The fact that I’m sitting amongst a pile of road cases looking over at Chris’s piano must mean that the summer holidays really are over.
I had intended to go away somewhere nice for a week or two. To be honest though, getting on a plane wasn’t top of my list of things to do once we got home from our “round the world in 13 days” mission. By my reckoning, a complete lap of the planet in under two weeks gave us an average speed of over 80 miles an hour for the entire trip. No wonder I quite fancied sitting still for a bit…
Being back in the rehearsal room after a four week break though, definitely makes this feel like the first proper day back. In reality, I’ve been slowly easing back in over the last week or so. I’ve been prepping some new songs that’ll be getting a run through during these rehearsals. Paradise is mere days from breaking free from the studio into the big wide world, so learning how to play it live seems like a sensible plan for the band at this stage.
I have a love hate relationship with rehearsals. I adore the idea of sitting around with all the gear out and no pressure of a gig at 9pm. It’s a chance to tidy up loose ends, go through your work box and generally get your house properly in order before the chaos of touring kicks in. That’s the theory at least. The reality is that it’s always about either getting new songs happening, or making major changes to existing tunes. Given that my corner of things is getting the keyboard rig programming in order, it tends to work out being the most hectic period of all for me.
Trying to sit at a computer getting Dav Rossi’s string section and Will’s programmed beats all lined up and ready to go can be murder when the rest of crew giving it “One Two One Two”, or turning the amps up to stun. For this reason, I tend to stay late. An hour’s work in silence without interruption usually yields more results than half a day of not being able to hear yourself think. It never makes you popular with the fella that works here who’s sitting waiting to lock up, mind.
I remember that this phase of things on X&Y is when I first heard Fix You. Dan Green and I had been up at a studio in west London pulling the multi-tracks apart and I was driving back to the rehearsal room to get to work. It only took a couple of listens for that song to burn itself forever into the brain. Even on a first listen, the degree to which people would take it to their hearts was completely obvious.
Up In Flames feels the same to me right now. It’s immense. I first heard it when the guys were sound-checking at the iTunes show. Apparently, Chris had started the song the previous night, so it was less than 24 hours old at that point. It was hypnotic in its simplicity, but devastatingly, achingly gorgeous. The final version has lost none of this and is a masterwork of restraint. It hasn’t been crammed with a million ideas and embellishments. Every part is there simply to enhance the emotional impact. I can only predict floods of tears in every quarter.
DLIBYH couldn’t possibly be heading in any more different a direction emotionally. It’s almost violently life affirming. I remember texting Phil during the Glastonbury rehearsals when they first played Charlie Brown in its live incarnation. I was amazed at how vast and invigorating it sounded. They’re going to blow the sodding walls out when they kick into this one tomorrow…
Ah yes, tomorrow – the band arrive at lunchtime for a full day of rehearsals. I guess I’d better make sure I’m ready…
So from a very quiet and empty rehearsal room, I shall bid you goodnight.