Thursday, 27 September 2012

Kew Gardens

For a week in July I had the great opportunity to perform at Kew Gardens with Kristyna Myles. We were to be the support act on almost every night. The headline acts were Status Quo, The Straits, Chic, M-People, Tim Minchin, Pink Martini, Nerina Pallot, Will Young, Los Lobos and The Gypsy Kings. It was an incredible collection of acts to share a stage with.

After arriving on the first day we were shown to our dressing room which turned out to be a massive greenhouse full of tropical plants. Probably the best dressing room ever. We then walked through a series of greenhouses to the stage for soundcheck.

Kristyna and I were performing the gig as a duo. I had wondered how we would come across, playing to a large outdoor crowd every night. The audiences were in the region of 7000 people. When we first started performing as a duo, Kristyna sang and I played the guitar. Gradually we've added more and more weapons to our arsenal; Kristyna plays the keys now and I sing backing vocals. I also play a stomp box (which sounds like a bass drum) with one foot, and a tambourine with the other. People have said we create a really full sound for just two people, and it certainly didn't seem to be an issue at Kew, where the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Next year I have decided to head-butt a triangle to enhance the sound even further.

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It was great to see the Quo rocking out on the first evening. After the music had finished each night there was an incredible firework display. (BANG!) The two musical highlights of the week for me were Chic and Will Young. Chic had such amazing musicians and played an incredibly funky set, hit after hit without pausing for thought. Their set was based not only around Chics' back catalogue, but all the material that Nile Rodgers had played on as a session guitarist, which is quite an incredible body of work ranging from David Bowie to Duran Duran. While we were playing our set earlier that night I turned around to see Nile Rodgers to the side of the stage filming us, which made my heart rate speed up a bit as I tried to make sure I was playing the best guitar I could. 

I was also blown away by Will Young. I was expecting him to be good, but not that good. Amazing band, amazing voice, amazing performer. It was great to meet him briefly backstage. While we were sitting in the catering tent a small dog kept running around our feet. It turned out to be Will Young's dog that he takes everywhere on tour with him....

It was such a great week and the audiences were so appreciative and encouraging. As Kristyna and I went out after our set to watch the headline act, tonnes of people approached us to ask for flyers and more information, so it was invaluable for raising Kristynas profile. The crowds were very civilised all week as they sat with their wine and cheese, being buffeted by the wind and sometimes torrential rain. One guy told me that when there was a close up of my face on the big screen that he could see every nostril hair. Which concerned me slightly.

Everyone who was working there from gardeners to production crew were very welcoming and helpful. I felt quite sad when the week was over. Not least to say goodbye to the catering tent. It was a great week. With any luck we'll be back there next year.

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