IJuly 4, 1987: Go-Betweens play Roskilde Festival in Denmark – one of the biggest festivals in Europe; the one you want to play. As a cult B-level band, we’re thrilled. We were on the road for eons, on an endless European tour for our fifth album Tallulah, before veering off to the US and Australia.
We booked to play at 6pm on one of the smaller stages. I walk backstage in the village and share a cookie with another member of the group. I bought the cookie from a handsome post-punk hippie. My musician companion disappears. I lean against a tent pole. Usually I see many variables, but I am fixed. I wonder who could save me as time stands still. The crew, musicians and caterers walk past me in slow motion. Finally, the ritual of arriving on stage takes over. I make my way to our lot, which looks like the dining room of a train car. I flop next to three members of the group.
Bob Johnson, our longtime manager, berates me for looking like a larva. “Look at your T-shirt, it’s covered in stains.” I’m looking at my dirty white t-shirt and I’m Eliza Doolittle chosen in the street.
The concert is exhilarating. We play with our usual love in front of an endless crowd that understands us. And then, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders comes on stage and kisses her because Bob Dylan used to be there. I avoid Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records – I don’t care if he let us down for the Smiths; I am incapable of the intelligence he expects from me. We hang out behind the scenes with Woodentops and Voice of the Beehive.
Another Australian band, Hoodoo Gurus, is playing and bringing us back to the hotel in Copenhagen. Many musicians rumble in the large, state-of-the-art foyer of glass, tiles and bulky potted plants. A grand staircase descends from the upper floors, giving the room a feeling of grandeur.
Then a commotion. The Hoodoo Gurus crew are stuck in the elevator to the first floor. I rush up the stairs, glancing inside. The Gurus’ tour director is a big man and he struggles. I speak to him when another crew member arrives and we stand, looking inside, together.
“I want one thing,” said the tour manager, stuck in the elevator. “Take her away from me now.”
I thought my counseling skills were good, but they are not today; in a way, they escape me today.
Back in the foyer, Gurus bassist Clyde Bramley demands that something be done. Where is that fire engine that was called 20 minutes ago?
Clyde is crazy. The elevator crew is disturbed. The home is a mass of competing energies – the staff calm down, the musicians stir.
Clyde is done. He picks up a huge potted plant and crushes it to the ground. “Ask them for help,” he yells.
A few minutes later, hurtling down the stairwell, Michael McMartin, the manager of the Gurus, grabs Clyde in a headlock, holding him firmly to his chest on the stairs until he calms down.
Robert Vickers, the bassist of the Go-Betweens, whispers to me: “I know what it feels like?
I ask, “What do you mean?
He replies, his face as dead as a dead end: “The pressure of the tours. Late at night, early in the morning, hurry up and wait, always trying your best, I know how Clyde feels.