So, last week, after a two-year long hiatus, I left my flat to go perform some of my songs in public. I was understandably nervous to be re-emerging on the open mic scene: “Will there be a friendly receptive crowd?” “Will there be a decent sound system?” “Will I become bored out of my mind when it turns out to be just me and twenty Noel Gallagher wannabes (or – shudder – twenty Ed Sheeran wannabes)?”
I was not disappointed on any count.
The Island Experiment is unlike any night I’ve been to. Situated in the upstairs room of the (gorgeous) Paradise (by way of Kensal Green) pub, it is presided over by Wade Bayliss, accompanied by his insanely tight house band. As evidenced by some of the other performers, who made full use of these guys, they sure could pick up songs fast (“…this is the blues riff in B, watch me for the changes and try to keep up…”).
Despite a shaky start (the innards of my guitar decided to quit this life – thankfully Wade let me borrow his), I performed my three songs. The room was one of the most attentive, warm, and appreciative I can remember.
As the night went on, more and more people gathered, and it was clear that not all of them were there to perform, or to watch their other halves perform. They were regulars, and it was clear to see why. The atmosphere was fizzing, the musicianship was exciting, and the mix of styles impressive. My personal highlight: a chap calling himself Soviet Space Bat (complete with home made costume) performing a surreal re-interpretation of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds on his Keytar and – crucially – EVERYONE joining in with the chorus.
I would heartily recommend this night to everyone – performers or no. If you do fancy playing, it’s on every Wednesday evening, and signup is from 7pm. Email Wade on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, and to guarantee a slot. Paradise, 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, London, W10 4AE.
And if you don’t fancy playing, go along anyway. I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like.