What a miserable English winter!
I’ve stayed warm working hard to get things ready for Sunday’s gig at the Union Chapel in London. I foolishly thought I could do this without the help of a tour manager type of person—wrong! There’s been equipment to hire, lighting technicians to locate, video screens to get out of storage, US kit that needs UK power adaptors, interviews to schedule, and a bulging guest list to wrangle. I ended up declining several offers to videotape the performance from commercial companies, because there was always an agenda attached—selling DVDs or putting online adverts around the footage and so on. It all seemed too much so I’m reverting to the system that worked at the ICA, ie asking people to bring their own video cameras and sending me the footage to edit myself.
In fact, keeping it simple is probably the way to go. I decided a week ago that I’m not going to bother getting my full electronic live rig out of mothballs. So if you’re coming, don’t expect lots of snazzy synth sounds. For writing and arranging I always work with a piano anyway because it’s like a blank canvas. This will be about the essence of the songs, rather than the flashy production.
And the ‘and friends’ part is really going to just that! I’m delighted that Trevor Horn can make it, as well as Martin and Wendy from the Sprouts. Sadly Eddi Reader is off doing a gig of her own. There have been some last minute additions to the musical cast: a couple of former cohorts are flying in from California, and a noted instrumental soloist Pete Thoms from The Flat Earth got in touch with me and is now joining the fray. It’s been great corresponding with all these folks over the last couple of weeks, remembering what an eccentric and talented bunch they are. Fascinating how people remember different details about life on the road 25 years ago, or they remember the same things differently. Looking forward to exploring that a bit on Sunday.
We’ve stuck to our resolution not to rehearse. All the musicians are conscientious and want to sound at their best. So I’ve made a list of likely/possible songs for the set list, and told them they can do as little or as much homework as they like. I’ve got chord charts for most of my stuff because I’ve needed it in the past for brass, strings etc. Most of these musicians are the intuitive kind who just learn from listening. And we’ll have to stay flexible, because although 3 hours sounds like a long show, the time will probably fly by once we start playing, messing up, replaying and fixing the songs. I’ll have to watch the time closely because the Union Chapel in in a residential area and has a strict curfew at 10.30pm for live music. I wonder what happens then—they yank the power? You get struck by a bolt of ligthning from the Almighty? Oo–er, I’ll be quaking in my boots.
I’ve had a lot of requests to play the new song I debuted at TED, ‘Love Is A Loaded Pistol.’ I did it there with the lovely string quartet Ethel, who added a ton of atmosphere and harmonic support. It’ll sound quite exposed with just piano and voice, but hopefully I can convey the core of the song. It’s about Billie Holiday, who came to me in a dream with some lyrics she wanted me to set to music. I was over the moon that she had travelled through time to see me, but the lyrics were a bit crap, and I didn’t know how to tell her!
The evening’s not really about my new stuff, though I know people are dying to hear it so I may attempt one or two others off my upcoming album ‘A Map Of The Floating City.’
I’m really looking forward to Sunday. Surrounded by old friends, supported by Forum members and hardcore fans, it’ll be a great night even if we trip up!