The Ten Steps tour reaches London and we find ourselves on the legendary Kings Road, performing in the basement of the Pizza Express (Pheasantry). It’s as busy as you’d expect it to be at 5 o clock on a weekday, ‘Storm Model’ Agency sits alongside a stationary shop called ‘Scribbles’ (what a brilliant name!) I’m reminded of a friend from another chapter who was on the books, of my Dad’s time living here in the late 60s and early 70s…what was it like? I mean I have heard the stories, seen the footage, but none of us can know how it felt to be a part of the swinging 60s and punk scene that eventually followed.
We load in and the sound engineer Alessandro greets us warmly and he seems like such a warm character. He’s clearly excited about the Dulcimer too, there’s a dressing room with space for a bit of yoga, this is going well!
The acoustic treatment in the room provides a clarity to our sound that feels fresh and oh so welcome. The set up itself is also clearer now, stands, mics and instruments fall into place and I a sense some sort of resolution as we complete the set up this time. That’s ‘how it’s done’, and we are ready. My friends come and I am so pleased to see them. Faces and hearts from different chapters of life, now all smiling and open. This must be one of the unique benefits to being a travelling musician. Having these (often spontaneous) mini reunions and snapshots of time with people you don’t see regularly any longer, I am blessed.
You can get hung up on little things whilst on the road. Cable adaptors, wooden forks, crackly inputs and your preferred flask. The yoga routine helps to wash away a lot of this irrelevant noise and I focus on the show. I’ll be present again, tonight, dive in and we’ll compose a new song – what a thrill!
The first act flows in a way that feels natural – do we have the songs in our hands now? like the dough balls they’re serving upstairs, it feels we can shape them as we see fit.
In the second half I leave the stage as Max dives in to the present moment and composes and performs a new piece. I’m in the audience now and i join them in awe of this master craftsmen, my dear friend Max. The fluency he displays on his instrument is breathtaking, and it’s a language we all understand. I think about what Max is saying here, tonight, my pen hovers above the page and my head turns to the busy Kings Road above – a daily carnival of beautiful people from almost all corners of the globe. During our short stay in Mayfair this week i’ve loved walking the streets and hearing the many layers of language that soundtracks these streets. These images of harmony contrast the horrific, bloody scenes that beam through the glass of my iphone news updates, all of this pours into the page – the lyrics are below for the curious reader.
During Hammerhead after the first couple of the lines of the verse, I realised I had left a chapter out of the story in the intro to the song. I surprised myself by spontaneously stopping singing and finishing my story. This might only be a small thing but it felt as though this had an impact in the room, that was new to me. It re contextualised the lyrics, when I did eventually return to them. What I’ll take away from tonight’s gig is that I’m free to do this, to break from convention if I choose to, and thats a liberating feeling to take into tonight’s gig at the Ropetackle.
Lyrics from the live improvised song
the war of words looms large
images imprinted in our hearts
the back of your eye lids
scenes you cant unsee
history unravels in sequence
we orbit our ancestors perfectly
the anger sewn like seeds blossoms now like blood
we lose ourselves in the flow
Take your lover’s heart
lead them way past the start
feel the weight carry you to mornings dew
it was always me and you