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The International Writers Magazine

The Gig
Alex Hay

Kevin strapped on the guitar and searched around for the jack-plug socket in the amp. A voice from the back of the pub shouted something about Oasis and Wonderwall. He thought to himself -’Fuck you, pal! You’re gonny hear what I want to play. Nane o’ yur fuck’n Oasis shite’.

As he connected with the amp - he felt the buzz run through the guitar. It was always the same - the fix - like a junkie’s rush; electric adrenaline. An excitement of images switched ‘on’ - somewhere in the back of his mind; Bo Diddley, Clapton, Page, Townsend - then, the solitary figure of Hendrix strum-storming the stage at Woodstock. He knew they had felt the same feeling - every time. Nothing else mattered once you were up there - the strap across your back and the click of the jack in the box; power!

He spent less than a minute tuning-up - the Strat so reliable it rarely lost a semi-tone even if it hadn’t been touched for weeks. The footlights blinded for a moment and all he could see was weird rainbow rings round the bulbs. His foot tapped-out the intro beat and he hit the first chord.

When he came off stage there was still a group of people at the back of the pub shouting for more. He unplugged the guitar and tried to think back to his performance. He couldn’t remember any part of it. After striking the first note - he moved on to a different world. He wasn’t there - in front of forty-or more people running through hits from other heroes’ pasts - he was inside it all. The guitar - him - the leads - they all connected to a master mixer floating around past fleeting clouds. Flash images of centre-stage at the Hollywood Bowl dazzled his brain then as quickly left - to be replaced by scenes of screaming fans before him - a wave of thousands with lighters aflame - far beyond the line of his vision.

A young lad slapped Kevin on the back and said something kind; ‘great stuff - man’ or some other words of the like. Kevin smiled - thanked him - and continued packing his gear away. The young lad remained next him - hovering.
‘See that wan yi play’d’ the lad spoke to Kevin’s back. ‘That Bowie number - mind?’
Kevin turned - nodded - yet not really remembering a note of it.
‘Aye - well - that wus fuck’n ace- pal - so it wuz’. Yi ken whit ah mean - that yin.’
The young lad imagined a guitar in his hands and strummed the air - shaking his head from side to side. ‘Didnae no whit time it wuz an’ light’s wur low-oh’. He laughed.
‘Yi ken the wan?’
Kevin smiled. The kid sounded more like Bowie than Kevin ever did.
‘Aye wull - ah thoat yi wur the bizniz dae’n that - so yi wur’.
A girl came up to the lad and started pulling at his sleeve.
‘C’moan Tam! Brenda’s huvin’ a party ut hur place. C’moan! Wur aw gonn in a taxi.’
The lad was being dragged away but turned and shouted back. ‘Ah fuck’n rate you pal - nae kiddin.’

Kevin slid the Strat into the bag. He found himself thinking about the lad; the night; the future. The biggest gig you play - is yourself! That’s good enough! Like the young lad - next week - he’d be here again - and gone again.

© Alex N. Hay March 2007

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