The first gig of the Tom Slatter Duo (not that we’re calling it that)

Live in Darlington, Photo courtesy of David Stook

Blimey, I ain’t ‘alf tired.

What with a summer cold that has gone straight to my ears (I am currently deaf on one side), the day job being madly busy, one or two things going on in my personal life and rehearsing for gigs with another human being for the first time in years, I’ve not had much chance to stop and breath. Add to that the fact that I really don’t get on with the humid weather we’ve been having recently and I’m generally feeling a little tired.

So this blog post is a bit late.

But…

On 7th July I played a lovely little gig in Darlington. What’s more, it was the first gig of what will probably not come to be known as the Tom Slatter duo as Gareth Cole joined me on guitar.

I first worked with Gareth when we both played on a track called Wounds from Mike Kershaw’s last album. When I mentioned online that I was gearing up to get gigging again, Gareth offered his services, which I thought sounded grand. I have a lot of songs, particularly on Happy People, that just can’t work as a solo song. With an extra player we had the option of including all the melodic lead guitar stuff that I can’t play when it’s just me.

Gareth Cole, live in Darlington, photo Courtesy of David Stook.

We managed to find time for two rehearsals before the gig, a total of about 6 hours playing together which isn’t a huge amount considering the complexity of some of my songs. We even had a stab at So Far From The Shore, which was stupidly ambitious, though we kinda pulled it off.

I was originally booked to play at an event called Airship Northstar, a steampunk festival in Berwick Upon Tweed, on 8th July. It seemed sensible to book another gig up in that corner of the world, so I got in touch with Jack Arthurs who suggested have a word with Emma Roebuck of Progzilla fame. A few facebook messages between friends and a gig was organised. Isn’t the modern world great?

In the end, Airship Northstar was cancelled due to poor weather making the site unsafe – one of the hazards of outdoor events, and a real shame as Dan who was organising the event is genuinely one of the nicest blokes in the world.

So it was just the one gig, but a bloody good one as far as I’m concerned. Jack Arthurs was great, as I wrote on this blog already and so was Andy Tillison. Andy, of The Tangent fame, is a bit of a prog legend and was rightly the headliner, but as an injured hand meant he had to play a slightly truncated set Gareth and I ended up with the closing spot.

Andy is a great singer songwriter, and a great keyboard player too. To my ear his songs have hints of jazz and American songbook mixed in with the prog. He also writes about the real world, something I’ve never been able to do.

Of course the audience is the main thing at any gig, and this was a great one. Not full – about 30 odd people, which isn’t bad at all – but enthusiastic and very proggish. Prog audiences share characteristics with classical audiences in that they really listen and pay attention. This is good, though it does mean you have to get things sort of right. Which we kinda did.

Live in Darlington. Photo courtesy of David Stook.

Our set went well, considering the limited rehearsal time, and Gareth played a blinder. Emma had contrived an encore for the two previous acts, so we lied to the audience and claimed ‘Wizards of this Town’ was the last song we had ‘Set Light To The Sky’ was left for the final song. It was very gratifying to get that song to stage for the first time.

And then it was back to the hotel for the heady rock n roll antics of having a quiet couple of beers and a chat before bed.

Lots of fun and we’re doing it all again in Watford on August 1st and New Malden August 4th. Come and heckle!

PS. There’s a nice write-up of the gig over on The Progressive Aspect.

“Tom is a bit of character, and his warm smile and quirky delivery certainly resonated with me and the gathered masses. Catchy songs, with enough charm and whimsy to have you singing along – despite the underlying darker nature of much of his material.”

That’s pretty nice, eh?

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