(almost a week after the fact, and this just getting finished and posted. oh, well, I get there eventually…)
One of my worst nightmares is gear going wrong on stage. Back in the “good old days” (1990), I was doing a show (high school musical where three of us got to write and perform the music to lyrics written by the head of the English department, who also wrote the musical. But I digress.), and during one performance my Atari 1040ST locked up on me just before one of my cues. I managed to get the thing rebooted, reloaded and the sequence ready to go in time, but my nerves were pretty much shot at that point.
Some 16 years later, I’m sitting in the Sellersville Theater in PA, watching Thomas Dolby, with all that wonderful technology, go through the same thing, as one of his main synths refused to make any noises on a couple of occassions (to the point that after the first song, he had to stop the show to fix it. Which, fortunately, he was able to do). Despite the minor technical difficulties, I don’t think I’ve seen a more brilliant or inspiring show in a long time (if ever). To go on stage night after night and not know if something’s going to work or not, with the attitude he has:
But it’s risky because it can all go horribly wrong. The first few times I attempted this I was terrified I’d trip up and it would all come to a grinding halt. A couple of nights at the beginning of ‘Hyperactive‘, that’s exactly what happened, much to my embarassment. And you know what? Afterwards several people said they thought I made it stop on purpose, because it was funny. Well, that loosened me up a lot, and since then I just adopt an attitude of que sera, sera. We’re all grownups. If I screw up and have to restart, you can wait a few seconds, then you’ll get to hear the intro again!
After the first restart, the musician in me was sitting on the edge of the seat, hoping nothing else would go wrong. Fortunately, the rest of me was able to thoroughly enjoy the show (oh, and much to my relief, I found out I’m not that guy who comes to every gig and shouts “Play Science!”. Whew!). The choice of songs was great, and it was nice to hear familiar sounds in amongst the updated arrangements. I especially enjoyed “One of our Submarines” (loved the intro!) and “I Live in a Suitcase”.
Being a gear-junky myself, I loved the technology and the video. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for realizing that some of us *really* want to see what you’re doing! I hate going to a show and not being able to see the keyboardist’s hands! The guy running the video system did an amazing job mixing the two camera views with the other imagery. The “TV” effect was a nice touch, too.
The evening seemed to be over far too soon, and I would love to see the show again: to catch stuff I’d missed the first time, to see how and where the improv bits differ, and just to enjoy the music! That probably won’t happen, but it sounds like there might be some new material coming, and that hopefully will mean a new tour…
If nothing else, I’ve been inspired to work on expanding my live rig with my laptop, and maybe a new controller or two.