November 11, 2017
“There’s an art to falling. You can fall and not get hurt.”
“It’s nice to know that neither of the people in the front seat were looking out the window.”
- Ken, after neither Sarah nor Deni could identify what smashed into our windshield on the road to Wetter.
The thing is I specialize in crucifying myself.
I don’t know what it’s like for other musicians, but I’m really hard on myself when it comes to my performance. I try to get it perfect every single time.
Confession: I’ve never played a perfect show and likely never will.
It’s not just me. My favourite band on the planet is King’s X. I saw them live a little while back. I was right up front, of course. The singer, dUg, went after a high note/scream during one song, and then when the song ended he and the guitarist, Ty Tabor, turned around to tune. I saw dUg look over at Ty and make a stinky face. Blew that note. Sometimes you feel like you could have done better.
But then, if I miss something by a millionth of a beat, I feel like it’s blown. Nobody would have noticed anything odd from me last night. In fact, after the show, a guy came up and told me I’m the coolest drummer he’s ever seen. Loved my playing. Loved my pocket. I responded the way any humble sideman would: “Thanks! Make sure you tell Sarah!”
I’m smiling as I write this. Seasoned performers make it look so effortless. I admire that. It’s not always easy, though. Even the best of the best have moments on stage where they’re struggling with something – sound, equipment, brain cramps on arrangements. Playing live can be a real adventure, but as my friend Howie the guitar tech says, never let them see you sweat.
Last night was awesome.
We played a terrific venue called Earth Music in the charming German city of Wetter. Wetter looks like a postcard of Switzerland. Houses in the hills. Old buildings and shops and villas. Earth Music is an incredible space. Big stage. Lights. Room for probably around 200 people. The owner, Gunter, goes on our list of awesome people who treated us like gold. A wonderful meal. Great sound. Welcome, welcome, welcome. We loved it.
My self-lashing aside, we played great. Deni opened again and had the audience hanging on every word. He’s so good on stage. Then the full band came on and Sarah was Sarah. Again I was treated to watching people watch her. Now that we’re angling my drum kit on stage, I can see even better, especially when I’m singing back-ups. I like to have my mic on my left side, so now when I turn my head I’m looking right into the crowd. They loved Sarah, as all crowds love Sarah.
We’ve taken to bringing me out front to sing Angels and Anchors with her. I just play the shaker on that song, but there’s a beautiful harmony on the chorus that I get to sing. It’s a rare, rare thing for me to be out front. I have my space in the back. I remember hearing about how Neil Peart of Rush, in 40 years, never once crossed a certain line to the front of the stage, and then at the last show of their last tour, he suddenly appeared beside Geddy Lee up front and Geddy nearly fainted.
Have I said what a privilege it is to sing with Sarah? Cool stuff happens on tour, man, but nothing tops that for me. One of the things we love about her is that she celebrates her band. It’s as much about us as it is about her. Deni opens the shows and gets to sell his CDs. I get to come up and share the stage with her. Ken is her partner in crime wherever she goes. Sarah’s band would do just about anything for her, and there’s a reason. Band leaders take note.
I think we earned another good show after what was a tough drive from Hamburg. Relentless rain. Slick roads. Being on the road is tiring at the best of times, but driving conditions can make it that much harder. As ever, Sarah got us through. We stayed at a cool hotel, in comfortable rooms and comfortable beds. We all need our sleep – the Virus of the Van continues to attack at every turn. It’s part of the game, though. I remember Morgan Lander of Kittie telling me about being sick constantly on the road. We’re vigilant. Never let them see you sweat.
And now we’re on the road again. I’m typing this in the van, watching Germany's green fields and magnificent fall colours roll past my window. I think Ken’s whole memory is framed by van windows. He’s a road dog. Many of my memories of this tour will be framed the same way.
I wouldn’t change it for anything.