Q – I was wondering if any venues come to mind you have played in you remember for their fine acoustic properties. I’m not asking which crowds were the best, but more the actual venue sound you played in. Do the newer venues hold up better for acoustics than the old? Do you get to appreciate these differences onstage? Do you use house PA systems? and if so do you find a wide variety of quality in these?

A- Certainly some rooms do sound nicer than others, and there seems to be a large element of chance involved. Some purpose built venues sound awful and some clubs, where acoustics were never considered in the design (like the original Whelan’s) sound fabulous.

As a singer it is nice to hear a little natural reverb on the sound I’m making – adding electronic effects never seems to sound as good (so I never do it).
Rooms I have particularly enjoyed singing in have been The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Soda Tearten in Stockholm (where there was almost no need for a PA system), Leeds City Varieties, The Hepburn Springs Palais (nr Melbourne), The Basement in Sydney, The Pavilion Theatre in Cape Town, Komedia in Brighton.

Sometimes a room is very ‘dead’, meaning that there is almost no reverb. Sometimes this is great, especially if the night before was difficult to control, sometimes it seems a little sterile, like my guitar playing and singing is under the microscope. Other times a room is just too difficult to control – it has too much natural reverb, or it’s sound is unpleasant. I recall the Union Chapel in Islington being borderline for me playing acoustically, but with a band, I’m sure it would be really hard work.

I’m going to hand this over to Dan Dryden who is my usual sound engineer and travel companion – he knows far more about this than I, and in his work with Phillip Glass he sees all types of venues.