First up, the ‘Sunday Social’ is such a cool idea; Sunday roast followed by some great acoustic acts in a lovely setting – you really can’t go wrong. So props to Russ at Beatnik Events and the guys at The Old Queen’s Head for organising and hosting.
This was the first full set gig for my new songs with Vinod (Vin) on tabla. I’ve been doing solo spots at various Open Mic nights around London where you perform two songs. Also me and Vin did a short 15 minute set at a scratch night at Redbridge Drama Centre last November which acted as a tester and confidence booster, as the feedback was great.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a pub gig, so I was honestly more nervous than normal. Years of doing Botown have spoiled me a bit in terms of the luxury of a loyal and loving audience that is coming specifically to see my band. And also an audience that knows what it is getting i.e. some funky Bollywood! Botown is a big band with a lot of musicians and the focus is on the energy that we create. With my solo material it’s just me and Vin and the focus is on the songs.. and the songs are very personal and as yet unheard.
I’d decided early on that when I started my new solo material it would be from the ground up. As much as I want my ‘Botown family’ to join me on this ride, I also want to engage an entirely new audience. I think it’s always important to gig your songs before heading in to the recording studio - particularly ones you wrote yourself. Performing to an audience helps you find the song. Performing to an audience who hasn’t heard the songs before helps you find it quicker!
I got offered the gig by Russ after doing a spot at the Beatnik Events open mic night at Apples and Pears in Whitechapel (off Brick Lane) in December. Open mic nights are hard to get right but I’d happily recommend Beatnik Events to any singer/songwriters out there who want to try out their songs. Russ is a very generous and supportive host, who always has your back!
So.. Sunday.. I was looking forward to Vin coming round to mine as I was certain he would calm my nerves - he’s good like that.. Solid. No bullshit. No nonsense. Just the type of guy you need to keep the beat… Turns out he was just as anxious as I was. Vin, like me is also used to luxurious gigs and attentive audiences and it’s been a long time since he’s been in this situation too… Of course I didn’t help matters by telling him I wanted to do a brand new song that he hadn’t even heard. But consummate professional that he is, we ran through it and he just locked in.
Car packed and to the gig. Found parking easy on Essex Road - turns out it is just round the corner from my old Sound Engineering college (Alchemia). In to The Old Queens Head which was packed out with happy people (a good sign). Upstairs to the performance room which as you can see by the picture looks like Downton Abbey after a legendary 70’s rock band had a party (‘Dishevelled Downton?). Perfect. Soundcheck done. Pre gig drinks ordered… and without much waiting around, we were first on…
As ever the bundle of nerves unravels itself to a steady if a bit cautious performance. My worries about the songs being too personal, too quiet, to esoteric vanished after the warm applaud for the opening number. From then on we pretty much rolled through the songs, had fun sharing the vibe and got some great feedback. It was lovely speaking to people after the gig and reassuring too. Especially those that picked up on the finer detail of what I’m doing musically. So with that in mind, here’s to the next one!
Break the Circle
Six Arm Goddess
Post Script/Special mentions:
- Big thanks to Duncan Dargie for the awesome pictures he took and shared with us. i'll be posting more up soon.
- If you get a chance check out Maggie Zenwa, a great singer/songwriter with a really unique guitar style. She was on after us and was fantastic.
- And of course thanks to my mate Meena who turned up 5 minutes after the set ended. The look on her face was priceless and I actually considered asking Russ if I could quickly get back on stage and do a couple of songs for her!!