On The Road Not Taken Blog



Show 2. Glastonbury Calling 27th Feb 2016

By pauldodgson, Mar 18 2016 03:17PM

The nerves kick in again during the days leading up to to the second show.

I am trying to do some writing in the reference library in central Bristol, but I feel as though I have been sentenced to death and the execution is in the morning. I can’t concentrate on anything at all. It is the day before Glastonbury Calling, where I will play a half hour set to kick off a daylong festival. Why am I putting myself though this? My romantic dream road didn’t include morbid thoughts.

I don’t get to sleep until 1 then wake up again at 5. So I run through all the lyrics in my head at speed waiting for the dawn. I remember everything, which is a relief as last night I forgot the words to two songs.

I go for a run shortly after 7, pushing myself further than usual on this cold, cloudy morning and as I move the anxiety melts away until it is a small and manageable thing tucked away in the back of my mind. My partner, Sarah, arrives to drive me to the gig. She has a croissant in the kitchen while I write a set list and it feels good to know enough songs to have to choose which ones to play.

Then we leave Bristol and the sun comes out when we are on top of the Mendip hills. Now, it feels like a big adventure, this going off to play songs in another town.

The Rifleman’s Arms is on the outskirts of Glastonbury and one of four venues hosting gigs at today’s festival. I carry my guitars into a modest pub back room as the sound equipment is set up around me. I am relaxed as I sing a few songs for the soundcheck with half the audience watching from the sides and back of the room.

Then I am introduced, I launch into my first number and suddenly it feels formal and serious, even though it’s the same bunch of people who were watching the soundcheck moments before. I start with a fast song, and amplified by the PA it sounds larger than life and I see a few people twitching along to the rhythm. Then there is uplift in the chorus and a few heads start to nod as well. At the end of the song there are a couple of whoops mixed in with the applause.

There is a point two thirds of the way through when I start to enjoy myself. Then the PA breaks down. While the soundman scrambles around on the floor I step forward and carry on without amplification. The audience seem to enjoy this and the atmosphere goes up a notch. Then, with the PA fixed I play the last song and it is over.

I feel euphoria in the hours that follow that is more than relief. I have gone to another town and played a set of my own songs to strangers. The performance nerves were managable. I have waited a long time for this. The sleep that night is deeper than any for a week.

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