It’s going to take a while for me to get used to streamed gigs.
But for all the, alleged, discomfort to my changed live music viewing habits, I think it’s fair to say that the majority of differences are going to be felt by the performers, rather than the viewers, of the new style of live show.
From a performance perspective I’d imagine there’s a number of changes an artist has to work through; there’s practical changes (limited ability to soundcheck, missing the immediate feedback which an audience usually provides), structural changes (completely rearranging material into a stripped back, solo, composition) and existential changes (a heightened need to have blind faith in their performance, between-song exchanges, and music).
Whilst I may have to adjust my habits (sit instead of stand, pour my own drinks) that’s minimal compared to the changes a performer must be having to adjust to. These changes require a whole new set of skills and behaviours; skills which need time to develop, and skills which need practice.
Artists will need time. And they will need to make mistakes. And we will need to be patient.
Alistair James has the hard job of kicking off tonight’s event and working through these performance changes first. Playing acoustically (what else), James songs are well crafted and reinterpreted in places to fit the acoustic environment. ‘Darling let it be me’, and ‘Run the money’ sparkle with pop/indie considered melodies, though ‘The runaway’ suffers the backhand compliment of not standing up as well next to the stronger material.
Jumping across to her bathroom, Hartlepool singer-songwriter Charlotte Grayson headlines tonight’s show, playing self-penned songs about love, loss, teenage angst and social commentary. Standing out with ‘Mesmerised’, ‘Heroin’ and ‘Love you anymore’ Grayson’s performance is precise and playful; strongest when she moves into jazz structures or interesting ‘scat’ vocal lines (the ‘neeeeedddddded’ line on Sorry as an example) and complimented by a confidence to talk to the camera and interact with the audience as if they were in the room with her.
Strongest when stepping away from ‘traditional’ structural patterns, Grayson shows huge potential in the way she takes risks, and the way they come off.
And there we have it; two young artists acclimatising to the new environment, pushing themselves, and doing a good job of developing new skills. Great work.