It's been said that a live performance is an exchange of energy between the performer and the audience. This is particularly true in stand-up comedy, of course, when the comedian relies completely on the response of the audience to make the show work, and also in the more spontaneous forms of live music like the jazz and blues that I sing. The emotional response of the audience to the music is required for the magic to happen.
The Disciples and I have recently been rehearsing a new show, with new material and some cool transitions between numbers. We tried it out for the first time at my last show, and it was a slightly odd experience.
I’m lucky to have a loyal and enthusiastic fan base, and my gigs tend to be pretty exciting and occasionally riotous events. The band, the audience and I come together in a fusion of music, excitement and energy.
But it was a funny crowd in Dean Street the other week. There was a sprinkling of hardcore fans there, but also a lot of newcomers and Dean Street regulars who had come on spec. Somebody told me Mark Knopfler was there, though I didn’t see him. And the energy flow from the audience back to the stage was weirdly muted. They seemed to really like the music, but somehow I didn’t feel their response.
The band played really well, I sang my heart out, but my soul wasn’t lifted. The explosion of magic and excitement that so often happens at my shows didn’t quite materialize.
There was plenty of clapping, cheering and whooping at the end, and they wanted more encores. But I left feeling flat, and it reminded me that there's no secret to success but that the secret to failure is to try to please everyone.