I was invited to play at the launch party for She Makes War’s new album Disarm last week, and it was an absolutely brilliant night. I managed to slightly spoil it for myself by making a few tactical errors, but more of those later…
The party was on the Tamesis – a moored boat on the Albert Embankment. It’s a great little venue for a gig or party, albeit not very harp-friendly – steps, vertiginous slope, more steps, a steep flight of stairs, and a perilously uneven floor.
Laura Kidd (aka She Makes War) had assembled an amazing bunch of musicians, photographers, hula-hoopers and other creative types for the night, which kicked off with a screening of a few self-directed videos for some of the album tracks.
Then came the unassuming but utterly arresting Anna Madeleine. I loved her set of dark, disjointed sweet-yet-completely-weird tunes. Next up was singer-songwriter and poet Bass, who did a short set of moody acoustic numbers. And then it was my turn.
I did myself no favours at all over this gig. Because of my hand problems and lack of time, I didn’t practice enough beforehand, so I was a wee bit stressed about my performance. And the set-up didn’t help much – all night, the harp was right next to a very wobbly speaker tower, which I could see wobbling dangerously in the direction of my harp every time someone walked past (never mind the trip hazards everywhere…) It was cold, and my hands were starting to seize up.
Instead of taking a deep breath and chilling out with my knitting, I decided to have an espresso to warm my hands and perk me up. This was a really bad move, and – clearly – I am an idiot. By the time I took to the stage, I was strung out like a toddler on an all-day Haribo bender. I had to have a couple of goes at starting one number, and then aborted it again due to a nearly-broken string going badly out of tune.
Still, people seemed to like it. I played Summertime (Gershwin), Enter Sandman (Metallica), Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), Sweet Child O’Mine (Guns’n’Roses) and Billie Jean (Michael Jackson). Not exactly the classic harp repertoire, but I had a lot of fun and it went down well.
Laura played next – a punchy and energetic set packed with really great and memorable songs. I’ve been humming them all week, which must be a good sign. I really loved the five-part audience harmony at the end.
Then there was poetry, dancing, chatting, going home far too late for a schoolnight, and spending half the night awake on a caffeine and adrenaline high. A brilliant time was had by all – and there was even a Twitter hashtag (#warboat), so people could catch up with what they missed. The future is now!