The show must go on!
“I have a pocket full of Meat!” she exclaims as she says her final Goodnights.
We have just done probably the hardest gig this tour, and it is now around 1 45am.
We were definitely told that this could be a logistical conundrum, but we took no notice, believing that as it was:
a) The penultimate gig,
b) We had, to date, done 15 concerts back to back, and
c) We were good at this.
But as we enter the familiar club where we had played two years ago, the large flat screen, Dolby sound, HD TV screen seems to take up an ominously important position in the middle of the stage where we are supposed to be playing.
Tonight is an important Football game for Germany. The European Final between two German teams, played on English soil. Already weird and meaningless!
But whereas the Football is definitely the main course, we are booked as the Starter and the rather uninteresting and, often unwanted, Dessert!
The website advertising this event gives away something: “20 hours sharp! Champions League meets JEM”. (Strict and confusing!)
So our brief is to play 30 minutes before the game starts, and then an additional hour after the game. (Please God! No Penalty shoot outs, or we’ll be there tll breakfast!)
My attempt to establish a set list is greeted with derision and scorn by Jem: “It’ll be fine, don’t worry….. We’ll do the usual”.
So we start to play, and despite the accurate calculation that our first familiar five songs with banter would normally take us easily to the allotted 30 minutes, we are done and totally dusted within 18 minutes, and walking off stage ready for the game. Ooops!
“What happened there?” Jem asks.
“But you should play more!” the hostess exclaims running up to the stage, “I think you need to play two more songs!”
I have by now already left the building!
Meanwhile the crowd is getting restless, and the TV is showing the pre-game warming up commentary, but unlike the soundcheck earlier, the huge HD Monolith is totally without Sound!!!
So there’s me thinking that they are naffed of with us for finishing early, whereas the truth is that they are complaining that they can’t hear the Game! It’s ‘Football for the deaf!’
FINALLY…… It gets sorted, and the PA, which we had set specifically for us, is ‘manhandled’ to pump out the Wembly experience to the crowd of mixed German supporters, some supporting Munich, and others Dortmund. (both Dutch to me and Jem!!)Half way through the first half it is decided that we should play two additional songs, announce the new album, and make up for previously lost playing time.
Three minutes later it is decided that we now won’t play in the interval as the sound of the TV could be affected thus disturbing the second half! (give me a break……!!)
Meanwhile tiredness is seriously setting in big time!
It is now 10 30pm and the game still hasn’t finished. Come on someone out there, score a frigging goal!!!
FINALLY Munich scores, and serge ahead to win the championship. Elation and relief for most, and total indifference from me……. I am now losing the will to live, never mind play our next set of tunes.
” Will you welcome back to the stage; Jem Cooke!”
Oh Good!! 11.15pm and we’re starting again!
Are they still here? Have then given up? Decided to call it a day? Definitely No!
To a Damen und Herren, they stay and brave out the final set, while I experience a few ‘Out of Body’ moments, and Jem warbles through songs we had long since forgotten! We get to the real piano, and finally reach that point where tiredness, emotion and alcohol merge, and there ‘s a collective “Ahhhhh” as we finish our ‘Wonderful You’ song.
Time to wrap up, and we reach our familiar ending, with what we call our ‘Cheesy Bow’ to the audience.
Three encores later (!?) we finally finish.
“I think they liked it,” our Promoter excitedly shouts out,“ Come Jem, sign these cards!”
As we leave the building for the last time, we are all slightly punch drunk with the events of this evening, and get a little hysterical as we walk with our hand luggage back to the hotel, appearing like homeless wanderers, hoods up in the rain, looking for the nearest bridge under which we imagine we should sleep for the night. Bizarre indeed! It is times like this you definitely question the sanity of this profession, and wonder if there is a better way. But for now, one more to go, and ready yet again for the show to go on…….