I have no idea why, but it seems to be a Great Belfast Tradition to go to a concert and then talk all the way through it. Yes, people pay money to go into a room with great music and then don't bother listening to it. Not everyone, maybe only a fraction of concert-goers do this, but it's enough that it's a regular event at any concert I've been to in the last few years.
I'm assured this is peculiar to Belfast - even other places in Norn Iron don't do this. I don't like it - I'd rather hear the music I paid to hear rather than listen to some wazzuck talking.
Anyway, I went into Belfast to see The Sandrunners last Saturday night. My friend Dave is annoyingly talented and a founder of Sandrunners, and this was the launch of their first EP at a Belfast Nashville event. This was a Big Deal for him.
The show also had two bands on before Sandrunners - Lazy Flies and The White Mansions. I know someone in both of those bands too. So of course I went.
(It sounds like I'm really connected in the music scene here. I'm not. I just happen to know three guys who are talented enough to be in bands as well as work for a living. All three playing the one night is a rare treat.)
Doors opened at 8. It started at 8:30.
I was on my own (SWMBO wasn't feeling well) but I managed to snag a seat right at the back - away from any of the potential talkers there. The room was darkened, but it hadn't started yet (even though it was now 9:30), so I did a little counting.
There were about 25 rows of about 12-15 seats in each, and it was about 80% full when I counted. 80% of a 300-425 seat venue is good - Dave was worried about getting a hundred people for the room. The room had a large screen to show the performer for those who were too far away, which seemed like a nice idea but it was a surprisingly small screen.
Naturally, a few more people arrived and a talker amongst them decided I was someone who would like to have the upcoming music drowned out by his delightful voice.
Just as I was texting SWMBO all of this, a baldy Scottish bloke came on with a guitar and started singing.
Neither Dave nor any of the other folks performing were (to my knowledge) Scottish. Nor were they solo performers.
Still he was doing a very capable rendition of Dear God. At this point 3 thoughts occurred to me:
- He's doing very well for a solo warm-up act,
- He really is smaller on the screen than in real life, and
- Hang on, that's Midge Ure.
Like a plonker, I had gone to the venue room with the Belfast Nashville Festival posters outside it, thinking that there was only one performance in the place that night. Apparently there were more...
So, there I was in the back row of a Midge Ure concert, being splendidly entertained (he seemed very on form) desperately wanting to be somewhere else...
I enumerated the problems (I know these were the problems because I texted them to SWMBO):
- Can I leave without embarrassment?
- Should I?
- Where's Dave?
- What have I missed at Dave's?
- I'm quite comfy here.
- All the folks I came to see are somewhere else.
- And most of all, is it OK to throat-punch the talker on the way out.
I didn't punch anyone. (I'm not violent, honest.) But the talker was very annoying. I don't think Midge heard him, but too many in the audience did.
At a break between songs, I made my way out of the room and tried to hunt down the Sandrunners. Turns out I wasn't even close - they were on a completely different floor.
The room was smaller (yes, the big room should have been a giveaway, and so should the late start), but it was so packed I had to stand. That was good - I was still chuffed for Dave that so many had turned up.
And the bands? They all rocked! I'm grateful I know so many talented people. Even if I did end up having to stand right next to the talkers.