Mumbai musicians reveal how they recover from on stage goof-ups

Updated: 05 January, 2017 13:57 IST | Joanna Lobo & Suprita Mitter |

Last weekend, singer Patti Smith forgot the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song at the Nobel Prize ceremony that honoured the icon. We quiz musicians in the city on how they recover from a goof-up on stage

US singer-songwriter Patti Smith (centre) performs at the Nobel Prize award ceremony. pic/AFP PHOTO

Leon De Souza, playback singer
'The first time I forgot my words on stage was when I was 17. I was singing Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting... and messed up the lyrics. I just carried on singing. As long as you are confident, the audience won't realise you've made a mistake; even if they do, they will admire that confidence. You tend to make mistakes on stage and you can either stop, apologise and go off stage, or get on with it. I believe the show must go on, even if you've inverted two verses or have missed your cue because of some technical problems.'

Anusha Mani, playback singer
'It is human to make mistakes, you can't be a 100 per cent right every single time. What's important is taking responsibility. You have to learn from it and ensure you don't do it again. I've forgotten a few words here and there, so I cook up my own words. You have to make sure your performance is not affected because of it. I've always said that the band is as important as the artiste: when the artiste makes a mistake, the band is there to cover up. They will adjust their chords and cues so that the song continues. I just have to ensure I keep smiling and keep my energy up.'

Nihal Shetty, singer
'I've been in a similar situation. We were performing at the college festival Malhar. We had decided the previous night to play a Pink Floyd song. I tried my best to memorise the lyrics but once I was on stage, I remembered only the first line. So, I held the mic really close, started humming the tune and murmured some rubbish. No one actually realised that I had forgotten the tune. In such situations, it is crucial to just wing it. You entertain the crowd and move on without giving too much away. You try and ensure that your audience doesn't know you've screwed up.'

Merlin D'Souza, composer, vocalist
'I have a similar Bob Dylan experience. I was on stage rendering a Dylan favourite and I forgot a sequence. Fortunately for me, I could salvage it with some improvisation. As each line of the verse starts with 'How many times...', I just included a social message and then did an instrumental piano solo, veering it towards the refrain which is: The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. I also got the audience to sing along!'

First Published: 13 December, 2016 09:18 IST

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