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Current page: Concert Diary 2006

Current page: Concert Diary 2006

Concert Diary 2006

Kunsthuis 13, Velp - 15th November

Linda Simpson writes - Today is Sunday 19th Nov. I abandoned my usual 'write it on the way home' routine because I was completely lost for words.

In all the years I have been in this business, I have never had an experience like this one.

The whole thing was like the musical version of Fawlty Towers. It went something like this:

14 November: We had a call from Nicolette asking when our technician would arrive at K13.

We don't have a technician unless it is pre-arranged - I explained that in the contract they had agreed to have both a sound and lights technician for the concert, and that all our technical details were on the CD included with that contract. Everything seemed to be OK and it was arranged that she would call back if there was any problem.

There was no call and so we assumed that all was well. How wrong we were.

15 November: Totally oblivious of what lay ahead, we followed Doris's instructions to arrive on the dot at 5pm. Nicolette met us in and said the technical staff would be there soon. We brought our equipment in and set it up. Still no technical staff and so we had coffee and waited.

What we didn't know was that this was a council funded venue, all the personnel were volunteers, including the technicians who had only been notified at the last minute that their services were required. Reading between the lines; I would say that they were given no other information, and that they had no idea of anything - especially the technical requirements included with the contract.

They didn't know what to expect and our expectations were way too high!!

Rita was first on the scene, perfectly nice but not experienced - this was to be her first solo flight. Michael was coming to make sure that she would be OK. She started setting up and then Michael arrived. He took one look at our gear and said we'd have to move it because he had to set the lights.

Our friend - the mad chef

Alarm bells started to ring. Should this not have already been done?

How long would this take?

About an hour. Gulp.

We decided to do things backwards. The boys had something to eat and I got dressed and made up - then we checked on the situation.

Rita and Michael were working on the PA. It wasn't looking good. One of the three microphones wasn't working, the monitors were stubbornly silent and there were leads and frayed tempers everywhere.

Jan was in the middle of it - the only one who was truly keeping his cool. I wasn't doing too badly as I was occupied with looking for spare microphones, leads, connectors, DI boxes, mixing desk - in fact every spare bit of kit that we carried was strewn over the stage - it was fast becoming a nightmare!!

Gig time came and went and we still didn't have a sound. The violin came thundering through - it was turned down. The mandolin needed turning up; - that was sorted out - then the violin came thundering through again - it was reaching explosion point.

Michael was starting to get seriously angry. Did you see that episode when Basil Fawlty started hitting his car with a piece of tree? - I think Michael was fast getting there. He told Chris to 'Shut up' at one point and then had a go at was not a good situation.

If that wasn't bad enough, the audience had been kept waiting for about 30 minutes and they too were starting to complain.

Another ten minutes and we had everything working, it would have to be mixed as we went along but we could not take any more time - the audience had to come in.

Never have we been put in this situation, it was terrible for us, terrible for the audience and terrible for the technicians.

We had done everything right; sent our details in advance; arrived on time; provided our own and extra equipment; but who do you think the audience blamed? All they knew was that Magna Carta was keeping them waiting.

The first thing I had to do was apologise and ask everyone to forgive us (aaaarrrgggh) and then we started the first half of the show. Bit by bit it came together and the tension eased off. The mandolin and violin were still all over the place and the audience also saw that as Matt's fault - even though he had no control whatsoever over the out-front sound.

Michael was doing his best, but the mixing desk also seemed to have a mind of its own. We got through the first set and fell into the dressing room, relieved that we had at least got that far.

Nicolette, who had stayed out of the way at the beginning, arrived to ask if everything was OK. It was then that I got the full story. I explained that if it hadn't been for the fact that we carry spare equipment and for Jan who helped Michael to get everything up and running, there would probably have been no gig at all.

I suggested that she should not have allowed us to walk into such a situation - if we had been aware we would have brought a system in. We don't carry one anymore as most places provide it, but that doesn't mean that we can't get hold of it if we need to. There was no point in getting mad - it wouldn't have improved the situation and we still had the second half to do.

Before we started up again we decided to plug the mandolin into my guitar amplifier. This was not ideal, but at least it would stop the volume fluctuation and make the violin a bit easier for Michael to control.

I think we gave a good account of ourselves but I was so wound up it was impossible to take it all in. I know that Matt made a very good job of his 'leaping about', which earned him some flying underwear from the audience! Not exactly what he might have hoped for - it was an assortment of bloomers and girdles - not in the 'sexy' category at all... he could hardly play for laughing but it was a whole bundle of fun.

By the end of the concert everything had fallen pretty much into place and I hope that everyone had mostly forgotten about the bad start.

Another thing that helped were the friends tthat turned up - including the mad chef who is looking good these days.

We will be going back again next year, but I can tell you that we will make sure that there is no repeat of this fiasco. We were all exhausted at the end of it but at least it had turned out OK... it was a miracle that it worked out and I have to say thanks to Jan because he held it together at the crucial points.



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