Your worst live gig experience? Do tell!

While participating in another thread [R-7433] in N6.0.4: Deleting a barline - Nuendo - Steinberg Forums
I realized that it might be an interesting topic to hear about your experiences, :confused: whether comic, tragic, bizzare or whatever, from your live performances past! :sunglasses: If you care to share…

This could be quite entertaining. :laughing:

Doing a somewhat theatrical show my singer teased the spitting punk audience with the long fire hose he found at the side of the stage. Trouble was our road crew thought he wanted it turned on…
Singer thru drum kit and audience washed to the back of the venue. Did not get asked back.

Probably the first wash that lot had for a while! Probably the floor too… Nice one! :laughing:

Were you the only Guitar? :open_mouth:

We are now changing your name to Nigel. :laughing:

I worked at a place called Chuck Levins back in the 90’s (Washington Music Center). Coming home from work one day I was t-boned by another car (drunk driver nonetheless). I was thrown to the passenger side of the car, and had a good number of window fragments embedded in my shoulder. I couldn’t make it to the clinic until the next day, where they dug out the fragments (some pretty deep), stitched it up and gave me some pain meds.

I had a gig that night, and was feeling ok for it. (The pain meds gave me a silghtly drunk feeling, but I was used to that during those days :laughing: ) Hauling around my keyboards and amp taxed my injury, not to mention I had a 3 tier keyboard stand, so reaching up to the top tier would stretch the stitches. The pain meds wore off about 1/2 through the gig and from the stretching of the stitches, a couple of them didn’t hold. So I ended the gig in severe pain, loads of alcohol to try and dull it, and blood running down my arm from the torn stitches.

Ahh… fun times (that I woudln’t repeat).

I once did a gig at a USAF officers club one of the now closed down UK bases. The attendance was ZERO. After playing a few songs we sat and chatted with the barman for the rest of the night

After spending a few years with a “serious” band around the Guildford area, the drummer and I decided to reform a covers band, as we’d been asked to do a residency at an internationally known nightclub. On the very first night, the stage went round and there were our old mates from Guildford. I wanted the stage to swallow me up, complete with dinner suit, bow-tie and Telecaster. I can still see the looks of disbelief on the faces of our old mates.

Doug Ferguson, bass player for Andy Latimer’s Camel (and one of the Guildford crowd), had married the night club owner’s (hi Bob!) daughter and he had organised the reception at his club.

I still have nightmares about that, and it was a lifetime ago!

I once did a gig at a USAF officers club

Paul - did you have to convert your quids into dollars? Bloody cheek! Was it Chicksands you played?

respect, John.

Another Show-Must-Go-On Scar-Time: About 1975, I was doing a gig - a Goood Time Toniiiiite Rawk Vocalist. Well. some Bugger left beer on edge of stage. I’d got to the edge of the stage to work the front row. DIDN’T see the glass … stepped on it and fell off the stage. Vertical topple which tore my jeans and the skin all the way up my calf and half way up my thigh.

I carried on the song, and during an emergency instrumental, went off, gaffa-taped the guitarist’s sweat-towel round my leg, got on with the gig. I could have sung like Donald Duck … The audience had seen what had happened, and witnessed my ‘commitment’. I’d scored brownie pints.

I look back and call it one of the worst. At the time, I considered it one of the best. I’d ‘earnt my spurs’ and with it, bragging rights. I stand with pride alongside true road warriors like Justin Bieber, who broke his foot and continued the song.
Do I like his music? er … less than I like some other music.
Do I throw him respect? Yes.
Do I think he and I are both bloody idiots? Yes.

ACTUALLY … WORST gig of all … around 81. My Olde Tyme Music-Hall Show … we’d got a gig at an East London Club - Under Waterloo Bridge … to do the New Year’s Eve. We WERE culpably Naive … a bunch of AcTors, doing our time and working our way toward our Equity Union Cards. The details of that night flash by like a nightmare. Two important learnings … IF you have a lot of ‘cheeky cockney Songs’ … Stuff from My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins … DON’T perform it in a Cockney Club. They do ‘cockney’ BETTER that you, and they are not amused by your flat caps with bottle-tops stitched to them.

Jane, in full Flower-Seller Costume did a grand medley ‘Wouldn’t it be Luvvverley’ and ‘Feed the Birds - Tuppence a Bag’. Calling the bunch of cockney Wimmin in the front tables ‘Me Lubbly Jubbly Darlinks’ did not go down well. That’s that second lesson.

Third Lesson … I LOVE doing show-stoppers like Old Man River -It is one of my favourite songs - an ultimate crowd-worker. Oh the LESSON. Well, everyone in the audience was white. OK. Nothing wrong with that. Many Union Jacks. Fair enough. However, I had not bothered to cotton on to the general ‘National Frontishness’ of the group. Everybody was Soooo still and silent, I actually thought they liked it - I’d ‘won over’ the audience. Well, they didn’t and I hadn’t. I had to answer some difficult questions, and two members of my troupe were chased down the road by some of the locals.

Even if those er … faux pases hadn’t been fauxing passed … THEY’D thought they were going to be provided with a simple Knees-up. They’d wanted to get ratarsificated and Let The New year In with Singalongs. WE were a bunch of Prima Boners who were giving them a - it pains me to look back on it - Flamboyante Burlesque stage show.

We were what it would be like if the UFC discovered that their new cage-side fight-commentators were John Hurt and Ian MkKellen, and the Octagon Girls was Helen Mirren and Judi Dench. The 'audience’s communal assessment was that “none of us could tell the difference between a cork-screw and a banana”. I think that the only thing that saved us was that I’d brought my mother along, and told some of the locals, before the show, to look after her during it. To this day, I believe it was only out of respect to her that ANY of us got out alive.

I don’t want to talk about 1973 when Easy Wing, my Cover Band [Free, Bad Company, Stones etc] had been brought in as a birthday surprise at a golf club, and had set up behind the curtains and been kept hidden out of sight until it was ‘time’. So, lights went down. We were in darkness on stage behind the curtain. I was crouching, my guitar in ‘erect penis’ mode, with that worldy smile you only get on a seventeen year old. Vocalist and bassist were on either side of me … in profile and thought they were looking mean.
Drummer gives the immortal ‘dee Dink … dee Dink Dink’ and we are ready to Honkytonk Womanize as the curtains open. The birthday boy worked in an old people’s home. 5/6ths of the audience were over 65.

I’ve been asked to do a ‘My Life as a Performer’ one man show kind of thing in May. These are some of the stories which I’ll be telling. Maybe That really Will be the worst gig of my life. I’ll record it, so if I don’t wimp out, I’ll post a snippet here.

All the best

-Not the worst , but chuckle memories ; …

Back in the pre-Midi days when pianos were made from recycled elephants I used to back cabaret artists 6 nights a week in a piano, bass and drums trio .
They say there are two kinds of people in Showbusiness ; Show and Business . The Shows want all the attention and the Business types want to make money .
When the bass player and I were fed up with an artist we would play a semitone or tone up on different songs each night . We developed a system where either one of us would point to the key on the piano to indicate the key in which we would do the next number .
One singer got really worried that his voice was going and started talking about it in the bar after hours . We first got him to try sleeping with the windows closed , then the windows open , and since he lived at the restaurant club where the cabaret was at night we used to ask him if he ate cheese and so on .
By the end of the season we had the waitresses in on it who would serve him his lunch , so sure enough every lunchtime that he had cheese they would let us know , and by coincidence he would have trouble with the high notes that night !

The worst gigs were Hen Nights , the Stag Nights were bad enough but the Hen Nights were worse . Wedding Receptions frequently included fights on the dancefloor .

Doug Ferguson, bass player for Andy Latimer’s > Camel > (and one of the Guildford crowd), had married the night club owner’s (hi Bob!) daughter and he had organised the reception at his club

They played Birkenhead one night and I went along because their roadie had also worked for us. Very crowded and hard to get served so he saw I was pretty sober and asked if I’d give a hand. A drunk (how, I don’t know) behind me heard the mention of “a tenner” and offered his services.
First thing out was a Yamaha Grand, the long tall bit. So I carefully showed him what I would be doing my side to lift it up and he said “Gottit. Yup.” and went off the other side. “Ready?” I said “Yup.” came the reply. “On three. One two free.” I lifted and the whole thing and me toppled onto this poor bloke who just complained it was too heavy. I lifted it off him and he ran off. Outhardcased I guess.

Just remembered a strange night in 1981 . The same trio I was in as in my previous post were booked for one night for a gig at a hotel that we had played before . We arrived to set the gear up in the afternoon to be told by the manager that we were to play in the " other bar " that we didn’t even know existed . It had a ropey old grand piano and a tiny stage so there was no room for my Rhodes and the drummer had to cut his kit down . I didn’t fancy retuning my Juno 6 for one gig so I thought I would do the whole night on the grand and work around the missing notes etc . The manager said not to worry there wouldn’t be many guests in that bar and it didn’t matter .
That night we started off with a few numbers just for the barmaid until the only punter all night walked in and sat at the bar . He seemed to be listening so after the end of the number we jokingly asked him if he had any requests . He said no but offered us all a drink . We quit the stage and joined him at the bar , when the drummer said " Aren’t you the drummer from Iron Maiden ? " . He was , they used to stay at the hotel quite often , so I left the drummer and the bass player and the drummer from Iron Maiden and the barmaid all chatting and drinking while I amused myself quietly on the grand piano solo for the rest of the night !

Yeah I played Chicksands many times. Not sure if it was that particular base though. Played pretty much all of them in both UK and across Europe.

Numerous unpleasant live experiences here… but two stand out:

  1. I was asked by what was essentially a Drag Queen without the drag to write the horn charts from Natalie Cole’s "This Will Be’ as played on the record. The show was to be before several thousand people. No problem.

However, the INSTANT the horns came in with that great line that opens the tune, the entire arena knew there was a MAJOR problem – sounded HORRIBLE! I was playing Rhodes… the song went on but needless to say the horns sat out the rest.

After the show, the singer asked me what did I do? And I angrily said, “I didn’t do anything – I transcribed them EXACTLY as they were on the record, like you wanted!”

“YOU IDIOT!” He screamed. “I told you to also transpose them down a half step!” Which suddenly reminded me that yes, he HAD in fact told me to do just that. WHOOPS! :laughing:

  1. Once, I was playing alto with 4 or 5 other horn players backing up a singer doing Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” in front of several thousand people. As you may know, the horn chart, although not exactly difficult, DOES require SOBRIETY to play correctly. I think you know where this is going… :laughing:

  2. I was in a Fusion band in the late 70’s and for some unknown reason we were booked to play an Elks Club – you know, old people who wanted to dance to Swing music. After a couple rousing prog-jazz numbers, the MC angrily implored us to play some music that was “danceable” which of course we were not equipped either musically or ideologically to do. It was quite interesting the rest of the night trying in vain to play “Vulcan Princess” with a 4-on-the-floor Swing beat! :laughing:

  3. And I’m remembering more. :laughing: I was in a Jazz band on tour where I played the lead on alto on a Bossa Nova song. Since I was out front for this, so I had it memorized. Er, at least I thought I did. It’s quite embarrassing to be standing there with several hundred eyes fixed on you as you’re not emitting a sound :laughing:

  4. As a martini bar lounge pianist, my emphasis is on ballads. I’ve been told more than a few times, “Can you play anything happier?” And I usually just say, “No” anymore

  5. Quite a few times I’ve been involved in intense arguments before a show, usually while setting up. Even if I wasn’t directly involved in the arguing, it still completely kills the vibe of the band… unless maybe you’re playing Thrash or something

  6. I played not all that long ago in a pick up Country band (on acoustic) in a bar gig where the guitarist played thru a laptop with ampsims and the drummer played a e-kit thru a laptop with samples. As we were about to start, we blew a circuit breaker… it took quite awhile to reset the breaker, and then some time to reboot the laptops. It worked out okay but my immediate fear was that we were going to be triggering the circuit breaker all night long… which didn’t happen, fortunately

  7. But my ALL TIME worst nightmare was I was the soundman on a regional LIVE PBS show that featured a fairly large Bluegrass ensemble, IOW – ALL acoustic instruments that all needed to be mic’d. First, we simply didn’t have enough wall inputs for that many mics, so I had to get a bit creative… Next, one of the leaders read me the riot act about the method I used to mic his mandolin. I was not happy at this point.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time for even a quick soundcheck (not my fault – producer’s fault). When the Technical Director brought up the first camera and the music was cued – NO SOUND! Not a peep! I froze. All I could do was stare at the board. DISASTER!

Luckily, the director was a seasoned pro and he quickly came over to the board and threw every fader of the 24-channel board up to unity… which resulted in sound, thank God! In the confusion I had completely lost track of which mic went to which wall input which went to which board channel…The show was going to last an hour, so I started to set up a cue mix in the board’s phone output so I could figure out exactly what was on what channel. But after about a minute of effing with this, I gave up, and left all the faders up for the rest of the hour. Funny, in the monitors it sounded pretty good – one of the saving graces of mono, I believe.

You weren’t playing the right moosic

Ok, view from the other side.

Many moons ago I worked it a 3500 seat theater, On one occasion a band had booked in, think they were called Spider?
Anyway only about 200 people turned up, a small puddle them crowded around the stage, the band had asked about pyrotechnics and were told NO PYROTECHNICS, so off they went and launched into their set. About 5 mins in two of their crew ran out and plonked 2 huge fireworks (Gerbs) front of stage and let then off, what a sight as the 40 foot stream of sparks spewed out and down all over the long haired crowed…hahaha, then later on they set off one of the biggest confetti cannons I had the pleasure of witnessing, must have been at least 4 whole big bags of confetti in their. Boom, I actually got such a fright I fell off my seat at the side of stage, the confetti actually made it up to the grid where it continued to flutter down for months afterwards every time there was a small draft.

On another occasion I was doing house follow spot for Thin Lizzy (with Phil Lynott) what a band. Anyway the lighting dude asked over the headphones what colour gels I had, so without thinking I said I’ve got a red, green, blue etc and one called flesh (a kind of pink) back comes the reply, THAT ALL DEPENDS ON THE COLOUR OF YOUR FLESH BOY!!!


And I wont even go there, when Twisted Sister turned up with three artic’s of gear to be told that they’d booked the club upstairs (350 capacity) instead of the main stage…

That and a million others, great days.


Split … Hi

Ohmigod … stopit stopit stopit I’m spewing

Emoticons fail me!

I thoroughly ENVY those anecdotes.
I am now in recovery
Thank you :slight_smile:

I was playing at a gig in Sydney years ago, one of those where the audience was packed right up to the edge of the stage, only a few feet in front of the band. The band was firing, all eyes on the band, my stash of weed (about half an ounce) fell out of my pocket onto the stage… :astonished: :open_mouth: .


No “rent-a-cops” at the gig I hope! :astonished: :blush: :open_mouth: