"Practice makes perfect - most of the time!" - Recent gigs by Face Value and The Carpet Crawlers reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
Gigs just happen, don't they? You pay your money and turn up and are entertained - simple isn't it? Well no, actually it is far from simple as I discovered during my most recent travels to see gigs by these two bands.
First up were Face Value and another trip to the excellent Limelight Club in Crewe. When I arrived at the venue it was in darkness - an electricity sub-station failure had plunged everything into darkness. Oh well, an interesting start to the evening! Eventually the band manageed to carry out a necessarily perfuntory soundcheck and then we were off.
From the word 'go' things were not as they normally are for a gig by this band. Songs that normally are performed with gusto and verve were at times sloppy and on occasions out of tune and out of time. The singer had additional problems when his vocal mic packed in; fortunately a change of battery was all it needed to restore his dulcet tones. The band came across as somewhat rusty and obviously under-rehearsed and it showed. This is the result of a somewhat lenghtl (by their standards) layy off from gigging and a noticable lack of gig 'sharpness' was the result and a somewhat disappointing gig was served up tonight.
The point about rehearsal time was brought hence quite forceably when I next saw the band a mere two weeks later at ehe Old Red Lion. This performance was a FV classic with the band on top form musically, vocally and visually; much better and obviously the result of some time spent in the rehearsal room.
In between these gigs I also managed to take in other by one of the most recent additions to the UK tribute band scene:- The Carpet Crawlers. First up, a trip to another of my favourite haunts, The Moses Gate in Bolton, not the most salubrious of venues, but one with a great vibe and a usually full house of enthusiastic fans. Tonight was no exception and everyone was expecting another enjoyable performance by the band.
Sadly, what we got this time was a gig frought with problems. Once again it was obvious early on that the band had not spent enough time in rehearsal since their last gig and it really did show. Missed cues, bum notes and appalling sound dogged the gig throughout its entirety, completely spoiling the evening for me and prompting me to lambast the band afterwards in perhaps a more forthright manner than was really needed.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to their next gig at the Barfly in Liverpool. Once again, the lessons had been well learned, the band's sound guy whose first gig had been at the ill-starred Moses Gate really made the grade this time and the band themselves were impeccable throughout a set which included a couple of neew numbers, or ones whcih they hadn't played for a while. The lighting was impeccable and at times impressive enough to look like the real (or Rael) thing, so Kudos to young Alec on that score.
Sad to say, the atmosphere was somewhat spoiled by the pre-gig ear bashing I received from the bands singer who like so many other suffers on occasions from 'Lead Singers Disease' and does not react well to negative criticisms. Yes, perhaps I had been harsh in my words about the Bolton gig but the criticism WAS deserved in my opinion. To have failed to have rehearsed properly befoe a gig is inexcusable in all but the most serious of cases and to not take the time familiarising a new sound guy with the requirements of a gig such as this was simply an invitation to disaster.
I have made many allowances for technical issues, etc with any band, and make no mistake, if they are let down by equipment, etc, I won't hold that against them. What I won't excuse under any circumstances is a sub-par performance when a better is not only expected, but also well within the bands' capabilities. Fortunately in the cases of both these bands they lived up to that well known comment on school work 'must do better' and indeed they both did and I look forward to many more excellent nights of entertainment from both Face Value and The Carpet Crawlers in 2007.