It was exactly 11 months between Neil sending a message suggesting we play together again and our second and last reunion gig; 11th August 2014 to 11th July 2015. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that this has been the happiest period of my life so far. It’s not just the excitement, anticipation and realisation of our getting Bleach back together, though this has been a total revelation. During this time I’ve also watched my son complete his primary education, growing into a fine young man, and I’ve met and fallen in love with someone truly extraordinary. Life has been filled with joy and laughter and this Saturday’s performance as part of “Webbstock”, Kristina and Carl’s wedding celebration, has been the cherry on the icing on the prize-winning cake.
We played, without much of the anxiety and fear that had haunted our headline show in Ipswich two weeks previously, and we enjoyed it. Yes small children put their fingers in their ears, but we looked out at our friends and family and it didn’t really matter so much whether we’d ever sold a record or received a bad review. Although it’s hard to play in front of relatives for a whole host of reasons it was a good night. At last we played like a real band; all pulling in the same direction at the same time. We smiled, shared jokes with each other and cherished every second.
After the gig, the first person backstage was my son, proud and excited, ready to pack away my guitar and help carry equipment. His approval meant so much – he loves his music and would not have held back if he had not enjoyed watching us. Helping Steve pack his drums away, knowing that they might not see the light of day again, was like assembling a time capsule. I add a set list for him to find one day, to remind him of the sunny, happy afternoon in rural Suffolk when we played for fathers, mothers, siblings, children and lovers.
It’s taken a day or two for it all to sink in…the rekindling of friendships and reigniting of dreams. Neil’s wife Jill tells me that Neil is happy again now that he’s playing his guitar; that the old Neil is back. I know that I have felt elated and fulfilled in a way that has been absent for a long time. We have all gained something from this experience. The trick is working out how to maintain the momentum, each of us, now that we are done.
Neil will be flying back to Australia with Jill tomorrow. What I now know is that wherever we are, we carry this with us. We may never play together again, but I’ll always be part of Bleach, because it’s a part of me. It’s not possible to leave this band. Like a secret crime ring, there’s only one way out and we are all a long way from that one-way trip.
I’ll miss looking forward to this period of madness and I’ll miss writing this blog. It began as an experiment and has far exceeded my expectations, in terms of helping me gain confidence in my writing and in developing discipline. I must stop now, though.
All I have to say is that being in the band was an amazing, if taxing, experience and that I was very, very lucky to go on that journey with such wonderful people. I’ll regard them as friends for the rest of my life and will always love them for being brave when it counted.
Nick, Neil and Steve, thank you for making this happen.
If you are still interested in our story or in what happens next…
Our archivist and drummer Steve has been posting every scrap of press we received to a dedicated Facebook page as a parallel to this blog. Find it here:
If you’re attentive you’ll have spotted that all of these blog posts are named after songs. I’ve built a Spotify playlist including each title as I’ve gone along…it’s an eclectic mix and is music that I love as well as reflecting the content of the posts. Music for an unplanned Saturday night with friends and too much alcohol? You decide:
And if you’re interested in what I do next I’ll be going back to my original plan to write occasional, longer pieces on memory, misunderstanding and my unshakable faith in love:
Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it.
PS. Join a band, how could you ever regret it?