So I played Acoustic Loveliness at the Closed Shop last week.
The music happens in the main bit of the pub – it’s not a nice, tucked-away little room like we have at the Rutland Arms. So there was a lot of background noise. My first two songs went down a treat but then I tried to play ‘Pilot Light’ and ‘The Glass Delusion’ and the quiet, picky bits of guitar were inaudible. I ended up switching from fingers to plectrum mid-song, and ad-libbing a new set without any more quiet songs.
Not that I’d dream of insisting that people who’ve just come down their local for a pint should forget about chatting to their mates and just stand there while I do my thing, in total reverence and silent awe. Although now that you mention it, it’d be quite nice if they did.
But it was a shame because I couldn’t debut my new tune ‘One-Hit Wonder’, which is all about the quiet. And because I couldn’t play ‘One Day We’ll Find an Island’, I’d taken my ukulele along for nothing. That’s right. The whole hefty bulk of a ukulele, for the whole gruelling five-minute walk from my house.
I made a few mistakes as well. Mistakes I’d never normally make, like forgetting some of the words in ‘Subterranean Moseley Blues’ and forgetting to play the entire second verse in my cover of ‘Deceptacon’.
So I didn’t feel very good about it afterwards. But then I thought, actually, Pete, stop being such an overgrown whiney Smiths fan about it.
Why? First, the other two turns, Mike Szymanski and Summer of Blood, were excellent. Mike’s friends, in particular, were delightful, telling me how much they liked my set and indeed sitting there and listening enthusiastically to all three acts, despite never having met me before or anything. As anyone will know who goes to acoustical kinds of gigs, this NEVER HAPPENS at all.
It seems to me also that the gig will be a useful learning experience ahead of this autumn’s big solo tour (yeah, I’ll tell you later). In particular it was a useful reminder that venues are not always a hushed, optimal environment for proper acoustic music. So I will be sure to have an A set and a B set for every gig, so’s I can switch deftly from one to t’other in case of background noise.
But the moment that brought back a smile to my face, when I was sitting at home listening to the Shipping Forecast afterwards, was actually during ‘The Glass Delusion’.
There’s a middle bit in the song (as you’ll know when the album comes out!) where I have to hold a note for a bit and then lift it and it’s generally quite a nice climaxy (not like that) effect in the vocal. You know, by my understated standards. Well. Just as this bit was happening and I lifted the note and stuff, one person in the little audience made a little woo sound. There was an element of cheeky knowingness about it – I’m doing a woo sound mid-song, in response to a good bit of singing, like on The X Factor! But it was genuine at the same time, I think. A little moment of woo.
And when you make music like this, little moments of woo are probably what it’s all about.