Sunday, May 27, 2007

The End Of The End Of The World

I am still in a deep blue funk after The End Of The World Variety Show reached the end of its 7 week run on Friday night.

It's looking very likely that it will be back in a few weeks time, but even so, I felt really sad saying goodbye to everybody on Friday - because I've been a performer long enough to know that you can never be 100% sure of anything until it's penned in your diary, and quite often not even then.

There are so many reasons why it's been brilliant. It's been brilliant being part of a company, and working with performers who do so many weird and wonderful things - I never met a man who makes his living juggling a glass ball before. And Matt Hennem is not only a mesmerising performer, he's also one of the loveliest and most fascinating people I've met in a long time. Mind you, he has stiff competition from the other guys and girls in the show: I want Irene the tap dancer to give me tap lessons, and the beautiful Gemma with her extraordinary soul voice to come and sing and wow the crowd at the open mic night I host. And Jack the guitarist, who walked me home to my door at 4am on Friday, turns out to be a Stoke Newington neighbour, so I'm pretty certain I haven't seen the last of him either.

It's also been brilliant coming back to the same venue every week and gradually getting to know everyone a little bit better, so that by the end even the apparently surly Nigel Burch of the Fleapit Orchestra was ballroom dancing with me around the hall.

And having the chance to sing non-stop for an hour every week has been brilliant, because it's given me so much practice, and really got me into a new place as a singer, where I could start to relax into the music. After the first couple of weeks I felt comfortable with the venue, and familiar with the sound set up, and Connie and I felt comfortable with each other as a duo, and it meant I started to sing for the sheer love of singing. Because we were the warm up act it wasn't my job to command the undivided attention of the crowd, and even that was quite relaxing, because it meant we could just get into the music without worrying about doing lots of attention-grabbing patter. In fact, I think it's taught me, more than anything else, that I don't need to talk at all to get the audience's attention. I can just sing. And I think I'm going to do a lot less talking all round in future.

This Friday, Earl Mysterio came with me and played guitar instead of Connie on piano, because Connie has been at the Small Worlds music festival all weekend, sitting in a field with her little travelling guitar, joining in jams for 48 hour stretches and such like. Mysterio found it quite tough, and said it felt like "playing through a sock" but Jack, the guitarist who accompanies Gemma in the show, reassured us that we sounded really strong, even if we couldn't hear ourselves. I like singing with just the guitar as much as I like singing with just the piano - it brings out a different sort of flavour, and I find myself going for a more melancholic, soft kind of mood, whereas Connie on piano often brings out the bounce in me. Mysterio and I are going to do a wedding together in July, with Fitz on trombone, and I think it will sound rather lovely. Where the piano provides a very full accompaniment, the guitar is somehow more spartan, and more intimate. Having said that, it's high time we got the full band together again for another full-on party gig as well - hopefully with dancing. I get a real kick out of seeing people dancing to our music. I reckon we all do. Who knows, maybe when The End Of The World comes back, The Fleapit Orchestra might need a night off sometime, and James will book the full band... and then we can work out a number for the Lady Greys to dance to as well.

Me and Sophie who runs the troupe weren't the only ones talking about collaborations by the end of the night on Friday. Not only are we getting excited at the prospect of joining forces and choreographing a number with the Lady Greys singing and dancing along with the Slinktet, but Barry and Stuart the magicians also came up with the idea of getting the Lady Greys to saw them both in half live on stage. I suggested that maybe I could write a 'sawing in half song' to accompany the spectacle. There followed lots of drunken attempts to come up with brilliant rhymes for 'saw' and 'half', after which Stuart concluded that it could be the worst song I ever sang.

Actually Connie is working on composing a special "End of the World" song already. I really hope I get the chance to sing it when the run starts up again. Please come back. Oh please come back...



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