This question is to my fellow performers out there ...
Have you ever prepared for a show, and was so excited and looking forward to it, and then you get there and the audience seems like they had a secret meeting before the show and in that meeting they decided they were just not going to be interested?
You ever had that experience before?
Well I have. Just a couple weekends ago.
I’ve been performing my Tina Turner Tribute show for at least 7 years and I know my show inside and out. Most times I don’t even practice before the show. I just turn up, do the sound check and then I’m off. The show is obviously high energy, it’s Tina for crying out loud, so the response is usually off the chain.
But not this time. This time, the show seemed to fall flat. I got the customary gasp when I first hit the stage, but from there to the end of the set, it felt like hard work. Bummer. Because I was so up for doing the show. I even practiced the week leading up to the show. So, during the second song, which is ‘Nutbush,’ I decided that I was going to perform that show with the same gusto as if I was at the IOW Festival. I was not going to let their reaction, or lack thereof, be a reflection of my performance. I made up my mind that I would bring it no matter what. And I did. But, the audience was barely warming up. Finally, by the time we got to the obvious floor fillers like ‘What’s Love Got to do With It,’ ‘Proud Mary,’ and ‘Simply The Best,’ they were on their feet, singing and dancing.
After finishing the Tina set and then the 2nd Disco Divas set, I was tempted to attribute the audiences lack of response to me and my performance, but here’s the thing. I know I did the job. I gave 100% effort, because over the years I’ve learned that in giving 100%, that means I’ve given my all and done the best that I can do in that moment.
I think it also helped that a few weeks before I performed the Theatre version of my Tina show where there’s no dance floor, just people sitting and watching, and let me tell you, that was a different experience all-together. I loved it. People were actually listening and watching. It was wonderful.
As function singers, we get conditioned to think that if people are on the dance floor, then we’re doing a good job. And we assume that those who are not on the dance floor aren’t interested. But I beg to differ. I think when they are sitting, many of them are just watching the show, and that’s our chance to really show them what we’re made of. To really let our talents shine.
Let’s face it, once we’ve got the audience up on and dancing, we can just coast through the rest of the gig. It’s easy, right? But when they’re not on the floor, we have to work a bit harder for it. Earn it. Be in the moment, and I mean fully in the moment.
So even though that gig was a bit of a drag, I am also thankful for it, because when I finished that gig, packed my gear in the car and drove the long journey back home, I did so feeling great about myself and the performance. I left it all on the stage. I gave my all to that moment. And based on the feedback that I did receive from several of the guests, I did the job.
So, if any of those punters left that night feeling like they didn’t have a good time, that’s on them. Because the groundwork and foundation for a great night was fully laid out for them. If they couldn’t manage to build a good night for themselves, it’s not because of me. I gave them a fantastic show, and every opportunity to make the most of their evening.
British audiences are very different from American ones, and I learned early on from working over here that it’s not about me, but about them. You have to check your ego at the door. Especially with function work. The Brits will not meet you halfway. And occasionally, you come across an audience that will not surrender, no matter what you do. And to them I say, it’s not me, it’s you!