(as in, to the book … )
On Friday night, Kindred Spirit (full band version) were appearing at Weybridge Conservative Club. I’d be the first to admit my expectations weren’t high for this gig. Firstly, my politics don’t incline to the Tory nor my social outlook particularly to the small-c conservative. Secondly, taking an unusual line-up playing a set heavy on fairly challenging originals and seriously reworked covers into a social club bar gig in a Home Counties market town seems a high-risk strategy, to put it mildly.
And the early parts of the gig didn’t give me massive reason to ditch that opinion, to be honest. There weren’t that many people in when we started playing, and while we weren’t heckled or asked ‘do you know any [x]?’, we didn’t exactly seem to have the audience in the palm of our hand either in the first half.
But the place did fill up, a couple of people were very visibly photographing and filming (I know a lot of performers hate this, but I see it as firstly a testimony to my performance being good enough to want to remember!), there were some very attentive blokes down the front and we were clearly making some impression, as I bounced around and hammed things up in usual fashion, and of course finished the set (as opposed to the encore) by touring the bar on wireless, wigging out over the outro to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’.
It was only really after we finished, though, that I started to feel this had been a good gig rather than one with some observable return on a lot of investment (I try to always invest effort, performance and energy as well as musical high standards in concerts, as you know). It was a good sign when we got paid quicker than I’ve ever seen after finishing (not that I’d want to be paid before finishing – undertones of ‘please just stop now’ … ). And while a few appreciative comments are common, this was out of the ordinary for compliments on my playing, enquiries as to when and where else we will be playing (check the website if you’re wondering too!), offers of fairly serious commercial help (Minde and Andy, we’ll be in touch) and general attention, to the whole band not just me. It goes to show you never can tell.
In a similar vein, I had just finished busking outside Wandsworth’s large shopping centre yesterday morning when I was accosted by a bloke carrying a four-pack of Stella and a tennis ball. I’m not going to jinx this because there’s no telling where it might go yet, but musicians, performers, freelancers and businesspeople of all kinds, take this as a tale to answer the question ‘Is it worth taking every person that wants to talk seriously?’ The conversation opened with ‘Nice playing; I haven’t got any change but do you want a beer?’ and ranged on as far as ‘Hypothetically, could you fix me a string quartet for a live TV appearance and how much would it cost?’ and ‘The guy who arranged the strings on my last recording works with Olly Murs and people like that, but I always want to get to know more people, you never know when someone’s going to be busy.’
So moral of the story: stick with it and make the effort. The payback is always unpredictable.