How do you project your voice in a storm – or when you’re inside a cylinder? Hannah Northedge shares her “war” stories.
The Storm at Sea Venue
I was singing with a band on a “cruise ferry” and we were expected to continue playing in stormy weather even if it meant sitting on stage. As the wind rose to gale force nine, glasses flew off tables, chairs toppled over whilst guests staggered to the safety of their cabins. Suddenly pieces of the PA system started to fly over my head and the stage tilted as I hurtled off onto the dance floor at great speed. After that dramatic exit I vowed never again to wear very high heels on stage at sea in a storm – and always take sea sickness tablets in advance!
The Impossible to Pitch Venue
Possibly my most infuriating venue was with a function band in a cylindrically shaped, open plan automotive museum made almost entirely of glass inside and out, which did not lend itself to being good acoustically (for a loud band at least!) Most of the music was reflected back at us in different keys which made melodies impossible to pitch whilst we simultaneously worried about the PA system toppling over a low balcony. To prevent frustrating performing circumstances I often enquire about the venue acoustics in advance, take a vocal monitor and try to retain my sense of humour!
The Singing Waitress Venue
I was booked to be a surprise singing waitress and was required to burst into song in the middle of a busy restaurant for a birthday guest and their party where there were unsuspecting members of the public also dining. It was hard to keep a straight face seeing the looks of mild fear on their faces! For any future gigs like this I will remember to conceal my PA system well under a tablecloth or behind a curtain and acknowledge that some people present may find this embarrassing rather than funny or heart warming!
The Boxing Match Venue
Up there as one of the most surreal and disconcerting gigs I’ve done was a performance in a massive aircraft hangar with a brutal boxing match unfolding right next to us! Parents left their children sitting in a semi circle around me and my band as they went off to see the other hangar “attractions”. The band leader kept wryly referring to me as “aunty Hannah” in what felt like a makeshift crèche! I accepted that sometimes at gigs my role may switch from glamorous singer to children’s entertainer and I also learnt not to let any chaos around me distract me from my job! -Hannah Northedge
See Hannah’s article The Weirdest Gigs I’ve Ever Done
Hannah Northedge is a pop and jazz singer, vocal coach and director of www.voicecity.co.uk. One of her clients is currently supporting the band JLS and performing at the 02 Arena. Hannah has sung at Ronnie Scott’s, Wireless Festival and Abbey Road Studios. She has just conducted a choir in a film called “POSH”, has coached X Factor finalists and judged Live and Unsigned.