Despite getting my knickers in right old twist before our debut last night, resulting in a nasty hairball in my throat causing cough cough, which has become my most unuseful pre-gig tic, I had a highly vocal time last night with Steve and Beth.
My nerves were calmed during the sound check when I proved to myself that I could speak, sing and improvise in front of strangers, so the hour hang-out before the event got underway was not as wired as it could have been. Also, much more fun to chat with friends before a performance than hanging around by yourself not being particularly comprehensible to strangers trying to be friendly (my second most unuseful pre-gig tic).
Also, wonderfully, we were third on, which meant not too much time to get worked up - at least I couldn't get worked up over forgetting words, although I was distracted in parts during the first two performances, trying to recall films and paintings I liked that might provide props for the impending pieces.
And while I did think of plenty that were powerfully reimagined in my head, I didn't use any of them. Once on stage, I was far too busy being filled with new images, stories and voices arising from the other two. Beth began the first piece - and what a beginning - Ms Operatically Trained Diva plunged and soared within minutes of opening the set - fabulous. I couldn't help myself - the sad story of a mother losing her boy to adulthood just came tumbling out. Well, I say tumbling out, ask any of the audience and I'm sure they'd have different scenarios to tell them - the 'lyrics' being quite scant. But the emotional register was unmistakable. Steve picked up and threaded his own pearls onto the score.
The cheeky short piece was just that - well cheeky. Called Treasure (Steve's choice) it was a piece of urgency, wonder and suspense. Again I'd be interested to hear what any audience members took from it. We slipped into another cheeky short number. This time cheeky because it was based an a non-improvised poem of mine. That Steve and Beth then pulled off from. Skywards. I loved it. There's a line "the thin call of cirrus" in it, and that's where they took me.
And the final piece, initiated by Steve, was a bubbling roil of damp dark gaming. Honestly. High energy that pummeled any previous atmosphere into a thousand pieces and headbutted them again and again like there were bouncy balls - although I had marbles in my head. Steve's percussive obsession met with a Bangra-style beat boxing (he wouldn't agree, I'm sure).
So, such fun. For us, clearly. Which was a magnificient relief. But what made the night even better was how much the audience seemed to enjoy us. When I focused on them, they did seem to be listening and watching intently - and they'd been a pretty chatty audience through the first couple of acts. Each piece was received with a load of whooping and clapping. Afterwards, too, people were saying how much they'd enjoyed what we did - for its musicality, rhythm, unexpectedness and sheer fun-ness.
Naturally we're all very excited. With Steve and Beth either side of me, I felt we were up for anything. So if any of you know of a spoken word night that would like a little something different to enliven the regular line-up with ingenuity, spark, poetry, haunting harmonies and wayward mouth music then get in touch ...
On a more reflective note: possibly the most rewarding aspect of the evening was the achievement of an ten year old ambition to improvise narratives and poems to an audience. I remember disucssing this with 3dV, the collaborative live lit trio I wrote with 1999-2004 and it not being taken up. Everything in its time. It gives me hope for Mr Puppet ...