Sunday 23rd February, 2020
I picked up the ticket for this in the Bristol culture flash sale I think, on the basis that if my two favourite venues were involved I would probably like it. Colston Hall are continuing to put on amazing gigs, either in their foyer, or by working with other venues and as I trust in their output, especially in left-field contemporary music, I scour their listings with as much fervour as ever. St George’s sound is so perfect that I am not surprised it was used for this gig. It is interesting for me, on many levels, to see my musical worlds interacting in this way.
I have to confess that I didn’t really feel like going out at all and the atmosphere was strange. None of that was helped by walking in and being sat directly behind a couple for whom the phrase “get a room” could have been invented. Snogging that enthusiastically should only take place privately, thank you. He had his arm draped round her all night, like she was property, stroked her arm, her hair and whispered in her ear. It made me feel queasy. I suppose I could have brushed it off at another time, but my heart remains fragile. It isn’t bitterness at seeing others happy, more that it reminds you of all you have lost. Bruises take time to heal.
I knew nothing of Damien’s music beforehand. Sometimes I play the artists a little to see if I like them and other times I’m content to have a surprise. Both have worked wonderfully and I’ve rarely failed. My tastes are broad enough to encompass and enjoy most things and even when the random gig generator has failed (rarely) I’ve found something in the experience to enjoy.
I also knew nothing of Dana Gavanski. She was so softly spoken that I couldn’t hear her talking between songs. Which is a shame because she was an engaging singer, gentle and warm and I would like to hear more.
Damien, wearing a red knitted cap, giving him a fisherman on a day off vibe, came onstage so quietly you could have missed him entirely. I felt his shyness, anxiety and vulnerability and that made me uncomfortable for him. He warmed up over the course of the long set and began to talk in lovely rambling sentences about his love of Marks and Spencer and trying to start not just an inter city conflict between us and Birmingham, but an inter continental cheese beef. It took me time to warm up too, as he felt more comfortable onstage, I felt more comfortable in the audience. I closed my eyes as a way to block out the couple in front and that helped, but I was still unable to let myself fully feel. It must be self preservation, my heart simply not allowing itself to open up in full. Guarding and protecting me from feeling too much right now.
Damien has a really gorgeous, honey toned voice, gentle and soft and perfect for a Sunday night gig like this. The term sensitive singer songwriter gets thrown about a lot, oftentimes for people for whom real emotion seems to have escaped, but Damien genuinely is one. You can hear and feel the lived experience of his inner emotional life in his music and when I am ready to hear and feel again I think I could really like him. I write listening to the artists I’m reviewing and on record, with more than just an acoustic guitar, the sound is fuller and I prefer it.
This wasn’t the right gig at the right time I think is what I am trying to say. I hope that I will eventually get my gigging groove back, but for now, while it is lost, I am enjoying music still, I am just not loving music with the intensity and passion I once had. Things have dimmed, they will glow again one day.