When something is meant to be nothing can stop it. Although we had never talked about getting together again until last year it seems inconceivable that this would not have happened. Despite our nerves and the enormous pressure we were under in allowing only 14 hours between meeting up as a complete band and our stage time, once we were all in the same room together it became immediately clear that this was going to work. Excitement and our old all-or-nothing attitude were going to get us through.
But we did more than just survive, we played with a fury and determination that I don’t think any of us had anticipated. Afterwards, a friend tells me that we were always a little different in that what we did meant so much to us. We played as though our lives depended on it. And in a way, they did. To do this in any other way could only result in disappointment and regret. Bleach has a life of its own and always has done. We are a conduit for a howl that won’t be denied. We have no choice; it’s not an option for us to do anything other than forget who we are when we become constituent parts of this feral beast.
Of course, we spend rehearsal time talking about Neil’s hangover, my trip down from Yorkshire, the poor plumbing in the studio kitchen and Steve’s hat. We drink tea, eat take away food and argue half-heartedly about bass lines. And we check the time. At first it seems that we will have nothing to do in the afternoon, then suddenly we are beginning to pack up and await the van. Always the same, hurry up, hang around, repeat.
What quickly becomes clear to Chris, who takes photos throughout the day, is that we have enormous affection for each other. We are never critical, but each finds tactful ways to move things forward and to keep to our timescale. Dividing up tasks, giving each other space, listening and being open to suggestion. I began this blog as a way of explaining to him what this reunion meant to us…how much history we shared and how significant it was. I had tried to explain that I’d been in a band but that it wasn’t just any old band; it had consumed our lives for a while. Saturday proved that.
Just before we went on stage the Daft Punk track One More Time blared out over the PA. Crammed in a tiny space between a curtain and a stack of chairs we briefly dance and laugh. Steve points out that we never used to do this, that we never had a “together” moment before going on stage. It’s true, but it seems odd, as at this moment it was the only way to be. Stepping out in front of an audience again gave us all a huge surge of adrenaline, and we did what we wanted to; played out of our skins, as Steve would say. Although we were immensely happy and enjoyed being on stage an enormous amount, the photos show the serious intent and focus of our performance.
Some people might find it strange that we don’t really interact on stage, but it’s just not necessary. Our interaction is the music. We are part of a single entity; we share the same thoughts and move through our songs in an intuitive and symbiotic way. I should probably smile, because I’m so happy to be doing this, but it doesn’t really occur to me. I’m too focused on playing my part and I’m not doing that for the audience; I’m a servant of the thing we have created.
Was it good? Did we enjoy it? Did the audience like it? I think we can answer yes to all of these questions. Old friends are visibly moved by the ricochet of energy from the past. We talk, catch up, hug and marvel at how quickly the years have flown. I’m excited but exhausted. Of course we still have one more gig to go…and we can’t wait.
Being back with this group of opinionated, quietly obsessive people is wonderful. We are all owned by the thing we have created and being brought back together feels so right. We click into place because the cogs and wheels have been quietly turning in some deep part of our psyches all these years. We each have a balanced, fulfilling life, but I think it’s fair to say that the band is one of the best and most significant things we have all been a part of because it offers us something that nothing else can. It takes us into a world of our own creation where we have chosen to set no boundaries and which will always exist within in us, no matter where in the world we might find ourselves.