The Alibis

Do you get nervous?

‘Do you get nervous?’

That is a question I get asked a lot. Short answer: yes – but there’s a whole cycle that I need to go through beforehand. MMMM was the perfect example of that cycle.

In the build-up, I was properly excited. I had heard a preliminary ticket sales number which was encouraging and I knew of a whole bunch of my friends that were coming and most of them were still to buy their tickets (despite me urging them to buy them online…) The load-in was fine, venue looked fantastic and the soundcheck was superb. We felt great, but then I looked at my watch: I had about 3 hours to kill. That is where the problems start.

By nature, I’m not very good it sitting doing nothing (unless I am extremely hungover, in which case sitting doing nothing is classed as ‘active recovery’ – so it’s still not doing nothing). I hate being bored or unoccupied and I end up fidgeting. I needed something to do!

This is stage 1: distraction. Ideally, I can get away from the venue and remove myself from thoughts of the gig entirely by doing anything that isn’t music related. This wasn’t really an option at MMMM, but we had a few CDs which needed inlays inserted. Perfect! A mundane task to occupy the mind. I fired up my ipod and got to work. It didn’t last long and I was done in about 10 minutes…now what?

Stage 2: restlessness. I don’t think I stood still in one area for the next 2 hours. First of all, I kept on dashing upstairs and downstairs, watched The Colour Ham set up and soundcheck. I went outside for a bit, chatted with Marty from Caezium, went back inside, went back upstairs, went back downstairs. This carried on until somebody informed me that the bar was open. Still not nervous.

Stage 3: hyper. So, I get a Guinness, sit down and start to get properly excited. I get up again to watch Caezium soundcheck. I sit down again. I get up again. Amy yells at me to sit down. I sit down again. This carries on for a while. 7pm: the doors open

Stage 4: Mr Sociable. People and friends started to arrive by this point and this provided a great stage which is like being a social butterfly. Basically I hopped from person to person and thanked them for coming, etc. As more people arrived, there was more people to chat to. Still no nerves, but a lot of people were wondering why I was being so brief and flitting from place to place. It all looked purposeful, but trust me, it wasn’t.

Stage 5: prepping the tools. Simply put, tuning the guitars. Over and over again. Checking effects settings, over and over again. Is everything in place, etc. Nothing makes me more nervous than the prospect of going up on stage and hitting the guitar for it to sound like a dying seal falling down the stairs. Or tripping on a cable, or not finding a vital piece of equipment. This process calms me, still no nerves.

Stage 6: Ready to go. This is where nerves start to appear. Jan came up to me and told me we had about 5 minutes between the Colour Ham and us. I had to get ready, now. So up to the dressing room I went. Got changed, checked the hair (very important) and ran into Gareth. The great thing about Gareth is this: he gets more nervous than me. So, I immediately seem calmer, and in my calming him down, I actually get calmer. We were ready. We ambled down the stairs, waited for the intros to finish and coolly wandered on stage. I strapped on my guitar and…you know the rest (probably better than I do)

Stage 7: Congratulation and inebriation. I can’t remember much about this stage


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