Emotional anaesthesia

[first published 28th March 2012]

Last night I went to a concert at the Brighton Dome. It was the Waterboys, ostensibly flogging the new album, An Appointment with Mr Yeats. Now, the album is pretty good, and Mike Scott’s free interpretation of Yeats’ poetry creates something a little more than the sum of all its parts. His cherry-picking of lines from various poems may offend the purist, but in many ways is close to the spirit of Yeats’ own work, as he played wild and loose with Ireland’s mythic past.
Let’s face it, if you can’t play wild and loose with myth, then there’s something very wrong.
Now I’m a dreadful gig-goer, as I’m wildly critical, knowing as I do a little about the process. This is compounded by an increasing susceptibility to sleep when rhythmic stuff is happening. Put me on a train and I’m asleep in minutes, my head dipping, probably accompanied by muttering and foaming at the mouth. I had terrible trouble at a gig I was reviewing once, but somehow I heard everything even while asleep. Lucky escape. The trend for ‘older’ bands to show off their ability to stand up while their audience sit down and mutter if any of their neighbours dare to show any sense of interest in proceedings doesn’t help matters.
So, last night was difficult from the get-go … that and there were issues of a sonic variety. Mike Scott’s mic was uber-sibilant and distorting a little, and the sound in general was poor – though part of this is attributable to our position on the stage-right of the horseshoe that is the circle. The band, I thought, were poor. The drummer and the bass player apparently felt the beat in different places, one ahead of it, the other behind. Not a good thing. Mike Scott himself paced the stage in most equine fashion, pawing at the ground with his hooves in what was probably affected fashion once but has now I suspect become simply the way he plays.
The band simply played their parts without any real connection between themselves, and nothing with the audience whatsoever. Well, they utterly failed to connect with me, that’s for sure.
But I’m beginning to wonder whether something else is going on here. Last night I felt emotionally disconnected; numb. I couldn’t feel anything. Though I could feel my skin. This is a strange phenomenon. I have yet to understand it, it must be said.
While I was feeling nothing but the flexible covering which envelops me, my eyes closed and I drifted off. It’s as if the lack of connection had switched me off – either that or I switched off and thus had no connection available. Which came first …
So, in a chicken and egg situation, one takes the sensible route – the exit. Why sit nodding off when it inhibits the enjoyment of your companions? I left during the interval.
I am beginning to wonder whether this bloody disease is partly culpable. I do seem to be having connectivity issues. Just as my brain has trouble connecting with my left hand, and often my left leg, so my emotional centres seem as if they’ve been bypassed. There may well be a whole host of women now shaking their heads and going ‘no shit’, but it’s not that simple.
Nothing’s ever that simple.
As I left the venue, I shuffled rather than walked … and recently I’ve noticed my gait becoming more compromised. Furthermore, I’ve been looking at chapter four, ostensibly on the attempt to find meaning in the disease, and I’ve realised that I don’t have a clue. What it all means. More than that, however, I don’t even know how to articulate my inability to ascribe it meaning.
I currently feel considerably less than the sum of my parts.

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