Performing for the first time, when you're young, is always a difficult task. Everybody has performance anxiety (however slight) as this tale will explain to you. It was the time of the school concert and we were needed to play. Some friends of mine have neither performed music in a concert before, so naturally they were a little nervous about the idea of making a mistake in front of lots of people.
Now me, I've performed before and even I feel slightly queasy about the concept of playing. I know that I can play and play well enough to perform, but it doesn't make the feeling go away. It's not the shaking, quivering, "What the heck do I do, if I screw up on stage?" type of nerves, but the type where you're slightly tweaked and tense.
We'd been preparing all day. We had a short slot right after the school choir. The curtains would fold back and there we would be, playing on stage in front of everybody. It is not something you should really think about too much, so I didn't.
However by the time we get on stage it is hard not to think about it. By now I'm really anxious and tense and I want to get the damn thing over with.
The last lines from the choir echo round the hall...
The curtain pulls back, revealing us to the crowd...
I keep my eyes on my electric guitar as if willing it fail me now. The strings don't snap however and we have to launch into the first song.
My hand strikes the strings, then the next moment is a blur as this huge walled up feeling bursts free, the music and rhythm streaking through my body. I can't stop now even if I wanted to...
There is no anxiety now. Fire shoots out of my hands and spreads round the hall...
I don't have to remember anything about the changes in the song now. I can feel when it changes (either because of all the practicing we did or because I have gained confidence or because I have mystical powers- or possibly
all three) and react accordingly. That rhythm is there, dancing away in my soul, screaming a noise which needed to be heard. That feeling is worth every bit of practice I did. I live for it.
Then the song ends, but the rhythm hangs in the air, little notes that you can hear in your head...
It rings out a series of notes that are still playing potential promises of music. The blurring ends at this point, the haze has disappeared and I'm left with the sensation of being shagged out and sweaty, but happy. The music is still playing in my head.
The second song begins but I'm more relaxed this time around. The hazy feeling is still there, but that tension has spilt out. As we go into the next song the sensations are less intense.
And that's when I make a mistake.
When I made the mistake I felt an incredible unnatural pull to the senses as the world rushed back into focus. It is like sleeping peacefully, then having icy water poured all over your head. That little force that told me to keep playing no matter what is suddenly at a loose end. I'm forced awake from my concentrated stupor.
This is not like the end of the first song. You ease out of the haze as you finish. But this was not eased out. I was ripped out of the song, as the rhythm inside me was dealt a mortal blow.
There were several things that went through my mind at this point and they all tried to overwhelm me. "Oh bugger, what have I done?" is prominent one, as well as the feelings of panic and fear. Embarrassment is also flaring up. Parts of my brain are still only waking up from the concentrated stupor and have yet to catch up. Parts of me are suddenly registering the world fully, as the haze lifts away.
This all happened within two seconds.
Confronted with all this, I somehow override the thoughts and feelings in my brain and continued to play as if nothing happened. The audience didn't seem to notice as I found out later, but at the time, I was sure everyone had noticed my mistake.
The concert was a success.