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Nick @ Bomfest: Or "How Many Sound Engineers Does It Take To Not Fix A P.A System?"

Discussion in 'On Tour' started by Green Man, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. Green Man

    Green Man Guest

    Last night at Bomfest...another crazy live experience in the company of Nick Harper & friends.

    My Partner Claire and I arrived at Locke Park in Barnsley yesterday in good time to miss the afternoon's big downpour. Judging by the amount of bedraggled souls wandering around the park, others were evidently not so lucky!

    After negotiating our way around the park (which boasted several stages), we managed to establish that Nick was headlining the "Herbal Jazz Woodbine" tent.

    Nick was supposed to be on about 08.20, so we took in some of the other acts. These included a Norwegian guy (?) with a soulful voice. An aged stoner next to us proclaimed "Heartfelt, very heartfelt..." I have no idea what the guy's name was but we caught an entertaining half-hour or so of his set. I did remark to Claire that his swarthy good looks didn't harm his cause!

    Next up were Three Wise Men, featuring perrenial Harpic support & "Right-on" troubadour, Andy Shades. The trio featuring Andy on guitar/vocals, an electric violinist & electric bass player who proceeded to play many of Andy's original songs.

    The aged stoner declared "Heartfelt, very heartfelt..." following a song about George Bush.

    Anyone who has seen Andy supporting Nick recently will know that he is an engaging & witty performer. Personally I'm not that struck by his songs, although this time I noticed that I had remembered some of the words this time around, which could be a good sign.

    There were some inadvertant moments of comedy, as the bassist pulled off a series of elaborate & increasingly ludicrous stage moves. Gurning champions nationwide better watch out!

    Next up was Nick...almost.

    At the conclusion of the Three Wise Men set, it was obvious that there were some issues with the P.A. By the time Nick had set up his gear and warmed up, it became clear that these problems had graduated to "Not actually working at all".

    Thirty minutes later, things were no closer to being resolved and a miriad of sound engineers, Andy Shades, passers-by and members of the audience were no nearer to establishing the root of the problem.

    The thing that always strikes me about Nick's audiences is that they never seem to get bad-tempered or impatient when technical gremlins strike. Last night was no exception, and when the P.A problems were (temporarily) resolved, there was a huge round of applause. It's measure of how much the audience respect Nick, who really was a complete trooper tonight - professional, calm...and just a little bit stoned.

    "Building A New P.A System" opened Nick's set, followed (in no particular order) by a truncated "Guitar man", "Simple", "By My Rocket Comes Fire", "Aeroplane" & "Love Junky".

    The P.A lurched between stereo & mono, but Nick took it all in his stride and (I think) won over a few new punters, if some of the comments I overheard were anything to go by.

    The only issue then was that the P.A problems had eaten into a good chunk of Nick's allotted time, so unfortunately it didn't come as a great suprise when the plug was unceremoniously pulled during a cracking "Love is Music".

    Nick soldiered on, concluding with an excellent reading of Jeff Buckley's "Grace" ("Heartfelt...very heartfelt" etc, etc") before taking the show unlplugged and out into the open air.

    It was funny to watch Nick delivering "Galaxy Song" to a trio of bemused coppers before disappearing into the night.

    Despite the obvious issues with the P.A and the set ending abruptly, We really enjoyed another evening in the company of Mr Nick.

    It was great to meet Linn, Paula, Craig & Uriel - wish we'd spotted you earlier guys!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2008
  2. HarperPR

    HarperPR My destiny offers me up like a lamb

    Good description. Pretty much sums it up I think.

    Wish I had seen you and lovely Claire earlier too! I am still reeling from the connection: completely oblivious to that one!

    Keep me posted on the other matter. I'll start to nag him if you don't hear!
  3. Uriel

    Uriel I've got a zappy little nappy

    Was a bit like a forum meet up - Big Chris was there too and I suspect others.

    The whole open air wander had an air of Pied Guitarist of Barnsley about it. I was particularly amused by one fan legging it over to a policeman and enthusiastically telling him "come and see this, it's the best thing you'll ever hear".
  4. Colin L

    Colin L Computer stained fingers

    Joy and I were there with 2 newbies who we dragged along. We stood at the back in front of the mysterious box, that no-one knew how to use. By about 9.45 my friends wanted to leave. First time ever I left at Nick gig early, wish I could have convinced them to stay as it sounded a typical Nick overcoming problems night.
  5. Craig_Powers

    Craig_Powers I've got a zappy little nappy

    It was a good atmosphere desite the tech problems. A good apprecitative crowd who were very patient. Nick was getting a bit pissed off but stayed calm, albeit with some herbal assistance. I really enjoyed the Andy Shades / 3 Wise Men set. I will definitely go to watch Andy again. The bassist was great to watch, no idea who he was, but he made John Otway look sane. Good to meet everyone. Despite the gig running late, a quick dash over the M62 saw me back on the right side of the Pennines and back in the pub by midnight. Good to meet up with you all again. Craig
  6. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    Hey craig! Thanks for your message. I'm sure i'll make it to a harpic gig soon enough! A bit gutted i missed this one. I always like it when nick goes "off piste" and improvises big time. Still, there'll be more where that came from.
  7. HarperPR

    HarperPR My destiny offers me up like a lamb

    Nick was made aware of your non/possible/maybe attendence, young man! Not by me though, I'll add. You have a lot of absences to explain!:wink:
  8. Craig_Powers

    Craig_Powers I've got a zappy little nappy

    Critch, Shame that you started to change your mind when I was half way over the M62. Never mind, we can share a car and save fuel someother time. Technically it was a bit shambolic but Nick put on a good show nevertheless.
  9. scotpaulabear

    scotpaulabear Halfway up my own guitar, propping up another bar

    Thank to our own Green Man for a great roundup - dunno what else I can add but I'll obviously prattle on a bit anyway haha...

    The Norwegian guy is called Nordgarden and I was really impressed by him as well - I mean musicially, but also by his Norwegian good looks :blushing: Had a nice chat with him during the interminable lull and he said he'll definitely come see Nick again on the Norwegian dates! His Myspace site is here:
    You did miss the technical problems that the two artists before him - Leon and Katus - had as well, so I was already getting that sinking feeling before the PA went pfffft for Nick...

    I really had a good time all day, and didn't even get rained on cos I was already in the tent, and the crowd couldn't have been more into it and understanding... but let's just say I'd rather pay more than a fiver if that means better security, lines of less than 40 minutes for a beer, and foremost a decent PA system in the 'gazebo' (let's call it 'intimate' and 'bijoux') they called an acoustic tent. Nuff said. Nick rose above all that and put in a show I really enjoyed - it is fun watching him pull something from nothing, and I'm glad I was there. And I don't think I've ever heard him play Aerosmith riffs before LOL. But yeah, shambolic, that's a pretty damn good word for it! Along with 'interesting' and 'different'...

    I did jot down the full setlist: Building Our Own Temple (or PA system!) / Aeroplane / Simple / Guitar Man / By My Rocket Comes Fire / Love Junky / Love is Music (finished in PA silence). Then Galaxy Song as he wandered off into the pitch darkness...

    Colin, sorry I didn't get to say hi, I couldn't see you after the gig, now I understand! My Ilkley Harper-virgins had to leave before the main event as well, had hoped they'd be able to catch the first half hour or so - OOPS :blushing: But they'd had a wonderful time during the day and they heard enough with him noodling around on his guitar that they're well up to checking him out next time he's around. Hope there's a Trades Club gig sooner rather than later - that would be a great start for them LOL.

    Great hanging with Big Chris and Rona and all and sundry in our wee crew, and meeting everyone who came up to say hi. Special thanks to Craig for buying CDs, you star! Made me feel wanted after being chased out of the tent by the festival hardmen :wink: And I was sad you couldn't come, Critch, next time I hope you can be there :22: you don't owe me an absence note though!
  10. telemonster

    telemonster I've got a zappy little nappy

    bumfest p.a embarrassment

    i take it you meant 'right on' as some sort of insult? we don't know of any other 'right in' singer/songwriters do we...?
    i've seen 'shades' a few times, and i often think he plays all the wrong songs. some of his stuff is genius! maybe he doesn't know which his best songs are-i dunno....
    as a barnsley lad myself, i was terribly embarrassed about the whole p.a. shambles, and shades and i both agreed it showed how little regard the organisers had for acoustic music and the fans thereof. let's hope it doesn't happen again, as i mean to become a bomfest regular!
  11. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    Does anyone know which company did the pa system then?
  12. scotpaulabear

    scotpaulabear Halfway up my own guitar, propping up another bar

    Was surprised to read on the Sheffield Star website that Nick was one of only 4 artists/bands (Tom Hingley, the main stage headliner, was another) who got paid to play BOMfest. Shame they couldn't have taken his PA seriously then *sigh*...
  13. Uriel

    Uriel I've got a zappy little nappy

  14. telemonster

    telemonster I've got a zappy little nappy


    i reckon it was either the chuckle brothers, or the crankies!
  15. telemonster

    telemonster I've got a zappy little nappy

  16. Colin L

    Colin L Computer stained fingers

    I sent my grumbles into the organisers of BOMFEST. Received this reply.

    hello colin
    the technical issue was not our fault as the p.a. was sabotaged between the support act (3 wise men) and nicks slot.
    the 3 wise men had a decent sound (and take my word for it andy is fussy)
    it took the sound crew a long while to sort the problem because it was a multicore issue.
    someone had played the multicore plugs.

    this should be never done and none of our staff did this so all i can say
    is that someone else did it and it was the last thing the team checked after lots of
    confussion. this should not have been touched once the rig was set up.

    i am not happy myself about the situation and am curious as to what happened.
    i am having a management meeting on monday and will have more news then.

    bomfest is about supporting the unsigned bands and it was a pleasure to have nick support our efforts on the acoustic stage. im sure he understands the game we are in and even though he had technical difficulties he still played, once we sorted it out and the crowd went wild.
    pity you didnt wait.

    bomfest does not refund ticket prices for missing one artist
    as this was not a nick harper gig

    if you would like to talk to me about your complaint
    then you can contact me on 07767 035579
    events manager
  17. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    A multicore issue? Who did the pa? Next year get them to use adlib audio in liverpool. When i worked for them it wouldn't have taken so long to spot the problem.

    There are pretty much two types of multicore. Patching and fixed. If it was patching then the signal maybe wouldn't appear on the same channel. If it was fixed then the only problem i can think of was the plug coming loose and the channels dropping in and out.

    The other common problem which alot of engineers miss is static on the lines which can be cleared by knocking phantom power(for di boxes etc) on and off a few times, although another quick solution would be to change to a different channel. Besides this is unlikely as it was used all day.
  18. scotpaulabear

    scotpaulabear Halfway up my own guitar, propping up another bar

    They were having intermittent issues before that though, Katus (Czech singer/songwriter) did most of her set off-mic...
  19. bigchris

    bigchris Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    Colin - I can't believe you asked for your fiver back ?!? Yeah the day had a lot of faults, but for a fiver what do you expect ?

    I personally had a cracking time ... as we see Nick loads of times, it's quite refreshing ( in a bizzare kind of way ) when things go pete tong ... it just shows you what a professional he is ... I can't imagine many more artists, puting up with that shambles ... but Nick just soldiered on ... keeping most of the audience entertained in one way of other ( though I might be slightly biased there !! ).

    A couple of my mates were there who had never heard of/seen Nick before ... and even though they were stood at the back ( so probably couldn't hear some of the gig ... especially at the end ) they absolutly loved it ... he made two more converts there !!

    Overall ... IMHO opinion it was a cracking day .... great weather ( except for about 20 mins ... but we were already in the acoustic tent by then ), great company ... met some old and new friends, great location, some excellent music ( in the acoustic tent ) and a bit of an alternative nick gig ... in fact I easily saw more acts on that day than I do when I go to Glastonbury .... and all that for a fiver ( well a sixer with P&P ... and the 400 mile round trip ) ... absolute bargain !!
  20. Colin L

    Colin L Computer stained fingers

    Hi Chris,
    only asked for a refund as I had dragged 2 friends along who hadn't seen Nick before and felt a bit embarrassed for them. As I said, if it had just been Joy and myself, we would have stuck out the gig.

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