LIVE PERFORMANCE DATES
MY LIVE SINGING DEBUT
Well about 15 years ago, I did, through a series of strange
events find myself reading "The Big Flash," a rock & roll novel-
ette with several songs integrated in it in a beerhall theater in
Hamburg, Germany, and realizing as I was doing it that I was going
to haveto sing the songs for it to make sense and make up the
tunes as I went.
And one of those songs was "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns,"
which as it now turns out is on the forthcoming Heldon album ONLY
CHAOS IS REAL, strangely enough,or not so strangely, with much the
same tune the words called into being in my head long ago in
But this was different. This was planned, if not exactly
Heldon, the band, has mutable incarnations and combinations.
This one was just Richard Pinhas on guitar and me doing vocals.
At a large club in Pigalle in Paris called Elysees Montmarte.
The occassion was the post funeral party for a journalist of wide
repute and affection who was buried that afternoon and whose will
commanded the event.
They wanted us to close, but Richard has seriously broken his
foot and felt he wouldn't have the energy to go on last, so we
In a sense, the musicians's ultimate nightmare--opening act
at a wake.
But it turned out for the best. If I had had to wait 2 hours
after we set up to go on, I think I would've exploded, expired,
been a nervous wreck.
As it was, it was very scary, at least waiting, doing the
sound tests up on stage in the lights. But somehow the waiting,
the set up time, did something, and by the time the performance
started, the fear had been transformed into eagerness--maybe only
to get it over with!--and it went well.
Richard played very well indeed. I got through "Passing
Through The Flame," which I recorded on the album "Le Plan," due
out shortly under another incarnation of Heldon called "Schizotro-
pic," "Only Chaos is Real," the title song of the Heldon album
recorded with David Korn singing and the world premiere anywhere
by anybody of "Little Heroes," the title song of my novel LITTLE
It seemed to be a success, especially considering the circum-
stances. At least I can honestly report no bottles, rotten eggs,
tomatoes, or dead cats were thrown.
Nevers and Bordeaux and
THE BIG APPLE
Since my singing debut with Richard in Paris, the two of us
have played dates in Nevers and Bordeaux in France.
Nevers was at a big music festival with many groups in an
auditorium that held over 1000 people. We filled it halfway. No
one else did much better.
The gig in Bordeaux was supposed to have been a secondary
date before a bigger one at the Utopia festival in Futurescope,
near Poitiers. But the organizers there ran into money problems
and the musical part of the festival was cancelled after we booked
into a small club in Bordeaux.
But they had advertised, and sold tickets, so honor demanded
we do it anyway.
The venue was small, in the basement of a large saloon, and
what opened for us was a dj scratching and mixing records in such
an excruciating manner that no one could stand staying in the
room. And he was so spaced he didn't realize it was empty.
So when we went downstairs to perform, the room was totally
empty. A horrible feeling. They told us to wait. And wait.
What a disaster!
It turned out they were still selling tickets upstairs. And
by the time we went on about 150 people had somehow jammed into
the tiny space and it went very well.
In November 1999, the Knitting Factory and the French con-
sulate brought Richard and me to New York to perform at their
French Music Week event. And Maurice Dantec came down from Mon-
treal. Yet another incarnation--the three of us live together for
the first time--not "Heldon," not "Schizotrope," so Richard dubbed
The way things started out, this seemed all too prophetic.
Richard's equipment received a mighty thump on the baggage carous-
el. Maurice missed his plane and had to take a 12 hour bus ride,
arriving about 6:00 am the day of the concert. The sound check
was a 6 hour nightmare.
Then, as we were going on, everything crashed--Richard's
equipment, the stage sound monitors, the main board.
It looked as if we weren't going to go on at all.
Welcome to the Big Apple!
But the venue, though not that large, was jam-packed, and the
audience waited good-naturedly (considering the circumstances) for
about 40 minutes while the electronics were jury-rigged to the
point where we could perform.
We were well-received. We were supposed to do about 40
minutes. Instead we stayed on for about an hour and a half, going
3 unplanned encores after the planned one. (There always is a
I'm beginning to think this kind of stuff is normal.
La Cigale is a major Paris concert venue, capacity 1000 people or so. Our (Heldon, Schizotrope, etc.) manager, Jerome Schmidt, put on a literature and music night. Originally, Richard Pinhas and Maurice Dantec were to be the act, with me doing one number. But Maurice didn't come, and sent a video tape instead.So I did two numbers, with a lot of instrumentals by Richard, some tracks by Jerome himself, and the Heldon drummer, Antoine Pangioti.Due to problems with the video, the sound check was endless, the whole thing rather fucked up, the sound when we went on stunk, the last number was suddenly cut off by some scheduling mess, and all in all, not a terrific experience.On the other hand, it was a packed house, and the audience, at least, except for the knowledgeable, didn't seem to mind how technically screwed up it was.
December 2, 2000
If La Cigale was something of disappointment, the Rennes Transmusical festival was the exact opposite, certainly the high point of my short career as a performer. This is a huge festival which takes over the whole city, it's been going on for 22 years, and they sure know what they're doing. I met the impressario at a literary event. He had seen Richard Pinhas and me perform at Never, and invited us. We were billed as "Norman Spinrad and Richard Pinhas" and what was advertised was me "reading my texts" and Richard playing behind me. Or vice versa .But one thing led to another, and what they got was more or less Heldon: Richard on guitar, Antoine on drums, Jerome with recorded tracks, David Korn on electronic rhythm and doing one number, "Only Chaos Is Real" (the title song which he did on the Heldon Album)with me doing back-up, and me doing 4 numbers as "lead vocalist" including "Passing Through the Flame" which I recorded on the Schizotrope album and did as an encore. And they did want an encore !A club atmosphere, no seats, 500 or so people standing packed in the room, spilling back into the bar, disco lights, people nose to the stage, the full nine yards.And me actually fronting a band!Never in my wildest dreams. Not even an acid fantasymm.But it worked. They even applauded and cheered between numbers. And afterward, the impressario came backstage to our "dressing room," (the only downer, nothing to drink but warm beer and port wine) and was so ecstatic, he gave us his private bottle of Irish whiskey, the only decent booze to be had .Not that I'm going to give up my day job, but....