Using gigs as a motivation to write more lyrics

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Bannermans music venue, Edinburgh

Family life means that I don’t often get to go to gigs. However, I saw on Twitter that Enuff Z’nuff were due to play at a small venue near me in Edinburgh. I remember listening to their self-titled debut album many years ago when I was at university and enjoyed it hugely. Seeing them was too good an opportunity to miss and I reckoned I could also use the gig as a motivation to write more lyrics. So the following is partly a write up of the gig and partly about how going to concerts can give that extra little motivation to write more lyrics!

Always arrive early enough to hear the support acts

Terragazi rock band at Bannermans music venue, Edinburgh
Terragazi at Bannermans

My first tip for budding songwriters is make sure you listen to the support acts. If you don’t you’re missing out on part of the experience. Many gig goers are can recount a story about seeing a band before they went on to become famous. I can remember seeing an early incarnation of The Wildhearts supporting Manic Street Preachers in what was an awesome show.

The first band at the Enuff Z’nuff gig were called Terragazi and they were a three piece heavy rock band. I guess you could describe them as experienced rockers but the enthusiasm they exuded was infectious. The vocals were belted out in a way that you really only get with rock music. The bass and drums were solidly loud and the singer’s guitar solos hit the right spot. It was clear that the guys and girl in the band were enjoying themselves and they got a good response from the audience at Bannerman’s.

The Last Great Dreamers

The Last Great Dreamers rock band, at Bannermans, Edinburgh
The Last Great Dreamers rockin’ Bannermans

After Terragazi’s set, I went back out into the pub area of the venue and decided I would pop outside momentarily for some fresh air. As I was doing so, a group of four rockers entered. I stood to one side to let them through but the lead guy insisted that I go ahead. A little later I realised that they were the second band on the bill, called The Last Great Dreamers. Obviously well-schooled in manners!

I commented, on Twitter, that The Last Great Dreamers reminded me of one of my favourite rock bands, The Quireboys. That view was influenced by the way the band were dressed – shabby suits, some eye-liner, and a definite gypsy look. More important than visual style though is how a band sounds and The Last Great Dreamers sounded GREAT. Infectiously loud guitars married with a good ear for a catchy song hook. And their singer was a live-wire presence, maintaining good eye contact and rapport with the audience.

One funny moment was when his mic started to slip down its stand. The singer kept singing and lowered himself to stay with the mic, only for it to then fall completely onto the stage. The two women who were standing in front of me got a serious case of the giggles but kudos to the singer for taking that mishap in his stride.

I’ve been listening to more of their stuff on Spotify since and I’m only sorry that it’s taken me until now to have heard of them. Here’s a song of theirs to listen to; it’s called ‘No sunshine’.

Enuff Z’nuff and a selfie

Chip Z'nuff with Simon (aka The LyricSlinger)
Chip and Simon (aka The LyricSlinger)

I mentioned that I was a fan of Enuff Z’nuff when I was at uni. That was back in 1990 and their debut album had received critical acclaim and I think had done pretty well commercially. I recall in the UK that they got some coverage on the James Whale show, for their singles ‘Fly high Michelle’ and ‘The New Thing’. They never quite made it into the same league as bands like Bon Jovi or Aerosmith and I guess that the sudden emergence of grunge probably hurt their chances of global stardom.

Nevertheless, they were (and are) a very classy rock band, combining classic rock guitar riffs with very sweet melodies. I think every review I’ve ever read of them has mentioned that they were influenced by The Beatles and that comes through with the melodies and vocal harmonisations.

As the rest of the band got set up on stage, I noticed that founding member Chip Z’nuff was standing at the back of the venue alongside some fans. Two things struck me. Firstly, how tall he is but also the extravagant stage attire! I decided to wonder over and plucked up the courage to ask if I could have a selfie with him. He graciously agreed, just commenting that maybe I could buy one of their albums from the merchandising stall. The selfie picture is not the greatest picture of me but Chip’s looking good.

Then it was time for the music and I have to say that they were great. As well as Chip (on bass and vocals), the band included guitarists Tony Fenelle (formerly of Ultravox) and Tory Stoffregen, and drummer Daniel B Hill (who is the son of ZZ Top drummer Dusty Hill.

Part of a good rock gig is the visual aspect. You don’t want each band member to just stand motionless whilst playing their instruments. Chip Z’nuff has great stage presence and the band were full of energy and a reasonable amount of stage banter. I enjoyed the moment where Chip passed a bottle of wine to Stoffregen who started to drink it whilst Chip (standing close behind him) took over the playing of Stoffregen’s guitar. Impressive and funny! And I also enjoyed Chip telling the crowd how he’s been coming to Edinburgh for 30 years and started when he was 17, only to then immediately yell out ‘LIAR!’. I guess he must have been 18, huh?

The music was great. I really enjoyed listening to both their old tracks and some newer ones, as they promoted their new ‘Diamond Boy’ album. Their cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie‘ was also a highlight – I love the louder guitar sound that they’ve given to Bowie’s fantastic song.

And I did buy an album, the ‘Dissonance’ one which is from 2010 with original singer Donnie Vie. It’s been playing in my car since the gig and is a classy cool album. My favourite song from it (so far anyway) is the really Beatles-eaque ‘Roll Away’. Check it out, it’s magic!

Converting a gig’s energy into lyrics

Image of 'With You' LyricSlinger lyrics
LyricSlinger lyrics

I walked out of the venue buzzing and with guitars playing in my head and the energy of the show coursing through me. As a lyric writer or songwriter, if that kind of experience doesn’t make you want to go and write your own lyrics then nothing will. I jotted down ideas for two lyrics in the aftermath of the gig. One is called ‘Waiting on a miracle’ and is only a few lines at the moment.

‘I’ll meet you halfway

Maybe you can say

Something

That will take the sting away

Cos I’m waiting for a miracle on the road to Hell’

(Written by Simon Wright, February 2019)

I don’t know whether it will turn into a full lyric but those initial lines are jotted down in my phone’s notepad app and hopefully I’ll go back and work on them some more.

My other idea was for a lyric called ‘With you’ and it’s about someone who goes to a show and finds the possibility of romance. Perhaps inspired by Chip’s stage comment that maybe some of the gig goers would end up hooking up. Anyway, it’s pretty much a complete lyric, so I just need to see if I can find some musicians to work on it. Here’s part of the lyrics

With You

The night was full of possibilities

Stars shining, moon rising

A legion of happy rock fans

Flowing through the streets

The venue teemed with electricity

So exciting, gut tight’ning

A lightning strike of anticipation

Coursing through me

I went to the show

I thought the band would be the best thing I would see

What did I know

That’s when I saw you looking at me

(Written by Simon Wright, February 2019)

So the gig was fantastic and it’s just added to the motivation that I have to write more lyrics in 2019. I’ve actually been off to a great start, with lots of lyrics penned. I’ve been slightly side-tracked, having agreed to write script and lyrics for a 20 track sci fi musical story (more about that another time!), but I’m excited at what the year has in store. And, I’d love to get to some more gigs. There’s nothing better really than hearing live music and being amongst people who are all there to have fun and share the same passion. There are no fans better than rock fans!

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