Otherworld live

I’m just back from another trip to the Gouveia Art Rock Festival. As ever, it was a most enjoyable and civilised experience.

This time, of course, I was playing the music from “Otherworld” with Gary Lucas and I realise that I’ve said nothing at all about our live outings with this music.

We’d always been (quietly) confident in our ability to bring the spirit of the recordings to the stage, especially since there are never more than a couple of guitars each playing on the disc, rather than it being an orgy of overdubbing. Both of us, though, spent quite a bit of time prepping for the event before finally meeting up in a small London rehearsal room a couple of days before the Union Chapel show at the end of February.

As it turned out the rehearsals were very straightforward. The “songs” elements pretty well played themselves, apart from a couple of spots where we needed to apportion crucial elements of arrangement as one or the other’s responsibility. More surprising was the fact that the more open, sonic, improvisatory material also came through immediately in a strong structural sense. I only say it was surprising because, of course, all these pieces had been studio creations/accidents in the first place and nearly all had undergone considerable editing in order to reach their final shape.

Two days was plenty in preparation and we moved on to Islington in good heart. It’s something of an unusual venue but of course one with a great deal of history for me and it was good to be back.

From the earliest stages of planning Gary and I had decided to concentrate on the songs/pieces from “Otherworld” rather than spreading the net wider. At first we hadn’t been sure that we’d be able to play all of it but having managed that in rehearsal (and n principle) it meant that we only needed another couple of items to make up the set. Out of the many candidates from our respective careers we felt that in the end Gary’s “Lady of Shalott” and my “Primo” were the two which best fitted into the flow and spirit of the proposed set.

Away we went. Not without a few alarums and excursions but in a flash the show was done, to great satisfaction all round. As if we’d really needed to, we’d proved that the stuff was *not* some studio artifice but some genuine wonky two-man work.

There were nearly two months between the London show and the Gouveia one. Quite long enough to forget not only the tunes but also the effects settings and set-ups. So I believe both of us had a bit of homework to do in advance of our Portugal trip.

If anything this show was even more wild. For myself, I went severely off piste in a couple of places…but also hit some really good spots in others, especially from a singing point of view. In any event we were a long, long way from going through the motions….

Who knows when the next show may be? As of now I only know of one confirmed solo gig upcoming, in Romania in August. (Details can, as ever, be found at http://www.sofasound.com)

Strangely, though, there is the potential to continue what’s currently a three-sided career, solo, with VdGG and with Gary. We’ll see what emerges.

For now though, the decks are completely cleared. I really have to use my best efforts to finish this solo record in May….

Enough from me for now. Incidentally, I’m glad to have continued the tradition of posting an entry here in the very last hours of the month!