BAiT’s Return to the Stage

Last Friday night, after five years away from the stage, BAiT made its return to public performance, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

We had been offered a slot at Ditch The TV – a monthly, predominantly acoustic evening, run by local musician, Malc Evans, for whom I’ve played session drums in the past, both with his band Beneva, and with Malc in his solo work.

Having got back together again at the close of 2010, we (BAiT) have been working on an acoustic set for some months now. Eventually, we settled on a collection of songs predominantly from the band’s back catalogue, with a couple of extra songs penned by Andy which hadn’t ever been played in BAiT and a new song for which I wrote the music and Andy wrote the lyrics.

Ditch The TV normally runs from the Maudsley pub on the Allesley Old Road, but due to a double-booking, it was unavailable last night. Fortunately, Malc had managed to obtain use of the function room at the nearby Four Province’s pub.

We had the headline slot, which basically meant we were on last. This is not always the blessing it would appear to be, as people can start to shuffle off at various points in an evening, but as it goes, we were lucky last night and people stayed for all three acts.

First on was a sixteen year old, Kane Collins, who entertained us with a couple of original compositions and then a range of covers. It was just him and his guitar and he had a good tone to his voice – would expect he’s got a good musical future ahead of him.

Second on the Bill was a fellow Nuneatoner (and flat-cap wearer), Chris Tye, who performed a selection of his own material on acoustic and electric guitar, and accompanied by a guy on double bass. The sound out front was great. Chris had a nice tone to his voice and the material really suited the atmosphere.

Finally, we took to the stage. Having a minimum set-up, this was a relatively new experience to me (or at least one I hadn’t been through in recent years). In the first instance, it’s odd for me, since I ordinarily play drums, to be seated at the front of the stage, but I can’t begin to express how nice it is to not have to set up and break down a drum kit – a task which I utterly loathe nowadays.

We worked our way through the set we had worked out. All went relatively smoothly from our point of view, although following the gig, we did all admit to being nervous at the start. I also had some tuning issues in one song – the E string on my mandolin was a little out of tune and it kept making me wince. At one point Andy leaned over and whispered that it sounded like an old piano, almost causing me to lose it completely, because he had hit the nail on the head.

This and the odd bit of feedback aside, we soon settled into things and really started to enjoy it. As the gig went on, I thought the vocals were working together nicely from what I could hear. For my part, it was nice to switch between cajon and mandolin.

When we had finished our set, Malc asked if we had any more we could play, which gave us the chance to play the one cover we had worked on – Songs Of Love by The Divine Comedy, which many will not know in its song format, but will be more familiar with as the theme tune from Father Ted.

The gig over, we caught up with various people who had come from near and far to see us, and all of whom gave us the ‘thumbs-up’. Mark from Ministry of Beaver was very complementary, which meant a lot. Sometimes, people can be protective or reluctant for band mates to be involved in other projects – whether it be through fear of them ‘quitting their main job’ or just a sense of protection, I couldn’t say, but fortunately Mark is not that sort of person.

Paddy (my former Beaver rhythm section colleague) and his ‘Mrs Lady’ as he calls her also came along, and again, he was very supportive. He’s heard the band’s CDs before and has always spoken highly of us, which again means a lot, as he is a talented bass player.

A few other friends had come along to offer support too, and it was nice of them all to make the effort to come to see us.

The final ‘seal of approval’ of the evening came from the landlord at the Four Provinces who was extremely complementary and asked us on the spot whether we’d be prepared to play a gig there in our own right, so that is something we’ll certainly have to take him up on.

So, it was a really enjoyable first gig back. BAiT is most definitely back. It is different again from its last iteration, but we have a nice rehearsal routine worked out now, and our meet-ups are productive, yet informal enough to have the enjoyable general chat we used to have too much of in the old days of BAiT, when we met up three times a week.

We just need to keep the set polished, look out for some more gigs, and look at adding some more material over time.