BARQ, Almost Ghosts, CARRON & Hvmmingbyrd - a behind the scenes review of their gig at The Workmans Club - Aug 11th.
It's 6pm as I approach the Workmans Club in limited expectation of everything being on track but I'm happily surprised; BARQ are already soundchecking, they're sounding great, and the CARRON troupe are all present too, smiling their big smiles and being lovely. “You must be Meabh” I say to the first smiling face I encounter, total random shot and I'm quickly caught out. “I'm not actually” responds Saorla, who I now see has a cello, oops, and Meabh and Mella bound over to say their hi's. They're all glittered up and looking beautiful and I love them all instantly, even the two lads. My partner in Gigonmetry, Elaine, had sussed them out so I really didn't know what or who to expect. They would later give a most extraordinary performance and deliver a beautiful set of distinctly celt-infused songs. Delicately played, pristinely delivered. I've been listening to the EP 'Roots' since; it's a lovely listen.
Deborah and Suzette of Hvmmingbyrd I meet in the Green Room a few minutes later; again we've only 'met' via e-mail so we exchange quick hellos and a few formalities. Deborah has forgotten to bring CDs but all else is in order and again they are both instantly charming. So far so good, now to get some posters stuck up, check on the door person (the inimitable Saul is on duty tonight), liaise with Karl, the rather excellent manager of the Workmans, give Eugene on sound the backdrop DVD, update the guestlist and a few other necessary chores, and we're all set to go! Woohoo, nothing can go wrong, and indeed Almost Ghosts actually materialise soon after. Again it's my first time meeting David, Andy and Mike and they are the total pros in getting set up, sounchecked, and relaxing into the vibe. This is brilliant, I've nothing to do and there's an hour to go 'til doors open. This is a first. I leave, being completely surplus to requirements, and head up to Dwarf Jar, get a coffee and read a chapter of Rebecca, my novel of the moment. I head back and bump into Steve and Tommy from BARQ. Tommy's a character; he's got a totally mischieveous face. Instantly likeable. We chat about music, the music scene, how we basically love music in all its forms and manifestations. There is general movement up and down from the stage, I finally get to meet Jess and we hug in greeting. She's looking beautiful and adorned with a fantastic necklace, and she's kinda nervous but handling it. She's on the honey and tea, and does some vocal warm-ups. We have a bit of banter; she gets a text from Wallis Bird, who's in town tonight. Deadly, there's going to be a bit of a reunion for the gang tonight, making it an even more special evening for Jess already. In two hours she will give one of the most stunning frontperson performances that I've seen in recent times.
Back to the present though, time has elapsed and things are falling behind schedule. It was bound to happen, managing the floor is not really my strength and there's a mix up and a missing person and the show is suddenly 15 mins late. But Hvmmingbyrd are so patient as they await their start; I assure them we'll make up the time (I've no idea at this point how) and they should play their full set. I hate having to cut any band's set short. I tense up, wondering how we'll actually make up the time, but I needn't have worried. All the acts changed over really quickly, there were no technical hitches and Eugene on sound had everything under control. Elaine arrives to take the shots and generally be a calming influence on me, as does Phil from U&I, who fathfully reviews every act at every gig in the most extraordinary detail, as well as entertaining us with his enthusiasm and wit.
You can hear a pin drop for Deborah and Suzette's set, and there's quite a crowd in already. It's really rather beautiful. There is total repect and support for the girls from the audience and they return it a hundredfold with finely woven songs. Suzette's clearly enjoying herself and Deborah bounces off it too. I pop down to the Green Room after to congratulate them; we're chatting away and I lose track of time. Suddenly I realise that time again has elapsed somewhat and I dash upstairs to see how the CARRON gang are getting on. Christ, they're about to start. I dash on stage and give a hurried introduction, forgetting 100% of the things I had asked them about earlier. Oh well; it's all good fun. They are really really good; excellent songs and so well delivered by Meabh and Mella, and backed by a fine band. Oh and they're all great craic too; they all hang after the show and we're all one big happy family enjoying the post-gig buzz upstairs afterwards. Meanwhile, their show continues and it's theatrical, Mella wearing white and being very blond, Méabh being dark of hair and wearing black and they're so natural together. Méabh tells me the background story later; which they tell of in their EP.
Almost Ghosts are equally quick to change-over and we're back on track. They lads play a great set and things are buzzing along nicely; the venue is nicely full and yet there's a reverent listening vibe in the place. Everyone's here to see and hear the bands; chatting is at a minimum. It just happens. There's lots of musicians here too; they know the deal. It's surprisingly tough when you're on stage and there's chatter going on. It can be demoralising but you get used to it, so this crowd are up there in quality with the bands! 'Lights Out' gets a deservedly great reception, we're all delighted for the lads that it's getting airplay aplenty; great video to go along with it too. They play a flawless set. Everyone's happy. Can this get any better?
I chat to the Gigonmetry crew in between sets, the regulars who've been coming to Gigonmetry shows for 4 years and more, and it's time for BARQ. Again I stumble through some unprepared and totally meaningless rubbish by way of introducing the band and they're on! I look from the sides; it's one of the privileges of promoting, you get AAA, allocated to yourself from yourself. You get to see the show from the band's perspective, get a sense of how they're feeling. They're into it straight away; Jess doesn't realise it yet but she's already starting off with meaning and a certain menace and this is going to augment right the way through the next 35 mins. I rush upstairs, I need to see this from as close as I can. I spot Elaine; she is gobsmacked. She whispers “I think this is already the best performance I've seen”. Turns out she's right. I bump into Derek, a good friend and regular attendee and very fussy indeed about his bands; he says exactly the same thing. The crowd are buzzing, the band are absolutely killing it. I'm so delighted for them. I often feel a strange pride when I see bands onstage at our shows, given that I hardly know them as people. It's a great community though, and we're all in it for the love of what we do, so that probably goes some way to explaining it. I'm feeling it tonight.
We all meet up in the Green Room afterwards, everyone's hugging, chatting, selfie-ing, writing band names on the wall. There's a few friends in too; everyone's having a good time. Neil from BARQ signs up for jamming with Hvmmingbyrd; he just wants to play, and what a bass player he is! Wallis pops in to say hi and add to the general good vibe. Phil's there, getting setlists for his reviews, big smile on his face. Elaine's buzzing too in her own beautiful way, telling the bands how good they were and being genuinely interested in finding out what they're up to. We try to keep in touch with them all.
I meet Karl to sort out the door money, and then sort out the bands. Great, that's all that stuff done, now it's time to unwind. Wait, what about CARRONs CDs which were on sale at the door? Where are they? How many sold? I make my way upstairs to investigate, but get waylaid by some bands wanting to chat to me about doing a slot sometime. I lose track. Where are the CDs? Crap. No-one's worried, and we all shoot the breeze and have a great time 'til the wee hours. I stumble out at a semi-sensible hour and chat to the taxi driver all the way home; a very interesting man indeed, I'm home in what seems like a flash, even though it's 30mins. As I plonk myself down on the couch I think 'Did that just happen, or was it some sort of happy dream'. I open my bag and there's a CARRON CD, gifted to me by Méabh. It did happen. Roll on Sept 8th, same time, same place. There's a lot of work to do between here and there so time to get cracking.