Gruff 5

On Saturday night I went to see Gruff Rhys play his new album American Interior at the Southbank. The album is the story of John Evans a very distant relative of Gruff who in the eighteenth century left his native north Wales and went in search of a Welsh speaking tribe of Native Americans. Watch this short documentary to get the full story:

I’m sure I’m not the only person writing a review of the gig but I want to highlight some aspects of the show that wont be covered anywhere else. It was great to see Gruff using his iPad to illustrate his story of John Evans. Unfortunately there are no pictures of John Evans that exist but luckily Gruff got a friend of his to draw what he thought he would look like and then took his drawing to a seamstress who made him a 3 foot version on John Evans in felt! Gruff took the miniature version on ‘John’ on a trip to retrace his journey and the subsequent photos on the journey form the basis of his slide show on stage.

I really liked they way he integrated the photos with the music but more importantly I liked the way he dealt with the ‘low battery’ message he got when his iPad started running out of power. It’s the perennial problem of all Apple devices – they have such poor battery life (judging by recent reviews things don’t seem to have changed with the new iPhone 6 either). At first he dashed off the stage to get a charger but this didn’t seem to work. Next he got a technician to get a new charger but this didn’t work either. Finally he had to borrow a charger off someone in the audience! At times it was really difficult to work out if he had done all this deliberately or not as it was so entertaining and funny.

Either way it was a great lesson for those in education on how to use an Ipad with an audience. Probably the most important point is charge your iPad before a lesson or at least have a charger that works with you! Also don’t get too phased when it doesn’t work. In one sense Gruff always had a plan B with his show – he could always play another song:) This is something you need in the classroom too – a ‘plan B’ although a song would be good as well.