Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The bird and the bee at the North Star

Inara George Philadelphia The bird and the bee played at the North Star, which is a very "informal" type of venue. So, going with the flow, they mingled with the audience to listen to and cheer supporting act Charlie Wadhams and after the second supporting act (Orphan family) they simply climbed onstage and helped finish the technical issues, then started playing. I was surprised it was only the two of them, as usually they seem to bring along more people on the road. And when your music has almost more layers than Bach's, being two can be a problem, humans having only two hands and one voice. So they had to make up for it with lots of pre-recorded stuff (even brought a tape recorder). And that is something you always resent in a live performance. Inara's voice is amazing and Greg is so skilled at the piano, and the music is really good but also more than difficult to play live, and maybe they should have attempted to do it without so much fuss. It's fine if it doesn't sound exactly like the record. Or they could have met somewhere in the middle, half like that and half "acoustic" or else, but there were few songs free from it (maybe the two I've selected from youtube as highlights), that wasn't their approach. So you could hear Inara singing the lead and Inara in the chorus at the same time and that does sound a little too funky live. At the same time there were moments when you could not know what part was Greg really playing at the keyboards (he also played guitar). That said I enjoyed it a lot, I love many of the songs and Inara's voice, again, is superb. She had the stage to herself as for the most part Greg was not really participative with the audience, and she did pretty well. They kept well up their Bird and the bee image/attitude, I love seeing people who bring freshness, boldness and difference to their appearance (but red light, Inara's dress fabric resembled a little too much a wrinkled bedsheet). Inara even made soap bubbles at one point ...
Probably most of the lows of the show would disappear with a higher budget.
During the whole concert people could walk up to the first row anytime they wanted, that's a change from what I'm used to. More than half the audience was having a great time listening to them and cheering and another group was by the bar having animated conversation (that's what happens when you put the bar in the same room as the stage on a Saturday night, and it's past 12, I guess). The setlist included Preparedness (one of the first songs they played), La la la, The birds and the bees, Again and again, Polite dance song, 2 versions of F***ing boyfriend and covers of Pyschokiller and How deep is your love (I may be forgetting some). As they said "there's only so much that the two of us can do alone" so some of the songs they just couldn't play. I don't think their Bee gees version's any interesting but the rest of the setlist is fantastic, and the other cover, Psychokiller, rocked. There's some of the best moments posted on youtube:
*The Talking heads Psycokiller cover
*La la la
(sound in videos doesn't come close to how it was there).
A pic of some of the audience in the balcony and another one of Inara.

And I'd like to write a few lines about supporting act Charlie Wadhams too, I'm on it. Pics:

The problem with supporting acts in this type of tours is 1. they are not known, most people haven't got a clue how they sound and some just want them to be done so they can listen to the main act 2. they know it 3.The audience knows that they know, 4... and so on, like a game of reflecting mirrors with further implications... So combining those things it is a damn hard job to go up there and deliver, more so when they are alone. But they have to forget about it, do it and act like they're the stars, believe in their music, look at us in the eye, really, because that is the only way to go, to move forward (that or amazing luck). I can only imagine how hard it must be.........though, come on, let's not get over-dramatic, it is also a lot of fun!!!. First: these guys are lucky, they knew what they wanted and they've gone for it, so that's something they won't regret. Second (I'm into making lists today, sorry):they do what they like. Maybe not how they like it but what they like after all. Third: it has its perks...
I watched "I trust you to kill me", a documentary about a band starting out (Rocco Delucca), I recommend it, really fun. They had lows, drop down lows but overall I think they had a good time and a great experience (I know, it's more complicated than that).
Wadhams gave the impression he wished it was all over before it even started, he wasn't at ease, seemed like he was trying to shut himself out from everything and sing to himself. And that's too bad because hey, a part of the audience in any concert are listening to them, we love music, we're willing to give it a try. And he's got assets, otherwise I whould just shut up and choose a different example, I'm not cruel.
Sorry for my raw talking but (one more list!!): 1. few people are going to read this (that gives broader freedom) 2. Meant to be helpful.I'm seeing this happen with enough supporting acts and it makes me want to have a little chat with them, so here.


Anonymous said...

Well it looks like I am one of those "few people" that has read your piece on Bird + Bee. You make good points on the support act V's audience.
I actual stumbled across your Blog looking for pics about the Ingrid Michaelson lunchtime gig... Best wishes from the UK

infotaupe said...

Thanks! Same from here!