Saturday’s Kindred Spirit gig, at The Acoustic Couch’s FourPlay Festival in Bracknell, went well. But it had potential to be remarkable for some of the worst reasons.
Our regular drummer, the enviably dependable and down-to-earth Alan Barwise, is still fighting off a quite serious illness, and had to confirm at the last minute he wasn’t going to be back on fighting form in time for this gig. Rather unusually for a mostly originals act, we do have signed up first reserves for some roles (the running joke is that we’re going to get one for frontwoman / songwriter Elaine … ), including drummer Aleem Saleh who is really starting to bed in having done I think three major gigs with us now. Unfortunately he was unavailable for this date in any case. Which left us doing an hour set without a drummer and with no rehearsal in that unusual four-piece configuration.
Now there are basically two ways you can take this sort of situation (assuming you’re too committed to ‘the show must go on’ to just pull the set, which I think was never in question). You can decide that losing one-fifth of the membership means losing at least one-fifth of the energy; in a sense allow circumstances to win, even if you cooperate with the inevitable by packaging it as the ‘acoustic experience’ or whatever (not that we unplugged anything).
Or, you can decide that the absence needs filling by 20% extra energy, performance and rhythm from everybody else, or at least yourself since that’s who you can be responsible for and control; stomp on the hollow stage, make extra effort to shape and direct your solo lines rhythmically, go even fiercer to the crowd in a bid to still do a rock show without the drum kit.
Knowing me in rock bands, which option do you think I went for?
It’s a real testimony to all the players involved that we pulled the set off at all I think; one reviewer describes the result as ‘a very polished and surprisingly tight performance’ under the circumstances, and I think that is a more carefully-phrased representation of feedback on the day. I received (not for the first time) the slightly uncomfortable compliment of people saying ‘I’ve bought the album, but I’m very disappointed to find there isn’t one with you on it’ – but it’s at least a consolation to know the band one man down, in a very much rock environment where absence of drums was unique in the lineup and unorthodox, can still appeal enough to sell records!
A glance at the upcoming gigs list on the home page here will reveal that this marks the end of a streak of rock band gigs, for now. The immediate future (until late May) is coloured by street performances, and then by a handful of wildly varying orchestral concerts. More on those to follow in future posts!