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The Spirit Is Willing

October 15, 2011

A bundle of milestones last night….

Back in 2007/2008 when I started to believe again that I could be a singer-songwriter I set myself some goals and ambitions. One of these was to play in a ‘known’ venue outside Dublin and another was to support my friends Pugwash on one of their shows. I was due to play support for more dates on their Irish tour but sod’s law ensured that work-travel commitments meant I had to pull out of the other dates.

Last night I supported the lads at the Spirit Store in Dundalk.  From the minute I arrived I had a good feeling about the gig. The promoter/sound engineer/man-who-runs-the-gig Derek was not your typical grumpy wish-I-wasn’t-here-with-all-these-musicians person too often encountered. That was a great start. Once the Pugs had completed their marathon 11 minute soundcheck (a new record for them… where they get the stamina from I don’t know) I was given a proper setup and soundcheck. That does so much for your confidence and assurance that you’ll sound good and you’ll be able to hear yourself on the monitors. Mark (on bass) had plenty of time to adjust his sound and got the monitor mix he needed.

Local lad Brian Sewell opened and played a 15 minute set despite his massive hangover <grin>.  The audience had a chance for a drink/smoke break and I watched the venue cat inspecting everything on the stage. Yes you read right: the venue cat. He sits on the bar downstairs and drinks milk from a shot glass.   It’s that kind of venue.

still image from a video of last night's show in the Spirit Store

Onstage, a quick line check, tune check and we’re off. The room isn’t very big but that contributes to the ‘listening room’ and along with the candles creates a really comfortable environment.  I opened with ‘Elvis Has Left The Building‘ and told the back story to that song. It got a laugh and as the lyric unfurled I could see smiles of acknowledgement from the audience who spotted the references to the back story.

Memo To You‘ was next and I had to focus because I could hear (in my mind) the jangly 12-string Rickenbacker I recorded last weekend for this song.  This song is so much easier to perform live because Mark is holding down the groove in the bass and, on this gig, I could hear myself in the monitor. This allows me to exert more control over my playing and add some more dynamic to the vocal delivery. In other words: it’s not all shouty.

Trigger Happy‘ is a recently written song and although it’s got dark origins it’s still fun to play – anything in 6/8 (or is it 3/4 ?) time sounds different enough for an audience to give them a rest from 4/4 after 4/4 after 4/4.

12 Step‘ is another new-ish song and although I took the tempo a bit briskly it was probably good to bring it up again after the slow vibe of the previous song.  Yet again: being able to hear myself and not having to battle with dozens of people talking meant I didn’t fall back on pushing the song at the audience and could focus on performing it.

Last song of the set is ‘From The Other Side Of The World‘ which always goes down well.  I spotted a couple of the lads from Pugwash in the room and got that feeling I always get at the end of a support slot: “Man, I wish I could play for longer”.  I guess that’s good … right?

Glass half-full time: songs are getting better, the sound is filling out, I’m feeling more confident and I’m finally playing some good venues and getting more access to bigger artists audiences.  Next up is a few rehearsals with a drummer/percussionist who lives locally, adding some more songs to the set and dusting off my keyboard for some songs I’ve not yet played live. I hope to go out as a 3-piece at the next big gig which is at The Spout in Kilcullen on November 25th.  Another venue outside Dublin and a promise of a decent 40-45 minute slot. What’s not to like?

Oh and the small matter of an album to finish recording.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    October 15, 2011 2:53 pm

    Excellent post Pete, every venue should have a cat!


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