Playing in the round

There are many ways to run a gig. Often it comes down to whether you plan the setlist or not. Most artists do, especially when the gig gets to a bigger scale. Christy Moore famously doesn’t.

Many musicians playing pub gigs don’t either, but gauge the crowd as they go and play stuff that either they feel like playing at the time, or stuff that they think will complement what went before or what is coming after. And when there’s more than one musician involved, they often take turns picking and leading the songs.

It’s called playing ‘in the round’ and is often done by songwriters, playing their songs for an audience and/or other musicians.

Our Connolly’s gigs on a Monday also usually work in this way, and as always we had a lovely evening of songs and tunes last night with special guests Georgie Gorman and Larry Gallagher. In fact all guests over the years, be they young or old, have worked to this system.

It’s actually a great education. It works on your ear, because sometimes you’re accompanying or soloing on songs you have never heard before, but it also keeps your brain engaged, because you have to put some thought into making sure you pick the right song to play next, often while you’re still playing the previous one.

If you want to see this system in action, the gigs page of my website has just been updated, and includes the guests for the next few Mondays as well as some other upcoming highlights.

I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.