So….those of you that know me, know me as having fronted The Cureheads the original tribute to The Cure for the past 21 years…those of you that know me a little better will know me as singer of Nosferatu’s early time. Those of you that know me even better will know me as front man of my own original rock band ‘The Hiram key’……those of you that really really know me well (and can still stand to be around me for extended lengths of time) will know about my secret passion for West End Musicals, in particular one musical that I seemingly know every word and inflection for…. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR…. those of you that know this will have had to listen to my in depth arguments of it’s context and deeper meaning and may have even endured me wailing it through band sound checks or even worse in Karaoke bars around the world.
One particular rendition of mine of Gethsemanie made famous by Steve Balsamo was given together with the cocktail pianist of Frank Sinatra’s restaraunt in New York, hours before a Cureheads show.
We had all gotten ready to play and were in full Cure make-up and hairspray and had decided to grab a bite before we headed to the venue.
The concierge of the hotel we were staying at pointed us down the street to the the left and we duly followed with our empty stomaches and backcombed hair, we must have looked a strange site entering the famous Italian eatery frequented by New York’s upper echelons. It wasn’t until we were seated at a table and were handed the menus over the first glass of wine that we noticed to our horror that the menus had no prices next to the dishes. Out of pure Britishness and embarrassment we decided to stay and suck up and enjoy what was sure to be the most expensive ‘Spag Boll’ we would probably ever eat.
However, we soon noticed that we were being almost ignored by the waiters, no matter how we tried to signal the spotless waistcoated professionals who glided by as if on ice, they would not see us. It was as if our general air of costumed ridiculousness (now forgotten about completely by ourselves as we sank closer to the bottom of the second bottle of wine) was some invisible barrier made of sound proof glass.
That was until our saviour entered……. a young lady came into the building and on getting a glimpse of us through the darkened early hour moody lighting of the Italian restaurant gave out a stifled scream. From that moment forward, the barrier evaporated and we became the focus of almost every waiter in the joint. Our orders were taken at high speed and extra drinks appeared (Compliments of the management) and we were not totally sure, but every now and then the resident cocktail pianist would add a flourish from a Cure song into whatever early evening standard he was playing at the time. We didn’t know it at the time but the young lady in question was the daughter of the owner and also a huge Cure fan. It soon became evident to us that she had clocked our English accents and together with: the hair, the makeup and the low lighting had put 2 and 2 together and come up with three thousand and seventy five.
This seemed harmless and amusing enough except that every person that came up to our table and asked us if we were indeed THE CURE refused to acknowledge the part of the answer that said ‘No we are just The Tribute band and are playing at the Bat Cave up near Madisson this evening’……at some point between the main course and dessert the subservient cocktail pianist came out of the closet about his Cure fetish….. ‘Ladies and gentleman we’d like to wish Mr Robert Smith and his band mates The Cure a wonderful concert at Madison Square Gardens this evening!’, this was followed by a huge ripple of applause from the rest of the dinner suited diners and the sound of a piece of bread becoming lodged in my throat in protest. The next few minutes are now a blur of Bordeaux and Steinway as the pianist came over and took me by the hand and led me to share his piano stool and asked me what I should like to sing.
My mind was almost a blank and I was in a state of pure panic, until the solution hit me. There was no way that I could stand up and sing a song by the Cure or that would be aiding and abetting the illusion that had grown up in the minds of the people around me, at the same time it was now too late and would provide great offence and embarrassment for all these rich people who had no idea who the cur were anyway except that this illusion gave their mind a reason as to why these freaks had been allowed in their presence.
2 Weeks earlier in the UK I had played Judas for 10 shows in an AM DRAM version of JCS in Stevenage with a group called The Lytton Players.
I quickly whispered to the pianist (do you know any JCS?) he looked at me puzzled and said “I actually depped keys in that show 2 yrs ago… Gethsemanie OK?” , I gulped down the rest of my Bordeaux and nodded.
Off we went! A man in huge white trainers and a baggy crumpled suit, with red lipstick and a huge mop of backcombed hair, took the microphone and stood up and delivered (what I am assured was) a booming rendition of Gethsemanie complete with a Ted Nealy ‘WHYYYYYYYYYYYY’ to some of new York’s richest socialites in Frank Sinatra’s favourite Spaghetti House….I remembered very little of it myself and was totally shocked to receive a standing ovation from the pre-opera crowd.
Imagine this lot in your favourite cafe…
When it was time to pay our bill we were shocked to find that it had been taken care of by table 24 and drinks had been taken care of by table 16 (all of who stood up and waved). As we left the place all the waiters were lined up outside, this was too much for me and I ran all the way back to the hotel where the promoter was ready to drive us to the venue to begin our proper concert that evening…….we never spoke about that night for at least two years.
Today…..I have entered ITV’s Superstar competition to find a new Jesus and Judas. I decided to keep this blog to record my preparation and thoughts as I progress toward the audition. I will add recordings of me attempting to train my voice up to the higher notes etc…..
To keep you entertained here is one I made today….. I’m not totally happy with it as I need to strengthen my higher range and find my rock vibrato again….. I shall speak about how I intend to do that tomorrow… Today I received an email form ITV asking which audition I would like to attend and which three songs I would like to sing at audition.
For now have a listen to my first attempt at blowing the cobwebs out with the song that opens JCS.
It’s a Judas song and deals with demonstrating to the Audience how disillusioned Judas is becoming with Jesus and expressing his concern at just how much attention Jesus is getting, both from huge crowds of commoners who will expect something special from him and from the Roman Authorities.
This post was written by Gary Clarke, Gothic Rock vocalist, frontman of The Cureheads & The Hiram Key and closet Rock Musical Aficionado (currently preparing for The ITV Superstar auditions). You can catch up with him on his personal blog here and of course on Twitter here. Do it! He’s a talented guy!
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