It’s hard to describe the thing that happens where I’m both very cool-headed and out of my mind when I perform. Two different parts of my brain are at work, I guess. On the one hand there’s a part that’s sitting back and analyzing everything. And then there’s the side that is leaping in and taking chances and riding the high. Spock and Kirk, I suppose.
I’m pretty sure Ziggy has a similar thing going on in his head.
When things go wrong it’s sometimes because one or the other got overly dominant, or they get out of synch. And there’s not time to figure things out. Performance is different from composing or recording. Everything is what it is. There’s only so much you can change as you go along.
And sometimes things just go plain wrong.
I was really angry when I sang/screamed in front of Star*Gaze. I guess the music we made had the same kind of contrast going on. The music was intricate, multi-harmonic, changing modes…. cerebral. My singing/screaming performance on the other hand was anything but. Going out of my head was the only way to do it, though.
And then it was done and it was time to focus on the main show again. Bernard un-messed my hair, and I got into my show outfit as usual. My hand was feeling all right so I tuned my guitar myself just to have something to focus on, getting grounded. Or trying to, anyway.
Dark, forbidding-looking clouds moved in during the gap between our sets. Maybe they’re not that dark, I tried to tell myself, and it’s just now that the sun has set they just look like that. As we took the stage with the samba-drum opening to “Parade,” the wind began to whip up. I tried not to think too much about it. It wasn’t like I could do anything about it if it rained.
The set went on pretty much as it should have, but the crowd did not seem as loud or frenzied as the previous ones. Were Chileans just quieter? Or was it that they were nervous about the weather?
Ziggy seemed to be taking their reticence personally, and he broke off singing a line or two, holding his hand to his ear trying to get them to sing, and making the motion for them to clap their hands. They would for a few beats and then they would trail off.
There was a point in the middle of “After the Storm” where I had a solo. I was a bit surprised when Ziggy jumped up on the riser next to me during it. The crowd seemed to like that a lot, as I played to him and kind of chased him around the front of the riser with the guitar. He lured me down off the riser, in fact, and we finished the song at the front of the stage together.
As the last note rang out, the crowd began to cheer, and then there was a huge crack of thunder and lightning and everyone in the audience crossed themselves simultaneously.
Maybe their prayers were answered. It never rained on us. The thunderclouds passed over and by the time it was time for the encore, the moon came out.
I escape the post-show party at the hotel as early as I could. I found my way to the roof and wasn’t totally surprised to find a couple of other people from our crew up there. I sat there watching scraps of clouds cross the face of the moon for a while. It was cold, but not too cold, and I was wearing layers.
Marvelle came and sat down next to me and handed me a bottle of beer. It was something local. I decided it would be polite to have a few sips at least. “Thanks. How’s it going?”
“It goes, my man. It goes. How about you?”
“Same. You like how the Parade thing is shaping up?”
The lights up there were dim. It’s not like you were supposed to go up there to read the paper. I could barely see Marvelle’s face, but I could see he nodded and could hear his voice clearly. “I like it. I think it’s going to rock the house when we get to Brazil.”
“My only worry is, you know, in Brazil they really know their samba.”
“That’s why it’s great we got Rogelio working on this. Get some genuine bateria guys. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Good.” It was nice to see Marvelle excited about something. I felt like a lot of the time he was trying to project a too-cool-for-school attitude, but I didn’t know him well and might’ve been reading him wrong.
We sat there watching the clouds for a while longer. We finished our beers. Then as he was getting up to go back in he asked me, “Hey, you seen Brad tonight?”
“Not for a while. He was with Colin the last time I saw him.”
“You know, the tall guy with the neck tattoos?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know who you mean.”
He left and I sat there for a little while longer, because it would’ve felt weird if I’d left at the same time. Right? You know. It’s better if you disengage cleanly in a social situation instead of it getting awkward.
What got awkward, though, was that some of the other people on the roof were making out. I noticed it the moment Marvelle left, which made me wonder if he’d noticed it first and was part of why he left when he did. I waited another minute or two. From the sound, it was three people making out together?
I caught sight of them as I made my way back to the stairwell. Dancers. Of course.
(Another top 40 hit from 1991. Not our usual genre, but given what happens in this chapter, I had to pick this off the list. -d)