Miles Cookman is a singer/songwriter who moonlights as the lead-singer of rock band Kellys Heroes.
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For Those About To .......
I wrote an entry a little while ago about having toothache which seemed to touch a nerve (ha ha!) with a few people. It gets mentioned quite a lot so the memory of that weekends gigs is still pretty fresh in my mind. Last night was the first time that I have returned to the venue of the 'toothache' gig.
Driving down there, Ian and I joked about the hilarity of my previous suffering and that this time it was Friday the 13th so what could possibly go wrong? Oh what funny scamps musicians are...
On arrival, we walked in to the pub to be greeted with the smell of a school canteen. Not what you expect from a pub but we went with it. The 'stage' area was still covered with tables, empty glasses and (funnily enough) drinkers. It's always annoying when this happens because you hope to god that the landlord or whoever is going to sort it out because you don't want to. Having to move tables, chairs, glasses and people, can be tricky for musicians. If you have ever seen the inside of a musicians house, you will know that its usually filled with tables, chairs, glasses and people so we are not used to moving said items. Instead, we just piled up all our gear in the corner hoping that the tables and chairs would notice and wander off of their own accord. They didn't so we went and found the barman.
After the burger that was on the floor had been cleaned up (by the dog) we set about setting up. A jolly ritual that most bands have down pat. Witty banter is tossed back and forth, comments on decor and clientele are avoided and interaction with the locals is kept to a minimum. After all, we are professionals. Then our friend appeared.
She was a lady in her forties. Slim, long hair, a bit weathered but most importantly... alone. She seemed to have no problem with talking at us. Not necessarily to us but at us. She did ask what sort of music we 'do' but that was it. She talked about all the bands she knew, how often she drinks here, who the good bands were, how often she drinks here, all the bands she knew, how often she drinks here etc. Luckily we had stuff to be getting on with so she was kept at arms length. After soundcheck was a different story.
The break between soundcheck and performance is a horrible one. So far, all you've done is move half the pub around, take up a lot of room, make random drum noises and annoy everyone. When you have finished doing that, you usually have half an hour to kill. You go to the bar, maybe have a fag and then sit as near to the gear as possible. Avoiding eye-contact with locals who think that you are too loud. In this case, we actually sat on the gear (the PA speakers anyway) and waited for our start time. There we were chatting away when our friend comes over. She ploughs straight through us looks me in the eye and says, "Don't be nervous".
Now I've been playing in bands since I was 15 and nerves aren't really something I suffer from so this came as a shock. Do I look nervous? Was I acting nervous? Oh god! Now I'm nervous!
"Don't be nervous. I've seen loads of bands. You've got nuffink to worry abaht" she slurred. I think she might have been drunk. Just guessing. The rest of the band are in fits of laughter. I suddenly feel about 12. After she has repeated this phrase about five times, we manage to turn her away. She slinks back to her seat in front of Ian (thank god) and we get ready to start.
Half way through song number three, our new friend gets up and starts dancing. This is quite tricky to 'Black Night' but she's giving it a go. At one point she stacks-it and rolls around on the floor for a bit. I think she was trying to be provocative but it was kind of hard to tell. Either way, no one in the band openly acknowledges her movements (although I have a sneaking suspicion that Ian was enjoying it) and we continue on through the set. We make plenty of references to this being my first ever gig and how nervous I am. We must have been convincing because several people said how good I coped, considering it was my first time. Bless 'em.
It is tradition in our band to finish our first set with the epic and preposterous 'Stairway to Heaven'. Don't ask why, just accept it. Anyway, we are reaching the climax of the song, I'm going on about 'winding down the road' when I notice that our friend is throwing up... a lot. She is sat at her table vomiting. Mostly on the floor but her aim isn't that great. It's very hard to concentrate on singing when you see something like that. The poor people sat near her are staring open mouthed, unsure what to do. I have to tear myself away so we can do the big finish but when I look back she is now slumped on the table in a heap. Oops!
During the break, mops spring in to action (just like in Fantasia) and everything is cleared up. The poor woman is escorted outside and that's the last we see of her. It is worth noting that this is the second time in recent memory that a woman has thrown up in front of Ian at a gig. 'nuff said.
The rest of the gig went really well. The place got packed and everyone was thoroughly entertained. I was left however, with an odd feeling about what had gone before. It made me wonder how a person allows themselves to get in to that position? How other people can allow someone to get in to that position? She was obviously lonely. I don't know why she was lonely but loneliness is a horrible thing for anyone to endure. Music is meant to bring people together. To unite and bring cheer. It's always sad when that doesn't happen, even for just one person. It makes me think that we must all try a little harder.
I'm not entirely sure how to end this so I shall just quote Lord Chesterton,
"No animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkeness - or so good as drink."