Jan 7th – Day Four
Jon arrived last night after sailing through Visa control and we managed to fit in a sound check at the venue for the 1st show. The sound check was a nightmare, i got through 3 amps, none of which were working properly and the monitor mix changed drastically every time we got it close to being right. We have done gigs with more hassles, but the venue is huge and we can feel the pressure mounting.
We went back to the venue today to do more sound checking and to play one of the strangest ‘shows’ of our lives. You see Vietnam being a communist country means that the government have a say in what goes into the public arena as ‘entertainment’. So we had to play a gig for the government censors after being advised to dress conservatively and to play passionlessly without moving so as not to risk being censored. The panel of censors sat in a row in front of the stage and we blanded our way through a few songs with them looking bored to tears except one, sat at the nd of the row rocking out in his chair. I just felt bad he was getting the 10% effort performance, not the real deal. It makes me wonder if maybe the censors don’t need a toned down performance, they actually want to be entertained and just want a sneak preview. If that’s the case they must think every band just SO dull as they drift their way through their safe version of the set. The people building the rigging in the venue must have wondered why this boring as fuck band from England were billed as something special too based on the ‘censor friendly’ version of the set.
We get back to the hotel at 11am, eat then go back to the venue for hopefully one final sound check. I don’t think this is necessary as the sound for the censor set was fine, however in our absence the problem that cropped up again and again in Vietnam has occurred. That is, everything has changed! The Vietnamese crew were lovely people but they loved fiddling with things too and we now found everything was plugged into different sockets, some were faulty, some didn’t reach far enough. The monitor mix was so different that all i could hear onstage now was Si’s guitar at an ear melting level and nothing else. My amp blew up again and feeling pretty damn stressed out we had to give up, get back to the hotel to change then get straight back to the venue for the show.
After all the weirdness and stress of the day my jaw just dropped when we arrived to a packed venue that seemed to be humming with activity. We walked through to the backstage area and then got whisked through the crowd where we got mobbed for photos. This is BEFORE we have played and in the back of my mind i’m thinking “fuck, i hope we live up to the idea all of these people have of us.” In the end we shouldn’t have worried, the show is mind blowing with the crowd singing the words to Romeo and Leave The Light On. The new songs we hadn’t played live before seemed to fit into the set perfectly and we left the stage happy. Well the rest of the band left the stage, but i stayed on to throw some t-shirts into the crowd as a thank you for the amazing reception we got. The security guards at the show were some kind of police and had so far managed to keep the crowd back, but suddenly they got overrun and in fear that i’d started a riot i got off the stage quick. After an anxious couple of minutes it appears there is no harm done, so we head out to meet fans, take photos and have a ‘quiet celebratory night’. (As with my last diary you have to bear in mind this is the Disney version, edited to maintain certain people’s dignity.)
A stressful day that ended in a perfect night...Ho Chi Minh highs and lows.