I’ve been going out. To be slightly more accurate, I’ve not been in much. The week started with a gig: My youngest daughter kept me company at the Low Anthem show in Oran Mor Glasgow. The Lows…(can we call them that?) had been into Pacific Quay that afternoon and we’d had a chat after they’d recorded 3 songs. This was a lovely session which was a real joy to sit in on. Beautifully recorded by Joanne in Studio 1 you can here the results on Tuesday night.
The gig was later that evening and it was a real triumph on many levels. For one thing it is always good to know that 400 people will come out to see a band that a lot of people haven’t yet heard about. Secondly it reaffirmed my core belief in the simple act of musicians playing songs to an audience who are happy to pay attention. (Two factors that don’t often come together in the same room despite loads of live events happening here in Scotland.) The real highlight of the night was their (even more) spirited version of Tom Waits’ “Home I’ll Never Be.”
On the way home from last week’s show I dropped by The Academy to pick up two happy daughters, their cousin and a pal who were part of a large number of contended people leaving The Fleet Foxes show there. Sadly (according to them) the magical silence which had been so noticeable in Oran Mor had been replaced by the Academy drone. That venue seems to specialise in encouraging the audience to chat, order up drinks and generally annoy performers more than any other music place I know.
What people probably don’t realise is that the performer can only do something really special if there is that silent, sacred space. A couple of years ago at the Belfast/Nashville festival I went to see a friend play. His wife stood beside me and she eventually was forced to (politely) ask some drunken women to be quiet. One of the drunken woman later came up to her and asked my friend’s wife to apologise. At that point I stepped in and told the woman that she had finally crossed a line. I survived. A year or so before that we had a night seeing Thad Cockrell completely ruined by noisy drunk blokes. They were finally thrown out and we later discovered they were off-duty policemen.
What I never understand is why these people pay money in the first place? Do they see it as their right to come and laugh inappropriately, ruin great moments and generally kill the vibe? When I grew up the people that ruined shows were the bouncers at the Caird Hall and The Glasgow Apollo – now I have to say I feel like calling in security myself. Not because anyone’s getting carried away at the show but because they’re just not listening.