Friday, April 29, 2005

Awakenings 22.04.05

Well the big gig finally arrived last Friday and I think it all went pretty well. It didn't take me too long to get to Leeds and I found the venue really easily from memory.

It was the first tryout for my new live set-up and as I'd not had chance to try this out before the gig there were a few teething problems, but nothing major.

Finally got everything set-up, posed for some photos then went out for pizza.

I was onstage at approx 8pm and played for around about an hour, performing two new, improvised and as yet nameless pieces.

The whole experience was quite nerve-wracking and has to be my scariest gig so far, as there was quite a large audience (by my standards), full of 'EM Rock Stars' including Steve Dinsdale of RMI, Dave Gurr and Xan Alexander of the Omega Syndicate, David Hughes of Skin Mechanix and Ron Boots who was headlining. There were also quite a few faces I recognised from the National Space Centre gigs and an unexpected appearance from an old friend who'd driven all the way from the Lake District to see me play.

So first the first few minutes I was rooted to the spot with fear, praying that everything would work and I'd not make a huge cock-up of it all.

After a nice atmospheric intro (well apart from a some uncontrolled resonance in one of my fx patches producing some rather alarming distortion) I started to settle into a groove and began to enjoy myself. After about 26 minutes (how time flies when you are having fun) I decided to gradually bring things down and fade out on the weird noise fx (and some more distortion - oops - forgot about that)

The applause was nice

Part two began a few minute later after some frantic re-setting and patch changing. Unfortunately there was a bit of a cock-up with the drum machine as I forgot to turn it down, but heh, that's what you get with live music. I didn't think the second piece worked as well as the first and I got a bit stressed as things weren't sounding how they should and it just didn't seem to flow as well as the first part. Soon of enough though another half hour had come and gone and it was time to finish part 2.

More applause, perhaps it wasn't so bad after all.

After me was Ron Boots and Harold van der Heiden, with some melodic EM in a sort of Klaus Schulze vein, though I was a bit too shell-shocked to pay too much attention for the first half of Ron's set, I definitely got into it in the second half.

after that it was time to pack up, then get lost in Leeds and finally home to bed.

I've not listened to the minidisc recording yet as I've just had quite a busy week

Moe photos will be posted in due course.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Awakenings Update

Well, it's less than a week now 'til the gig. I've finally settled on what gear I'm using and had a day off work on Friday to do some concerted programming and practicing. Everything went well until one of my racks fell on my head whilst I was doing a bit of re-wiring. Talk about suffering for your art, I got a nice gash and there was blood everywhere, but my girlfriend reckons it wasn't that deep and I've just got a sore head now.

I've been having lots of fun preparing so here's hoping it all comes together on the night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The last few weeks...

... have been pretty hectic all in all

Squeak update:

Poor little Squeak had to go under the knife to find out what was wrong with her, a very costly and traumatic procedure. It turned out she had gallstones, a diseased liver and irritable bowel disease. However, whilst the prognosis wasn't too good she currently seems to be responding well to treatment and almost back to her old self. Unfortunately she's on medication so we have the stress of giving her her pills everyday

Astrogator Update

As it looked like Squeak was on the road to recovery I decided to go up to Steve H's house on Good Friday for an improv session. Not knowing what room their would be I took a very minimal amount of gear (Nord Modular, MAQ 16/3, Microwave Xt and P3). We had quite an enjoyable day, recording most of the stuff we played. I found the minimal gear set-up quite powerful and decided to use something similar for my Awakenings gig.

Recent gigs:

Judas Priest - total heavy metal overload at the Sheffield Hallam Arena on 28/3, with the Scorpions as support. I'm not a huge fan of either bands but this seeemed like too good an opportunity to miss and I wasn't disappointed with excellent sets from both bands. :D

Porcupine Tree - the warm-up gig for the tour for the new album 'Deadwing' in Nottingham on 31/3, at the Rescue Rooms, a nice small venue with about 500 capacity. The set included quite a bit of stuff from the new album and this sounded really good. I've since bought the album and like it a fair bit more than the last one, 'In Absentia'

Radio Massacre International - at the National Space Center, Leicester on 2/4. I was completely shattered by the time I got to the gig on Saturday evening as I'd driven down to Bedfordshire earlier in the day to look at a Sequential Circuits Pro One. Unfortunately the Pro One didn't appear to be in very good condition so I decided to pass on it.

The gig was worth the effort though with yet another stonking set from the RMI boys. Nice to see some analog synths in addition to the usual gear (SH3-A and Source for the gear spotters) although the drumkit was conspicuous by it's absence. There were two pieces in each set, a long 45 minuter and a shorter 20 minuter. Most of the sequencing was by Mr Goddard on P3. The first set started with coalescing icy noise fx with projections of the arctic and featured Mr Dinsdale on hand percussion and some strange flutey wind instruments. Gary started on SH3-A and joined in on guitar as the sequences built up adding some nice spacey guitar. The second set started with guitar and bass and just built into the most awesome set of sequencing, with chunky layered guitar, Source solos and fx and strange vocalisations from Steve. Duncan was using the P3's ability to edit sequences from a keyboard to produce some incredible, constantly evolving and shifting sequencer lines. All in all pretty cool.

Driving home from the gig my car started to play up and seemed to be using rather a lot of petrol, in fact I only just made it back into Nottingham, even though I had started the day with a full tank. So I booked it into the garage to find that one of the valves had gone at some point so it was only firing on 3 (out of 4) cylinders. More expensive repair bills.

Awakenings Preparations

For the last few weeks I've been working on my preparations for my Awakenings gig in Leeds on 22nd April. These include: deciding what equipment to use, racking up my MAQ 16/3 and the P3, designing new sound, learning to use the P3 and working on pre-prepared sequences.

Based on my experiences with Steve, my provisional rig for Awakenings is going to be the Nord Modular, MAQ 16/3, Microwave Xt and P3 as on Good Friday, with a couple of extra keyboards (AN1x and Prophet VS) and the Super Bass Station.

Just to make my life even more interesting, last week my girlfriend was diagnosed with diabetes , involving trips to hospital and yet more stress. She seems to be coping OK, but it was a big shock for both of us. Now all I have to worry about is the gig :¬)