Upon arriving in England’s former capital city Winchester, the beautiful Arc theatre was easy to find. However, Max and I found ourselves doing a few laps of the city centre’s one way system in a bid to find the loading bay! But what better city to be circling? So much history steeped in these streets, and as our little car bulging with Dulcimer/Guitars/Synths and Stomp boxes weaved through the lanes I let myself wonder how much has changed here. It’s one of those city centres that has respected its heritage, and the shops signs and ads feel more like temporary add ons as opposed to the wholesale demolition and reconstruction that many other places have received.
During a swift soundcheck I’m relieved that the in house engineer Tom is not only knowledgable on sound but kind and patient too. My set up for this tour has grown since the last time Max and I have done shows together, to include a piano, synth, sample pad, as well as the guitar and FX. Despite rehearsing with it, it still feels a bit fresh out of the box. Anyway, we get all the bits and bobs plugged in and retire to our Green room for tea.
What will we do? What will this be like this time? but we’re relaxed, we exchange genuine smiles and feel excited to be looking at each other face to face and doing this. We’ve talked a lot since he arrived in the UK on Monday about how great it is we get to do these shows, after all the writing and recording behind the glass, online. So we talk through the set list we agreed the day before, couple of changes.
That feels better, let’s do this!
‘The Perfect Circle’ is our opener- inspired by a poem by our friend and colleague Katie Whitehouse. She describes as an ode to the perfect circle of the 24 hour period, a prayer to remembering to seek out beauty within the daily grind. What is beauty? I guess we all define this differently. With this morning’s rain storm and traffic chaos it was simply the heat I felt upon entering the green room i’m writing from!
During this first set I’m playing but not fully in the zone. I can see where I wanna be but feel on the outside a little. A few micro mistakes throw me off. Thankfully I don’t sink but I’m gasping for air a little. The set list we picked feels a bit clunky at one point, when i play ‘Free Beer’ it jars a little, too much of a leap and a stark contrast to the sounds of the sun worshippers in Japan and the ‘Shizuka’ track that preceded it.
Later in the gig we try out something new for this tour. Max loves to improvise and on this tour I’ll be joining him – writing words inspired his music and then performing the results immediately.
Live songwriting like this is a new experience for me and at first I totally against the idea! But tonight I feel able to let myself do it. To let go and share whatever comes, whatever I have with the audience here. And I’m so glad I did, because this was a turning point in the gig, it felt as if we unlocked something and from this point to the finale of title track ‘Ten Steps’ we were in motion, together.
Today, Max is doing a workshop in Cobham. This evening we perform in Oxfordshire – Abingdon and then tomorrow a private showcase gig at Manchester Folk Festival.
I slept 4 hours last night and I could use a little more than that so will do yoga now and then try to relax. The curious amongst you will find the words I wrote on stage in Winchester last night below, thanks for reading and hope to see you in person at a show.
I take my head and turn back the page
this can’t be the only way
streets lined with history
painted with hypocrisy
pure! health! now! improve! faster! brighter!
we hear our ancestors howl
as we push our waste into the ground
plastic that won’t bend
those letters we forget to send
data lost in the wash
we choke our children’s children, that’s the cost
may we rise out of ourselves
may we let tomorrow shine
may we find another way
fore our choices are never benign
so hold up your lovers hand
kiss your mother now
sing laugh and dance
take my hand
inside i hear your whisper
I’ll dilute your rage
I can take my head and turn back the page