The scene. Saturday night at just gone 11:00. A filled to capacity Mayfair club. A soul band with male and female vocalists are just beginning their third number of the first set. The dance floor is full. I am singing BVs for the female singer who shares the stage with me.
A woman grabs me by my wrist, the one holding my mic. “Give me the mic, give me the mic. I’ll sing this one”. I try to pull my wrist away but she has a firm grip. I tell her to let go. “But I am a professional singer, give me the mic”. I still can’t get my wrist free. Security are nowhere to be seen. My hostage negotiating skills come into play. I tell her I will speak to her in the break if she will release me. I am freed. A few minutes later. I am in the middle of a verse when she returns. “I am going to sing Valerie in the second set, OK”. I continue singing. “Did you hear me? I am going to sing Valerie!”. I nod and she goes away. All is quiet for a while, well not actually quiet, because the band are loud, the crowd shout a lot and the monitors are less than a foot away from my head, but the stage invader has disappeared. One song before the end of the first set, the rhythm section strike up the introduction to ‘Lady Marmalade’. I start to sing, “Hey sister, go sister soul sister, go sister”. The dancers on the floor are thrust aside as the ‘wrist grabber’ heads straight for me. “Stop, stop! I know this one and I want to sing it in the second set!”. I keep my wrists out of reach. Francesca, the female vocalist, sings, “He met Marmalade down in Old New Orleans….” at a higher volume. I hear, “stop her singing, stop her now!” Ha ha! She hasn’t got my wrist so I can keep my foot on the mic stand to stop her moving it to get closer to me and I can see security are on the way. She sees them too and makes a tactical withdrawal back onto the dance floor, disappearing into the crowd.
The first set ends. On the way to a table to take a well-earned break I pass the manager and warn him we have a looney lady in the house. As I am speaking to him she appears. “Ok in the second set I am going to sing Valerie and I think I might want you to play Lady Marmalade again”. I tell her I am very sorry but she can’t come onto the stage as we are not insured for customers using the equipment. “I am not a customer, I am a professional singer! People pay a lot of money to hear me sing”. Not realising with whom I am standing she continues, “I have spoken to the manager who told me to tell you that he said you have to call me up to sing”. The manager asks her exactly when he told her that. He gestures to me that I can leave. As I head towards my wine, a voice can be heard shouting, “you are not the manager you are an arsehole!”.
I think that musicians may be in the only profession where members of the public attempt to take over their jobs. Would a butcher, baker or candlestick maker be subjected to the same experience?