Alex Berger at the Phil….
Went to the Phil’s After Eight show again last night with my mate Kate. These shows are largely acoustic or jazz sets by non-mainstream performers and they’re a nice, civilised way to spend a Saturday night I think.
Alex Berger’s a singer-songwriter from London who moved to New York in 2004 where he pursued a music career. He’s just produced an album without the help of a label and now it seems he’s kicked of a UK tour to promote it. You can hear tracks from it on MySpace, if you like!
His set was quite relaxed and mainly consisted of auto-biographical songs. He performed some laid back piano-based stuff with on-stage accompaniment of violin and cello and occasionally switched to semi-acoustic guitar too which was fun, despite some technical difficulties (like struggling to tune it as we waited patiently and forgetting to bring his capo on stage). It’s all good though; there’s a bar in that room so we were kept occupied….
The thing about these shows which I may have previously mentioned is the intimate set up (a cabaret style arrangement of tables with a capacity of probably no more than fifty), meaning that the performers can see every person in the audience very clearly indeed. So rather than adopting my usual audience posture of slack-jawed gormlessness (where possible balancing bar snacks on my chest for ergonomic efficiency), I was constantly aware of having to adopt a suitably enthusiastic (but not too much-bit weird) facial expression throughout the performance so as not to offend him. Bear that in mind if you’re anything like me!
We’d decided to sit right at the front and because we’d spent most of the intermission making puerile jokes up, we then had the giggles during the second half and couldn’t look at each other lest we explode in fits of inappropriate cackling. Don’t you just love it when women do that?!
Another thing about the shows is that the performers tend to talk quite a lot about the stories behind their songs before performing them. This guy’s spent a lot of time living and recording in New York so many of the stories were about that. He was actually very self-effacing and likeable, cracking a few jokes along the way. Liked it.
Having spent an evening taking in some sophisticated entertainment, I felt compelled to go a bit low-brow to balance it out. We sloped off to do some karaoke after that. Goaded on by Kate, I entertained myself by putting one microphone next to people’s bottoms whilst simultaneously making fart noises into the other. I know what you’re thinking, that’s soooo cultural. Sorry!
In summary, if you’re mature enough to sit through a set without laughing or fidgeting then definitely check out the After Eight series because they’re a really nice alternative to standing up all night, plastic pint glass in hand, trying to see past really tall people. It’s just a nice change!
No idea what’s up next week….watch this space, kids.