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In 2001, the musician Darius Danesh failed to make it into the later stages of Popstars. When he announced this to the others, he tried to sum up their positive thoughts by saying, ‘How much love is there in this room?’ A clip of the incident is below:
Much fun was made of this statement at the time, although his later career has been better received. He did have a good point about the mood of a room, as it’s something I think about when I’m performing.
On Friday of last week, I was invited to perform at a poetry night called Blend In – Stand Out. This was something of a risk on the part of the organiser because previous events had been held in Perth, whereas this one was half-an-hour’s drive away in Dundee.
However, I detected good vibes from the start. A number of the members already knew each other, and many had already started drinking, which some folk need before they feel confident. Every performer is allowed two turns. When I stood up, the audience reacted just as I’d wanted, especially the second time.
The following evening, I was again due to perform in a very different venue to a much wider audience as part of a community soul choir. This first involved a dress rehearsal for a total of more than three hours, including a technical run-through.
The show went marvellously, with the audience out of their seats by the final song, helped by our extroverted conductor. Many were there because they knew one of the 300 or so singers on the stage.
But sometimes, the mood of the room simply isn’t with the performer. At one event last year, I was on the bill between two musicians, so nobody was geared up to hear poetry. It also didn’t help that the audience hadn’t come specifically to hear the entertainment; rather, it was a place to rest as part of a wider arts event.
It’s unfortunate that even when the audience isn’t engaged, people will still look less favourably on the person who stopped halfway through. And if it’s a paid gig, the promoter might even withhold all or part of your fee.
So whatever the dynamic in the room is, my advice is to continue performing the set. A good technique is to identify one or two people who are paying attention and direct your words to them.
That is unless the mood is at the stage where you feel physically threatened. I’ve never seen that happen, though, and I hope it never will.