So I've been on a two week tour of the UK and France since last Thursday. The first 2.5 days were spent rehearsing with this great band who are backing me called I Am Your Autopilot. More on that later. But we did two radio sets, which was really fun and went pretty derned well I think. I did a bunch of internet filmed performances in the uk as well, and then finally did a tv show in Manchester for channel M. But that is where the dream becomes a nightmare...
SCHEDULING WAS ATROCIOUS! and basically they only left me three hours to sleep before getting up to drive to Manchester. Basically I got only 1 restless hour with my eyes closed. I was a mess. Still, the performance went really well...
It's when I got up the next day, having missed a whole night of sleep, to get on the plane to travel to France where I would perform on the ultra cool One Shot Not show that the shit hit the fan. I woke up seriously sick. Like deep chest cough, awful flu, misery. The plane ride was easy, but as we descended the pain in my ear, head and neck was FIERCE and we went directly to rehearsals... I'm sure I looked like a green-fleshed zombie, and the first thing I encounter is some very nice guys who tell me I will be filmed upon entering. Doors open and indeed... there they are. Cameras all around me. Oh Lord. And I'm not even sure how I'm going to be able to sing.
So they follow me and Ben Evans (the guitarist from I Am Your Autopilot) into our green room (which was white!) and stood in the doorway. We were both dumb-founded and frankly a little intimidated. No, I wasn't intimidated, but very nervous about not being able to deliver. I didn't want to test my voice out on camera. So after taking out some odd percussion instruments and making fun sounds for the camera we closed the door and tried some singing out...
and how was it? HORRIBLE! I could barely keep a note. My voice was quavering all over the place and my falsetto was absolutely non-existent!
Then David Byrne enters the room and introduces himself. I had been made aware that we were one of three guests including David Byrne, but this reminder was, haha, a bit ill-timed!
Next we are taken to rehearse with the drummer Manu Katché who's show it is (and he's an amazing drummer by the way, having toured with Peter Gabriel and Sting for some time...) and this f'ing BRILLIANT upright bassist. We walk out onto the stage. It's incredible. really incredible. It's this huge room with lights shining down all throughout, no risers, like 6 drumkits in different parts of the room and oriental rugs. Amazing mixing areas. HD cameras, dollies and gib arms all around. Just incredible!
So with the documentary camera crew still recording us, we start to rehearse. And I sound like somebody who can't keep a tune and really can barely sing. My voice kept breaking and smearing in pitch. I stopped and explained that I awoke really sick. NO NO, You sound great, they answered, and I knew it was only polite. We tried Robinson Crusoe and it was a bit better, but still...
So I called my singing teacher in NY and explained this horror, and he sent me to this very fine doctor who, number one, determined that I did not have any damage to my vocal folds, but that I did have a bad infection and a lot of phlem. He put me on some magic pills, told me sternly that I should NEVER agree to sing on a day of a flight. Truly, never. and I was off back to the show.
When we got back, David Byrne was performing and the crowd of about 100 - 120 was cheering like crazy. I got very depressed. I mean, 24 hours earlier I sang the Turn probably the best that I ever have. Now it was monstrously ugly. And what an f'ing waste of a fantastic opportunity. Here was a crowd that would love my music, they were friendly, warm, enthusiastic and I was about to disappoint them.
One of the folks from the label and Ben gave me a pep talk, explaining that really it's all about the emotion. That as long as I give that, and give it honestly, they will be moved, despite the voice problems.
So finally we were close. The upright bassist was going now. We were led out to the show where we were seated at a couch watching an HD display of his playing, which was fantastic. But somehow I didn't feel jealous, or frustrated, or scared. I felt excited. And happy. Here was a wonderful audience. A wonderful show with great people working for it, real music lovers. I'll just do my best.
Our time came, and all in all, it went well!!!! Those magic pills really had some power and Robinson Crusoe at the very least was pretty well sung. The Turn was still horrid! But somehow about halfway through I thought, stop trying to find the notes and just express your feelings. That made a big difference. When I hit my long held high note the audience errupted in applause and I was so moved, and happy, and just generally proud to be here.
So I have the next three days to stay in bed and hopefully recover before doing another show, this one live on air, and then a performance on blogotheque and then I'll be opening for Peter Von Poehl. I'm actually really excited!
So I suppose the good news is I'm finally losing my fear!