Yesterday I performed two sets at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum. As part of their Steampunk Season the museum have put on various events including fashion events, an arts and crafts display (featuring the props my brother made for this video from my last album Spinning the Compass) and this weekend was the turn of steampunk music.
I haven't performed regularly for a while and it was a real joy to get on stage (although the stage in this case was the space in front of a large working steam engine).
I performed a couple of tracks from Spinning the Compass, Master of the Sidings, and a couple of Comrade Robot tracks that seemed to fit including Sing for a Sail which is one of my favourite unrecorded Comrade Robot songs. I also performed the whole of the Miser's Will across my two sets – the first time the whole thing has been performed.
(The Miser's Will can be found on my new album: http://tomslatter.bandcamp.com/album/ironbark
Of course all performers are always critical – I could talk at length about the lyrics I got wrong, the fumbled guitar chords, the fact that my posture isn't perfect which can affect singing, or even the lack of strength in the lowest part of my register.
There is always room for improvement.
But overall I was pleased with my performance and the songs seemed to go down well. It was a slightly odd gig, in that while some people had chosen to sit and listen to the music, the gig was happening in the middle of a museum that was open to the general public. So as well as people listening intently, there were elderly steam engine enthusiasts, toddlers and kids in push chairs just moving through the museum looking at the exhibits.
I've played plenty of different audiences and that didn't phase me particularly, although I was nearly put off when during one of the songs the huge green steam engine in the corner of the hall hissed into life.
Although I'd planned a few songs to perform I put the set together pretty much on the fly. Putting together a setlist is an art in itself, but generally I think I found the right balance of light and shade. A lot of my songs are dark and minor key, and it's important to have more throwaway major key uplifting moments. Sing for a Sail worked quite well in this regard, as did ' Meet me in Gaslight'.
Also on the bill were Moth – a steampunk husband and wife duo who play a lovely fusion of folk and rock music with hints of jazz and Portishead-esque tip-hop. They looked the part far more than I did and have a great collection of songs. Ben from Moth was also responsible for putting my name forward for the gig as well, for which I'm grateful because it was a great gig and got me off my backside and wanted to gig more.
There was also a steampunk ballet by a wonderful young ballerina and some great steampunk story telling bought alive by wonderful performance and suitable sound effects.
Yesterday was a good day, and I thoroughly intend to be gigging far more often in the coming months.
(so erm, anyone want a steampunk/scifi singer songwriter to come play for them? Anyone?)