Last week I played a lovely show at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry opening for John Smith and Dennis Ellsworth. The theatre at WAC is one of my favourite venues and I have seen lots of music in there myself, I particularly remember a brilliant show by Duke Special and Aqualung a few years ago.
The day before the show John posted on Twitter asking if anyone had a guitar amp he could use as his one had died. I did and managed to arrange to bring it along with me on the night. Another marvellous use of Twitter! On the day of the show I set off from my house, which is about 20 minutes from WAC, and arrived to find a huge amount of roadworks and loads of students as WAC is on the Warwick University Campus! It is quite funny that is it Warwick Uni when it is in Coventry, but that is another story! After a short unplanned detour and a reroute I made my way to the stage door and loaded my guitars and amp to the stage area. As I walked out on the stage for soundcheck I was slightly taken aback by the view in front of me (see the photo at the top!).
The soundcheck was great. Very smooth and the sound on stage was effortless as Martin, the sound engineer, worked really well with me. After my soundcheck I got myself ready for the show by heading the Green Room and getting a peppermint tea and some water. I had already had some food before I came so I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. As I sat with my tea I worked on my set list. I have been playing some of these songs for quite a long time now and I really wanted to include some of my newer songs. It is a funny time as a songwriter when you are working on new things and playing shows because you want to show off new songs but at the same time play tunes people may know. I also want to be able to play songs people can take home with them. Anyway, enough of my rambling on about new songs. I didn’t include any news songs in the set this time.
After a short while the stage announcer came and sat to announce that I would be taking the stage soon. This guy was amazing! He had a completely ‘normal’ sounding voice when I chatted to him but when he announced things he sounded like a full on film trailer voiceover man! On his control panel was a very intriguing button. I never did get chance to ask or find out what it did, however I did think that maybe I needed to bring my parachute!
It was time for me to go on and I walked across the large stage and said hello. I couldn’t see beyond the first three rows but after the applause of the first song I knew that lots of people had kindly come down to hear me. I really enjoyed playing on such a big stage and the crowd were lovely. Thank you for joining in with my banter!
Once I had played it was time to watch Dennis Ellsworth from the side of the stage. Dennis is a seasoned performer and songwriter (he has written a number of songs with John Smith) and his set was brilliant. At the end of his set I headed out to start selling from The Suitcase Shop. A short while later I headed back to find my wife and Mum and Dad in the seats to watch John’s set with them. John was simply brilliant. I haven’t seen many other musicians who can make their instrument actually ‘sing’, but my word can John play! Backed brilliantly by simple electric guitar (through a wonderful amp, I wonder where he got it?!) and double bass. John shared lots of interesting and comical stories throughout the set. As the set came to an end it was one of the best shows I have been to for a long while.
As the final notes rang out from John I headed back to chat to people, sign CDs and make new friends. Thank you very much Warwick Arts Centre. You were rather gorgeous.