Friday, 11 September 2009

Tonight I went to a gig.

It was slightly curious, as these things often are, since it was a 'christian' gig with a band covering a bunch of 'worship' songs from Hillsongs, Israel Houghton, Matt Redman etc.

What was curious about it?

Apart from the technical issues with sound that I'll not go into here, this was a bunch of musicians organised by one very good one (ex-cure or Cult - I can't remember - bass player) who were frequently playing stuff that didn't come naturally to them. There was also a presentation of 'the gospel' in the middle and worship done in concert, rather than participation format.

It was also curious because although the arrangements were quite clever and interesting, at times some of the songs just plain got in the way of the feel, cutting awkwardly across the natural feel that had been developed. It was almost like 2 songs in different keys had been overlapped in one particular arrangement, and where they separated it jarred. This is quite common on CDs though, where the limitation of the song style gets disregarded in order to make it sound 'good'. But hey, that's the nature of forcing the wrong musical feel onto a song that was never written to work like that. (As an aside, it got me thinking about how the original could be re-arranged to make it fit, which WAS good exercise for my head).

But there were a few songs that they did get into their groove together on, and sound issues aside, on these they did sound really good. Shackles (Mary Mary) got repeated as an encore, and the sax player really went for it second time round and pretty much made the evening with his work. The bass player/leader's son was off to one side playing electric, and was let loose on some rhythm work for the last 4 songs. This was great, because he was playing naturally and it delivered an energy and cohesion to the songs that was mostly lacking. He was introduced as being the loud aspect of worship but frankly was barely audible - at least he had a bit of crunchy overdrive on, and when he could be heard, sounded good.

The one person I felt really sorry for was the older guitar player at the back. The sound guy had just crapped all over his tone (and he knew it) and on top of that he was mostly having to play some lousy lines as intros that sounded like they were keyboard specific (the keyboard didn't fare much better a couple of times either, though he got a much longer straw). But he manfully stuck it out, so big props to him. It brought all sorts of memories back to doing church concerts, having to play stuff that just didn't work for me and hearing my timing going to hell in a hangbasket as a result. He got his moment of glory (twice) doing the intro to Shackles, and I hope it made up for the rest of the time.

They were obviously a good bunch of musicians, mostly doing stuff that really didn't work for them. I cannot say how grateful I am that for the 10 years of freedom leading the worship team at BCC. Not being forced into musical straitjackets by un-fitting arrangements or having to sing bad songs was just so wonderful, and even if it didn't make me develop as a player it did bring a peace and happiness in playing I'd not known was possible.

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