After the Asylum

Well, what a weekend! I think we just played two of the best and most enjoyable gigs we’ve ever done.

Saturday at the Asylum felt quite different from Friday last year, and I was (as always) blown away by so many of the costumes on display. We had been booked to play two gigs – one at 7.30pm at the Orangery and then at 9.30pm at the Ball in the Assembly Rooms. We arrived early enough to check into our very rock and roll hotel (the Ibis, on a very glamorous industrial park just outside Lincoln) and enjoy the culinary delights of the unexpectedly rustic pub next door.

We didn’t really know what to expect at the Orangery, which turned out to be a Very Good Thing. The unexpected occurred and we ended up deciding to put on Pocketwatch: Live and Unplugged (never before experienced by anyone other than our partners and those lucky few who happen to reside in the houses we practice in).

Will, ever the calm problem-solver (which I attribute to his years leading skirmishes against orcs, demons and other foul beings) was thrilled at the chance to do an intimate acoustic gig. So thrilled, in fact, that I wonder now – in the cold light of day – whether he masterminded the whole thing… Anyway, we borrowed an amp for Nadia’s guitar (whose delicate tones wouldn’t stand a chance against the mighty cello and banjo combo) and set up in the round on one side of the Orangery.

Will was fighting off a cold, and Nadia and I had been glugging cough syrup all afternoon in an attempt to fool our throats into thinking they were fine, so I must admit that I was a little nervous of doing the whole thing acoustically (and had visions of getting to our later gig and croaking). But all worries were swept away when the audience accepted Will’s invitation to get as close as possible (one lady took Will at his word and promptly sat on his knee) and we were surrounded by a sea of eager faces.

Whilst amplification can make things easier on the voice, it often makes things much harder for the ear. Hearing your own instrument, your own vocals, and your bandmates’ is often too much to ask for and we tend to have to make do with one or two out of the three. No such problems here! With such an attentive audience, every note from the guitar was crystal clear, each bow from the cello was perfect in its delivery and each twang from the banjo was as silvered cheese-wire.

We played a set of our more low-key songs, and it was a magical experience. We couldn’t have asked for a more attentive audience, and it was a privilege to play for them. So, Will finally got the acoustic set he always dreamed of, and Nadia and I are now completely sold on it too. We need to do another one!

Onwards and upwards. After the Orangery we had an hour to drink lemon and ginger tea and eat some rather interesting curried baked potato. Again, how rock and roll are we? Then it was off to the Assembly Rooms for our second gig of the night. We had had a great sound check earlier with the sound man, Steve, which was a bit of a relief. Acoustic gig in Orangery=perfect evening. Acoustic gig in massive ball room does not. As is the nature of things, the evening was running a little late so I had the chance to sit down with a cooling glass of water and watch some truly spellbinding country dancing. It says a great deal for the mettle and courage of the average Steampunker that so many were willing to brave the complexities of square dancing after what must have been a good two and a half hours of hard drinking (though perhaps, like me, they’d been sticking to the tea and water).

And then the time came for us to step up and show everyone that we were made of equally stern stuff (in the musical rather than the dance sphere, that is). The set couldn’t have been more different from the one we’d just played. Intimate and quiet was replaced by cavernous and loud, and we loved it. We can always rely on our Rodent Mastermind to take to the dance floor, and to my delight he managed to inspire many others to join him. We don’t tend to think of ourselves as a band that people dance to (though we’d deliberately chosen a more upbeat set of songs for this gig) so it was wonderful to be shown that all we needed was the right audience. My admiration is boundless for all those who managed to waltz dangerously to a song in 5/8 and the interpretative dancing in the sea interlude of Mariner’s Revenge was beautiful. I also salute those who remained at their tables and simply listened. It is every band’s dream to play to a large group of people who are so attentive, and that made it feel like it was possible to reach each individual in the room.

I was quite sad when we reached the end, although Lady Elsie had kindly arranged for a bottle of bubbly to welcome us off stage, so I could just about bear to drag myself away from the (multi-coloured) bright lights. We were then introduced to the great Robert Rankin –  I think one of our greatest achievements as a band now has to be  ‘making Robert Rankin cry’ (in a good way). He was absolutely lovely and we now have dreams of collaborating on an event in the future…

What else to say? We had our photos taken by the extremely nice photographer, listen to, then chatted with Mr B (also extremely nice), and enjoyed a wonderfully unhealthy breakfast at an American diner (where you could learn Italian in the toilets) on our industrial estate the next morning. We’ve been getting some lovely comments on our facebook page, and we’d like to thank the organisers of the Asylum, Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea, and Beecham’s cough syrup.

But above all, we would like to thank the wonderful audiences at the Orangery and the Ball.

Thank you and goodnight.


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3 Responses to After the Asylum

  1. Emma

    Thank you, Robert! We look forward to it.

    Felix – I’m sorry you couldn’t get tickets! It was a lovely evening. We are recording our first album in October, so there will be a CD in the near future! In the mean time, check out our music and video pages for the things we have out already and keep and eye on our facebook for announcements of gigs.

  2. I saw some photos of your unplugged set in the tidal wave of Asylum-aftermath pic posts – it sounds wonderful! I’d been hoping to get tickets for myself and my flatmate, who I think will love your sound, but alas the Orangery was sold out by the time we booked for Asylum. Is there anywhere I can buy CDs or MP3s to introduce him?

  3. It was such a pleasure to met you, your music is utterly wonderful and I do hope that some time in the future we can do something together. I would be honoured.

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