Tommy and Phil Emmanuel
50th Anniversary Tour
Attended the Tommy and Phil Emmanuel 50th Anniversary Tour held at the Palais Theatre located in St Kilda.
I had been looking forward to this event for about six months after Rob Little gave me a heads up.
What can I say? I am really disappointed at what I heard. I was just busting to hear the Emmanuel's play.
Initially the night was looking fantastic. Tommy welcomed everyone and introduced Phil's daughter, Jesse, as the opening act. That's different, good to have that family support to help you up the ladder. She's in her early twenties and writes her own songs in a Taylor Swift sort of way, which is modern and fits in well. She sang confidently but struggled with the guitar, clearly not in the same league as her father or uncle. She grimace once or twice as she hit the wrong string, but only in a few places. She should do just fine in the contemporary market.
The fabric of the evening started to unravel as Phil came out to play electric guitar with his daughter. Not that that's a bad thing, but the mix was wrong! I could hear Jesse's voice and guitar but Phil's guitar was lost in the mix and that should have alerted me to what I was about to endure. I immediately thought back to John Mayalls concert and this had the same problem and I muttered, grumbled and twisted in my seat for the rest of the concert.
The issue was that a lot of the instruments were not coming through the front of house speakers, just the foldback on stage. This night there were two levels of foldback: Small individual speakers and a set of refrigerator size speakers either side of the stage facing the band.
The instruments missing were:
Somehow, Simon Hosford and Ashley Crick were mercifully spared the indignity as were both Rob, when he played the upright bass, and Tommy and Phil when the played acoustic guitars, Kevin never did end up in the P.A. even with the myriad of microphones around his kit.
I was livid, sitting through this and knowing, I, and everyone else, was not hearing the beauty of their tones. I was so frustrated. I would have loved to find the mixing desk and kick this bozo off and take control. But no, I sat in my seat and fumed away.
Near the end of the show, Tommy graciously thanked everyone involved in a major way by name. When Tommy mentioned that the guy on the mixer was flown down specially for the gig I couldn't help but say "Bullshit!" The lady to my left turned her head but said nothing.
In the encore, the last song performed was 'Guitar Boogie'. Halfway through the song the loser on the mixer finally channeled in some of Tommy's guitar and it sounded great: Live, great tone and full of energy.
At the end of the show I spoke to a security guy about talking to the performers, any of them, but he politely ignored my request. I walked to the front of the stage and tried to get anyone's attention, but was ignored even after I caught their eye. A lady next to me was after a drumstick as a keepsake, or anything for that matter, but no one on stage offered anything, they were obviously told to ignore any one in the audience.
I spotted Jesse and waved at her, and I'm sure she saw me, but was clearly under the same orders.
I was fixated on the idea of letting the band know of how badly their efforts were not passed onto the audience, and I was getting nowhere.
I spotted the mixing desk and decided that things would end up messy if I went there.
I went out into the foyer and found quite by chance that Phil and Jessie were signing things at a booth. I joined the queue and patiently waited my turn. I struck up a conversation with a young man and his girlfriend in the queue who had a guitar that he wanted signed. He also had noted the quietness of the electric guitars. I finally got to speak with Phil and was rather stunned to find that he had volume issues as well on stage, but had played on regardless. Phil just kept smiling and offered me nothing for my effort. I just gave up! If Phil had issues, then why didn't he somehow get the message across to the guy on the desk? I felt my effort was a complete waste of time. Phil mentioned that perhaps I should tell the Tour Manager, but how would I find him? I walked off shaking my head as I wished him well.
I sort of wandered around and ended up at a booth to the extreme left of the entrance and asked naively "Where might I find the Tour Manager?" There were two ladies in attendance, one of which was Aimee Chapman, an employee of the Palais. She seemed to be interested in what I had to say, only if that meant that I would come back another day and put money into their coffers. I poured my heart out and Aimee seemed to listen when everyone else had rejected me. Aimee suggested that perhaps I should have walked to where the mixer was and give them my opinion. I have done that before (Brian Wilson), but I didn't know where they were.
Someone had listened, time to move on, nothing to be gained here.
As I drove home, I though about Phil's smile that had perplexed me so much after his unexpected response. The only rational solution was that the Emmanuel's had contracted to do a show. No matter what the conditions, they would try and please their fans, and they did. Just because I'm a muso and also work P.A.'s, I'm in the minority. Most people might have noticed the dullness of the sound but would have thought no further. It just goes to show how professional the Emmanuel's are.
I have a new, deeper respect for them.
Tommy played some moving acoustic guitar which is just so uplifting. It's such a pity that I couldn't hear more of Phil's work.