Friday, December 02, 2005

Of Warwicks and Meltiness... and Franz

Well. A few things to tell you about...

The Warwick Saga
Well, I worked out what happened to the Pro Tube IX last night. After revealing the innards, I discovered that the earth cables from the poweramp stage back to the main enormous toroidal transformer (these are solid-core cables, mind: REALLY thick, and designed to take a LOT of juice) had, in fact, unsoldered themselves from the board.

No kidding. They'd melted their connections off. And were drifting around in the case! Thankfully no harm has come to any components, and the board is OK.

However, the construction of the amp in this critical area is frankly sub-standard: there should be binding posts with BIG surface area for the current to flow through: soldering to a pad on the board with not-enough-solder will not do!

I've managed to fix it myself (no chance I'm sending the poor bastard to be kicked around the floor by TNT again!) and it seems fine now, but I don't think I'll be holding onto it for that long. Although it is now an absolutely fine piece of equipment, sounds great, fantastic routing, bi-amp and effects capabilities, I can't rely on it to run close to flat out without unsoldering those connections again - I reckon the gigs we did recently where I had to use the stack to provide all the bass for the Bridge gigs were the ones that did the harm. Even if it was (god forbid) a manufacturing error (not enough solder put in) I still don't think I can trust it entirely, even after my repair, which is undoubtedly better than it was when I got hold of it from new.

So, at least I have a working stack for the next gig, which is cool. But I also have to research gig-ready amp heads with the capabilities I need. Which is frankly a pain in the arse. I am not a natural shopper :)

What was the other stuff again... oh yeah, Franz Ferdinand. That last posting was put up before they came on (actually, it was uploaded before the second support act came on - and to think, we thought we were late, they opened the doors at 6:30pm (who does that, fer heaven's sake?) but no band at all went on until 7:30!

Anyhow, when we got there I ended up being interviewed by a swiss TV company who were there: they wanted some pithy and enlightened comments about why I thought Franz were a great act. While blinded by their cameras and slightly in awe of the situation, I blarted out some stuff about their being "new-old" and having punkish energy. Nic interjected (thank god) by pointing out they'd got art college background, which was a nice touch. Thanks hun!

Well, this got me thinking about the kind of band Franz F is: we saw them at a small student venue in Leicester, and to be honest they totally blew me away. I actually became a Franz fan that day, their raw, focussed energy suited their music perfectly and they got a huge feedback from the packed small venue.

That got me thinking - Alexandra Palace is titanic in comparison, and the ticket prices were much higher. Different audience, bigger venue: would their music stand the change? I expressed this to Nic before they came on and said that I couldn't ever see them playing Wembley Arena: wrong type of music, too angular, too "indie", too.... something I'm reaching for here and can't find.... too "arty"?

As it turns out, I was right. Their music didn't fit very well that night. Plus, to be honest, a lot of the energy seemed to have vanished! Their new album is a great album: the songs are all strong, in fact it feels like there's less filler than the first album. But onstage on wednesday night, Alex the vocalist looked and sounded exhausted, and they all seemed so much more static: that could be because they've been hard at it for 2 years, or maybe because it's harder to look like you're giving it everything on a larger stage (ever seen Mick Jagger trying to cover a football pitch sized stage? It's like watching a couple of twigs trying to start their own fire) - either way, they just didn't set me on fire like at the leics gig.

But that's just my opinion. Nic agreed with me though, so we actually left before their encore (gasp!) - along with, I might add, an awful lot of other people!

Honest people, in places they almost sounded so tired that they might not have rehearsed enough. That can't be right!

I've posted a review on WhatsOnStage about it.

Oh well. It was worth it to try out the TomTom5 navigator, which chose a great route from Nic's work at Amersham. A404/M25/M1? Cool!

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