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Clarence Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Clarence Hotel

'Band quality sound' wrote Mike, and I just had to go along and see this place...

So, the very next Thursday, I trotted along to the Clarence Hotel at Petersham on Sydney's outskirts to hear what Mike was talking about.

Mike is a robust kind of guy with a permanently happy face and the charming personality to go along with it, known for his repertoire of Neil Diamond songs - all sung with gusto. And as I walked into the Clarence Hotel he was on stage doing one of his normal songs.

This hotel is on the extremely busy Parramatta Road heading out of Sydney, directly opposite the Bald Faced Stag where karaoke runs three nights a week. The Clarence Hotel has been recently renovated and seems not to have yet got back its crowd, but there's a sizeable room at the side of the building that obviously accommodates bands - and it was in this room that karaoke was being held.

As you walk in the door, you appear right next to the large stage, and look down the room with the small serving bar on the left and comfortable seating around the other two walls. There are also a few church-like small separators in the body of the room which provide convenient resting places for drinks, and a few centrally placed tables and chairs.

What first struck me was the sound - it was loud and good. Two very large foldback speakers at the front of the stage were obviously pumping out a great sound for the singer, and speakers placed high up on the walls all around the room provided a great sound for the audience. The mixing desk was also set up on the stage, and the host - one Bernard from All About Entertainment - was pretty much everywhere.

Bernard has been touted as 'the mic-hogging host', and if you were to level a criticism at him it would be this. He obviously loves to sing, and does so regularly, generally choosing loud and recent numbers and also singing harmony, but his voice is as good as most hosts I've heard. He also constantly spins his cordless mic in the air, jumps on and off the stage, wanders around the room singing, and generally controls the room and stays in the spotlight. This is 'The Bernard Show', and if you prefer inconspicuous hosts you'll not be happy here; somehow it just didn't worry me that much.

The song list comes in two parts, pretty much the norm from All About Entertainment, adequate without being something you would get excited about. But the sound - it looked like a normal deck and mixing desk plugged into a great system - was excellent. I chose a song that I know well, and was soon called up to sing.

The stage is huge, with plenty of room in which to move around (I don't, much), the monitor is set in a position where you can see it from anywhere on the stage, and the two huge foldbacks give you excellent sound from all positions. It really was a joy to sing, enveloped in your own wall of sound, and I have to say that I have rarely enjoyed singing as much. If any singer really wants to experience band quality sound, I decided, this is the place to which they should come.

I spent much of the evening chatting to Mike, we both sang several songs, I noticed that the room got a little busier as the evening went on but with not many singers, and I seem to . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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