Perils of…singing live

As I write this, I am hungover, and trying to forget that I sang live in a busy pub of locals, friends, enemies, and lovers, in my hometown for the first time. This was by far one of the most nerve-wracking, terrifying experiences of my young adulthood. I’ve been putting this one off for a while now, but it had to come at some point. And last night was the night. Singing live is something I have always wanted to do, but never wanted anyone to see, or hear – especially my childhood friends of 10+ years. I don’t even sing aloud in my house in front of my brother and parents.

The seconds turned into minutes, the minutes turned into hours, and the hours dragged on. It gets to 23:40, only 20 minutes left to sing. There’s only 3 problems. I can’t play any instruments, I don’t know that I’m going to sing, and the guy before me is really fucking good. I needed to find a musician.

Mat Roberts.

Now Mat Roberts is probably the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet. A seasoned musician, presenter, and Bedfordian, he is the human jukebox. Putting off speaking to him all night, I finally grab him and hurriedly explain my desperate quest for a song, a band of musicians, and some confidence and dignity, oh and explain I am Serena, nice to meet you etc.

He sorts me out. There’s only one problem left. The only song I can do, (Valerie- Amy Winehouse), has just been sang by another woman (several) moments before I’m due to (possibly) go on stage. Needing a plan B, I consult the sea of blank faces that are my friends, only for there to be a miscommunication. No, I am not singing Plan B, I simply need a ‘plan B’ to sing.

After hours of debating, I think fuck it I’ll just sing it anyway. Feeling like David Brent at an orgy of good musicians, I approach the stage, my time to shine. False alarm, it’s not quite my turn yet. Back to the holding pen for me.

Waiting and waiting. And waiting, Mat calls me to the stage, (I say stage, it’s more of a raised step, elevating you slightly above ground level and into the realms of utter humiliation, and to Mat Roberts’ smiling, encouraging face).

But it’s okay, I’m four pints of Foster’s and a glass of white wine in. I’m all set. I’m physically shaking at this point; turns out Foster’s isn’t the best numbing agent. I stand to the mic, I’m short, and it had to be lowered by quite a bit. I’ve never even held a proper microphone! I look around into the eyes of the people. The people of Bedford, ready and waiting to be entertained, dissecting me with their eyes.

I start to sing. I expected to close my eyes and imagine I was anywhere but there, but once I started, I found comfort in the eyes of encouraging audience, who were having a great time.

With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand this to be the mere bodily functions of drunken bliss.

I sing, the old lady at the front smiles and winks to me, putting her thumb up in encouragement.

But I can’t help thinking this is all out of pity. Either way, I didn’t get kicked off stage so I must’ve done something right! I was pleasantly surprised with the response. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Once you get past the crippling anxiety and days of apprehension, it’s actually not too bad.

I expected it to go like this,

But it actually went like this,

(At least it did in my head, my stupid, drunken head)

Now I must confess, I’ve sang live before, karaoke nights, Freshers’ Week when I’d moved to a different country and didn’t know a single soul. But never in front of my bawdy mates. But I have to say, it’s one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done, and I’ll be doing it again. The encouragement I received really made me feel good, and the adrenaline, the sheer rush I got coming ‘off stage’, is a moment I would relive again in a heartbeat.

This column is all about living for the now, I thought I would deeply regret this terrifying experience, but I came out thinking, why haven’t I done this before?

Life’s too short to be scared of trying something new, and you can surprise yourself. I’m on a bit of a soppy note today but if anyone out there is thinking of trying something new, like singing live, but is too nervous; go for it. There is nothing to lose.

This column, unlike the rest, really has no perils of, only this;

the perils of not doing something different, sooner.

[Serena Ruberto – @shrpixie]

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