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Tuesday, April 5

I've always been like a kid with a new toy when I get a new toy. I slightly irritated the people in the guitar shop when I dropped by at lunchtime to see whether they happened to have received my guitar from the Warehouse. They thought I was hassling them. I was just asking. I didn't intend to bother them. I just wanted to see if my guitar was there. It wasn't. They don't get deliveries until the afternoon. Fair enough. No need to get one's balls in a bunch over it.

I got a call a couple of hours later. The guitar was in stock. Smashing. I went to pick it up. It came in its own gig back and had a nice big Fender logo on it. I don't believe in designer labels as such, but if you buy a Fender guitar, it's nice to show the world!

Back at home with the guitar, I tuned it up and got it ready for a gig. I had a gig planned that evening at the Chillingham Arms in Newcastle. It's a tryout gig. There was no better place to try out my new guitar. I'd barely played a chord on the thing yet. Admittedly, I'd test driven a few and reckoned it had a great touch. I needed to have a proper go at it, though with an audience.

At the gig, I had a battle plan. I wanted to try out some new bits of material, maybe even do some of my lesser used stuff to see how it really went. That was the plan. I had nothing to prove to anyone, even my girlfriend, so I didn't see the need to do much of my tried and tested stuff. I thought I'd start on my usual starting song. Simple. A nice plan for having fun on stage.

A few things got in the way. Firstly, the audience had been up and down all night and some of the acts had been rather awkward to the room. When I hit the stage, the crowd really needed something solid to show them the funny. I started to sense this before I got up there and once there, I instinctively kept my foot on the gas. Secondly, I dropped my plectrum pretty much the instant I started playing. It landed on the floor off the stage. I couldn't go and get it. As I was standing there, strumming with my thumb, I remembered that I'd been in this situation recently. I tried to remember what had happened. It has been the last ever show of The Musical!. I had picked up a plectrum from the piano and started playing the "If your mum's a prostitute..." song. The plectrum dropped out of my grasp and I'd had to continue by thumb until a suitable hiatus in the song where I'd quickly thrust my hand into my back pocket where a backup plectrum was sitting. So, while on stage at the Chilli, where was the backup plectrum? There wasn't one. I realised this as I was getting to the end of verse one of my opening number.

There's a bit between verses of the opening song where I pretty much talk over the song. I'm just strumming a single chord and I talk over it. I confessed to the audience that my plectrum had landed on the floor. They laughed. The MC came over and fetched it - I gave him a running commentary and spoke to him while keeping this musical moment going - the crowd loved it - the show hadn't come to a stop as much as just paused as the plectrum was sorted. I completed the song with plectrum and they were happy. I then did a bunch of bankers. The audience laughed and I was being a comedian. If they're not laughing then you're not being a comedian - you're just being a guy (or girl) on a stage doing stuff.

People couldn't work out why I was annoyed with myself as I left the stage. I was angry that I'd resorted to "bankers" rather than push myself to do different stuff. However, it was agreed that that was what the room needed at that point. Fair enough. The guitar had gotten an outing and I'd done what was necessary to be funny under those circumstances. The good thing about that gig is that I can go back and, more importantly, I can't just repeat the easy stuff - so I would get more opportunities to do harder stuff.

Overall, it had been a good day. A new guitar, a good audience response and a beautiful young lady to take home after the gig - the one I took to the gig in the first place (I don't collect groupies).


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