Shane Fontayne's Online Journal

Friday, May 20, 2005

It's A Wrap!

The psychology of the last few days of a tour is quite different from what precedes it. There is a subtle realisation that takes hold that the end is just about on top of you, and for each person that means moving on to whatever comes next - domesticity, another tour, a vacation, whatever it may be. All of the above, possibly.

Dominic mentioned to me one afternoon in the dressing room during the last week of the tour that we were all going through feelings of separation, and how no one talks about it. I replied, "Well I'm glad someone brought it up!" We talked about the self-preservation aspect of keeping these things internalized. I suppose it keeps one from getting too visibly emotional, especially when there is still work to be done. You find yourself teetering on an emotional precipice - and then you talk yourself down, so to speak.

The musician's existence, as for people in many walks of life, is predicated on uncertainty. We often find that others are experiencing the same feelings as oneself and, like in adolescence, where one can feel so alone and freakish, an opportunity may arise where you discover,"You too? I thought it was just me!" Being adolescent and being in a band bear many similarities.

It has been documented that when The Beatles were falling apart around 1968, each one of them thought that the other three were closest to each other, as each one considered quitting the band. They all experienced the same kind of alienation and insecurity while imagining their bandmates to be the ones who were happy and healthy. And this is The Beatles! On the outside, all that you perceive is confidence and stability. Each one feeling like a "castaway, an island lost at sea". So as each day brings you closer to the inevitable final separation, each person is dealing with their preparations for assimilating back into a life where there is no "Catering" or "Showtime". The routine of your rarefied existence is about to take a radical turn!

Our run through New England produced some of the best shows of the tour. Boston and Manchester stand out in my mind as shows where everything fell into place. Then there was quite a counterpoint between the two final shows in New York. Jones Beach was huge and freezing, while Irving Plaza was intimate and steamy. I experienced my first helicopter ride when we flew from Manhattan to Long Island and loved it.

From the feedback we have received, it seems that the fans have truly enjoyed this tour and after reading Jon Pareles' review of the Jones Beach show in the New York Times, it is satisfying to have the bookends of reviews from San Jose to New York and most places in between, where the external verification in the press has been so positive.

As with any period of intensive activity, the body lets go when it knows it can, and my energy is now coming back after a few days of feeling exhausted. While the tour itself lasted only six weeks, the preparation for me began last fall, and from that point on, my daily focus was on the work at hand. I don't know that I have ever worked so hard. Some days you succeed and some days you fail. Ain't life grand!

There will be further thoughts and images to post in the coming weeks, and I will do so here and via my website where I invite you to stay in touch with me. I am moved at how I have been embraced within Sting's fan community. Thank you for listening.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Brief Note...

I am doing the equivalent of what you see writers in old black and white movies do, as they rip the piece of paper from the typewriter and throw it in the waste basket! Rather than fashion something for the sake of it now, I will save my thoughts for a more expansive review from the comfort of home next week. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the comforts of New York City.

Suffice to say that after a run of shows through New England which, for the most part, have been excellent, we are down to just two more. We play Jones Beach, Long Island tomorrow - keeping the faith for good weather - and then Saturday night at Irving Plaza in Manhattan, a downtown New York club. Also on Friday night there is the Late Show with David Letterman broadcast.

It's turning into a beautiful day so, "excuse me, while I kiss the sky".


Friday, May 06, 2005

Some "Opening" Thoughts...

I'm in the dressing room at Mohegan Sun, hearing the booming sounds of Fiction Plane doing their soundcheck for tonight's show through the wall. They have done three shows and are doing really well - playing great and going down well with the crowd.

It's not an easy thing to open a show for an established headliner. I've been in that situation many times. Crowds often don't realise that the opening act has probably been invited to play by the artist they're opening for. Not that that should be a guarantee of a good response. But it's something worth bearing in mind, particularly if one is a dedicated fan of the performer whose show it is.

In this case, it's father and son. Proud father and son. Sting last night mentioned during the show - briefly - that it is an honor to follow one's child onto the stage. It is something I can well relate to (excuse the pun), as my own son is a very talented musician. One difference is that I may end up opening shows for him! C'est la vie...And that would be no less of an honor, either.

Also, for the first two shows, two of the four members of Fiction Plane were stuck in England waiting on work permits, so they started with two musicians filling in on bass and guitar/keyboards. A day of rehearsal and a show to prepare for their opening slot. The regular guitarist arrived for the show last night. The show must and will go on. You can't apologize for yourself or make excuses. Who would care anyway?

When you're the opening act in a situation like this, you have a wonderful opportunity to play for thousands of people every night. But many of those thousands may be streaming in while you're playing, chatting and milling around. The crowd may like you, or they may look at you with bored indifference. You might say it builds character - and you might as well put a good face on it. But what starts out portending entry to the big time, can - if the above scenario occurs and you're not eqipped to handle the antipathy - be very deflating. On the other hand, you can make the most of it and go for the jugular. You learn what it is like to perform on a large stage in a big setting. It is a very different experience in every way than what one has previously been used to.

You look back on these times and realise that these are some of the dues people have been talking about, that one ends up paying. The show in Boston last night was a night when all of our hard work paid off. See - you never stop paying your dues. It was strong from the outset and we didn't let up. And now our mission is that tonight be even better. Find a way to make that happen.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Memories Of Days Gone By

We played Reading and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania this week. I lived in northeastern Pennsylvania in the early '90s and while I don't know either town well, the surroundings were very familiar. Both shows were exciting and the arenas were packed.

Changes and refinements continue to be made to the music on a daily basis, and occasionally we will rehearse a song that we have not yet played. There's always something fresh to memorize for that night's show.

I last played Wilkes-Barre around 1991 with the Merchants of Venus, a band I had an equal stake in, that was signed to Elektra Records. That band was the reason I moved to the area, as we were able to fund a band house in which to live and rehearse. It was convenient to New York City and a great place to raise a kid.
(For more about the Merchants of Venus, see my biography and click on 1990's.)

We're entering the final turn as we prepare to head up the East Coast through New England. There's an acceleration and an intensity that seems to be quietly pervading our environment - an unspoken committment to make all of these shows as positive as they can possibly be. It's a "lean, fighting-machine" mentality. Honed and vicious! Lock up your daughters!

On the other hand..........don't.