Chorley Live and Cakes
On Friday evening I enjoyed a peaceful hour sat in my car in a car park minding all the gear between #ChorleyLive gigs, with accompanying potato cakes, and listening to Jennie Abrahamson’s ‘Gemini Gemini’ album (stunning by the way, and highly recommended) while #MattSteady played his third gig of the night. I’d not heard of Jennie Abrahamson before she and Linnea Olsson opened Peter Gabriel’s ‘Back To Front’ Manchester gig a few years back with ‘Snowstorm’. Nor had I heard silence like that in a large auditorium for many, many years as her spellbinding voice took us all to a different place. “How do you get support gigs like that?” I pondered!
The act who me and Matt Steady followed that night at Chorley Central Library was ‘Solo Floyd’, one man with a fabulous voice, a guitar and effects pedals doing Pink Floyd covers. Like me, David plays music that requires listening to, and to a large degree the packed audience were a listening audience. As I stood with my instruments at the back of the hall I became irritated by just a few people who seemed incapable of understanding that in some circumstances you have to shut your mouth: a couple of blokes who had exceeded their beer quota before 9pm that evening; one of the stewards wasn’t exactly being quiet and respectful; and there was a pre-teen boy being a bit of a nuisance, but I was once that boy so it was more easy to understand his position!
Matt and I came through our gig feeling like we’d done well enough but there was no foldback monitor, so we had little idea how we sounded. Matt could barely hear his violin, and while I could hear my voice the bass strings of my cittern seemed to overpower the treble and I was unable to enjoy that feeling of certainty that performers need in order to give of their best. In fairness, the sound guy Daniel had never worked with a cittern before so he was on a steep learning curve, and by the end of the 45 minute set he’d cracked it. Then I changed from cittern to guitar for the final song and screwed it all up for him again!
So we had the foldback conversation and the following evening they had two whopping great monitors for us. Unsurprisingly the difference was staggering, and all Matt and I needed to do was concentrate on the music. It was of course hugely helpful to the sound guy as well because I didn’t need to press ‘boost’ on my preamp to occasionally hear my cittern as I had done the previous evening. Then came the moment of the night, and probably the festival for me.
This was the first time I had used the new preamp at a gig. No amount of practise can mimic a live show, but I was well rehearsed and knew the sounds I wanted from it during the set. I had a slight delay on the cittern but hadn’t been able to hear exactly how it would sound in this larger venue. We played ‘The Smile’ at about the mid-set point. As we got half way through the first chorus I thought “Wow! That preamp is giving me a pretty spectacular sound!” (Matt by the way had exactly the same thought), but then I looked round and saw Daniel on his keyboard!
The spontaneity and spirit of collaboration that you get with other independent musicians is something special, and his unexpected intervention worked stunningly well. I spent part of the drive home wishing that had been one of the tracks that Gary filmed for us, but in the cold light of a working Monday morning I’m just glad to have the special memory. There are many great things about mobile technology and social media, and I’m forever hearing marketing types talking about the ‘experience’. But this wonderful moment in a set that we absolutely nailed is now the domain only of those in the room on the night, at Chorley Live 2018. Now that’s what I call an ‘experience’. Thank you Chorley Live 2018 – see you again next year if you’ll have us!