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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

Hard Rock Cafe karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Hard Rock Cafe

'Get out quick - the place is on fire!' someone had reportedly shouted, and the few people inside ran out onto the street. But it wasn't the place that was burning, it was the huge guitar on the roof that was on fire - for this is the Hard Rock Cafe in Surfers Paradise...

It had been several days of driving since I left Adelaide on Tuesday morning, and now on Friday night I was on the Gold Coast, and a little weary. I arrived in the afternoon, and spent a pleasant few hours chatting with Jo and John Preston of John Preston Special Events - the people who organise the Sing Your Way to Indy, and Wintersun (with Bill Masters), national competitions. And, whilst we were chatting, in came a guy who was introduced to me as the host of a few venues including Surfers' Hard Rock Cafe that would have karaoke that evening. I promised to go along.
Surfers, at this time of year, is quite simply the place to be. Unless you're trying to find a place in which to park a car, and it was after this interesting and lengthy parking exercise that I made my way through an exceptionally busy Cavill Mall, dodging holiday makers who walked one way whilst looking in a completely different direction. So it was a bit of a surprise to find that the very central Hard Rock Cafe had only a dozen or so people in the front bar in which the karaoke is held.

This is a modern building, and the small side bar is probably the closest thing to what used to be, when I first used to came to Surfers in the early and mid eighties, the 'birdwatchers' bar' - a tribute to the lack of clothing then generally worn by young ladies. And the bar still has open windows onto the street, though the karaoke console is set up at one end of the windows, and the singer sings with his or her back to these windows. This does, however, mean that those passing along the footpath outside tend to stop and gaze in at a singer following lyrics on screen - a wonderful advertisement for karaoke at times when the singers are good.

And the singers were, indeed, good. The host is an encouraging type of guy, young, neatly dressed, generally smiling and very attentive, and is probably exactly what's required to keep karaoke going in a place with a lot of visitors and a very small proportion of locals. When I walked in, the host was singing, but noticed me and nodded. The room is really fairly small, but well laid out with several high round tables around which people were sitting, and plenty of space along the bar where more people were seated. The barman was, unusually, very attentive, and the whole feeling of the place was friendly.

The host is an entertaining singer, and it seemed that most of the twenty or so sitting around the bar were content simply to watch, and this trend became more evident as the same three or four singers each went around a couple of songs. There was a local guy who sang a couple of older songs, and a younger girl - who was introduced to us as a heat winner from one of the national competitions - who sang the more modern and standard female comp-chaser songs (very well). I noticed few songbooks around, but the host soon came over and plonked a couple of songbooks on my table, with an invitation to sing. In fact, he regularly invited people to sing, but no one looked particularly keen.

The sound system suited the small room, two small but highly effective Pioneer speakers on stands either end of the windows, the leads neatly coiled around the stands, and the console sitting neatly in the corner, just where you'd expect to see it and without dominating the area. The monitor was in front of the singer, and although I couldn't see any foldback, I doubted that it would have been needed. You can see when singers are comfortable with the sound because they don't move around seeking a better position, and they look relaxed . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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