaurant is next to the Mercury Theatre. (Incidentally, did you know that the radio show that broadcast Orson Welles' interpretation of H.G. Wells' 'The War Of The Worlds' in America back in 1938- you know, the one where listeners thought that aliens really were invading Earth and that resulted in widespread panic- was called 'The Mercury Theatre On The Air'? Don't say you never learn anything here!) As we drove around the back of the venue to load our gear in I spotted a photo of our old drummer John Skelton on a poster for an upcoming T.Rextasy show. Good to see that it's all working out well for him as he agonised over whether or not he should join them. I threatened to poke him in the eye if he didn't!
With everything loaded in it's soundcheck time. It's our first theatre show since the end of May and, apart from Ian depping for a still-on-holiday Richard on saxophone it's an A-Team gig- Dave on trumpet, Ian on keyboards, Marc on drums, Squirrel on bass, Tracy on vocals and Mario and Mike as Jake and Elwood, with Pete on hand to direct operations and his wife Jayne along as wardrobe mistress. It's a significant show for Mike as it's pretty much a hometown gig for him (see the 'band blog' on our website for his thoughts on this) and, excellently, the show is sold out in advance. Soundcheck mostly consists of us running through 'Funky Nassau' (returning to the show for the first time in years) and the songs that the dancers (last seen with us at the Norwich shows back in April) will be joining us on; although these are different girls, backstage the sign remains the same... everything goes pretty much according to plan, and there's time to go for a drink across the road in The Hole in the Wall before returning to the theatre for a 7.30 show. Maybe Mike was nervous, or maybe we need to print bigger set lists- either way he introduced 'My Girl' several songs too early; we sent Tracy to tell him off. There's a few loose moments (like I say, it'd been a while since the last theatre show) with all of us admitting to the odd 'now what happens?' thought here and there, and I had at least one 'oh no, the paracetamol's worn off' moment when everything went a bit shaky- but it turned out to be a good show to return to theatreland with. I even got asked to sign some programmes afterwards, which doesn't happen too often. Excellent!
I feel much better today, which just goes to show that what I've thought all along is true- playing electric guitar really is good for you! I just hope Shirley didn't catch it...

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