In the words of the great Kinky Friedman, tonight was ‘another show in my hip pocket’. Or our collective hip pocket, in this case, which suggests that we’re sharing one giant, vaguely octopoid pair of trousers – if you count Roo’s cycling shorts, the second most disturbing trousers of the evening. (Out of sheer curiosity, that phrase garners no exact Google matches)
Like any gig, though, dig a little below the surface and there’s more to be had. Tonight was probably our least-rehearsed gig ever. Whilst we’ve been scrutinising the songs that we’ve been writing down to a level of detail that would embarrass the writers of ‘CSI’*, crucially, what we haven’t been doing is practising them for the last six months. It was great to perform again, great to banter with the crowd and great to discover that we can pull a worthwhile performance out of the bag and still be relaxed enough to enjoy the experience; for while the technical execution might not have been there this evening, we were still able to communicate what the songs were about, still able to get a crowd interested in songs they’d not heard before and we were still relaxed enough on stage to enjoy the experience and laugh at the mistakes.
The compliments that we received this evening were doubly flattering because we know that we were rusty – so the kind words were not for the performance but for the songs that we’ve written; laboured over and loved. That’s brilliant to hear. The thing to hang on to, then, is how lucky we are. We’re lucky to have met and clicked at the right time in our musical careers, lucky to have been inspired as we have, lucky to have supportive loved ones and fans who have kept us going, lucky to have a home venue like The Vaults.
When you hear strangers tell you how great you think the songs are, it’s easy to get cocky. It’s easy to start thinking that somehow you deserve success and global recognition, money and legions of fans, world tours and a golden trilby. The thing is, the instant you start thinking you deserve success, whether you have it or not, then you have to face the probability that you don’t. That you’re just fucking lucky. That there’s probably a guy sitting in his living room a hundred yards from where you’re playing that’s considerably better than you. Or would have been a hundred times better but never took it up.
On the other hand, if you’re too humble, you just wouldn’t play. You’d simply make way for the next guy, the better musician, the better looking singer, the younger, more charismatic band who might just make it. A certain amount of faith in your own songs is needed.
So we’re doubly lucky: not only for the reasons listed above but also to be in the sweet spot of getting just enough kind words about the songs to keep us believing that we’re doing something musically worthwhile but being able to remember just how lucky we are. Some kids grow up and never see a guitar. Some bands form and never get the breaks. Some bands get the early break and can’t resist the temptation to feel entitled and become insufferable pricks.
Some bands get the privilege of having time and resources to write songs, to play them in friendly venues to lovely people and to receive praise and encouragement at every step. If we ever get complacent or ungrateful about that, then feel free to put us in our places. Tonight may have been a low-key support slot but it was also a powerful reminder of just how good life can be. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Unlimited love.
Layers out.*Coming soon: CSI Tetbury: “Someone’s stolen this antique fountain pen.” – “Let’s get fingerprints, hair samples, DNA.” – “No need. It was bound to be Dave. He was in earlier and he’s always a bit light fingered when he’s back on the skag…”