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Get Your Motor Running...
…And head out on the highway. Oh, and take a notebook while you’re at it. Those were Hot Press’ instructions to acclaimed singer/songwriter Mark Geary as he hit the road with The Frames in the good ol’d US of A. And as the following account of spellbinding shows, irate audience members, near-death experiences and suspicious cops shows, it was a hell of a trip. Photography by Shawn Lynch.
Mark Geary, 31 Mar 2005
Drive to Philly for the first show and to do some radio on World café. Ghosts has found its way to some good people here so I’m enjoying not having to talk about why I play acoustic guitar and why I’m depressed... or why I¹m doing the Damien Rice/David Gray/Dave Mathews thing etc etc. People know who I am here so I can just talk about me and my music and where I’m going...walk a mile in a Man’s shoes before you judge him...So here’s my shoes... I’m broke...I owe thousands of dollars…I’m hungry most of the time...I’m lonely and lost and crave the attention of others ... and huge amounts of coffee....
It doesn’t really matter if you like what I do or not – I don’t need to defend any of it. But this life of the road thing is really a crazy one: hotels and the bus and movie after movie and lots of exhausted exclamations, like “Oh shit, you mean after 1,400 miles and two days on the bus you want us to play?” But that’s the reason I’m here.
In spite of the near suicidal tiredness, I love being back here. New York is one of those places for me – it dosn’t matter how long I’m away. All the streets, all the memories, all the faces and the years stack up in front of me. New York changed me and gave me a voice, she took from me too, of course, cos that’s the agreement: nothing for nothing. So she took my innocence and some of my joy (for a time at least); that was part of the bargain. But when I come back here all that pain and learning and disappointment and lost love…all of it sits up and says hello to me, looks me up and down and sees how I’m getting on. And I’m getting on just fine...
This felt like the easiest gig in the world; I felt like I was being welcomed home. I walked on, heart pounding, as it always does, stood in the light and strummed the opening chords. Deep breath and we’re away. I was in the middle of introducing the second song, ‘A Prayer For St. Rita’, when suddenly I felt this stone smack off my chest. I can’t tell you the shock you get when an object comes hurtling through the darkness and hits you. What do you do? What does it mean? I haven’t been on the stage long enough to offend anyone (haha), or maybe I have.
There’s nothing for me to do but to continue – and call the person the biggest cowardly cunt known to humanity. The incident has an interesting pay-off: all thoughts of fears and cheers have been removed and I just sing my balls off and leave. I watch The Frames’ show from the side, then get my guitar and run off and do an extra little show for another two hours in front of about 30 people. Great night, but my eyes are bleeding from tiredness...
Meet up with the lads again in Boston. I’m really fucking late for the show because of a radio interview with Boston University and subsequent difficulties in finding the venue. So Matt, my driver and handler on this leg of the trip has taken steps to try and get us there for sound-check at The Paradise by driving the wrong way into on-coming traffic! I swear we were this close to death! A car appears, jams over to the left, over the ridge and onto the snow – and suddenly we’re right on time! I felt like I was gonna finally appear on the TV show Cops!
The Boston show is hard because the Irish are up for it (lots of rugby tee-shirts). Ultimately, I guess it’s more a testimony to how well The Frames are doing than anything else. I did well though. I kinda tricked them into thinking they were letting me sing my songs, when in fact i was tricking them into listening...in spite of themselves.
Spoke more French in Montreal than I have ever in my life. Glen said they’d really dig it even if i just tried it, so I did. Beautiful theatre and the people were genuinely amazing. Then fucking Glenny gets up and doesn’t say a word in French!!
Toronto – such a hard gig with people shouting “up the Irish”. I just couldn’t reach them tonight. I actually begged them to please help out, but they wouldn’t. I left. Lots of people after the show couldn’t understand what had happened... I tried to explain but couldn’t. I didn’t feel like spending the rest of the night trying to understand what had happened; that stuff is no good to anyone. Instead, I had a wee song or two downstairs with Glen and Joe and Fiacre (our tour manager). It was great fun
Well, here we are at the border going to Vancouver. Someone has forgotten their ID so we have to sit here and wait for the cops to show… it’s a topsy-turvy life in this business they call show, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I think Minnesota is my best gig so far. It was just about the best sound I could have hoped for – really loud in the monitors. I walked on to applause, which sounds great, but it’s not what you’d expect. I always go out for a fight, like I’m getting into a ring. Tonight they cheered when I walked onto the stage. I said hello and people immediately started shouting for songs: ‘Play’ ‘Gingerman’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Ghosts’. Amazing! Someone's been working “the Geary cause” here; the difference is so noticeable since I was here six months ago.