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GIGS 2012

Friday 6th July 2012

Ace Space, Newbury, Berks RG14 5PR - open-mic

Bohemian Night Sunday Showcase hosted by Rob Sowden

"One Enchanted Evening"

About March / April time last year I discovered open-mics and started investigating them. (I don't think at this stage I had performed at one.) Ace Space was one of the first that I attended and I quite liked the warm encouraging atmosphere. However the end of that evening was spoiled for me as I became aware that many of the sixth-form aged performers and their families appeared only interested in themselves and I thought were at times, actually quite disrespectful to the other performers.

As I drove Luke Paulo and myself to Newbury I remembered this and I think I may have even warned Luke that this might be what we should expect.

I needn't have bothered. I actually found the atmosphere of the whole evening at Ace Space on Friday quite enchanting. The hall was packed, perhaps because this particular evening was the last open-mic before the summer break. There must have been a hundred or more people in the audience. If you do the maths, it's obvious that they could not all have been performers. In fact that was one of the things that struck me on Friday, which thus far in my experience of open-mics is unique, and that is, that a very large contingent of the audience were there because they enjoy the entertainment.

All of the acts were high quality, though some were obviously less used to performing than others. In tribute to the newer acts that evening and still remembering my nerves from last year (Where did they go? I'm not sure I get them any more. Is that a good or bad thing?) I actually changed my set from what I had planned (and rehearsed) to include Get Up! And of course, guess what, I mucked it up. But do you also know what, I just figured out the forgotten chords and carried on. Who'd have thought this time last year I'd be able to do that.

The highlights of the evening for me were:

  • Luke Paulo, who I think had the largest audience that he's ever played to, spellbound. (I also heard one or two whispers of comparisons to "Jake Thackery"). His set was very atmospheric and I think you really could have heard a pin drop;
  • Ben Champion, a comedy singer-songwriter. I actually made the comment in my set about how much I liked his act and made the observation that perhaps some comedians are like artists because they're trying to tell the truth and comedians magnify the absurd. He is actually in the finals of the Comedy Competition "You Must Be Joking" at the Newbury Corn Exchange on Tuesday 10th July. I'd recommend trying to see him and I wish him the best of luck on Tuesday. It takes a lot to make me laugh. It takes even more to make me also think: "Ah that's clever / That's true" and Ben did.
  • Finally one our hosts, Adam, who along with some other members of Case Hardin reminded me so much of one of my favourite artists, Gillian Welch, and provided a great finale. At one point they were joined by Rick Green who provided some excellent guitar. (How do people do that? Just get up and play?)

Whilst mentioning Rick Green, I'd just like to thank him for the excellent sound. It's one of the few times that I've played without the guitar plugged in or without monitors and although it's a bit disconcerting as an performer, the mix certainly came across well in the hall.

My Set: