Gigs, Photos, Action!
With the album finished, it's time to play some gigs. And where better to start than with a couple of dates in Nottingham and Birmingham, supporting our fabulous MySpace friends the Wrens
from New Jersey? So George, Drew and I will be packing our overnight bags for an out of town sortie next month (details on the MySpace
I caught the Wrens' show when they last played in London, at the Barfly, at the end of October. What an awesome band. They've been around for 15 years or more, and have survived various brushes with fame. Their live show is a kind of post-Gang Of Four, art-rock explosion. It is like watching wild animals trying to get out of a cage. I'm certainly glad we won't have to follow
them on stage, that's for sure.
George, Drew and I have been busy rehearsing the songs, and are gradually piecing together a setlist. But to really get us in the mood, we took ourselves down to The Roadhouse
in Covent Garden, last Monday and booked a slot on their legendary open mic night. This is a great gig for any musician who finds him/herself in town with a free evening and a song to sing. The night is organised every Monday (except over Christmas!!) by two guys called Matt and McGoo, who will also supply acoustic guitar accompaniment and harmony vocals if you give them advance warning of what song you are going to sing. The format is strictly limited to two songs by each performer, for which you get a bite to eat and one free drink - not a bad deal when you factor in the bar prices!
The tone of the evening was very acoustic and singer-songwriterly with a bit of a cabaret vibe. Some people sang their own songs, but mostly it was covers. I heard Radiohead and R.E.M. ballads, that Crowded House song about bringing the weather, and a window-rattling version of River Deep, Mountain High,
all done on acoustic guitar. Obviously, we had something a bit different to offer: a bass player and drummer for one thing. Mindful of the swift turnaround and the two-song limit, Drew had brought only his snare drum and hi-hat. Even this buskerly arrangement was greeted with grave suspicion by Matt'n'McGoo, but after seeing the determined expression on the big man's face, the M'n'Ms were gracious enough to let us give it a shot.
What followed was a valuable reminder of Lesson One when playing live: expect the unexpected. With George's bass and my guitar plugged straight into the PA (there was no back line amplification), we were entirely dependent on the monitor mix for our onstage sound. Drew has got to be one of the most forceful drummers I have ever known, and as we piled into Dusted & Rusted
, all any of us on stage could hear was the snare drum and a bit of vocals. Drew reined in a bit but, if anything, the balance on stage got worse as we carried on with Going to do Something
. It was like a performance-art "happening" where two guys with their guitars switched off do a bit of singing while a third mysteriously hammers a single drum beat which may or may not have any bearing on what the imaginary guitars are playing. I'm not joking. It was surreal. It was a shambles. But here's the thing. The crowd of maybe 150 or so, really got it. There was a bunch of kids at the front - probably Armenians, according to Drew's special intelligence - who were dancing away, and we got a great cheer at the end. God alone knows whether we hit any of the right notes at the right time. But it was such a good laugh, and the response from the audience to two completely unfamiliar songs was really up!
Our friend and ace photographer, Marilyn Kingwill was on hand to make a visual record of this historic occasion and you can see her pics any minute now on the website
. Many thanks to her.
So, our first gig. Now we've really got the bit between the teeth.
The Roadhouse, Jan 9: Open mic night - David Sinclair
Set list: Dusted & Rusted/Going to do Something