At the moment in the UK, any opportunity to play live music for a live audience is, in the collective scheme of things, special; to do so for pay, doubly so*.
However, Wednesday night’s Flux Ensemble concert was nonetheless individually special, and might even have been so without a pandemic and lockdown.
For one thing, it was my first indoor performance in over six months, since St Patrick’s Day (er, weekend) celebrations in mid-March just pre-lockdown. As if to mark the point, it was an autumnal, intermittently rainy September day in London after most of the month feeling like high summer!
For another, we were in the stunning (and grandiose) surroundings of Southwark Cathedral. And all right, we were again playing transcriptions of film scores – but there’s still a privileged feeling more like real classical musicians when you’re playing acoustically (in years of acoustic strings being easily drowned out, I have never been so glad for the client not to want to amplify me!) in a medieval building with such an awesome acoustic.
Admittedly, we did have to get used to the audience, especially the back of the audience, being a lot further away than in our outdoor gigs at Camden Market. (Socially distanced audience means they cover a lot of square feet of floor space by the time you have enough in to make the event profitable!) And the size and acoustic perversely meant we had to get used to not being able to hear each other as clearly. On the other hand, there is something egotistically satisfying about the knowledge (checked by ‘sound check’ before we let the audience in!) that I can talk to, or at least address, an audience to be heard the length of a nave this size:
So I hope we get the chance – through our current run of Fever gigs or otherwise – to come back here. And maybe even to do a few indoor gigs somewhere else! The season for bandstands and deckchairs is definitely tailing out …
*Though there are actually fewer hoops to jump through for professionals than amateurs. I don’t want to sound harsh, but it makes a change from the years of people managing to make it sound like ‘giving musicians an opportunity to perform’ without rewarding them for their work was philanthropic.