Wake Me Up in Barcelona

Wake Me Up in Barcelona
June 7, 2018 James

Wake Me Up in Barcelona

As part of the launch of my business 2 years ago, I invested in a day recording and filming a couple of songs to go out on Youtube. I had no idea as I sat down to play piano at the Gran Teatre Del Liceu that directly because of those recordings, I would find myself here at Barcelona’s most prestigious music venue, about to perform in front of 2,000+ ticket holders.

When you choose a song to learn and record, it can be because of a client request or because you hear it on the radio driving to work and it stands out to you as something that will work or just because you happen to like it… I chose to learn and record Wake Me Up by Aviici for the latter reason. The combination of Aloe Blacc’s soulful and almost rootsy vocal performance, and the unconventional use of acoustic guitar on what is essentially a dance track, really caught my attention when I first heard it.

My solo rendition of the song has received a relatively small amount of attention in the 3 years that it has existed on YouTube, amassing 1.7K hits. Conversely, also recorded for YouTube that same day as part of The Piano Singer’s Launch was Bob Dylan/Adele’s Make You Feel My Love which placed right next to Avicii has climbed to over 70,000 Youtube hits. Sometimes however, opportunities arise not by being watched by thousands…. but by being found by that 1 person who happens to stumble upon your work.

So much has happened in the last 2-3 years for The Piano Singer, that recording Avicci’s song was just a distant memory by early 2018, until I received a call from Spanish booking management company Wok Music who explained that they represented a client who was searching for a fitting tribute to Avicci and that they had stumbled across my video. To be very honest, the idea of gaining an opportunity indirectly from such a sad event didn’t entirely sit right with me. But at the same time I was also honoured that I was picked out of a sea of other hopefuls to pay tribute to the talented, young DJ/music producer.

Now out in Spain and navigating through a day of rehearsal alongside 100+ other musicians including other guest performers, a symphonic orchestra and DJs, the honour is multiplied somewhat…

The event, created by Maestro, marked the 25th anniversary of Spanish radio station Flaix FM and celebrated some of the best electronic dance music from the past 25 years, featuring orchestral arrangements scored by renowned Spanish tv and film composer Marc Timón.

As showtime loomed, I was determined not to let the occasion’s grand nature get the better of me. Thankfully, I have rehearsed and performed Wake Me Up countless times and as I stood in the wings awaiting my stage call, I knew I would enjoy every minute of it. The audience were loving the show from the off, clapping, singing and shouting as the musical performance ensued. In fact, in its 170 year history, I’d be surprised if this particular venue (which ordinarily features music of a more classical or operatic nature) has ever seen a more raucous crowd!

Approximately half way into the show’s proceedings, it was my turn to take to the stage. As I approached the beautiful Steinway grand piano, I suddenly became aware that the audience now didn’t know what to expect from my performance, having so far been hit by one energetic dance hit after another. How would they react? Would they appreciate such a shift in dynamic? A hum of excitement rippled through the crowd as I began to play the opening notes and i sang the first verse to an almost silent auditorium. As I approached the chorus however, the audience couldn’t help but clap along. Despite wandering completely out of time,  their involvement added much to the performance, as I could literally feel the energy level raise with each crackling pulse.

The performance ended to rapturous applause and I was pleased with how it went. Reflecting back on the entire experience, I realise that someone like Avicii would have experienced moments like these more than most. I wonder if he had even an inkling of the heights he would reach when he started on his journey and why it was he remained so deeply troubled despite all of his success. It’s difficult to describe the jubilant feelings one gets when performing, suffice to say that they are almost always fleeting in nature. Once the music has ceased and the crowds disperse, you instantly come crashing back to normality; left to contemplate your latest adventure or perhaps to begin dreaming of the next. I returned from Spain all the more inspired to create and share content, but mostly thankful for the journey on which I now find myself. The beauty of Youtube and indeed the internet as a whole is in its ability to connect us all, creating new and exciting possibilities. I for one, plan to take full advantage of this and I’m excited to see what the future may bring…

To watch the full performance, click the link below…

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