Honestly, this has been the Best Gig Ever. It makes me wish we weren’t going on hiatus, and that’s a good thing: it means I’m looking forward to getting back together already. Actually, I’ve been feeling increasingly positive about band for the last couple of months, as our set coalesced and we just got better and better. As much as I’m excited right now and wish we could just keep going, I know the break will do us all some good.
I was thrilled that my parents and in-laws could finally come to a gig, particularly as this might have been the last gig Random Colour presented (it’s possible; after all, the original proposal was to stop entirely, commuted to a six-month hiatus before re-evaluating). I was also thrilled at the size of the crowd, even though about half of it left before Random Colour took the stage (your loss, people). I know Invisible is a more crowd-pleasing group because of the kind of music they play; that’s the sort of live experience people expect. It’s just a shame more people didn’t or couldn’t stay to experience something totally different and intriguing. It’s mildly annoying that we can’t seem to win: if we open the night people arrive late and miss us, and if we close the night people leave during the equipment change or halfway through our set. Anyway, the evening started out as standing room only, even with extra chairs being brought in. I loved the new venue: the stage itself, the sound, the lights. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who came to share the evening with us. I even saw people I hadn’t seen in a year or more, which was a lovely surprise.
The sound check experience was covered very well by Mousme here (along with gig notes too). I may have been one of the only people who didn’t get a lesson on technique from Perry the sound guy, despite his efforts to reposition my pickup ( “No, I guess you were right, that does seem to be the sweet spot.”) Despite his scolding and pointing out our flaws and weaknesses, we all love him and want to annex him permanently as sound guy and manager. We didn’t get to actually start checking until after six, which was when we’d all expected to be finished, so I raced home as soon as Random Colour was released to change and eat and bring HRH back with me. The guys started about twenty minutes after their expected start time, and we danced and sang through their set. (Note to self: Don’t sing and scream so much, if you want to have a voice left for your own set directly following. It ended up not mattering much because I forgot to position my mic for the song in which I do backup vocals, and I couldn’t get it close enough during the song itself, so my lack of voice wasn’t much of an issue.) There were a half dozen or so originals mixed in with the covers, and the range of music they presented was eclectic enough to give Random Colour a run for their money. I am so glad the “notes guys” got the chance to do an instrumental, and the fact that it was what they refer to as the PPK medley (Peter Gunn into the Bond theme) was tremendously cool. I Blame My Woman was hilariously suited to the three vocalists who each took a verse. The Blue Moon medley was also absolutely phenomenal. And of course, the new original The Rocking Thing, written primarily for Mousme (but played for the whole girls’ band, we were assured) was thrilling and just plain fun. It was fascinating to see and hear how the Invisible sound is really settling into something unique.
I have been reassured that it’s not a bad thing that I want to throw myself at the lead guitarist’s feet when he’s onstage. Bandmates tell me that I am in good company.
Our set and presentation were solid, and this was absolutely the most secure we have felt going in to a performance. So naturally, there were technical difficulties, but they were all dealt with coolly and professionally and didn’t adversely affect the performance. (Hands up, everyone who saw my cello endpin slip multiple times!) I’m not going to describe it in detail, as both Mousme and Karine have already done so. I played with my eyes closed a lot, just listening to how the sound was blending, with that ten percent of my brain that provides a running commentary (the other ninety percent busy doing what it’s supposed to do) marvelling at how excellent the sound was. The speed and energy were ideal, except in two songs, J’veux pas viellir and Enter Sandman. I ended up improvising a cello solo around the bits that I actually remembered in J’veux pas viellir (which the rest of the band says was slower than usual and I know was actually a touch faster, being the one who has to keep up during the verses, but it makes sense that it would be perceived as slow because of how it’s positioned in the set list and because of the adrenaline of the final rehearsal and the gig) … but despite these two very minor things it was absolutely beautiful and I loved the sound. Enter Sandman had so much energy that it ended up being played much faster than we’d ever done it. We kept up with one another and aced it, however, and I’m really looking forward to listening to the recording to hear the crowd response to Sandman once the cello and the kick drum start and the song digs in, and again when the unison riff begins. Wheat Kings, First We Take Manhattan, Moon Over Bourbon Street — they were all smooth and beautiful, and I loved playing them. We made real music. And it was good.
What I really love about Random Colour is how we arrange songs. There are no songs that we can play without adapting and arranging them, because we’re never going to find a song written for the instruments we have (unless we write them ourselves, and yes, we have one, and at least one other on the way which has been on the way since May of 2006, but they’re for the future; the latter is now waiting until Jam Sessions is released for the DS, thank you very much!). We really, really nailed these songs, and one of the reasons they succeed the way they do is because our arrangements are fresh and showcase the songs in a completely different way. One of the bits of feedback I’ve been hearing from various people, particularly about Wheat Kings, is “How did they do that with those instruments?”. We have inventive and experimental musicians. Ironically, this is also one of the reasons why we have to take a break from the band. We have to invest a stupid amount of effort and energy from the very start in order to make the songs work, and it’s very draining. We cut an excellent song from our set list the week before the gig because it was an almost-but-not-quite-there song, and it broke everyone’s heart because it was very possibly the song we had put the most work into over a year or so. It’s challenging, being the band we are. We get cross with one another, and frustrated, and worse, we get really really down on ourselves individually for not being as good as we think we ought to be. We tend to forget that what we’re doing is incredible in the first place, that we choose really tough songs to cover, that some of us have only been playing for two or three years. Hell, we get up in front of people to do this. That takes guts, and determination, and a soul of steel. Nights like the one this past Saturday remind us of why we do it.
I will miss band a lot. The hiatus will be good for us. But I’m already sorting through the wishlist of songs I’ve been building up.
PS: Didn’t make it? Were you there and want to see things from a different angle? Check out the gig photos taken by Everyone’s Mother’s Favourite Guitarist!