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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

Royal George karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Royal George Hotel

Karaoke may have grown up as a means by which people who couldn't sing were allowed to prove the fact in front of an audience, but in many places it has become the pastime in which those who can sing now demonstrate their skill to the world.

Independent hosts have emerged with top-end equipment, sound bordering on band-quality, and offering the serious karaoke singer a songlist stretching into the thousands. These hosts have often started as enthusiastic singers, in many cases building their sound systems and karaoke businesses on enthusiasm more than business principles.
There is probably also a distinction between karaoke, and a full-on 'karaoke show'. The latter includes lights, maybe fog, certainly a great sound and songlist, and definitely a hosting style that involves both singers and audience. These hosts obviously love what they do, will be at the higher end of the pricing scale in terms of what venues are expected to pay, and may enjoy almost cult status amongst their regular singers.

It's Wednesday night in Brisbane, and I'm in Fortitude Valley and at the Royal George Hotel at one end of the mall. This is an older corner pub, but recently tastefully refurbished and extensively modernised. And although it did spend a brief spell as one of those fake Irish pubs, and I did visit the karaoke then and find it to have great sound (it was running a competition), it is now transformed into a spacious, airy and bright bar with windows that fold back to open up large sections in the wall through which those outside can see and hear a lot of what is going on inside.

It's early yet, only about 8:30 and only a few minutes into the karaoke, and I'm one of only half a dozen people there. Unfortunately that means I'm soon spotted by the husband and wife hosts, and am unable to blend into a corner from which I can write a review in my head. Rovics Karaoke, as proudly stated on the sign on the front of the karaoke console and which prominently includes their website address and phone number, is Vic and Rosalie. Firstly I'm visited by Rosalie, and within a few more minutes I'm visited by Vic. I'm encouraged to find a song, and to join the rotation of about three singers.

The bar is long and narrow, but that suits karaoke. Drinks are served over the long bar that runs down the righthand side and almost the length of the room, and the lefthand side of the room has some windows that front onto a busy road, only some of those windows being open. The end of the room through which I entered, and which leads in from the mall, has a doorway and windows that are folded back to allow the sound to filter out onto the mall. Down the other end, the karaoke console is an elaborate affair positioned just in front of the built-in DJ's podium, the singer being set beside the karaoke hosts, foldback and monitor just in front. One FOH speaker is just forward of the hosts' console on one side of the room, and the other speaker is over the singer's left shoulder in the other corner of the room. The sound is very good.

The equipment is also very new - nothing tatty or knocked-around here, for this all looks as though it's only just out of its packaging, and obviously intended for a discerning audience. White plastic boxes housing the disc collection are mounted on the mixing console, and serve to slightly mask the hosts from the audience, thus giving the singer centre stage.

One of our singers is a gentleman obviously from the outback, long flowing white hair and long flowing white beard, a black 'bushie's' hat sitting atop his bag beside him at the side of the room, and he first sings a couple of country numbers. Later in the night I chat to him and find hat he does indeed spend much time in the country doing 'seasonal work', and that he enjoys karaoke in the city and singing with his guitar when in the country. Every self-respecting karaoke has its 'character', and bushman Ray is the Royal George's.

Ray faces a little competition in this regard from a lady who didn't sing, and therefore didn't get a visit from me, but who dances, wildly, and particularly enjoyed 'Zoot Zoot Riot'. This lady is apparently a regular, albeit a non-singing one, and throughout the night she dominated the space in front of the karaoke with her enthusiastic dancing. I didn't see her talking to anyone, but she was obviously at home there, and is another of those essential elements of a successful karaoke.

I, in contrast, was probably rather boring, each of my two songs was a standard performance, but bore out my suspicion that the sound for the singer was every bit as good as the sound for the audience. Vic mixed, and Rosalie hosted. Sometimes Vic had some words to say, but the equipment was clearly in Vic's realm, and no new singer could begin without Vic having pressed the buttons. The more I gravitated to the back of the room, the longer the walk for Vic inbetween the short conversations that we shared during singers' performances. From time to time both Vic and Rosalie sang, though it was probably more Rosalie than Vic, and she did possess an excellent . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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