Show #30 Dornbirn, Austria
Man, I love playing small gigs again!
It’s like a return to my early days. Last night we had a real club spirit, on and off stage. People were noisy and we had to work to get them with us. Half way through the set I asked (something I never usually ask) who in the audience knew my first album – maybe 20% of the audience. So, I asked who knew my second album – another 20%. I mean, perhaps they didn’t all understand, or hear, but it didn’t matter – I realised that I had to give everything I had to get the whole room with us.
At the beginning we had a bit of a technical difficulty: On stage there was a very loud buzzing sound, as if a bumble bee was stuck in the monitors. For the louder songs it wasn’t such a problem, but it could’ve been for the fourth song in the set, which was Unlike Me – a tender song and needs tender loving care. I thought that the buzzing sound was heard by everybody in the room, so I made the executive decision to announce to the audience that we had a technical issue that needed fixing and there would be a 5 minute pause in the show. I walked off stage but the band stayed and jammed around a bass line from Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Melody Nelson’ album, my favourite. It was perfect. These are the things that never happen during any bigger shows. There’s always too much organisation and people involved to let those spontaneous events come about. As it goes, I was told that the problem was only on stage – no one could hear it out front and, though no one knew exactly what it was, it could be managed, but not put to rest. But, apparently, it was not effecting the audience or the recording.
My Austrian promoter, Alex, and his wife, Anita, were with us since we arrived in Linz for the first show. They were the ones to help get me to see Dr. Chen. Alex has a company called Audio Toasters. They have a mobile recording studio, which can pitch up outside a venue and split all the instrument channels which go to the front of house desk, so that they have a direct signal from the entire band, recording the concert as if it were a regular studio session. When the gig is finished they can print and package up to 300 CDs to be given or sold to the people who saw the show. Last night, Alex, with the technical expertise of his business partner, Patrick, did just that as a demonstration to me, with the view that we could do it again in the future for the fans to walk away with. After the show, they invited us into there little control room on wheels to listen to the sound quality that they had captured. I have to admit, it sounded a lot higher quality than I was expecting – though I didn’t really know what to expect. We heard a couple of tracks, which is weird when you’ve just walked off stage. After a few songs, Alex gave us each a CD of the gig. I haven’t heard any more since then but I intend to.
After writing that last sentence I realised I could be listening to it right now. My speakers are set up and the music is on. It still sounds good, although I have to say that I prefer listening with everyone else, so we can talk about what needs work. However, what’s good about this is that I get to hear what the public hear… sort of – I shouldn’t discount the work of Franko, my front of house engineer, who has his part in beefing up the sounds with EQ and the occasional effects.
Back to gig itself. It was a real rock n roller of a show. We played My Life As A Duck in the middle of the set, which we haven’t done for a long time. I used the sing-along moment as my opportunity to jump off stage and explore the room. The club had a bar running all the way down the room. That became my temporary stage for conducting the peeps in their choral endeavours. I also picked up someone’s full glass of beer next to my feet and downed it one. If that person is reading this, I hope the barman saw and you got another one for free. My apologies if not. But it was worth it, for the entertainment value, don’t you think?
There’s a lot more I could say about the show but it time is ticking. I’m about to meet the gang for dinner.
We arrived in Krakow an hour or so ago (the drive from Dornbirn was 15 hours) for our two Polish gigs, tomorrow and the next day. It’s great to be in another new country, once again!