KILLER STAGE PROPS

It'll be a bit quiet for Dreaming of Kate for a couple of weeks, after last Friday's show at the Epstein theatre in Liverpool. 

The show was out first return show as Dreaming of Kate, and because it was in our hometown, we could bring a little more to the table than usual. And the fact that the whole band was in Liverpool gave us the opportunity to finally see if we could record some bits and pieces too. 

We could start setting up as early as 10 in the morning, which is usually when we hop in our van. Jerney and I were allowed to come over slightly later, to give me as much rest in the morning as possible. We knew I would need it.

I was at the theatre at 11, make-up-less and windswept. The itinerary for the day kept changing every hour, so I thought it would be wise to start getting ready as soon as possible. I brought my costumes to my dressing room, planning on ironing them for the video shoot, and doing my hair and make up for the interview with Bay TV (scheduled around 2 but possibly earlier.

Even before I had reached my dressing room, Bay TV had arrived, so I rushed with the make up to get ready for the interview. Sitting on the edge of the balcony (never mind my fear of heights) I chatted with the interviewer about the show and about Kate. Then it was time for a little music. This time having the whole band around, we recorded an acoustic version (the sound system wasn't set up yet) of Army Dreamers and The Man With The Child In His Eyes.

While the band and crew were setting up the stage, I asked Paul if Jerney and I could go out for lunch for a bit, because it might be the last chance I would have at a proper meal for the rest of the day. Which turned out to be true.

After that lunch, it was time for our soundcheck/rehearsal. We had added a new song to the set list, and we had an extra song just for the occasion. We had to run through them a couple of times. Meanwhile it appeared the new set list I had emailed, hadn't reached sound engineer Ben and light engineer Zak yet. So we had to make sure that they got the right set list and I had to give Zak some instructions for the new song in between the attempts to get the new song right.

I noticed I started running out of time, so I decided to do the last part of the rehearsal from my dressing room while ironing my costumes (convenient, wireless headset microphone and in ear monitors). While I was still ironing, the guys who would be shooting the video arrived. I swear, a day doesn't have enough hours!

Because we are struggling to record a whole show (theatres charge a lot of money for a video shoot in their venue, and usually you have to warn the audience there'll be cameras around when they buy their ticket). We do however need a proper PR video, so people understand better what it is we're doing. These videos are usually manipulated (and by that I mean that even though you see live images, at least some bits and pieces are usually re-recorded in a studio). We had made a plan to at least show some of the dance moves and outfits, and make a nice montage video of those. And the band needed to be in it, otherwise people would still not understand the kind of show we're doing.

We had to start shooting some clips for the video with Paul missing, because he had forgotten our ball... Which we wanted to use for the video shoot! We started shooting some close ups of my face and some spinning from the intro of Wow. Luckily, Paul was back quite soon. We continued with a couple of other clips, while Paul kept running back and forth to blow up the ball backstage.

We saved the clips of the ball till the very end, and we were running a bit late. Which meant that by the time the reporter of The Irish Post arrived at the theatre, I was just standing on the stage next to the ball in a nude colour body stocking. Great... 

The reason we haven't used the ball for Breathing lately (some people might remember the ball from our time with WOW The Show), is that even though you never saw him, there was always someone sitting behind the ball. This person was Dave, and he was the reason I never felt unsafe in that ball. Before the song, he had to open the zipper, I had to jump in and he would close the zipper. Throughout the song, he would sit behind me, making sure I was safe (on one occasion the zipper wouldn't shut, and I never noticed, because Dave actually held the zipper shut with his hands!). Then during the last (the dramatic) part, he would open the zipper and let the ball deflate so that at the end if the song I would have died in the womb, and the ball would be fully deflated (sometimes I could actually feel the plastic almost in a vacuum on my cheek). As soon as the lights went out, Dave would make sure that I got out ok.

Obviously there is some danger involved, so there are very few people I trust enough to  operate the ball. It takes a couple of hard to describe characteristics, but I guess eye for detail, sense of responsibility and the ability to keep one's head cool and react properly in unexpected and stressful situations are what's needed. I had given Paul three names of people I trust with this (apart from Dave). John was the 'lucky' one. To prepare for it, Paul and John had put John's girlfriend in the ball a while ago. It actually needs practice to open and close the ball quickly. I have no idea how their attempt went, I just got a message from John's girlfriend saying "please don't die in the ball". Which is always comforting of course...

Our first attempt wasn't great. It was for the photo/video shoot. The ball was half deflated by the time the zipper was closed. paul topped up the ball for the shoot, which took a couple of minutes of precious air, so by the end of the song I noticed I was running out of oxygen. They quickly got me out of the ball. I needed a couple of minutes to catch my breath and some clothes for my interview.

After a good interview (it was a relaxed talk with someone who is obviously a massive Kate fan, I looking forward to the actual article), John suggested trying to see if we could practice some more with the ball. I gave him a couple of suggestions about the position of the zipper and how far to open it, and a couple of tries later we had it mastered. Because the band were out, we couldn't run through the whole song though, so I suggested John would open the zipper later than Dave used to, so there would be no chance of it deflating too quickly.

The Epstein audience was lovely, and was packed, apart from a couple of open spaces here and there. I had been afraid of being knackered by show time, with the day I had already had, but I felt truly energetic, and the audience made me buzz even more!

Now for the people who remember, the last time I was on this (sloped) stage, it was so slippery I nearly slipped and fell while I was actually standing still. I was glad to find out they had done something about it, but they might have overdone it... In Hammer Horror, I swing a chair around from side to side, and then throw it away, sliding it across the stage. To control it, I hold on to the chair and run around it. This time I swung the chair, threw it away, ran with the chair, and then the chair instantly got stuck to the floor. I could feel the chair stopping, but my body continuing to run; I just couldn't stop in time. The chair held me down, but my feet were still running; I had to fall. I fell onto the floor, scraping my knee (and apparently my hip as well, but that I didn't notice till way after the show), and I got up quickly to continue (I was in the middle of a sentence). I ended the song by changing the lyrics to 'was that the right thing to do?' Later, I learned that even my band members weren't sure if I had fallen on purpose. So I might have gotten away with it, if I hadn't been tricked in a similar way by the same chair at the end of Lily a little while lately...

At the end of the first set, it was time for the ball. I got in as quickly as I could, but struggled a bit for some reason. john gave me an extra push, and in I was! I could instantly see cameras appearing in the audience. It felt good, being in that ball again. Then in the quiet middle section, John was sure Paul had given him a sign and he opened the zipper too soon! I obviously knew how much of the song was still left and I started solving the problem. Option 1: see how it went and when I had to get out, resulting John having to pull me out of the deflated ball in full light (which wouldn't look good) and thinking of a way to perform the last couple of lines of the song. Option 2: see if I could control the deflating myself, with a much smaller chance of having the problems of option 1. I grabbed the zipper from the inside myself and I could feel the deflating slowing down. I managed to make it till the end of the song, and John could pull me out of the ball in the blackout. John had been really nervous for this, and I could tell he was relieved it was over. Despite the miscommunication about the deflation, I haven't felt unsafe for a second, because I knew John would know when something was going wrong. It is hard for other people to tell when something truly is wrong and when it's not; my stage act is suffering and dying in that ball. I guess my mother is glad she wasn't in the audience this time though...

For this occasion we had invited our friend Brian Cummins, who is involved in several Genesis/Peter Gabriel projects (I have joined him on stage in Holland not too long ago, as you can read here) to join us for Don't Give Up. We hadn't been able to run through the song together, so we had quickly discussed how we would perform it. Apart from Brian struggling with the slope of the stage (well used for his performance), it went really well, and the song was well received.

The rest of the set went quite smoothly, and we had a massive standing ovation at the very end! We were not is a massive rush to pack our gear and leave, so we had extra time to spend with the audience. I already knew that we would have people driving over from Scotland, and I am glad I got a chance to say hi. I posed for photos, signed merchandise and chatted with a lot of lovely people, and I was glad the day had gone so well. Paul mentioned I looked like I was on cocaine, which is the result of fatigue, adrenaline, and physical effort. I was just happy!

The next morning, Jerney, Louis and I drove to Holland (which is the reason this blog is a day later than it normally would have been). Even though I haven't slept much for two nights in a row now, I am still enjoying the vibe of last Friday's show. All the lovely messages are great! 

We will have a couple of quiet weeks, and we will miss the stage, but what a way to start a 'holiday'!


1 comment

  • Trevor Morris

    Trevor Morris Wirral , Merseyside

    I thought the Liverpool show was great - a chance to see what the real Kate would have been like at her peak . A spirited performance and great tribute . The change of lyric and backward glance at the offending chair in Hammer Horror was inspired and very amusing. I look forward to seeing this show again .

    I thought the Liverpool show was great - a chance to see what the real Kate would have been like at her peak . A spirited performance and great tribute . The change of lyric and backward glance at the offending chair in Hammer Horror was inspired and very amusing. I look forward to seeing this show again .

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