The Camden Roundhouse has stood for over a 160 years, a relic of the long defunct London and Birmingham Railway, and a testament to the craftsmanship of 19th Century Britain. The railway has long since departed, and the sounds of the Stones, Hendrix, Bowie and Led Zep no longer vibrate the walls, but the Roundhouse Trust has created a very special and unique performing arts space, and a welcome refuge from the mildly threatening "bohemian vibe" of Camden.
The setting then for last nights gig was superb - tiered seating around, and cabaret tables in front of the stage. Candles, warm red lighting, mirror balls and table service conspired to create a great atmosphere and sense of anticipation for the High Priest of New Orleans' R&B, Allen Toussaint. The great man came on at 9pm sharp, backed by a superb US band of black musicians, drums, bass and sax. But then, things took a turn for the proverbial - a muddy and tinny sound mix soon became overwhelmed by feedback from the vocal and piano mics, which presumably were picking up from the fold backs.
Dear Blog, why oh why (etc etc) is the gig going public blighted by incompetent and ineffectual sound men? What did we deserve to have our enjoyment dashed so cruelly on the rocks of audio despair? Given that most people have a home stereo and are capable of setting that up properly, is it that much to ask (at £27.50 per ticket plus admin fee) to get someone in who knows what they are doing? Such a terrible shame that a fantastic venue, and a chance to see such an artist, was blighted by such an amateur.
Toussaint bravely soldiered on, and in fairness, the mix marginally improved by the end of the gig, where we were given a glimpse of this great musician's songwriting and piano skills in sparkling audio clarity. As great as the performance was, you couldn't help thinking about what might have been......