Not all unusual is better of course. It is rare, for instance, for me or any of the projects I’m involved in to perform for – well, I won’t state a number, but the fee for Sunday night. It is rare for me to play rock to a seated audience, and while it has its points in terms of attentiveness, I tend to fear the likely passivity. And it’s while since I’ve done a band set as short as 30 minutes.
But then again, it is most unusual to get to be the only other act sharing a bill with a name as big (even if now in danger of being considered a nostalgia act) as Curved Air; which was what Kindred Spirit and I were doing to close Claygate Music Festival on Sunday night.
I’m far too young for their heyday of course (I was born about 15 years later!), and in some ways I’m not a natural prog fan. But they possess truly truly excellent guitar, keys and drums talents, a fiddle player who emerges from doing a lot of fairly straightforward melodies or backing chugs (with personality-of-the-event stage presence however) to employ occasional startling virtuosity, and some heavier, brooding moments that, together with occasional more social / political comment lyrics, did really connect with me.
But regardless of my personal liking for their music, I am far too aware of the band’s standing, particularly perhaps among the majority represented age bracket at this gig (village music festival in inner Surrey after all) to take lightly the handful of strangers who told me or Elaine we were better. (Though I am going to modestly claim they were probably biased by a very high feedback tone that the sound engineer couldn’t manage to eliminate, but which there is no reason to blame on the band just because it was in their set.) And those aside, this was very much a musically literate crowd who weren’t going to be swayed just by me bouncing around the stage on the wireless pickup – their compliments meant something, and they were numerous.
My experience isn’t that having supported a big name helps your career, as a band or an individual player, very much. Nonetheless, it’s a nice point on the CV for all of us, and something to talk about down the pub.
Down the pub being where Elaine and I are spending St Patrick’s Night (this Friday, if you don’t follow these things), unsurprisingly – the Swan Inn in Isleworth, juicing up proceedings with Irish and other songs and tunes the evening long. The following night, the full band of Kindred Spirit seek classier surroundings in the form of a Hampshire golf club – sadly not open to the public even when we’re playing. We’ll bring you back a beer mat.
Check back for more upcoming gig news, including my first truly pro musical theatre run and ‘cosmic’ rock in a church …