The pause for breath was brief to the point of negligible. While Paul was standing, taking deep breaths and relaxing as best he could, Ed was leading Disbelief into their next song using the usual B minor intro progression. Paul looked over towards Adam, who looked back with an expression of complete exasperation. They had thus far managed only one song and a great challenge was coming in the rest of the set. If Adam's face was anything to go by, he felt exactly the same as Paul right now.
As soon as the intro was done, everybody came in as expected. Exhaustion was no excuse to give a lacklustre show. Disbelief were up there to entertain everybody, and that was their plan.
To Paul's surprise, there was a minor cheer when the progression switched to the powerchords that Adam used from the verse onwards. Apparently, somebody in the audience knew this song. They moved through the song as a slightly slower tempo than they typically did, but, with Thrillseeking, that was something that they could get away with. It was not a strenuous song, ever for Ed, so they moved through it quite calmly.
With the change of tempo, the power of the song was pushed into the vocals. Paul had to take up the missing strength that had previously been in speed, so, his throat still aching more than a little, Paul leant in a little closer to his microphone and began to recite his self-written words with all the vigour that he could manage. To his surprise, as he reached the chorus, there were a few voices that rose to join his, but none of them stayed around for long.
The bridge of Thrillseeking was like a godsend. Playing a single note to cover two bars meant that he finally had the chance to rest his arm, if only for a few moments. He leant back from the microphone as he did, letting out a sigh that he didn't want people to hear. As he did so, he considered the idea that their choice of first song might not have been the best one. Unfortunately, before Paul could go any further down this particular train of thought, the bridge had run out, leaving the final piece of the song rushing towards them. Paul wanted to spend some time getting their crowd clapping and getting their audience going, but he simply couldn't manage to collect the effort. As much as everybody in the room still seemed to enjoy the song, Paul just didn't feel that his heart had been in it. Other than Ed, nobody looked as though they could handle any more.
With Adam's last chord sustained and slowly dying, Paul spent another moment doing very little in front of his microphone. "Hello," he began finally and breathlessly.
The excitement of their spectators came forth as a roar, blasting against Paul's eardrums worse than any full volume amplifier ever could. The pure stunning impact of these hundreds of voices raised as one was staggering.
"Okay, you seem like a very happy collection of people," Paul announced with a smile that he couldn't hold back. "We have quite a show prepared for you tonight," he continued, dreading every moment that was due to come next. "We're already knackered from that first song, but we have some of our favourites coming up next. The next piece is another Disbelief original. It's called A Hound's Hell, and this is the only the second time that we've played it live. Are you ready for this?"
On instruction, Disbelief were once again graced with the fierce and almost carnal roar of the animals that were standing before them, leaping around the dance floor with the same excitement shown by African cats on the prowl for fresh meat. Laughing at the imagery that was running through his own mind, Paul struck one of his strings and, in answer, Ed and Adam began to play.
As usual, Ed was the lit match that drew the eyes of everybody in the building. He flew through his sections in a frenzy, flying fast and smooth from point A to point Z through every single point in between. Paul kept his fingers working, trying as hard as he could not to think too much about what he was doing. Of all of the members of Disbelief, this one was Ed's song. While Adam went from chord to chord, with all sorts of additions and suspensions added on, Ed used this backing to wander through a range of modes via pitch axis theory. To the many people there who were not musicians, the effect was more than a little wasted, but it was beautiful nonetheless. In addition, it was hectic to the point of extreme. Nobody could keep up with the lines that Ed put together, piece by piece, again and again. All of this before the first verse had even kicked in.
There was no repetition or reason to it. There wasn't even a safe rhythm. Instead, the rhythm changed multiple times, as did everything else. This was the sort of song that had to be leapt into, and Disbelief certainly leapt straight into it. Paul was barely even aware of the words that he was singing anymore. All he knew was that he was doing it right, and to focus any more on it would be to quite simply put in far too much effort.
With nothing repeating, the song simply moved ever onwards, confusing the hell out of anybody who expected to hear a refrain or a chorus. It was a long song, coming it at something like ten minutes, and, for most of it, Paul's mind was somewhere completely different. He couldn't exactly say where it was, but nor could he say that it was local. This was fine with him though. Ed was the only one that anybody was paying any sort of attention to, nobody else in Disbelief was even receiving the occasional glance.
Ed was back to standing at the very front of the stage, still to Paul's right, but at the same time in front of them all. Until the very end of the song he was there, his right hand floating and his left hand flying. For a time, it was as though Disbelief were a simple backing band, providing Ed with the support that he needed for the entirety of the song.
It ended with one final flurry over the strings of the Stratocaster. This song, ten minutes of pure theoretical force, came to an end vastly under appreciated. With a brief sigh, Paul let it go. Fuse was a group of people who loved listening to music, not writing it. As far as Disbelief, the performers, were concerned, all that they had to do was provide the entertainment.
With a small smile, Paul stepped back up to the microphone and put his hand gently on to it. "It sounds as though you didn't really know that one, so the next one is a cover for your enjoyment," he offered the gathered masses. "We're halfway through our show, with another half hour to go. Moving swiftly on, this is a song by Guns n' Roses."
There was a cheer at the sound of the band in question. At the same time, though a couple of moments after Paul had expected it, Adam began to play the popular lead line for 'Welcome To The Jungle'. By the swell of volume, they loved it.
This was the first time that they had done the live show with Adam performing lead duties, but it was something that he had been desperate to do since Disbelief first began performing. In turn, Ed was the rhythmic play for the first time ever in a live setting, so it was quite a change.
As they played, it became obvious that Adam did not have the infectious energy that Ed always had quite literally pouring out of him. With a look of pure concentration on his face, Adam was mostly static, staying immobile and watching his fingers working. The solos were not his friend, but he pushed through them, losing only a small amount of speed as he did. Not only was Paul watching to make sure that Adam did fine, but he could even see Ed out of his peripheral vision doing exactly the same thing. They were all there, looking out for their friend.
Paul's impression of Axl Rose was about as strong as his impression of Matt Bellamy. As such, a lot of notes had to be lowered an octave in order to fit comfortably into his range. He pushed on with it, using all the effort that he could, despite knowing that there was still a song to come. His breathing between lines was short and abrupt, often causing him more pain than anything else. Still, no matter how much his lungs were aching him, he pushed on proudly, as did the other three friends that he had brought with him.
As the final chord blasted all from all of their separate instruments, Adam went down to one knee. He let his guitar ring out and, while Paul kept an eye on him, he spent a few moments taking deep and steadying breaths. Though there was a brief spread of discord amongst the audience, Adam managed to make it look intentional enough that nobody was too concerned. In fact, as he rose back to his feet, they gave him a cheer to push him onwards. It made him smile widely, while tiny beads of sweat fell across his lips and dripped from his chin. Paul could feel the same sort of situation on his own facial features.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, for what he hoped would be the last time tonight, "we have been Disbelief, and there is only one song left for us to perform for you tonight. So from Jace on drums, Ed on lead, Adam on rhythm, and myself on bass, we have been Disbelief. This is our grand finale, and it's by Dream Theater. It's called In The Presence Of Enemies, part two."
As he spoke, Ed began to play a very slow, very dark piece of guitar work. Next, Adam took over what would have been a gentle piece of piano, but on guitar it sounded a little different.
All four of them were beyond tired. Paul's muscles were aching, his body was screaming out it's pain that he should not continue, but he quite literally couldn't help himself. Their chosen song, slow to start and heavy to finish, was going to take far more energy than the previous piece of work, and Adam had already fallen once. This would most definitely repeat, but, sometimes, it wasn't worth caring. They had a job to do, and they were going to do it no matter what. With every part of his body aching beyond belief, he pushed himself on towards the final song.
"We've had a great time," he added. "We hope you have too. We are Disbelief, and welcome"