THIS THING ABOUT LIVE PERFORMANCES...


Lots of people for many years now keep asking me when I'm going to tour. For a start, I don't really do 'touring' in its conventional sense. What I 'do' is write songs and release them as recorded works. I've become quite good at it. It takes a lot of time and effort I'd say that I am as driven now as I was when I was younger. This is why the recordings continue to sell and to sound distinctive -- if that sort of thing is what you like. I don't bother to promote them heavily. I don't send out review copies --unless asked to, usually. The BBC don't usually play much music by me. I don't do much in the way of TV or radio nowadays. I don't feel that I need to. And I don't want to. The people in charge of TV are not the kind of people I like.

As for what's left of rock media mags. Not much point in sending them anything really. Most have gone from supplying coffee table content for late middle aged men, through into cultural archaeology and from there down into musical necrophilia.

The Cleaners from Venus audience, many of them, won't even be aware of such magazines existing. A current UK mainstream obsession with 'Americana' dictates that the music which I create would be of little interest to them anyway. A similar thing happened in the mid 1970s, before punk, when an entire British music media was occupied by The Doobies, the Eagles, Little Feat and other examples of sonic blankies which Brits in premature middle age traditionally default to when the pop charts turn to porridge.

Do I wanna tour? Not in the conventional rock'n'roll sense, no. I prefer playing to audiences of 100 to 500 people. Any more than that and the intimacy is ruined. It becomes scarf-waving stuff. I don't like rock venues. A man of my age should be playing to a small theatre, ideally, where I can wander round between a piano and a guitar, punctuating the music with stories and the odd poem. I can excel in that kind of gig.

I don't say any of this stuff, lightly. One of the reasons I don't like touring is the travelling and all the unpredictable cock-ups that go along with it. It seriously rattles me. The boredom of it all is also appalling. I could be writing and making records, while these people, many of whom can't or won't do their jobs as conscientiously as I do mine -- will faff around holding me up.

I don't really care about the money that much. If I ever made much more than I do now, my chief problem would be making the decision of who would best benefit by my giving it away to them.

As for fame. Well I once used to feel that no one appreciated my work at all. In fact as a young man I was often told that I'd 'never make it'. This was generally by people who feared that I might actually make it, and wanted to keep me in my place, in case I high-lighted their own feelings of stasis. Fame, though, is like cheap scotch. Some people ( I include myself) should either never go near it, or else only have one shot of it on the odd occasion.

I do like performing. Sometimes. Still, only about 10 percent of doing a gig involves actual performing. The other 90 percent is travelling, preparation, promotion, kit-checks and rehearsal. It's great to meet the people who like the music. That's very life-affirming. If there's much travelling to do, however, for maybe two weeks prior to the trip, I'll wake in the small hours, fretting about it.

I spent the first 6 six years of my music 'career' doing live gigs nearly all the time. I was between 20 and 26 years old. It was often a struggle But also it could be terrific fun, learning 'my craft' etc etc. It was also, sometimes, like running a gauntlet -- especially in my own hometown. People don't like you doing the dress-up and acting the part. . You may see it as making an extra effort. Many will see it as showing off. Those early years were like a long and largely unpaid apprenticeship.

And yet there persists a clamour to see me live. I'm not even that good. I'm a shambolic sort of performer. People used to seeing top-class acts in stadiums just won't get the joke. I, of course, delight in fuck-ups. I think they're funny. Because if you don't struggle too much for slickness, fuckups will sometimes possess genuine unrepeatable moments of greatness. Lastly, but not least, I have to consider my age and physical condition. Make no mistake, I'm in remarkably good nick...for a man of my age. But I am still a man of my age, with a tendency to melancholy and instability when removed from my natural environment. I need good sleep and a simple diet. I thrive on routine. I never even go on holiday. I find it too stressful. So there are good reasons why I don't tour.

It's worth mentioning that I actually get on best when gigging, with the people who I work with: the sound technicians, film makers, musicians...you know? The other people on the shop floor. What I don't get on with are some of the total dickheads who hang around. They appear in dressing rooms. They go for your rider: eating the food, drinking the beer, dropping names and generally being c***s. I have been known to shout, "Who are all these fucking twats, and what are they doing in my dressing room?" It does not make me look very graceful. But it does get results. So there you are, kids. These are some of the reasons why I don't go out on tour much. Mainly though, the words of the last woman who walked out on me, still echo in my head. "If you tour America, you will come home in a box." Mind you, I'm still considering it. Ha ha. Next year maybe.

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