Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Stalactites and Stalagmites.

My nose was well and truly stuck into a book. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. Reading in cars makes me feel sick but I couldn’t stop. I felt sick for the whole journey around Italy but I couldn’t put it down.

My alarm beeped at an unholy hour and woke me in Bologna. I had to heed its noise because I had a plane to catch. It would have been too far to drive from to Bari in a day so my booking agent had got me booked on one of those bright yellow flying machines, a ryan air aeroplane. This made me happy because it meant that I could read some more and not feel sick. When I arrived in Bari I tried to sleep for a few hours before the gig. I didn’t sleep, I just read. By the time gig o’clock arrived I was shattered and emotionally wrecked by the goings on on the Western Front.

Turned out the gig was in a cave. I was expecting a little cavern with a few tea lights dotted around. Instead, I had to get into a lift that took me far underground and spat me out in a GIANT cave that was possibly the most amazing place I’ve ever seen. It was cold and damp and really echoey. As I walked up to what you might refer to as the stage area, but was actually just a little bit of rock, I spied a grand piano. My knees nearly buckled beneath me in excitement. “How did they get that thing down here?” I thought. I then realised it was a mock grand piano. It looked like a grand piano, but inside the keyboard area was a digital thing. I imagine this is the kind of affair that Elton John might play. I was a bit disappointed about that. There were all manner of stalactites and stalagmites pointing around the place and they were all lit up by different coloured lights. My facts might be wrong and I can’t be bothered googling it, but I think that cave might be the biggest underground cave in Europe or something.

The sound was magnificent. Speakers and microphones were really quite useless in such a cavernous space. My voice sounded like it was a billion times bigger than I. It felt like it was infinite. Why, I could almost see the vibrations of my voice bouncing around and soaring upwards and downwards and all around. I worried that my voice might disturb a stalactite and it might fall from the roof and skewer some innocent audience member while I was in the middle of ‘Canopy’ of some other song with high bits.

The next day my alarm beeped at an unholy hour once again. Another airport. This time I was heading back home. Sleep had been thin on the ground for days, but I still couldn’t put the book down. I ordered a coffee from a terribly unfriendly woman and started to cry. I sat on an airport sofa and wept. The woman’s unfriendliness had pushed me over the edge. I carried on reading my book through my tears. I can’t give away the ending, but it’s pretty sad. The final words passed by my tear filled eyes as I sat on the airport sofa and I started to heave with heartache. That book is the saddest tale I’ve ever known and I was inconsolable all the way home.

As soon as I got back I had to head straight off for a gig in Manchester. I love Manchester but it’s a hard place to return to sometimes.  

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