Laid / Seven / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Waterfall / Bubbles / Say Something / Five-O / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Upside / Hey Ma / Sit Down / Sound / Whiteboy / Tomorrow / Sometimes / She’s A Star / Born Of Frustration / Lullaby / Don’t Wait That Long / Come Home
“I played onstage with James” – Jonah Soolman
So, during Sunday’s show, I held up a sign I had made asking if I could come on stage and play guitar on “Come Home” with them. I was half joking, but you never know unless you ask, right? Tim read the sign and told me sorry, the song was not in the night’s planned set list, but if I would be there the next night maybe we could do it then. I figured he was kidding, but then I ran into him outside the venue after the show and asked if he was seriously considering letting me come up and play with them. He asked if I really know how to play, if I am any good. I told him I am. He said he would talk to the band about the idea.
The next night, “Come Home” was the very last song they played. Mark hit the beginning synthesizer notes as Tim looked out into the crowd for me. I started jumping up and down and yelling his name to get his attention. Tim spotted me and told me to get up on stage. The crowd went nuts! I had figured that the chances of me actually getting called up on stage were about 1%, so when it actually happened I could not believe it.
Saul took off his electric guitar and handed it to me along with his pick. He picked up a tambourine to use himself. Can you believe it? I figured that if they ever actually let me on stage to play that they would give me an acoustic and maybe not even put a mic on it, just to minimize the chances of me ruining the song. But no, they wanted me to actually play Saul’s part for him! Saul told me try it out, just to get used to the sound. I strummed each of the song’s three chords once and everything sounded fine to me. All of the band members were looking at me and smiling. The song started back up, I started playing, and Saul told me not to play until he said so. But a moment later, I looked across the stage and I could see Larry motioning to me to start playing so I did. Tim sang some of the lyrics to me to keep me on track, and he gave me some cues regarding when to start and stop playing. I mean, I know how to play the song, but the album version is a little different from the “Getting Away with It Live” version, and last night’s version was somewhere in between, so I was not exactly sure how they had Saul’s guitar part arranged for the evening so their cues were a big help. I looked at Dave and he smiled at me. Andy did the same. Overall I played pretty well. I definitely hit the wrong notes a few times, but the band creates such a full sound overall that I doubt too many people noticed my errors. When the song was over, I handed the guitar and pick back to Saul and security ushered me off stage.
The fans were extremely nice to me. Many of them congratulated me, told me I did a great job, and asked for my email address so they could share the photos they took of me. One woman said she captured me playing the whole song on video and would put it up on YouTube. I waited outside the venue so I could thank the band for giving me this incredible moment. Dave said it was the first time they have ever let someone on stage to play with them. Andy seemed really excited for me and gave me a hug. Tim and I talked for a little while about what the song means to me, the two shows in Boston, and the tour in general. All seven members autographed the sign that I had held up asking to play with them. They were all so generous of their time and understanding of what a moment it was for me.
As for why I asked to go on stage in the first place . . . “Come Home” is my favorite James song and carries a great deal of personal meaning to me. I have played guitar along to that song on CD hundreds of times at home fantasizing about being in Saul’s shoes playing it in front of a crowd. So, why not try to make it actually happen? I figured the chances of it actually happening were virtually zero, but I also figured there was no harm in asking. If I had asked and they ignored me or said no, then at least I would know that I had tried. The fact that they said yes and it actually happened . . . I still cannot believe it!