M Ward

The first time I listened to and watched M Ward play was by accident. Mid-June 2003. Milkless Fridge were meant to rehearse, but Loui couldn’t do it for I reason I have now forgotten. Low Barlow was in town and Neil and I had decided to go the Rosemount on the Wednesday night. Since the rehearsal had been cancelled we decided to go on the Tuesday instead, at the Swan Basement.

Another context needs explaining. At the time I was very unhappy. The woman who I had fallen I love with, and invested the entirety of my hope for true romance in, went overseas with the resounding statement: ‘I’m going to London, I don’t want you to come with me, but I want us to stay together.’ Was I foolish? Indeed. The sacrifice was made and I was sad pretty much every waking moment for the six months she went away.

Except for the 40 odd minutes this guy, who turned out to be M Ward, played sweet freedom.

I remember the tires on Neil’s car were completely bald. In the rain we slid all over the road, the colours of the streets lights blurring on the windscreen.

We when we arrived the Guinness we ordered was crap.

Anyway. A dude in a baseball cap is working his way around the small stage. Getting his harmonica ready, back up guitars, a tune-up here and there. Unannounced, he works his way up onto the stall at the front of the stage, brings his head up to the microphone, curls his cap above the microphone, drawing a screen of shadow across his eyes.

He hadn’t even started playing and the audience were silenced. No one knew who this guy was, let alone the songs.

From memory I think he played Transfiguration #1 first. Now, this might sound completely corny, but I don’t give a shit: I certainly felt some kind of transformation, some kind of weight lifting off of my shoulders. The entire set was a blur.

I can only remember three things: he played Sad, Sad Song. He told the audience that he has only been in town two days, and I yelled out asked if he liked it, to which he responded: ‘So far’ (now I know he was lying, given Paul’s Song). And I said hello to him afterwards and told him how it made me feel.