Last week I played my last show of what has been a strange run of gigs for me, post COVID. It was in Birmingham, my home town of sorts, and a place I’ve hardly played. It’s been a running joke in the Dyskinetic camp that I’ve performed for more audiences in Tokyo than in my home town. What even is that?
As I wrap up this Two Metres Close tour for 2021/22, I’m reflecting on all that I’ve done with the gloves since 2015. It’s A LOT. 10 countries and counting. Tens of thousands of people in audience attendance by now. Loads of bucket list stuff ticked off. It’s been an adventure.
In terms of the work, it’s been a varied mix of what I call TED Talk style gigs, and straight up playing a set of songs type gigs. One of these fills my cup with joy, as my fiancée would say. The other, less so.
Playing gig-type-gigs in venues, with a songs in a setlist, that’s always been tough. Where the gloves are roughly analogous to an acoustic guitar, with me singing my songs and playing the gloves as accompaniment to my voice, is a space I’m less sure of. I started playing gig-type-gigs in 2016, as part of my IVW tour, produced in partnership with Attitude Is Everything. It was a brave, complex thing to do in 2016. It doesn’t feel that way to 2022 me.
For lots of small reasons, it feels like a chapter closing on my relationship with the gloves. I wanted a challenge, and I got one. Wow. I’m proud of where I’ve taken my musicianship with the gloves. It’s a short list, but I know I’m one of the best Glovers in the world. I’ve taken it to virtuosic heights. And I’ll keep doing that.
It’s as a songwriter that I’m no longer happy with playing the gloves. In a hourish long set, the gloves start to get in the way. Trying to justify their presence in every song sometimes feels forced, and the physicality of playing them while singing does very literally get in the way. The instrument is overshadowing the songs, and that should never be the case. Writing music, instrumental music, for the gloves is a great joy, and pieces like Koi No Yokan will always be a joy to play. But when it’s time to sing a song, the gloves are in the way.
This was all a grand experiment. And it worked. I tested it. I tested it so thoroughly. And I’ve come to the conclusion that as a singer-songwriter, the gloves are not where 2022 me is at.
At the time of writing, I don’t know what gigs will look like moving forward. That’s really exciting. It’s not that I won’t play the gloves at all, but they wont be the sole focus, the only instrument. Of course, I still face disabling barriers, so there’s lot’s to explore in terms of how the show will actually work. I have plenty of ideas. We’ll see.
Important clarification: this isn’t the end of gloves + me, full stop. If I’m due to speak and perform at your event, I’ll be there! The wider impact of those Music Mark type keynote speeches is massive, and I have no plans to stop doing those. The gloves might be the greatest advert for justifying tackling disabling barriers in music making, and that sermon is far from over. But playing a 1 hour+ set of all Glove songs, that’s coming to an end for now. I have tour plans in 2023, and those shows will of course go ahead, but they will look and sound very different. They won’t hinge on the gloves. I’ll be getting back to where it all started, with songs. I just have to figure out what that looks like for me now.
It’s time to do something different. I’m ready. The Gloves are off.