Portugese Love

The first time I came to Portugal was with Timmy Vegas around 5 years ago. As you would expect, the finer points are a little hazy. We were flown in to ‘perform’ on stage as Soul Central for the Portugese MTV awards around the time Strings of Life was a number one here. It was phenomenal, getting flown to a country for the first time, staying in a posh hotel AND geting paid for it. I’ll have some of that thanks ! Unfortunately it’s all been downhill ever since.

I have made some very good friends here over the years, many of whom have appreciated my style of playing and my willingness to adapt to the crowd when needed, so they continue to bring me back. One gig Timmy and I did here was in a Fortress, we warmed up for Dave Seaman. It was empty all night. Another I played with Dennis Ferrer at a massive open air party. It was empty all night.

I know Portugal has a very strong musical history in the house scene, alas I was too busy at Marco Polos all those years ago to have ever witnessed it first hand and it seems that everywhere I go here (I type this on my hotel bed waiting to go home) people vaguely remember it themselves.

I am sure there have been a couple of good gigs, the nature of the beast means the best gigs tend to be the ones I remember the least due to over indulgence.. come to think of it I recollect quite a few occasions where I’ve been worse for wear, so maybe it hasn’t been as bleak as I’m painting a picture.

One of the worst gigs of my life was here in Portugal, it really damaged my confidence and made me look hard at myself and where I was going. I have always proudly boasted that I can rock any crowd when needed, not being too worried about the ‘trainspotters’ and dropping that big tune when needed, although that reality does seem a long, long time ago now. If you have been with me for a while you already have heard me go on about this several times, so I dont want to go over old ground but today the gap between pleasing the crowd and doing what I want in MOST mainstream clubs has gotten way too wide and last night was the final straw (I think there have been a few final straws).

The other gig I talk about was around two years ago, to cut a long story short the night started out packed with kids who looked no older than 17 with a resident DJ basically doing a BlackEyePeas/Lady GaGa/Madonna etc megamix for 45 minutes before I came on. I struggled to keep the dance floor and slowly everyone pissed off into the second room where the DJ was playing Meatloaf or something (I shit you not). The back end of my set I noticed a few older faces had started to enter and so was able to switch it up and make the most of a bad night.. but I really was upset by the whole experience.

I’ve been back here several times since, thanks to my good friends at Grooves Productions who each time assure me the gig will be perfect for me. It hasn’t been and last night was no exception. Coral Beach Party for the last two years has been really great with a cool, older crowd and so I was sure to fit in, they said.  A sign of the times I guess as the event was not as busy as previous ones (although it still had a healthy turnout).

Anyway, the whole night went something like this..

  • I turned up, got out of the car and heard a massive roar as a breakdown came in on a track.
  • The crowd were clearly excited.
  • I got excited.
  • I walked into the stage area as the DJ was playing “Now that’s what I call Reggaeton Vol 95” and whipping the crowd into a frenzy on the mic.
  • They fist punched in unison.
  • I saw the average age was about 18.
  • I became less excited.
  • The DJ finished his set with three of my ten year old son’s favourite records of the moment, finishing with Blur – “Song 2”
  • I started to play.
  • The crowd became less excited.
  • I did the best I could and rocked most of the crowd for most of my set.
  • I played for almost 90 minutes and the arena remained busy (3.45 – 5.15am).
  • I had an MC on stage with me who helped keep the atmosphere somewhat respectable.
  • As the next DJ was setting up his Traktor, a small group of girls where giving me the thumbs down sign and putting their hands to their mouths as if they were bored.
  • I blew them kisses.
  • They got confused and blew me kisses back.
  • I pointed the girls out to the MC who told them to make some noise.
  • They all screamed and jumped up and down.
  • They started doing the thumbs down signs again.
  • I blew them kisses back.
  • I finished my set.

Who said being a DJ wasn’t glamourous ?

One nice thing did come of it all though.  As I stood at the front of the stage, observing once I’d finished, another group of kids caught my eye and gestured to me and pointed to get back on the decks with a begging sign with their hands. Or they were telling me to fuck off home.

I laugh about it now, I kind of expected it, but am adamant (not Adam Ant) that I won’t be coming back here again unless I am certain it is for the right gig and I can’t see that happening any time soon.

It’s not my fault, although it does make me feel like I cheapened myself by accepting another gig I knew might not be right. It isn’t my agent’s fault as he believed it would be a good gig (Thanks ever so much guys for all your hard work). It isn’t the promoter’s fault as he obviously thought he was booking a good DJ, and it isn’t the warm up guy’s fault as he did an amazing job at smashing the hell out of the crowd before I started.

I blame my son for not letting me borrow his CDs.

When I get home tonight I will add some videos to this blog.

Enjoy that ?

10 Comments

  1. Here here mate. I actually thought to myself I was going to retire after that Magnetic Island gig, glady I didnt as I had a rocking gig in Vietnam the year after, but everything in between sounds much like you describe.
    I had a simliar experience in Surabaya a few weeks back. Before the gig I was talking to the promoter over dinner and asking what the vibe was, his words were “you play whatever you like you are the dj”
    i knew to take that with a pinch of salt. When I arrived at the venue it was half full and the warm up acts were a band signing gods know what.
    Anyways to cut a long story short. I did exactly what he said played what i wanted, you know I am not one to start playing deep in a club unless i know it would work, but was playing Jamie Lewis vibes, anyways sure as the rain falls around 30 minutes later he told me I need to be at least 130bpm or people will leave, to which I responded “i thought i was playing what i wanted?”
    So sure enough i had to change it up to what i knew would work, there is no way you can play our style at 130 so had to ramp it up to tech. But does beg the question: Why bother booking us when you have no understanding of what we are playing?
    I am in a position where I dont need the money so can reject these gigs so I am able to feel more comfortable confronting people about it.
    But yes it all appears that these days we are are blurring into one big mass and the great gigs are getting harder and harder to come by, once or twice a year at best for me!!

  2. Andy I feel your pain bro…but its all very ironic for me. I played R&B for 3 decades when it was real R&B & put in the room as big as a storage cupboard where everyone kept asking me “have you got any ouse mate”. Which I then said…this is the R&B room you twat. As I have stated many times I have always bought House records since the very start but had little opportunity to play those tunes coz of the crowd. Fast forward to 2011 and now so called R&B has taken over the world and I’m back in the cupboard playing Soulful House. The way I see it is that the promoters don’t put enough research into who they are booking and think they know it all. Keep the faith my friend..You just notch it up as another crap gig and be thankful for the great ones. Bless Up.

  3. My heart sinks when I read this or hear from you directly that you didnt have a great night!
    In saying that nearly all of your other blogs regarding your gigs are all positive and you have a blast and you kill it. Just look at the monster that is Vocal Booth to see real music people who appreciate you for your music and you for just for being you !

  4. Andy I sympathise … And Michelle hits the nail on the head ! But mate I laughed when I read the bullet points of your night… You must have been stabbing the keyboard with fury … Fucking brilliant … 🙂 these are the nights you need to enjoy the good ones !!!!!

  5. Every time I am contronted with the (many) posts of bitching and bitterness by Diva DJ’s I am compelled to want to direct them to Andy Ward’s attitude and responses to such situations. What pains me is that ANY crowd could not love Andy Ward and his earnest attempts to simply give them a good time. Andy handled it all with his usual class.

    Love you Andy !!

    The show goes on, and one day many in that crowd will get a chance to say “Oh I saw Andy Ward once…” and then they’ll remember that they weren’t cool enough to dig it at the time. Their loss.

  6. Michelle Ward speaks the gospel. Michelle stands in towering tribute to Andy’s impeccable taste.

  7. Fair play for telling it like it is homie, rather than the usual ‘Amazing gig last night’ nonsense from others sfter a repeat booking at Club Ballbag.

  8. I’m Portuguese and I’m sad to read this, unfortunetly it’s the confirmation of the sad reality that is our club scene. The majority of party goers are still underaged and way too much into drugs and alcohol to really enjoy the music, they just want the kick and bass from mostly dubstep and stuff. Underground sounds from Lisbon is just a dear memory for some, and tottaly unknown for most

Leave a Reply