The frustrations of being the middle man stuck between the requirements of the artist and the failings of the venue you work in really came to the fore tonight. I sort of knew I had stepped out of my depth with this one way before I went down to set the gig up but some time you have to try. Discussions with Attila when we set the gig up already alerted me to the fact that he normally plays to attentive audiences who have paid and therefore listen, who have a penchant for literature and real ale. The Locomotive is not any of that, in fact if you had to design something diametrically opposed to that you couldn’t have done a better job. But the show worked logistically on his tour between dates in deepest Wales and Reading and a chance to catch up with his old friends Charred Hearts ticked enough boxes.
So from here on in we can make the gig work, right? Well the fact that there was no real ale on draught that night really didn’t help and actually resulted in Attila and a few of the Hearts heading to the Wetherspoons across the street so that they could get a decent pint. That’s saying something about the venue when you are gazumped by a cut price, drinking gulag.It also didn’t help that the bar staff spent so much time having a cigarette break outside that people actually left the venue to find a drink, fans who had travelled and some didn’t bother returning. Not good.
If Attila was not happy about this, I was fuming. I get to work with someone whom I had admired for 25 plus years and I feel like I am letting him down left, right and centre. Still his gig goes well, the audience is underwelming in numbers but diligent and enthusiastic. Trade mark social rants mixed silly stories, poignant prose cheek by jowl with amusing anecdotes, extracts from the recent Autobiography, politics, football and much more besides. Perfect.
Charred Hearts rock out the after gig set, tight as ever and the numbers swell a bit more to do with passing trade than deliberate planning. So where is everyone? I think the location of the venue doesn’t help and breaking peoples drinking habits is never an easy task but with last weeks poor turn out for The manic Shine and this weeks woefully empty room, I’m wondering if the venue can ever become what I would like it to become or should we just fill it full of cover bands and sit earn our money the easy way…just like every other venue in town.