Sunday, July 4, 2010
What Makes A Performance or The Joy of Men in Kilts and Pigtails
My guy is a prog/glam rocker from way back. He probably has a photo of himself in his silver sequined miniskirt somewhere. And if you're not a performer, you probably think that's just strange. I can now attest that it makes perfect sense.
Here's what happened: we went to see Steve Hackett over the weekend. Steve was part of the original Peter Gabriel era Genesis band. He's a gifted guitarist. What he is not is a showman.
The show opened with the lead performers lined up across the front of the stage. At one end there was a slightly overweight guy wearing baggy black pants and shirt with a jacket (or a vest - I'm unsure). He would have looked at home working in your local hardware store. Beside him was a tall blonde with shiny, straight hair dressed in a loose black top, wrinkled black skinny jeans and high black boots. They were both holding guitars. Then came a skinny blonde with platinum pigtails, chiseled arms, a black kilt, high black socks and clunky black shoes holding a bass. Then there was a young guy in a cap, black version of the shirt the Monkees used to wear, jeans and Chuck Taylor sneakers holding a saxophone.
My guy looked into the wings, wondering when Steve Hackett was going to come out. He was already there. Hardware Store Boy was our headliner.
The show began and Steve was wonderful but my eyes were glued to the Amazon with the bass guitar all night long. I knew it was a guy within 30 seconds but my guy, my daughter and her guy were confused all night long. What was clear, however was that we were watching an amazing bass player and a terrific showman.
Nick Beggs has been doing this awhile. Remember Kajagoogoo? He clearly gets stage performance and he was great fun to listen to AND watch. He moved with the music, he emoted, he was absolutely wonderful. And talented though Steve Hackett is, he was thoroughly upstaged.
My daughter's guy, who is an aspiring musician, totally missed Hackett's guitar abilities. His verdict? "Nothing outstanding."
I'm convinced it was because Hackett looked most comfortable when he finally had a stool, an acoustic guitar and began to noodle some classical stuff. He's not an extrovert, he's not a ham and if you want to put on a good show you HAVE to be.
My guy will be touring now that his new EP is out. This new CD is new school rock and roll and he sounds like the lovechild of David Bowie and Lou Reed. The music's great - but performance is a whole different challenge.
I have only seen him perform in small venues but I'm sure I know on which side of the performing bar he'll fall. He may be a bit of a hermit, he may be a bit shy, but he's also a ham and when he turns on the personality he takes over a group.
I guess we'd better get the kilt out of the back of the closet.
If you want to find my guy's music, you can download it here or on iTunes. Just look for Kevin Bartlett.
Songs for the Big Kablooey