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Brighton April 2005

Onstage at the Arts Club

It had been almost 6 months since I last played live. I wasn't sure whether I'd still remember how to drum in front of people. It's like that - when I'm not at the kit I don't think about how to drum so I can never assume I still know how. The venue was lovely - an old Gentleman's club, with a warren of rooms filled with mahogany furniture and chandeliers and paintings of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, and Calexico album covers on the walls. (I presume instead of portraits of the founding fathers of the club).

I got extremely nervous before the start of the show. As we started with Dream Spider, I knew that that song would be OK. We've played it so much I know I can play it on autopilot, no matter how nervous or distracted (or drunk) I am. But then we launched into Dark Dreams Aboard the Hesperus - a song we've never played live before. It took me most of the song to remember how to stick in some extra snare beats, and changing between the verses and choruses was tricky. I also realised the whole band was playing incredibly fast, too. After Mr Mystery's Mother, a brief rest (and embarrasing squeaky Clarinet problem during a solo I play in the Narrison) and a messy but fun Clop's Birthday, we launghed into the portion of the set with all the really difficult and/or new songs. Miss Twinkle - improvised jazz style plus a 6/8 middle-8 that is always more luck than skill to get to the end of. Old McGhee - a chance to rock out but in 7/8 so difficult to consistently keep the hi-hat and co-ordination going without missing beats. Night of the Macaw - latin-feel and also fairly quick - I've adapted a Mambo which takes a lot of bell-work and interplay between toms and hi-hat.

Once we got to the final 3rd of the set I could relax. And feel less nervous! The drums on Raven's Treasureare always a bit improvised, but I can do rolls and paradiddles in a 4/3, military style, although my execution isn't perfect. Blubberhouses and Luminous Creatures are faux-jazz and as long as I keep the swing going they sound good. The Ballad of Johnny Freak was new, but it has a really fun floor-tom break in it and I keep the hi-hat open on 1 and 3 throughout the whole song to keep it moving along. We never rehearse the Captain's Song, but it always goes ok. It's crashy and I've got some funny bell-dings in it. We did the encore before going off stage - 2 Monochrome Set numbers, both with a fast swing - The Ruling Class and The Jet Set Junta. By the end of these two my right arm was ready to fall off. Luckily, that was the end and I was drum-happy enough by then.

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