Wednesday, April 06, 2005

If I could, then I would

If I could, then I would

I would milk the possibility of a cliffhanger here but I may well have broken all such suspense with the Dancing Bear blog. It's a good job that I have something of a fondness for the ridiculous.

So, after all of the analytical thought of the last few days about Griffin and how we stand in relation to him now, last night I went to the gig. And by the time we rolled up fresh from singing 'Is this the way to Illllkley?'* I can honestly say that I felt a little thrill of excitement. Once inside the venue, which was rather nice in a ornate old hall esque manner my excitement did move in another direction, expressly the direction of the musical that I'm going to write - which to fulfil all of the requirements of those sitting near me needs to i)have hookers in ii)have line dancing iii)have a matinee so that Fox can be in it. Not that, in my musical aspirations, Griffin was overlooked as he was quickly pencilled in to write the music for my first film. Subject, of course, to him proving he knows a fourth chord and my having input on the second verse. Just as my plans for world domination were starting to settle in the lights dimmed and the thick red curtain began to rustle. And there he was.

Because I'm shallow my first thoughts were centred around the fact that Griffin had a lovely shirt on. And indeed that his hair was very long. Within seconds he'd made me laugh and then we plunged into the acoustic. I have had some of my most spine-tingling gig moments during Griffin's acoustic performances. I can still remember my body being constrained by sheer emotion the first time I heard Griffin sing 'Feeling Alive' in the midst of a shopping centre, with only his guitar and his voice. That day I realised all over again what Griffin was really about. In the summer, filled with cold, Griffin sang 'Fields of Gold' with his guitar and reduced me to an inarticulate puddle. Yesterday's stand out was undoubtedly 'More Than Me' which, not for the first time, brought me close to tears and I was more than a little pleased to see, for only the second time ever, Griffin sing 'Secrets Inside'. I even got a chance to get over-excited when he sung 'With or Without You'. He was, and here's my favourite word again, simply beautiful. And, whatever issues that I might have, as I commented during the interval, how could I not love it? Yet, and here's that big clunking yet, acoustics are a funny beast. For some reason they work in the most unexpected of places where they seem to silence everything around both singer and audience. They bind you both together. But last night I knew I wasn't spellbound. The sound on Griffin's guitar was rather dodgy throughout a lot of the set [he himself complained of feedback after the first song] and it bothered me. The flashes of cameras which seemed to be magnified in such a space bothered me. There were times, notably during 'More Than Me', when Griffin held me as he always has**. But at other times I was simply bothered about all the things that were bothering me. And though I loved him all over again when he ended up digging a particularly big hole for himself with a running joke about milking a cow, I went to the interval knowing that with all my botherings I was still battling with something that maybe had nothing to do with the acoustic I'd just seen.

The interval continued in both normal and abnormal ways. Shona showed us some photos of the gig on her camera, and I rated them as to whether they made me want to have Griffin's babies [two out of three did, which isn't a bad ratio I think we can agree]. I accused Val of trying to make me cry. To be fair to Val she was simply articulating things that were already whirling in my head. And as I talked and analysed my way through the break I realised that the reason that I was bothered about all of these things, that I hadn't been drawn into the acoustic, was because -wrongly or rightly- I was upset over what we'd lost. And that we'd lost something and hadn't seen anything in return. Griffin was, after all, playing to the same people he'd been playing to five months before. In some ways everything had changed and in others absolutely nothing. And, as odd as that may seem, it hurt.

Prior to the start of the band set came our usual discussion on dancing arrangements. When I go to a gig I like to dance. I like to jump. I like to sing loudly with very little regard for tune or key. I've even been known to like to find my hand on Griffin's thighs. What can I say - if I do have a tendancy to over-analyse it doesn't mean that I abandon my shallow side. On the contrary, my shallow side distinctly needed a resurgence. At lots of gigs we wouldn't need to have this discussion. Griffin gigs, however, are different. Griffin fans being as they are, we're a relatively incestuous bunch. Most of us are internet based, and the vast majority are based around one site in particular. At first this gave us something of a purpose and a momentum. We were Ali's Army. Then, as with any such community, we imploded. The fallout has been rather spectacular. Standing up and having the timerity to do what you fucking should do at a rock gig has been loudly frowned upon***. And given that it is always us, the ND****, who start the standing up, we tend to be the unwritten subtext of any such comments. But, as ever, we'd decided that we were standing. Why shouldn't we after all?

We rocked in our seats for the first song, but as the opening bars to Oblivion started there was nothing to do but stand up. Within thirty seconds or so we'd started a wave of people and everyone was standing up. Another thirty seconds later we'd moved to the front of the aisle. At this Griffin noticed us and told us to come and dance in front of the stage. We didn't need asking twice and the next thing I knew I was front centre, with a somewhat pleasing view of Griffin's legs. The next thing after that was that I realised that Griffin's view, as he looked straight down at us from a stage that wasn't much less than five foot high, wasn't entirely disasterous*****.
From that moment in, nothing bothered me. I jumped, danced, sang and came into contact with Griffin's thighs. Such is stage positioning that you can fool yourself into thinking that the singer is singing for you. I will maintain for the rest of my life that I got a wink at one point, such is a gig that it could have well been aimed at the man behind me and I wouldn't know any different. If I'd been analysing everything during the interval then when 'Wherever You Will Go' started I realised something that I badly needed to realise. That I didn't care. And I think that I need to state that again. I DIDN'T CARE. And by that I mean that at that moment, in the midst of the song, there was nothing else. I was back to every Griffin gig I'd been to, every trip I'd made, everything which has been part of the story. And my own wherever you will go had never been conditional. If, God forbid, we're ever asked as fans to do something again, I'll be free to make my own choice based on my experience. But as I sang those words as loudly and as pointedly as I've ever sung them I realised that, if I'm honest, I still believe in everything that song represents. I've changed. Griffin's changed. The situation's changed. But I believe enough to sing those words. It would have been hypocritical of me to stand singing at the front of that stage if I didn't. But I could. And I can't say that everything's going to be alright for eternity, and I'm not even sure that it's going to be alright for everyone in our sweaty group picture at the end of the show. But for me, for now, it is. As if I needed any other pointer, for the first song of Griffin's encore he sang 'Is This The Way To Amarillo?'. Coincidence or predictability regardless, it was possibly a little marker that we might still be headed in the same direction.

By the end of the gig, as we attempted to get water off of Louis, I felt like I was nearing an asthma attack even though I don't have asthma. As Penny pointed out in a comment on my previous Griffin blog, atmosphere has been a problem. Ever since I saw Griffin perform in Bristol to a sea of cameras I've been radically aware of this. My answer? To do all the normal stuff I'd do at a gig but knotched up by at least ten. And since my only exercise has been turning over the pages of my books, I was a little out of breath at the end. After some disgustingly fizzy water, more talk with the ever lovely Riccardi boys and a quick trip to the loo, it seemed that we were about to leave. This was until Nik and I became part of the re-enactment of one of Griffin's videos in honour of one of our midst who is going to live in Germany at the end of this week. Once I'd gotten my award-winning acting out of the way******, we really were ready to go.

Until I realised that I'd wanted to give Griffin a SSoB flier. Griffin had been signing near to us when we'd been preoccupied with our fantastic 'people on a sofa' video pastiche. But, however odd the situation with Griffin may be, I did want to tell him about SSoB. Basically I'll tell anyone who'll listen and, really, I'm not even above telling inanimate objects. So I ended up signing a flier for Griffin and then, to much hilarity having my photo taken with my back to Griffin signing fliers. It was at this point of the evening that I had my conversation with the Dancing Bear. And then came the talking to Griffin bit. Which was, as I indicated before, interrupted. Now I know that I would probably be near the bottom on most Griffin fans lists for people who should get to speak to Griffin. There are times when you can see people mentally adding up either how long you've been talking to him for or how many other times you've spoken to him. And because of this it's been my attitude for a long time to stand back and wait. But this time it annoyed me. When I did get to speak to Griffin he was incredibly sweet, even if I did have an internal giggle when he said 'well done' since the last time he used that phrase to me it was in relation to my breasts. How times change. Cue Griffin being convinced that he'd heard of the play - I assured him he wouldn't have - and then him asking what it was about. I was just in the midst of telling him about the "implosion" when for the second time in my life, Val scared Griffin and I into a photo*******. I may be taking to the autograph bit with relish but I couldn't quite get the hang of the paparazzi line. Photoshoot over Griffin enquired if I was going to put SSoB on again and, since I'm not really sure of the answer to that yet - and it's probably out of my hands anyway, I responded with a gloss on the fact that I'm writing another play which I hope to get staged. Maybe I'll leave telling him the exact content for another day...

After popping party poppers in the middle of Ilkey with Billy Bass we were soon on the road back to Leeds. And, for the first time in quite a while, Nik and I spent the morning commenting on numerous things which Griffin had done that we'd found incredibly sweet.

Wherever you will go? Basically, as long as it's not Cambridge, the answer's still yes.

*It's the only way to make it fit.
**That'll be metaphorical holding. Unfortunately.
***It's a mixed metaphor, but I like it.
****Caught up in the heady days of the Bring It On single build up, on a train to Liverpool, we christened ourselves the Northern Division of Ali's Army. The name stuck and I'm incredibly fond of it. When they make a film of us, it'll be good for the merchandise.
*****Nik and I had quite low tops on. I'm sure you can work out the rest.
******I was playing disinterested blonde. And I'm not even blonde. That's how good my acting is.
*******I am of course joking, Val. ;-)


Nik said...

*Ahem* One must not forget the fact that should a certain Mr Fox be in said musical, Nik gets to snog him - u agreed. Verbal agreement is binding in the state of...oh wait, sorry I thought I was in the middle of an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S there.
Anyway, fab report, mine is resigned to tomorrow when I am procrastinating. Love ya xxx

Val said...

Amazing Coza! and I emphatically did not 'scare' you into a pic :)I agree with lots that you say, but my own feelings remain ambivalent (and I'm not trying to make you cry again) Maybe I've changed as much as him, but it feels like we've seen it all before.

gayle said...

Sums it all up pretty damn well I think. Especially the bit about how sweaty we all were. I take it you'll be cutting and pasting to AG? ;)