The Doctor definitely had frontman charisma. He could turn a dull gig into something bearable or even spectacular. In fact, the worse the audience were at responding, the more he attacked them until they relented. Most people would give up if the crowd were despondent but the Doctor would always insist that at least some of them danced or clapped or sang along. He is, by far, the best frontman I've ever worked with. Having said that, some of the shit that left his mouth was beyond belief. After the gig I would ask him "what the hell were you on about?" and he would always reply "I don't remember". He claims that most of the time he has no idea of what words fall out during a gig. I always wonder what the punters must be thinking when a guy as big as the Doctor starts booming orders over the microphone. Sometimes you can see the exact moment when the reaction turns from “WTF?!” to “I give in”. Even the most hardened of the stiff upper lipped British have crumbled and started to join in the silver backed Gorilla impression and make chicken noises with the band. The doctor calls it 'winning ugly' which I think is an Amercian Football term.
There are moments though when the Doctor gets it wrong. It's usually when the organiser has stuffed things up and we are playing during a meal or asked to play background music. He refuses to be wallpaper and will always get someone on board even if it's the barstaff. I think this is why we didn't get asked back to play many low key functions.
Anyway, this particular story is about a time when it was too late to retract the Doctor's on stage banter. It was a truly cringe worthy experience and at the same time, absolutely hilarious!
The Doctor hated people not paying attention during a performance and if someone was texting then he would unleash hell! On this particular occasion he stopped the whole band to point out a teenage lad using his phone.
"Are you on Facebook while we are playing?!" He bellowed. "I'd like everyone to turn to face this kid and point. If you are bored enough to be on your phone during the gig then you can deal with the disappointment from the rest of the room."
This young kid was crippled with shame but the Doctor got his way and the phone went back in his pocket. How dare this teenager come to a gig and sit through it with the classic blue face of someone staring at a smartphone?
In the interval we were sat backstage when there was a knock on the door. A man in his late 30's entered and asked to talk to the doctor.
"Hi, I just wanted to explain about what happened out there."
"Oh, you mean the kid who wouldn't get off his phone during our show?"
"Yes, he was taking photos and uploading them to Facebook. He was saying that this was one of the best gigs he's ever been too. He doesn't get out all that often you see, he has special needs and I'm his carer".
How ironic that the shame that was thrust upon this poor kid was now magnified infinitely and directed at the doctor. To be fair, he invited the kid in, gave him some of our Buffett and bought him a drink but this Albatross hung around his neck for a long time!
The cringeworthy nature of this occasion lasted a long time and as a band we felt it our duty to remind the Doctor of it as often as possible. However, none of us expected the story to continue and add an extra layer of unbelief.
We returned to the venue the following year. Luckily the humiliated youth from before was not present so the Doctor fell back into his normal audience banter. "You there...the guy in the sunglasses, who do you think you are trying to look cool and aloof during our sh...." And this is the exact moment when the Doctor realised that the man was blind and wanted to take back all that he had just said. I shot out a laugh into my saxophone that made it honk like a goose. The Black Mamba was doubled over and The Bullfrog had stopped playing to point and laugh. The poor deps in the band had no clue what was happening and thought it was some kind of planned breakdown.