Over the last year I’ve followed a platform set up by Nick Cave called The Red Hand Files, and it’s been an interesting experience. Reading and Understanding the reasons why, for an artist to be thinking about connecting and engaging with an audience across not just the social media world, but through the use of an interactive forum where you can, as a fan ask anything??? How many artists would even consider laying themselves bare, responding with experiences, thoughts and observations on the world.
Take that premise one step further and that’s where tonight comes in, one of a series of interactive events across Europe, where the audience can stand ask questions and garner a response interspersed with radical re-workings of a selection of songs from what is a diverse back catalogue, some requested by the audience. I mean that has to be a recipe for disaster right? Absolute carnage? Awkward? At the very least!
These tickets were as rare as rocking horse shit, every date selling out within minutes of going online, but I managed to grab a couple so on with the show.
Opening bang on 7.30 lights went down to the intro of “Steve Mcqueen” and the first song of the night “God is in the House”, you could have heard a pin drop, sadly that didn’t stay the way throughout the night as the two arse-holes sat behind me decided they would talk through any question they weren’t interested in. Note to self, next time,hit the fcker!!! you can justify it!!! Which is what I felt like doing.
If your going to an acoustic style performance, where you have audience participation at its fore, its not the sort of event to turn up and get pissed at, stay at home watch Britain’s got talent, then pass out pissed on the sofa as you most likely do every Saturday, don’t inflict yourself on people who are there for the music and the experience.
Moving out of the song the house lights go up and we’re into the conversational part of the evening, what hit me was this though of connection, as people shared their stories, a connection established with the artist, some points didn’t need an answer just the telling moving people forward, we had stories around Illness, depression, anxiety, loss and grief. I suppose where the Red Hand files first came from, but we also had from Nick views on addiction, Heroin, Musical and Literary influences, and personal grief. Was there a two-way connection? I’m not so sure.
As the night moved on it followed the format song/songs, Questions and repeat, with the house lights going up and down accordingly, for yours truly I think I would have preferred a split show, with an audience participation section followed by an intermission followed by the piano-based re-workings of a full set, but that’s just me.
Songs wise there were some real gems, West Country Girl, Jubilee Street, Love Letter, Avalanche (Leonard Cohen Cover), The Mercy Seat, Palaces of Montezuma (Grinderman), Papa won’t leave you Henry, The Weeping Song, Brompton Oratory, Into my Arms and The Ship Song.
I’ve never attended this sort of event before, approached it with an open mind and really enjoyed the night, apart from the two clowns behind me! It makes you realize that whether we realize it or not we form a connection with the artists we listen too, they become part of the fabric that forms our lives sometimes staying with us for a lifetime, but what happens to the artist? Do they need to reach out and connect with the audience, chameleon-like changing their sound as the audience changes and the world moves on? A realization of the impact they are having not just on an unknown individual, but an unknown collective? Interesting stuff.
Author: Nev Brooks