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{28/01/2013}   How listening to live music should be

Noel McCalla Acoustic Trio performing at a house partyI had a lovely, girlie Saturday night at my first ever house party gig.  There were about 30 of us in the open plan living area of a very cool school conversion in Faversham, Kent.  We saw the Noel McCalla Acoustic Trio, who I had never heard of before (though I knew Noel McCalla had formerly been the lead singer in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band).  Before going there, it had occurred to me that you’d have to be a pretty confident singer to perform in a small space with a small audience sitting right in front of you.  To my mind, the evening was the perfect way to hear live music.

I never knew that things like this existed and I am so glad my mum put me onto this concept of small venue gigs in an informal setting.  We were able to bring our own food and drink, it only cost £10 and being three of only c30 people, we were really close to the musicians and the sound was brilliant.  I love that you can eat and drink whatever you choose to bring and that there was a real mix of people and that it’s in someone’s (v cool) home.  I also found it refreshing that there was no merchandise for sale, in fact there was nothing to buy at all.  Just an evening about listening to good music with like-minded people.

The hosts are a lovely couple who have a lot of contacts in the music industry.  They have done quite a few of these evenings and there are two more coming up that I’d like to go to.  The only problem being there are few places and it seems the same people regularly go and bring more friends each time.

As for Noel McCalla, he’s a fun performer with an amazing voice that he kind of plays with.  They largely did covers of 1960s/1970s songs and there was a bit of audience interaction, which I really enjoyed.  I hadn’t expected them to do covers but when someone, in the words of an X Factor judge, makes the song their own, it makes for a good evening, especially as he played some classics, such as Van Morrison’s Moondance.

Particularly during the first half, I was permanently smiling because it was all so good.  The lighting was lovely and mellow, the music and singing were great and I loved not having to either stand up or sit in rows on uncomfortable seats.  The sound system and acoustics were surprisingly good and he was accompanied by two of my favourite musical instruments, a guitar and a double bass – well, more accurately, he was accompanied by two musicians.  Noel interacted and chatted a bit with us and I even had a chat with him outside the toilet during the break.

He ended their set with an impromptu encore, as chosen by someone in the audience (though chosen as one suggestion which he and the band could wing).  They performed “No Woman, No Cry” and we all joined in for the chorus.  Ahh, it was lovely.  My friend and I then sang it in the car on the way home and it is still in my head now.

I was right about going to a house party gig though, the singer and musicians need to be really good as it’s all so raw.  This band were great and it seemed to suit their laidback style.  I now keep thinking of musicians I’d like to see in a setting like that and who could easily pull it off.

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