“Having been a long-time admirer of Morrissey and his work, and having witnessed many of the god-awful Smiths tribute bands doing the rounds, I became curious as to why no-one had chosen to concentrate on his post-Smiths career, which seemed an altogether more dignified period to present onstage. Of course, Morrissey hadn’t been that thin, swirling character of the flowers/hearing aid/National health glasses variety for many years, and as wonderfully revolutionary as he was in the early ’80s no one but him, then, could ever possibly look anything other than absurd and embarrassing while mimicking his stage persona of that time. I hadn’t even remotely considered doing it myself, the solo-Morrissey ‘tribute’ that is, having long-since arrived at the conclusion that tribute bands were quite patently ridiculous. But after a year or so… ‘Hmmm,’ I thought, ‘Yes, tribute bands are laughable… but… what if I were to do it? I can’t really trust anyone else to do it properly, and if it’s me, and it’s Morrissey…’ But then, remembering the ‘me’ part of that equation would actually be me… ‘Nah, it would still be embarrassing and shit.’ Of course, I didn’t stop there…”
Paul Blake, Manchester, 2015
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
I’ve been dreaming of a time when….
Current mood: nauseated
I’ve been dreaming of a time when….
…we’re asked to play at a nice venue, for a fee which is, at the very least, fair and reasonable, and it doesn’t actually cost us money to play.
You may think that this is the natural order of things anyway, that we are approached, or that having made the initial approach ourselves via email or conventional mail, we are booked to play, and, indeed, this is what occasionally does happen.
Unfortunately for us, as for most bands who are still trying to establish themselves, virtually every email or letter we send out is either completely ignored, or we’re sent the standard and almost identical email, which appears to have been designed exclusively with us in mind and passed along like some sickeningly brutal chain letter, telling us our services won’t be required, for the mind-numbing and soul-destroying reason that ‘… we already book a Smiths tribute twice a year and we’re happy with them thanks.’
Yes, I did try and explain, the first few dozen times this happened, that we’re not a ‘Smiths tribute’, and that perhaps many of the same people that come along to see one of the Smiths tributes, would happily come and see us at the same venue three months later, and that there are others that would come along because they appreciate Morrissey’s post-Smiths output, but the subtleties, such as they are, appear to have passed them by, or it was simply far too complicated a concept for them to absorb. Or perhaps they just hate me and wish I was dead? Anyway, they never wrote back.
So, having reached an amicable agreement, we then hope that the concert will be advertised by the venue/promoter, so that local people actually know we’re due to appear…
That we are then supplied with, at the very least, something to drink in our dressing room. That we actually have a dressing room, rather than having to prepare ourselves in a cupboard/corridor/venue toilet. That there is a stage that can comfortably accommodate the six of us, and where, were I so inclined, not that I ever would be of course, but if I were, I would have room to swing a cat, rather than be glued to the square yard of available space. That there would be onstage lighting designed to invoke some sense of drama and theatre, and work with the dynamics in the music, to compliment the music and enhance the performance of the band, and that isn’t either static throughout, as if one were performing in someone’s living room, or flashing spasmodically without rhyme or reason, with no apparent intention other than to blind the band.
The fact is, we can never hear much in the way of actual music onstage, apart from the drums, and whichever onstage amp we’re closest to onstage, which tends to drown out everything else. I can never hear myself onstage, I merely overhear myself coming through the PA out front, as the cacophonous racket through the onstage amps and monitors, and the sound of feedback whenever I go within six feet of an onstage monitor, means all I can do is guess/hope/pray that I’m in tune, and singing the right verse at the right time… Thankfully, or more accurately, hopefully, what the band hear onstage, and what the audience hears through the front of house PA system, bear no actual relation to one another, and the audience enjoy a balanced sound, and remain blissfully unaware of the problems we’re doing our best to cope with. The technical problems I’ve highlighted are generally not the fault of anyone in particular.
The budgets are small and people are doing their best with what they have, and audiences in the smaller venues will usually make the necessary allowances, and of course it’s true that bands should have to earn the right to appear on bigger stages, with better facilities, in more prestigious venues (and I realise that there are those who don’t consider ‘tribute’ bands to be ‘real’ bands… I think of us, in relation to Morrissey, as the same play, but with a different cast, that’s all), but it’s me! It’s Morrissey!! What a combination!! Surely I should be fast-tracked into the fast lane? Well!!?
However, I’m getting ahead of myself somewhat.
Before any of this can happen, and prior to any live appearance, particularly when concerts are more than two weeks apart, the band members have to be assembled in the same place, at the same time, which, believe me, involves a considerable degree of coordination and dexterity, in order to rehearse the songs.
With members having to navigate their way into central Manchester, from as far afield as Stoke, Grantham, and Stockport… and as most band members actually have lives outside of the band (I am not one) it soon becomes a logistical nightmare, with prospective rehearsals sometimes hinging on whether or not someone can afford a gallon of petrol. Or not.
So where was I?
Nice venue, conscientious and enthusiastic organisers, reasonably acceptable facilities. Stress free rehearsals? Nice dream.
So, if we ever do happen to roll into a little town near you, spare a thought for what it took to get us there, and as we endeavour to distract you, momentarily, from the inevitability of old age, infirmity, and death, please look upon us kindly.
God bless Morrissey.