Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Station

'Unsatisfying' is probably the best way to describe this one, even though it was nice to do something in Birmingham, and for the Lunar Society, too. The gig was transferred from the Hare and Hounds to The Station some months ago because of a double-booking with John Cooper Clarke [which gave me a weird sense of deja vu - I'm sure the same thing happened with JCC in Leicester once?]. Naturally, the Hare and Hounds was bursting at the seams, as it is every Friday night. And naturally [this is L Clamp, after all], The Station was in less healthy form. Half the beers were off, and one none of those that were on were actually 'beer,' unfortunately.

The old PA from the Jug of Ale has been deposited in the Station, and it grumbled and crackled its way through the soundcheck, coaxed along by Justin, winner of the Super Helpful Soundman on the Night award. The tone was set though, by a an overpriced and underperforming pre-gig supper on York Rd. Complaints were made. Things were sent back. Optimism was dispersed.

As opener James Summerfield noted, it was an intimidatingly 'select' - i.e. small - and attentive audience. It didn't seem to throw him off though - I really enjoyed his set, especially the untitled new song [despite his advance disclaimer that it wouldn't work]. How about 'Not in a Biblical Sense' for a title, James? [It was a too good joke to only use once].

Chase Mist took the middle slot. They belong to a different universe to us really, and with a bigger audience that wouldn't have mattered much - electic line-ups can work well, when there's a broad shore for the waves to break upon, so to speak. But we were navigating by different stars, and it must have felt like as a difficult a gig for them as it did for us.

I couldn't figure out what to play, or what order to play it in, and during our first few songs I got lost somewhere between trying to second guess the sound [which was ok out front, I think, but very muddy on stage] and anticipate the audience [always an error]. John was almost certainly right to suggest that we should just play whatever we felt like playing - my own inclination was to kick off with Liar or Your Song, and blow some of the jangling nerves away. But we didn't - we started slow and quiet as we had at the other gigs this week, and even though it helped Justin to recover his levels, it was the wrong call, I think.

Night of the steep learning curve
New hat
Hard work
We set out to fail and succeeded
Stone beats this

I didn't hit any kind of stride until 'Fail,' really, but I did enjoy playing the last three. It can't have been as awkward as it felt; afterwards, Alan Bearos enthusiastically described our performance as like 'an American civil war pre-folk version of Uresei Yatsura,' which neither I nor Helen could make any sense of ... but it sounded encouraging!


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