50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #13 Sang in public #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

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Bathing in the Glory of God. Photo: Dan Sumption

I can’t sing. No, really, I can’t. I’m not being modest, I just don’t have it, although I think I sound pretty good singing along to Led Zeppelin after a few beers.

Anyway, it takes brass balls to get up and sing in front of an audience (sober) when you know you can’t really hack it. However, it’s really just a question of management. If you can distract people, with props or jokes or err conceptual sophistication or whatever, it will draw their attention away from the technical limitations. At least that was my strategy.

In 2006 I was involved in an art performance event in a karaoke restaurant, organised by artist Robin Close. The event was called “Just For Fun”, although I don’t think I would have wanted to be involved if I had known that before I agreed to contribute.

It’s not because I don’t think karaoke is fun, it’s because it gave the impression that the event was trivial, and although my work always contains humour, I don’t consider it to be a matter of triviality.

I performed a medley of three songs accompanied by some props: “You got the love” by Candi Station and The Source, “Like a Prayer” by Madonna, and “I believe in You” by Kyle Minogue. The three songs symbolised the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. My personality for the event was Nick Romance and the Walking Dead and the performance entitled “X-ta-Zee”. He was a conceptual invention of mine representing people who learned their cultural references from popular media rather than classical literature and art.

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Handing out halos during “I believe in you”. Photo: Dan (Caravaggio) Sumption.

Nick doesn’t know the true meaning of the word ecstasy and he doesn’t know that the You in “You got the love” is not a mortal man. He gets all his cultural references from celebrity awards ceremonies and “Heat” magazine.

Conceptually sophisticated but not just for fun.


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