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Blog: The Black Heart

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Now that I have taken on Young Steve as my assistant/apprentice/work experience lad/driver's mate (select according to taste) I feel it is important to give The Lad the full GAMUT of ROCK EXPERIENCE. It would be awful if, when I send him out into the world armed with his NVQ in GIGOLOGY to embark upon his solo career in Modern Dance, he thought "All gigs are EASY and FUN! HOORAH!" for LO! he would fall into his despair at his first rough Jam Night.

This intention is not only WORTHY, it's also very handy for all concerned when we do A Bit Of A Tough Gig, as we did on Friday. We met at The Black Heart in Camden to play at the launch gig for the third issue of Solipsistic Pop, a rather ACE, also POSH LOOKING, comic. I was DEAD excited about it - GIGS and COMICS are two of my favourite things, and the whole organisation of it was LOVELY. I met Tom, who was organising it, who turned out to be a thoroughly delightful chap, and found to my GLEE that it was Camilla WeePop who had recommended me for it. AHA! That DID make sense!

There were sweets, cakes, and all sorts of smashing things going on, which meant that the PA being a bit rubbish didn't really disturb us. "It'll be fine", we agreed, "We'll just do without it" and headed off for a DELICIOUS curry at the nearby Maharani. Ooh, it was lovely!

We formulated our plan - to have Steve come on in the middle and do three Dinosaur Planet songs - and then headed back to find things just getting going. Bec Hill was the compere and she did some GRATE stuff with hand animated pictures (like those activity books where you pull tabs), which is an idea i have LOGGED for NICKING. A LOT of people had arrived by this time and were talking VERY LOUDLY INDEED. She tried to QUELL them to no avail, as did Terry Saunders, who did a MARVELLOUS set. It was GRATE, but the noise was SO VERY LOUD that we were LEANING FORWARD to try and hear from only ten feet away.

Steve suggested just PLOWING ON when we took to the stage, but I said "No no! There are ways and means to silence an audience - quick! To the ROCK ARMORY!" for there are INDEED many ways to do this... all of which I was to try. Here's what I actually PLAYED:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Ballad Of Alan Moore
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • A carefully tailored set of The Hits and The Ones Mentioning Comics, which I hoped would carry me through. The noise of chat was ENORMOUS, and when I took to the stage I found I couldn't even see the people who WERE listening, due to the LIGHTS - something which (oddly, now I think about it) is common in STAGE things but quite rare for Actual Gigs. I did a bit of talking, but even this was difficult to get across as the PA was distorting and just wasn't loud enough to reach the people at the back. I went to Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid to see if the Everybody Join In Bit would get people down the front singing, therefore BOOSTING my volume, and allowing us to go into MORE audience participation, but nobody DID join in. I then decided to BRING OUT THE BIGS GUNS and do THE HIT, and do it IN THE ROUND.

    Now, understand that I would NEVER normally do this. I've seen it a few times in similar situations and not really liked it, as it feels like the singer IMPOSING himself. After all, people have PAID to get in and are entitled to CHAT if they want to, but I really wanted to do SOMETHING to at least point out to people that i WAS there, and to try and pull SOME of them in. SO it was that I walked throught the audience, RIGHT round the room, SHOUTING Hey Hey 16K at groups of people as I went.

    This had NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER. Even when I turned up RIGHT IN FRONT of people they'd look around and then just continue talking, and I got back to the stage feeling like a BLOODY IDIOT. "No thanks", they seemed to say, "we'd rather not pay any attention to you at all, we are having a conversation that CANNOT WAIT."

    At this point STEVE bounded on to stage - i advised him not to worry about the props so we could get ON, and indeed we did with a couple of the LOUDER songs, fearing that anything below MAX VOLUME would be lost. True to his ART Steve did the whole DYING bit in Theme From Dinosaur Planet FULL ON, and I shall be giving him extra credits for this EXEMPLARY display when I complete his final assessment. It still didn't make anyone any quieter, and it was only when I finished off with "Boom Shake The Room" that I felt I was finally making some headway. The trouble with THAT is that "Boom Shake The Room" is pretty much the NUCLEAR OPTION. It did actually get people to do the "HO!" bit and there WAS joining in, but there's nowhere else to go AFTER doing it, as I have found on the few times that i HAVE tried to follow it.

    THUS I came off stage, BUZZING with Actually Quite Enjoying Myself. I've done HECKLOADS of gigs like this in the past and in a funny old way it's actually quite good fun to PIT yourself against loads of people chatting, even when you don't come out on top. Also the people who were organising the evening were REALLY nice about it, and if they HADN'T put together a lovely DO that a) people wanted to come to and b) meet their friends and have a NICE TIME at, well, then it would have been an empty room anyway.

    Obviously I'd've preferred to have played to a SILENT ROOM interspersed with GUFFAWS and OVATIONS, but HEY! if ALL Steve's gigs were like that it would spoil him!

    posted 15/11/2010 by MJ Hibbett

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