There was one guy in the room, standing in front of the stage, as a Zombies record played and showtime drew nearer.
“It is what it is,” I said to Eric backstage, repeating a phrase I’d often heard in the short time I lived in Cleveland and never completely understood. “Stuart’s here, out in the bar, and my older brother John. Alan said he’d be coming, and maybe Graeme too. My old friend Sarah…and with the guy in front of the stage, that makes – an audience?”
“We’ll play and it’ll be fine,” Eric said.
“Should I wear this dress?” I asked him, looking at myself in the mirror. Remembering that stupid drunk guy in Brighton, worried I’d look like I had expectations.
“Of course,” he said. “You look great.”
“Let’s go then,” I said and we laughed and did that little show folk thing that Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara do in “Waiting For Guffman” – click click, sad face happy face, pull my finger.
There were seven in front of the stage now. We started playing the opening song and like magic the room was filling up. Familiar faces and sort of familiar faces and guys in suits and ties youngish people and ones with white hair and glasses. People in black rock and roll t-shirts and work clothes.
It was Washington DC on a Wednesday night and the room was suddenly full of people who’d come to see us play. There was laughing and shouting, pogoing and clapping. Croatians, Russians, people from England and the beltway. It was the last show of a winter US tour I’d looked forward to and then been too sick and out of it on cold medicine to fully appreciate. I didn’t want it to end.