This is the live show review. From the inside.
The nice photographer for The Guardian told me to smile, and to stop frowning. I wanted to tell her – listen – I am a portly bottle of snot, ringing ears and fever and every fucking muscle in my shitty old body is howling right now so fuck off. Instead I said ‘nikon nikon nikon’ for her. I have seen the photo. I look like I want to crawl into a corner and die.
The first week at a university students fly in from all around the world, carrying microbes that they have overcome. But for me there was a sudden Atom™ bomb of disease. On top of weeks of worry over [H.H] a collapse was inevitable. But the timing wasn’t pretty.
An hour before the gig every cough made my abdomen wince with pain. Time came to hurt my voice so I could hit the high notes; this involves holding each note until the pain gives up. I have done it before but I will not do it again.
I think that the majority of the gig is OK. I haven’t seen the footage, don’t ever want to. Photographing us using our equipment is filming the hands in a puppet show. The last time the ABC asked (“Studio 22”) we fought over it until it got cancelled. I tried to be jolly – although maybe repeating HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! at the front of Petrol was more manic than jolly.
There’s one event that sums up the minority. Right in the middle of Hot With Fleas, I’m pleased that I can hit (as much as I ever hit) the notes, even if it’s a bit painful. Suddenly I think my nose is bleeding. I play a sample, it’s too loud. Time stops. For about 3-4 seconds I flat line – I have no idea of anything at all. I ask Stewart what line is supposed to come next, and he shouts it out. Time lurches back into the right BPM, I sing, I tell a joke. I’m completely fucking unnerved.
After the gig David Sefton was telling me that it was fine, that the human element was a blessing with everything else so rigidly clocked up in music these days, that the audience was incredibly happy and all that. I am not easily consoled, but if you were going to trust an audience opinion I’d say he’d be the one. The Guardian was also very kind I think. And it was probably only as rusty as the Sydney Festival gig. Still, I’m not happy about this being the basis of a recording, actually I understand better than ever before why live shows should stay live shows.
This really does feel like ‘no way am I ever doing that again’.
People I like asked me to go on Twitter. As I get older, people I like become more important than any small position I might hold. Because I’d already been on Twitter years ago my own name was taken (sorry to the other Tom Ellards) – I am