Another busy day. Travelled to Fairview to meet with Andy Newlove and John Spence to test my equipment and guitars out for 'Plectronica.' Needed to try the newer guitars in that environment. Also wanted to try to familiarise myself with the somewhat complex pedal board and processor set up I use live, (which I don't use in the studio.)
I guess 'try' is the operative word. Since last year my eyesight has deteriorated dramatically and I can't read the pedal boards clearly at all. I was sometimes kicking in the wrong sounds as I played, which causes a kind of panic to set in. The panic leads to vain efforts to correct the mistake, which in turn leads to further footswitch errors, and all that leads to concentration being taken away from what I'm supposed to be playing. In short, I end up feeling unconfident, wobbly and ultimately depressed.
I had to ask myself why I'm taking on one of these events again, with all the pressures that come with it. For the most part, it's just me, alone, standing there on the stage, improvising to backing tracks. There's not a minute where I can lay back, I'm constantly aware that there's an audience watching every move, hearing every note, and there's nowhere to hide.
With a band, you're up there with friends, carrying their part of the load, but with these solo gigs, all eyes are on me and every musical embellishment has to come from me alone. I'm wondering if, at this point in my life, I'm making a bed of nettles to lie in.
But at least, on three numbers in the live set, I'll be joined by Theo Travis and Dave Sturt so the pressure, thank goodness, will be less acute. A band of sorts.
One thing I'm glad I discovered from this afternoon's equipment check, was that the Tokai Firebird guitar is too risky to use on the number I'd allocated to it. The heavy neck-dive whilst on the strap felt uncomfortable and the tuning wasn't quite as sweet as it should be. The guitar works fine in the context of the home studio, no problem at all, but live I feel that it poses too much of a risk. I basically haven't found the confidence in it yet to use in live performance. A pity but, there you go...
So, I've come home looking for an alternative guitar to put into the set at that point. I think the substitute will be my Campbell Custom Transitone, the one that the brilliant artist Nicholas Del Drago hand painted for me. The track that I'd originally assigned the Tokai to was 'Beatniks From Outer Space', so it's appropriate I should substitute the Transitone as it features Nicholas' graphic science-fiction artwork.
Good news: The Backlund Rockerbox guitar has overcome yesterday's problem with the pickup selector. Andy has managed to do the final tightening of the nut that holds it in place and all seems to be working ok. Hurrah!
Got home from Fairview just in time to do the 'phone interview with Johnny Sharp, who writes for Prog Rock Magazine. The interview focussed mainly on my 40 something years ago past with Be Bop Deluxe. Always a difficult thing to tackle as I haven't exactly dwelled on that period of my musical life very much and am more concerned with the here and now. I guess that stage of my career was more closely aligned with the 'industry' and, like it or not, the industry keeps coming back to mine what was perceived as a commercial point in my musical evolution.
I should be grateful and pleased, I suppose, but, having created so much more in the 40 odd years since, I hope I can be forgiven for feeling a little frustrated. 'Ships In The Night' is both a blessing and a curse. There's so much more to my story than that.
Tomorrow, I'll try to decide upon stage wear. Not that anything I wear will disguise the passing of 70 years. I don't feel, mentally, 70 years old, but physically? Wear and tear, chums, wear and tear...
A flyer for a forthcoming SONOLUXE release...