Believe it or not, I attended a gig the other night. Yes, me. At a gig. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (namely in ‘Why I Say No to Glasto!‘), I don’t actually like live music. Unless the musician can almost identically replicate the album, then I’m not up for it. What I truly can’t stand is that horribly ‘student band’ sound that you often find yourself subjected to. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up at this particular gig because my husband has pretty much learned over the years ‘not to go there’. But a few weeks ago I’d said that I quite liked an album he had been playing in the car (big mistake). And low and behold, the gig was suddenly booked up with a ticket with my name on it. I think I may have been hoodwinked…
Anyway, you may as well know that the artist we went to see was C. Duncan (Mercury Music prize nominated, no less. Not that that is always a positive thing). I’d shown an interest in his work because it wasn’t your average type of pop music. And I detest average pop music. He’s classically trained, which is very evident as the music is almost choral in places, his voice layered again and again giving the impression of angelic, harmonic voices of a choir. I wasn’t sure how this was going to be replicated live, but I was hopeful that I wasn’t going to be have to sit through poorly played bass guitar that goes right through your body like seismic activity or drums that make you clench your teeth for an hour (I know, I know, I sound really old – I reiterate, I don’t generally like live music because it’s usually a poor imitation of the cleanly-recorded studio album. Don’t you even think of ad-libbing on me!).
On entering the club, after initially trying to ignore being hit by the strong odour of wee right by the bar, I was immediately surprised at the smallness of the venue. Oh and the next less-than-pleasing realisation was that there were about four seats – all taken, of course. I glanced at my watch, 8pm. Then we spotted the flyer on the bar which advised us that C. Duncan wasn’t going to be on stage until 10pm. 10pm? At night? Mother of God, that was two hours away and I was already tired – I’d usually be in bed by now. And remember, I had no seat or even the vaguest chance of getting one. The first of the support bands were already up on stage (if you can call a bit of a raised mezzanine area a stage) as we wandered over the bar to get some drinks. I tried to sip at my vodka, lime and soda but the lingering stench of piss was making me feel queasy and had somehow transformed the taste of the drink to match it. Or perhaps the drink really did taste like piss, I don’t know. The support band were as expected, the sort of thing I wouldn’t go to see if I’m honest, the songs were a little bit forgettable.
Both my husband and I both hate standing. I think it must be from years of being on our feet in the healthcare profession but we now get terrible low back pain very quickly after standing for only a short time. Or maybe it’s because we’re over 40 and our bodies are just a bit knackered. Anyway, the closest we were going to get to being seated was leaning against a pole which I think was a support to stop the roof from caving in (you can shift your weight from foot to foot and use the pole to take some of the load off). But as we ventured over to said pole, I noticed I could barely lift each foot off the floor, so ingrained with sticky spills over the years were the floorboards. At one point, I actually thought my boot was going to be sucked off my foot as it might in a quagmire. Finally I made it to the ‘pole of support’, I sipped gingerly at my horrible drink and realised an hour had gone by as the second of the support bands made their way up on stage. This bunch were marginally better than the first but the lead singer was seated at a keyboard (the lucky bastard) so I couldn’t see him (being of small stature like I am). And his female backing singer-come-keyboardist-come-tambourine-shaker kept singing out from under her overly-long fringe, doing a bit of a coy girlish look from the corner of her eyes the entire time which was vaguely irritating.
Anyway, by the time the main act came on at 9:45 (thank the Lord, C. Duncan must have wanted to get home early too), my back was already killing me. I’d been standing on one foot and then the other for an hour and forty-five minutes and the pain was starting to get to me. But then the music started. And everything was alright again. I don’t know how he managed it, but Mr Duncan and the band managed to surpass the sound created on the album. All the musicians were great, the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer all tight and flawless. The thing that amazed me the most was how the lead singer and the two backing singers (the bassist and the keyboardist) managed to recreate the beautiful harmonies I’d heard on ‘The Architect’ (the album). It was just great (and you know me, I never extol the virtues of anything if I can help it). There were a couple of points where the singer insisted on sharing some new material…New materiel?! Jeez, are you kidding me?! Sometimes I remind myself of Homer Simpson in the episode when he goes to see Bachman-Turner Overdrive who are playing in Springfield. And he’s heckling the band when they attempt to play new material, shouting, ‘Takin’ Care of Business!! No talking! No new crap! Takin’ Care of Business! Now!!‘, even after they’ve already played it (yes, I’m like that). But even the new material was mostly okay.
So the band finished their pretty wonderful set after an hour, we clapped and cheered our approval but decided to give the meeting and greeting and t-shirt buying with the band a miss (it was a school night after all and do I look like a bloody groupie to you?) and off we hurried back to the car. So at the age of 44, I attended my first gig in years. Hopefully my husband knows me well enough not to repeat the experience again too soon, and next time, I’ll make sure I’m very careful about saying anything positive about the music that happens to be playing in the car. And husband, don’t think this means I’m coming to Glastonbury with you this year either, because you and I both know that is never going to happen.
NB: I jest, of course. I really enjoyed the gig. Thanks husband (I’m not jesting about Glastonbury though).