Our final gig of the tour was at the Al Minhad Air Base near Dubai. We were supposed to perform the night before but our flights were delayed to such an extent we missed the kick off time so had to cancel that show. After spending four and a half hours flying back to AMAB we then circled the base for another hour (the airforce were conducting some work and we had to wait for them to finish) that amount of time on a Hercules was not going to leave us with much energy to put on an energetic show. We had a leisurely day with a trip into Dubai that was uneventful. It was the first slow day as all we had to do was hand in our armour and a few other items to prepare for moving out the next day. That night we had dinner with the general in charge of AMAB, a proper officer and a gentleman. I loved that later that night he sat in the front row to enjoy the show. I almost felt bad about swearing in front of him but I was guessing I didn't drop anything he hadn't heard before.
The gig was in a massive aircraft hangar so it was the trickiest of all the gigs as you could hear your voice bouncing back at you before you could gauge the reaction of the crowd. Not a big deal, I've had to work through these types of gigs before but it did require a slightly different approach to my performance. This entailed a lot more pauses and the deliberate introduction of a routine that had some quiet moments in it that would help me to keep my rhythm and maintain my pacing. For anyone who has seen me in Melbourne this is known as the "Tram Story" and for anyone outside of Melbourne it is called the "Train Story".
My setlist was thus:
Flying on a Hercules
Old Lady and Scrabble
Car Crash in Adelaide
Invite Who You Want To Parties
Being An Arsehole
Little Boy Joke
Tripping and Farting
Getting Angry as I Get Older
No Need to Share All Your Opinions
Glitter in Invitations
People wearing your glasses
This was a great gig to finish the tour on. We'd had such an amazing experience from the people we worked with to the soldiers we were lucky enough to spend time with. I'll never forget the woman who had worked for the defence forces for the last 23 years and her plans for what comes next. There was the woman who celebrated her 10 year wedding anniversary in a foreign country while her husband was at home in Darwin maintaining their civillian life. There was also the man who declared he wasn't a life time soldier but instead his plan was to stay in the army for another ten years before beginning the plans for the next stage of his life. I loved the gossip the two soldiers in Kandahar dished on previous performers who had come through who were too up themselves to mingle with the Aussies. (I won't tell you who it was but suffice to say he's important in Rugby circles...which makes him unimportant everywhere else.)
I'll also remember that while we weren't in any danger it didn't mean we can avoid the fact we were in a warzone. After we'd left Tarin Kowt five American soldiers had died in a helicopter crash. There was the suicide bomber who detonated in Kabul the morning we flew into the nation's capital. When we stopped off briefly in Kandahar before returning to AMAB we were told a petrol tanker had been stolen that morning so if we saw one driving toward us our best course of action was to, "get the fuck out of the way!" The experience; without meaning to sound trite or drunk on hyperbole; really puts things in perspective and deeply humbling.
I was lucky enough to tour with some great performers (Doctor Karl and Bento), an amazing team (Felicity, Ben, Jason, James, David, Eileen, Aaron and the big guy Robbo) and meet some fantastic soldiers who are over there, doing their job with little fanfare, just their family and friends hoping they'll safely return to them when their time is done.
I look forward to the day that I can see all of them back in Australia.
12th of March, 2013
United Arab Emirates