Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What happens when something goes wrong during a performance?

Photo by Fleur Neale

Now that you have known me {Margot} for more than 5 minutes, you now know that I am a SuperBigFan of Glen Hansard. Glen is an indie folk musician from Dublin, who after a long and tenacious career starting as a busking (street performing) musician at the age of 13, through 30 plus years as the lead singer for The Frames, finally came into some Big Time Fame with a little independent movie called Once. If you want to hear the ins and outs of his career, just call me. I know a lot of information about these things. It's what you do when you are a SuperBigFan, and I own it 100%. I like to think I sound less crazy if I admit to it.

Anyway, what the rest of the world is learning about Glen is that he is an incredible performer. He's a great songwriter and singer too, but there is magic about his live performances. He somehow knows how to give and connect but also to present himself as the one to watch. So there is ego, because how could ANYONE go on stage and feel good about people listening to him if that didn't exist, right? But Glen also has a generosity that is unmatched in any other musician I've seen or come to know. He prepares for that night's performance all that day, considering songs and sometimes learning new ones just to please that particular audience. Then he gets on stage and sends out energy that is palpable.

I did want to share was this particular review of an unusual performance that occurred in London called A Scream and An Outrage. This was a musical collaboration with some pretty big names in the forward-thinking creative world of music: Nico Muhly (a composer startling both classical and contemporary music fans), Bryce Dessner (of the National and founder of The Music Now Festival in Cincinnati), Richard Reed Perry (Arcade Fire etc). We saw a similar line-up at this year's Music Now Festival and while it was an incredible evening of creativity, I sense that it was only the appetizer to the night in London with the full Britten Sinfonia orchestra.

So, here Glen is on stage with a full orchestra and he is ready to play his song The Gift, which he wrote and performed for The Odd Life of Timothy Green (I do not recommend that movie). Here is how the reviewer describes what happens:

Glen (with the help once again of Charlotte) starts off ‘This Gift’ ahead of the normal introduction and has to put his hand up and stop everyone to give it another go. Unfortunately after the first chorus Glen loses his place and it is here that Glen becomes very aware that he has an orchestra and not his band behind him. I’m in the front row and after losing his place I hear Glen approach the conductor and ask if the orchestra can go back and re-play the part in question so he can come back in. The conductor says quite simply ‘No’ and Glen is left play out the piece on guitar with no vocals. It’s a highly amusing exchange and Glen relays his request and the response he received to the audience afterwards to many chuckles. Glen also comments that Nico had suggested to him earlier that day that ‘This Gift’ was not quite ready and Glen concedes that Nico was right – ahh well nevermind!

Okay, do we as performers and artists and professionals not live in paralyzing fear of this exact thing? I happened to be on Fox19 News this morning worrying about that very moment. The moment when we have completely f-cked up. right. in front. of everyone. I actually cringed when I read about it the first time. And if I'm honest, I was really just horrified for the scared-to-death-to-try girl who lives inside me. It was like seeing something you say to yourself will actually never happen, happen. Oh God. How will I ever be anything worthwhile if something this could happen to me?

But what did Glen do? He went on. He performed what he could. And then he made everyone in the audience relax when he made a joke of it. And it's not like he was saying that it didn't matter, or that he didn't screw up. He was just honest and open about a mistake. In addition to that humility, he goes even further when he concedes that he was wrong to push it despite the advice to keep it back. Humility AND bravery. I want some of that.

I don't know about you, but this made me feel a little bit like crying. Because my God, if Glen Hansard can screw up in front of thousands of people, live through it and then learn from it, then I think I might be able to as well if and when the time comes for my big mistake. And that is what will keep me going today.

1 comment:

  1. i know that feeling! it's paralyzing! but i think he handled it the only 'best' way...by being, as you said, open, honest and brave, and with humility. who on this earth could not forgive or love someone who offers those things in the face of a very public 'mess up'! a good lesson for so many situations. nice share margo;)

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