For some reason, no matter how well organized we are, or how smoothly things seem to go, something unforeseen always happens. A friend asked me not too long ago why unexpected things always happen to people like him and me while a lot of people’s lives always go according to their plan. I think it’s because people like me (and him) secretly like it when things go wrong. It takes creativity to fix unexpected things, and it feels rewarding if you have manage to avert a crisis.
When we arrived in Billingham yesterday (no traffic jams, no car break downs, no road blocks), we unpacked our gear. We had had a show the night before and none of it had been used. The guys were all set up and had finished their line checks when I plugged my microphone in. Instant massive crackling noise was the result. Not a slight crackle, but the kind that tears your ears off. After a quick check, sound engineer Ben concluded it was the lead of my microphone, quite close to the plug. Quick explanation: my headset microphone is plugged into a pack on my back (that’s the part where the lead/wire is: on my back). The pack sends out a signal with my voice to a receiver (which is connected to the sound desk), so there’s no leads/wires from me to the sound desk and I can freely run off the stage to change costumes or high five people in the audience.
Anyway, there was no way to fix the lead properly on the spot. We tried taping the connection to the plug. It seemed to work at first, but not for very long. We tried using our backup microphone, which is the one I did my first Kate shows with back in Holland, eight years ago. But using it quickly taught us why I had bought the new one: it didn’t sound very good. We decided to tape the lead to the pack in a position where it didn’t crackle and hope it would last…
The first part of the show went fine, apart from an usher who kept running back and forth whenever she spotted a camera in the audience. I hope it wasn’t as distracting for the audience as it was for me… And unnecessary; as long as people don’t use a flash we don’t mind. In fact: if anyone managed to take photos we love to see them! Back to the show, because to add to the distraction: by the time I had found out why the usher kept running back and forth, my microphone started crackling again! The only instant fix for me on the stage was to press the pack/plug/lead to my waist in some of the dance moves (does someone have a photo of me with my right hand on my back?). It worked, but obviously it’s no real solution. I altered some of the dance moves and decided to perform Breathing on the edge of the stage without running around and change into my white suit and gas mask, to avoid further crackling. It worked, and I actually enjoyed staying in that spot for the dramatic end.
In the break, Ben and I decided to use more tape and force the lead in an angle that either would be the best temporary solution or would snap the lead. We were lucky.
The second half of the show passed without any further issues, and I had the time to look around at the audience. I love seeing people having a wonderful time, and I could tell that they were. Extra thanks for the people who waved back at me at the end of The big sky, I love when that happens! Once again it was great to meet the audience after the show. Just like the day before, someone wanted to buy the only existing Dreaming of Kate T-shirt off the owner: our superfan Ian. And someone told me this was the fourth time he had seen me perform. The first time was a couple of years ago (in York), but he had missed the first couple of songs and he HAD to see them, so he travelled to Northampton not long after that. I love stories, and I try to remember the things people tell me. And I am honoured to get so much appreciation for what I do.
The weather on our way back to Liverpool was horrific, and by the time we got back we heard that some areas we had just crossed were being evacuated because of floods. Once again we were lucky.