Thursday, 10 September 2015

A View from Outside the Club

You know what they say about musicians with enormous egos....
It’s an interesting experience to go to a gig on your own. When the band is playing it’s not very different from going with friends, but in between acts or that time before the lights dim, there is time in abundance to fill and no-one to fill it with!

I have been solo to quite a few gigs during this 'fifty fifty' challenge and it gets no easier. I find myself attempting to arrive with just enough time to get a drink before the first act; on the occasions when I have mistimed my arrival I have spent a lot of time urging people to text me so I can text back!

At tonight’s gig there seem to be only two other solo ‘giggers’ – I can spot them – but tonight the three of us are highlighted by the fact that everyone else seems to know one another. I get the distinct feeling that we are at a club of which we are not members. My solo gig mates do not seem phased by this and pass the time effortlessly. One has come prepared with a book and sits reading in dim light and his tour t-shirt while the other surfs the web on her phone. Meanwhile I sit self-consciously, willing the first act to start. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is advice I’ve never really understood but today I understand it fully as William Nein takes to the stage. Suddenly I find myself longing for that self conscious waiting between acts. Anything is better than his cringe worthy performance. You know what they say about musicians with enormous egos? The same as about men with big feet - big… 

As William is setting up, someone walks in - obviously an important member of the club to which I do not belong - and he shouts across the whole venue ‘David, David, look who it is, look….’ David is not impressed. I’m not impressed either. I just want to hear him play, as opposed to trying to impress me and the rest of the audience that he knows the minor celebrity who has just entered. 

However egotistical he is, he is no liar... 
Finally, he is on stage, stood at the mic, and is ready to start. However there is no volume from his guitar. In hindsight I realize this is proof that there is a God and that she loves music. William just keeps strumming and sings over and over again ‘Its not me’. Well, quelle surprise! It turns out it is him, he just hasn’t plugged his guitar in properly. Most guitarists would instinctively check this first. But, hey what do I know? I’m just a paying punter waiting to be entertained. Maybe it is more important to recognize minor celebrities and let us know that you know them, than it is to set up properly!

During his first song the headline act walks in. A simple nod in her direction or a smile would suffice. The gushing ‘Oh Roxy, so glad you made it – it’s only my first song so you’ll hear the whole set’ is just plain embarrassing. Two or three songs in and he is playing the intro to the next song and telling us he wished his guitar strap was a bit shorter. ‘Well shorten it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry’! Even the audience members who have never picked up a guitar in their life know that you can adjust a guitar strap.

I’ve lost track of the number of songs now but before one of them he boasts ‘we haven’t really practiced this’. The song that follows is proof that however egotistical he is, he is no liar. He hasn’t practiced and it sounds dreadful.

He leaves the stage to whoops and cheers and even manages to sell a couple of T-shirts. Maybe if I was his mate I would think his antics quirky, goofy, maybe even funny. But I am not a member of this particular club, I am a paying member of the audience and I find his antics embarrassing, needy and, right now, I want my money back. 

A knife held to your throat... 
Roxy Rawson is next up on stage to play the first of two sets. She starts by thanking her two mates - William ‘the needy’ Nein and David Goo -  for playing tonight and she starts to explain how she knows them. The only problem is I don’t hear how her story ends as ‘the needy’ Nein is shouting from the audience. He has had his 25 mins of being the centre of attention, why can’t he not just shut the f**k up?

When ‘the needy one’ eventually does shut up and allows Roxy to play I remember why I am here. She has really talented, sensitive, musicians around her and musically is a million miles away from Nein with her interesting cleverly crafted songs. The percussion is fantastic - driving, in complex rhythms - the classical guitar beautiful and the bass sensitive. The musicians are carefully arranged on stage so they can see one another and work with and off each other. Roxy plays the violin, more often than not, like a guitar and she sings with a voice that never quite pierces but demands your attention like a knife held to your throat! 

We are only treated to a few songs as she is ill and has decided to split her set into two to save her voice. Even though it’s a short set she still has to deal with ‘the needy one’ heckling – shouting out songs that she refuses to play. She leaves the stage and promises to be back. As she does so she spots one of the other solo ‘giggers’ and greets her like a long lost friend! Only two of us then without membership of this particular musical club! 

What is he waiting for.... 
David Goo is sat on stage waiting for a very long time. He has the look of a man who has been told to sit and wait but has not been told what he is waiting for! As loud and brash as ‘the needy one’ was, David Goo is quiet and unassuming and I wonder what to expect.

He starts and he is witty, clever and talented. He takes us through the album he has just recorded with his latest project the ‘The 150 Friends Club’. His warmth on stage and intelligently written songs - not with casual cliché but honest reflection - make me feel one of the 150. He too is heckled by ‘the needy one’. Please can someone find this guy’s off switch. 

We are treated to more from Roxy. With each song she pushes her voice that bit further, making the songs increasingly intense. The evening should end on a real high - she and David Goo have rescued the gig. But then, and I really don’t understand why, she invites ‘the needy one’ to play with her as the final song of the evening. He is out of place amongst such musicians and rather than end on a high the evening peters out.

I wait to buy Roxy’s CD as she talks in depth to the other solo ‘gigger’. Turns out they too know each other! That leaves me as the sole outsider, and as I interrupt the discussion to pay for the CD there is a look of almost shock on her face which says ‘I don’t know you, yet you are buying a CD!’ 

He describes himself in terms of an ex... 
There was no sign of David Goo or his CD, so on the journey home I Google the artists I’ve seen tonight. I find The 150 Friends Club and order the CD. I also find ‘the needy one’s’ website and I am not surprised by what I find! In his ‘about’ section he describes himself in terms of an ex, and quotes a reference to himself from an interview she gave… 

"I had this boyfriend in college who was from Croyden, England. He has a record store out there. He knew that I liked the Pretenders, so when I shipped him off to England and sent his ass packing because I didn’t want him around anymore, he sent me a Pretenders record in the mail. It was a greatest hits compilation." - Meredith Graves, Perfect Pussy  

I totally understand, Meredith! Please just let me know how I too can send him packing. I don’t want him around at any gig I’m at (either performing or as an audience member!) What I don’t understand is why artists as intelligent as Roxy Rawson and David Goo are happy to have him around – but then I’m not a member of their club.

Gig: 18 of 50
Date of Gig: Sun. 30th August 2015

Green Note, Camden

William Nein
David Goo
Roxy Rawson

Running total of artists seen 42

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