I always get gig nerves and I’m always glad I do. They have a focusing effect and take me right to the heart of the moment, to the meaning of the performance. It never matters how big or small the audience is, gig nerves are always welcome as a physical sign that I’m engaging with what’s about to happen.
The process goes in stages for me. In the afternoon before a gig I become introverted, lost in the anticipation of what’s ahead. I withdraw, go into that space inside that’s exclusively mine. It’s a private room in Moon Towers to which no one but me has access. Only recently have I recognized this withdrawal as a positive thing. I used to worry that it was my body telling me I didn’t really want to perform but now I see it’s my body’s way of making sure I’m ready.
As I physically get ready for the performance – hair,make-up, dressing – I come out of that withdrawal and into the anticipatory stage. Giddiness follows and then readiness.
Taking to the stage last night with the most incredible band, the Alan Barnes Octet, I felt that I had rarely been more ready or more up for a gig. This tour, this music, this poetry, this performance period feels like a whole new level of experience, a different world. It’s not just the fact that every member of the band is a stellar musician in his own right or that together their alchemy is beyond the reach of words. It’s also the marriage of words and music, of Ariadne’s silver thread leading the way through a labyrinth of rhythms and sounds and vibrations that create a whole shimmering completeness. It’s an ecstatic experience to be in and of that process.
Kardomah94 is an exceptional place. It’s an arts space with an ethos of ‘can do, will do, and they do. It is a venue that serves artists and audiences equally well and it truly was a pleasure to be there.
As with the very best gigs, I don’t remember very much about last night. But I do remember the conversations afterwards, the people we touched, the rapture in the room at moments.
Pauline, a member of the audience gave me two drawings as a gift. A witch in an eggshell and me as a mermaid. How beautiful that she saw me as a mermaid. Thank you Pauline. And thank you to everyone who came last night. It was truly something.