Saturday, 26 October 2013


I had a rather dreadful start to the day. I barely slept last night and woke up full of cold and realising there were loads of things to do before I went to Manchester. I now have no time for myself between now and the first two sessions on Pepys, and yet in the midst of all this I appear to have agreed to help someone organise an evening of cabaret, loosely affiliated to the Kaleidoscope Trust.


Matt wrote to me yesterday and said something rather telling at the end of the email; "don't end up doing so much charity work that you become a charity case yourself." The advice hit me like a bullet. I realise now that it's very possible to get sucked into a cycle of doing charity work often at a cost to your own career and or relationships. And what for?

Anyway, I've been in Manchester all day, rehearsing and then performing with Roy Harper at the extraordinary Bridgewater Hall. What a sensational venue. So beautiful and intimate... Although properly echoey, particularly without an audience to deaden the sound.

The concert itself was packed, and as usual, Roy made every single audience member feel like he was sitting in their front room having a little chat between numbers.

The first half was a blinder. Everything came together. Roy, me, the band, it just felt like we were breathing as one.

The second half was a little more complicated and we sailed off into a few musical cul-de-sacs which was fairly frustrating as the whole thing could have been just magnificent.

Roy continues to astonish me, however. He's in his 70s and yet his voice is as vibrant and youthful as it ever was. I was able to enjoy the concert much more, and really listen to what he was doing. Some of his vocal theatrics are both moving and virtuoso.

As has become customary on this tour, I conducted in bare feet. Roy rather encourages heckling from the audience and at one point a Glaswegian voice shouted "hey Roy! Why don't you buy your conductor a pair of shoes!?"

Afterwards a woman came up to me, her face all flushed, saying she'd spent the entire performance taking pictures of my feet and hands; "I'd never sat so close to a real conductor before." I am, of course, not a real conductor, but I was genuinely touched that she came to say hello.

A rather curious thing happened in the green room back stage during the interval. Salisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel was playing on the tannoy and as we stood talking, it got louder and louder and then so loud that we we had to block our ears and vacate the room. It was like someone was fading out our Oscar speech! I realise now, as I write it down, that this is a non story - a nory - a borey - but I leave it in to remind myself of what was a rather amusing little occurrence.

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