The pinnacle of my radio career

I stood, nervously playing with the corner of Jim’s desk. Below me, he was on the phone.

He pointed at the receiver and mouthed, ‘One minute’.

Lips pressed together, I smiled and gave a quick nod. Anxiety tugged at my stomach. What if he doesn’t say yes?

Jim was the events organiser at Xfm, the radio station where I was a presenter. One of his jobs was to allocate DJs to different rooms for the big events we put on.

Big Night Out was coming up in a few weeks. We held it at Brixton Academy – the huge, 5000-capacity venue that I’d been going to since I was a teenager. There would be six bands playing, and the radio presenters would take it in turns to DJ in all the ancillary rooms and corridors. I usually did the foyer, playing indie music to about 400 people, and I loved it. DJing is the closest I’ve ever come to being a pop-star; you put on the right record at the right time and everyone roars their cheers. You dance, facing them, facing you.

 

Finally, Jim finished his call. “How can I help you?” he smiled.

“Um, you know Big Night Out?” I asked, wrinkling my nose.

He laughed. “I do.” It was all he’d been dealing with for months.

“You know how you always put me on in the foyer for the final set?”

He nodded and tilted his head. He seemed confused by how serious I was being.

“Well…” I took a breath. “Maximo Park are headlining the show. Jim – I can’t miss them. Please, please can you promise me you won’t put me on at the same time as them?”

Jim burst out laughing.

He knew how I felt about Maximo Park

EVERYONE knew how I felt about Maximo Park.

Since the moment I first heard them on our radio station, I was OBSESSED with Maximo. In the three years they’d been around, I’d been to see them 12 times. I talked about them all the time, to anyone. I listened to their albums, over and over again.

But the best thing was seeing them live. When I was at their shows, I felt the way I imagined people on hard drugs must feel. In fact, it made me wonder why anyone bothers to take hard drugs, when they could instead just go and see Maximo play live.

The two nights before Big Night Out, they were headlining their own (sold-out) shows, also at Brixton Academy. I was going to both.

But the idea of them playing London and me not being there – let alone them being on in a different room in the same building – felt unbearable.

Once Jim had stopped laughing, he smiled his giant smile and said,

“How about this. I’ll put you in the main room, where all the bands play. And, when it’s time, you can introduce them on stage.”

My brain stopped working for a second. Then it came back together.

I was going to be DJing on the main stage.

At Brixton.

To 5000 people.

But even that paled in comparison to what really mattered.

I WAS GOING TO BE INTRODUCING MAXIMO PARK LIVE ON STAGE IN FRONT OF FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE.

I widened my eyes and, without saying anything, bent down and threw my arms around Jim.

Into his neck, I mumbled, “Thank you!”

He laughed, patted me on the back, and said, “No problem!”

 

The night of the show, I was on stage, behind the decks, high on adrenaline and Jack Daniels.

Not too much of the latter, though – I needed to remember every second of tonight. I pressed play on The Strokes’ Last Night and a cheer went up from the crowd.

Looking out to the audience, I saw a sea of sweaty, happy faces looking back and singing along. They’d already had five of their favourite bands, but they were almost as excited as I was about the headliner.

Almost.

I looked at my phone. Nearly time. Deep breath.

Next to me were my high heels. I usually dressed up to DJ, but tonight I’d pulled out all the stops. New strapless dress. My trademark blue sleeves. Heels. And a giant crinoline petticoat. Earlier, showing my girlfriend my outfit, I asked, “Do I look like a cake?”

She paused and wrinkled her eyes. “Yes…but – a sexy cake.”

That would do.

From the side of the stage, Jim appeared and waved at me, then pointed at his watch. Omg omg omg. It was time.

I slipped my heels on and took one more look at Jim. He was giving me the double thumbs up. I took a deep breath, faded out the music – and walked out to the middle of the stage.

The crowd began to cheer, the noise surging as I got to the microphone. 

Now – here, I need to fill in a blank. In spite of not getting drunk, I was SO high on excitement that I don’t remember much about what happened next. But, luckily, we were live on the radio, so they recorded it for me – and for you. Now, this is a recording I kept to play on my show the next day, so edited out the first line and some of the ROARS of the crowd to save time on air. Here:

And if you’re somewhere you can’t listen – or you want to spot the edited roars – here’s what I said:

Xfm Big Night Ouuuuuuuuuuut!!!

[CROWD ROARS!]

I’m Marsha. If you’ve ever heard me talking about this next band,

[CROWD ROOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAARS!]

you’ll know how excited I am right now.

Please welcome,

THE GREATEST BAND ON THE PLANET!

MAXIIIIIIIIIMO PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARK!!!!!!!

[CROWD TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTALLY LOOOOOOOOOOOOSES IIIIIIIIIIIIT!]

 

Their walk-on music started, and they arrived on the stage as I walked off, grinning so hard it hurt.

Backstage, I kicked off my heels and shuffled out of my crinoline petticoat. I slid on my flat shoes – and charged out, back to the main auditorium. I needed to be deep in the scrum for the show. Among my people.

 

Maximo were incredible. I sang along to every word, every syllable. I punched the air and jumped up and down and – for the third night in a row – felt like I might dissolve with joy.

Afterwards, I was backstage again. My DJing duties were done for the night, so my girlfriend and I decided to go foraging for free drinks. First, we stopped off in the unisex washrooms.

One of the two was occupied, so I went in while she waited. Then I came out, and she took my place.

After I washed my hands, I was standing, waiting for her, when the other cubicle door opened – and out walked Lukas, the keyboardist from Maximo.

THE KEYBOARDIST.

FROM MAXIMO PARK.

 

I should mention here, that I’d met him before. I’d met the whole band before – in the radio station; with friends; at one of their 15 live shows I’d gone to.

But, as you may know, I tend to fall apart around people I’m a huge fan of. Which means, I don’t often make friends with the bands I love.

So, even though I’d just introduced him on stage, I felt gripped in panic, caught between wanting to say something and totally frozen.

As he washed his hands, eventually, I piped up (three octaves higher than my usual voice),

“You were really good earlier…”

(understatement of the century)

He caught my eye in the mirror and smiled. “Thanks!”

Then, as he grabbed a paper towel, the three-octave-up peep again.

“You were really good the last two nights as well”

He raised his eyebrows. “Ah. Big fan!”

“Yeah…” I mumbled. “I’m a really big fan. You’re my favourite band.” Then went back to staring at the floor.

At this point, my girlfriend emerged from the loo.

“Alright Lukas!” she said, and gave him a hug. The band she manages had recorded their album in the studio next door to Maximo’s. She and he had a personable chat – the kind I was incapable of having in that moment. While I stood next to them, biting my lip and trying to look anywhere else.

Five minutes after they’d come off stage.

Forty minutes after I’d introduced them on stage. In front of 5,000 people.

It was one of the best nights of my life.

 

Thanks so much for reading! If you can think of anyone who’d enjoy this – maybe a Maximo fan, maybe someone else who loses it when she’s around her heroes -you can share it using one of those round buttons at the bottom of the page. Any thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

 

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(Photo credits: Andrew Welch @ Unsplash, Getty Images and the amazing Dr Suze Kundu)

2 Comments

  • Emma Mosley

    Reply Reply May 19, 2017

    What an awesome story. Didn’t realise you had this fangirl moment! What a highlight of your life 🙂 I’m envious haha!!

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