Friday, May 06, 2005

Some "Opening" Thoughts...

I'm in the dressing room at Mohegan Sun, hearing the booming sounds of Fiction Plane doing their soundcheck for tonight's show through the wall. They have done three shows and are doing really well - playing great and going down well with the crowd.

It's not an easy thing to open a show for an established headliner. I've been in that situation many times. Crowds often don't realise that the opening act has probably been invited to play by the artist they're opening for. Not that that should be a guarantee of a good response. But it's something worth bearing in mind, particularly if one is a dedicated fan of the performer whose show it is.

In this case, it's father and son. Proud father and son. Sting last night mentioned during the show - briefly - that it is an honor to follow one's child onto the stage. It is something I can well relate to (excuse the pun), as my own son is a very talented musician. One difference is that I may end up opening shows for him! C'est la vie...And that would be no less of an honor, either.

Also, for the first two shows, two of the four members of Fiction Plane were stuck in England waiting on work permits, so they started with two musicians filling in on bass and guitar/keyboards. A day of rehearsal and a show to prepare for their opening slot. The regular guitarist arrived for the show last night. The show must and will go on. You can't apologize for yourself or make excuses. Who would care anyway?

When you're the opening act in a situation like this, you have a wonderful opportunity to play for thousands of people every night. But many of those thousands may be streaming in while you're playing, chatting and milling around. The crowd may like you, or they may look at you with bored indifference. You might say it builds character - and you might as well put a good face on it. But what starts out portending entry to the big time, can - if the above scenario occurs and you're not eqipped to handle the antipathy - be very deflating. On the other hand, you can make the most of it and go for the jugular. You learn what it is like to perform on a large stage in a big setting. It is a very different experience in every way than what one has previously been used to.

You look back on these times and realise that these are some of the dues people have been talking about, that one ends up paying. The show in Boston last night was a night when all of our hard work paid off. See - you never stop paying your dues. It was strong from the outset and we didn't let up. And now our mission is that tonight be even better. Find a way to make that happen.



Finola said...

Thank you for sharing what happened to Fiction Plane. I found it curious when they announced in Reading that two of their players had only been playing with them for a day. I thought they did quite well though, especially under the circumstances. I intend to buy their CD this weekend. I felt Joe handled the situation with the maturity and class of his father. ( the apple doesn't fall far...)

And speaking of apples, I have no doubts that Shane is a brilliant musician like his father. I would love to hear anything he records. And if Dad and son do tour together that would be a double delight.


5/7/2005 10:12 AM  
Anonymous said...

As the comment above, I was very curious to hear about what happened to Dan and Seton from Fiction Plane. Joe and Pete rocked on their own anyways.
I love reading the new entries in Shane's blog and finding out details behind reality. Thanks, Shane


5/7/2005 11:45 AM  
Willowwind said...

Thanks for updating your tour schedule Shane! I look forward to seeing you with Marc Cohn in Chicago this August.

5/7/2005 4:00 PM  
Anonymous said...

Yeah, I like the idea that 'you never stop paying your dues', as it carries a sense of never 'arriving', of continuing the journey.

It's amazing how many times, on the verge of a 'big break' - whether within a band or in some other area of life - everything appears to go completely wrong. I guess that's where the flexibility/creativity/commitment to the big picture etc that you spoke of earlier, Shane, is so important. Merely surviving a situation like this can redefine your notion of 'success'!

And for those times when everything goes irredeemably pear-shaped - a good sense of humour will save you every time!! (Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...)

Cheers, Anne (Oz) x

5/9/2005 6:04 PM  
David said...

Shane- My wife and I were at that show in Boston. We had seen you a couple times last year, performing with Marc Cohn (Somerville, MA and Ridgefield, CT. Rembember "Dig Down Deep" that night?...), and we both had huge appreciation for your skills and talent. When you took the stage, my wife elbowed me and said "Hey, I think that's Shane up there on guitar!". It was a terrific show, as you said, and you were clearly having great fun playing Agganis Arena. Who knows when we'll get to see you again?

5/25/2005 10:25 AM  

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