Chocolate ice cream on a cold winters evening, picking up bread and milk, the smile you receive when flowers are unexpected, the throw that makes the ugly chair in the house look even worse, the dementia patient who thinks you stole her husband, the writing desk that makes you feel like a proper writer even though you couldn't be further from the truth, the specks of green life that dot your flat, Africa on a sunday night, a sudden blast of heat from your electric heater, someone asleep on your shoulder, being asleep on someone else's shoulder, walks in the rain, muddy shoes, a cat that doesn't understand why you're upset, not being able to polish a turd but rolling it in glitter instead, a sleepy question asked earnestly, laughing till you fart, eating till you can't help vomiting a little bit of it back up into your mouth, drinking with wonderful friends, the shiver that runs down your spine when you hear an amazing singer, Chocolate Bourbons for 35p from Aldi (double pack), a guitar that is more like an old friend than anything else, a trip to Selsdon Park Nature Reseve, a man who can fix things, watching someone work with their hands, the moment you realise you could never make music like that, the other moment you realise that that's ok, when someone else says what you're thinking, dirty filthy fried chicken on a drunken night, singing a line of some obscure musical while in the toilet and hearing the next line coming back at you from the living room and the one after that from the bedroom, roast chicken on a sunday evening, having a place to go to get away from it all, having someone to come home to, taking a god damn break every once in a while, listening to The Bear Necessities from the Jungle Book, pondering the larger questions which won't be answered this year or any year, the sense of anticipation at a new movie musical, the astounding feats that people perform on a daily basis, cookies, sleeping, walking past a McDonalds and knowing you can resist the temptation for a Big Mac, waking up in the morning and hitting 'snooze', performing for an audience of one, listening to people tell stories, reading, writing, the little man turning green at precisely the right time, knowing that no matter how bad things are they can either get worse or better but they're not likely to stay the same unless you want them to, reading a poem every morning, Robert Frost's 'The Path Less Travelled By', Robert Louis Stevenson, learning something you didn't know about someone that leads to greater understanding, knowing that someone gets you, finding out that you are a worse artist than practically everybody in the world, ruling things out as possible career choices, narrowing things down, changing your mind, knowing that anything is possible if you want it bad enough, finding the last budweiser can in the fridge and making the conscious decision that you will have it for breakfast, the versatility of eggs and potatoes, knowing that 2 + 2 does indeed appear to equal four,knowing that Will Smith is completely within his rights if he believes that that is not true, that there are 365 days in the year and 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in every hour and 60 seconds in every minute and every single second is rife with possibility, knowing that inspiration may fall out of the sky at any moment, working with young people and the elderly, doing something for a charity, seeing the world, doing your own personal tour of the city you grew up in, throwing a surprise party for a good friend, realising that your significant other is more significant than you, realising that you are in fact not a morning person, having a massive breakfast on a saturday.
I would like to send a query out into the vast web world, perhaps someone out there has an answer for me. The question is this:
Why would someone pay to come to a gig and then (when they have the option of sitting somewhere away from all the noise of the performers they have paid to see) proceed to talk loudly and animatedly about anything and everything all the way through every performance?
In my experience of the various performance mediums, this is something peculiar to the world of the music gig. If anyone were to talk or indeed check their phone in a theatre during a play or a musical there would be stares a plenty, shushes and be quiets a plenty which would result in the person either piping down or leaving. The same can be said of comedy gigs and story telling evenings, even university lectures are given a friendly ear.
I have played many gigs and have resigned myself to the fact that the majority of shows on the London gig circuit will be loud and raucous and you'd be lucky if 20% of the punters are listening to the music. This seems to be regardless of the quality of the music on show, I have seen many acts who have been quite simply outstanding musicians and songwriters and the experience has been ruined by those who do not have the manners to pay a little respect to those demonstrating their art by at least keeping their voices down a bit during the performances.
Last night as I was attempting to listen to the very talented Domi Hawken (check our her website www.domihawken.com), I couldn't help but feeling for her as she continued to play, whilst a group of people right next to the front of the stage talked (I say talked but it was more like shouting) constantly throughout her entire set and then had the audacity to applaud at the end of it. There were plenty of empty booths far away from the singer where I suspect they would have been able to hear each other better and not have been inconvenienced by the person who was attempting to entertain them with her songs. I simply couldn't fathom how a reasonable mind could be so impolite and disrespectful...
So I thought, oh, maybe they don't realise they're being rude. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and see if they wise up.
I waited. They talked.
During one of the quietest moments in a beautiful song, one of them was gesticulating and shouting so loudly that I decided they must be oblivious to how loutish and appalling they were being. I looked around at Manda who gave me a knowing nod and I looked across at the couple at the table in front of the loud people, one of whom caught my eye and gave me another knowing glance and a good old fashioned eye-roll as if to say: 'Ha. Some people huh? Can't live with them, can't gag them with a dirty dish cloth!'
At this point I did something that I wouldn't normally do.
I stood. I walked over to the group and said as politely as I could that 'if they would like to continue their discussion could they perhaps move to one of the nearby booths (I pointed out the booths just in case they couldn't see them) as some of the people here had paid to listen to some singing and not the ridiculous conversations of a bunch of obnoxious idiots.'
I phrased it very politely of course and one of them (a big bearded fellow with an astonishingly loud voice) nodded vigorously as if to say 'Oh, of course. Good lord. I didn't realise we were being so rude. We'll be quiet immediately.' I looked around the group to see if they were all in agreement and they were all nodding in agreement like a selection of nodding dogs on a dashboard going round a round-a-about. All of them except one, who was looking at me as if I'd just stepped on his mother, shot his childhood dog, ate the last piece of his favourite cake and taken a dump on his best leather jacket. And all on his 21st birthday.
He was actually OFFENDED! It was amazing to witness. He actually thought that I was being rude in my polite request. He believed himself to be a poor innocent victim. I was utterly astounded.
Anyway, having made my point, I walked back to our table almost expecting to be kicked in the back or shot with a poison dart.
Needless to say the nodding dogs continued to talk, although not any louder than before until the end of Domi's set whereupon they applauded loudly.
I was terrified. It was my turn.
I was about to get up on stage to perform in front of a group of people who I'm pretty sure were going to find out where I lived and toilet paper it. Strangely enough by the time I'd started playing they had moved to one of the booths that I had suggested. Obviously the threat of being shouted at from a microphone did not appeal to them.
Anyway, something nice thing happened just before I got up to play. The couple who had been sitting in front of the loud group came up to me and said thank you for trying and they both shook my hand.
In spite of all I finished the evening down-hearted. It seems to be a continuing trend in the London music scene that it is alright to ignore the person who is currently singing for you on the stage.
I understand when you go to a gig, you often come along to support your friend and have a drink and a laugh but if you can, spread the word, musicians are not CD's or iPods.