There was a time when concerts happened in concert halls. Not anymore.
As concerts gradually begin to pop up on the horizon and we stumble towards them out of lockdowns I am reminded of strange and scary invitations I have received and accepted in the recent past.
Thrilled as I was with the prospect of a concert at The Festival of The Midnight Sun in Tromsø, Norway, I forgot to read the small print. Tromsø yes, but in a converted restaurant at the top of an icy peak only reachable by cable car? I didn’t realise till it was too late. Now I don’t like cable cars. No, let me rephrase that. I hate cable cars. Once I walked all the way down rather than ride on one. Luckily on this occasion I wasn’t alone. The concert was with my stage companion Elisa Perez-Saponi the Spanish dancer who seemed to love the ride. At the top, the venue was beautifully prepared, with an expectant audience happy and smiling and recovered, or pretending to have recovered from the vertical ascent. In spite of the impending doom of tumbling down from my precarious perch high up in the sky, I got through the show with a smile, until I realised the whole process of travel would need be repeated in reverse to return to base camp.
The next challenge I faced was from a great friend promoter who has amazingly brilliant ideas about where to present a concert as long as it is anywhere other than within the boring confine of four walls. Unencumbered by such restrictions where better than in the middle of the sea? And why not on a tug boat to an audience of yachts? Eventually we agreed on a bay half a mile from land. Applause consisted of yachts honking and the distant pitter patter of applause from a beach-load of enthusiasts. Have you ever heard 50 yachts honking at the same time? They sound like a gang of ducks after one drink too many. There was one disadvantage. It was freezing in spite of me being surrounded by industrial blowers and heaters. I caught a chill and was ill for a week. My friend the promoter owes me one.
But all this was by way of the ultimate challenge. Again at sea, this time I was playing in the Crow’s Nest lounge of a ship. The sway of the vessel up there means your hand is chasing a fret-neck never in the same place for more than a few seconds. The audience appeared to be enjoying it all, at least that was my impression, until they all got up as one and pressed themselves against the windows with their backs to me. Was it something I said? Was the music that awful? I stopped playing. I waited. I heard an announcement. It was two killer whales jumping in and out of the water close by. Everyone thought they were hunting fish. But I knew differently. They wanted to land on deck and shuffle their way up to front row seats. Not just your ordinary killer whales, but musical killer whales.
Thank you for reading.