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Paddy Maguires Pub karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Paddy Maguires Pub

There must be a starting point for every karaoke host, selecting his equipment, choosing his songs, and finding a venue...

And so it seemed, by the small posters on a pub over the road from my home, that this would be the startup venue for a new karaoke host.

Sydney's Star City Casino area has for the last few months been surprisingly devoid of karaoke. At one time there was both karaoke in one of the bars inside the Casino, and on another night in the rather nice pub buried under the complex, Paddy Maguires Irish pub. And now, at Paddy's, karaoke was coming back.

It was 9:40 by the time I had made the one minute trip from home to the pub, and the first song was being sung. The doorman (bouncer) replied that it was indeed the first song, there having been no one to sing until the last few minutes. But then this is a pub in an arcade under the Casino, attracting passers-by who are giving their wallets a temporary rest, and Paddy Maguires rarely sees much trade before about 10pm.

Still, the setup looked good. The pub is of a typically modern Irish design, generous stage at one end, big open space in the middle with a few fake beer barrels as high tables, and at the other end some church-like private seating cubicles. The karaoke was set up next to the stage, a large sign masking the console and announcing 'Gatty's Karaoke Show' in bold and modern letters set onto a starry background. Two good size speakers were either side of the room, and just a little forward of the singer, and without the foldback speaker that would probably be needed.

Karaoke used to run in this venue, and it used to suffer the same fate each week: It would be advertised as starting at 8pm, but would actually start at 9, or after the Footy at 10, or perhaps at 11. Karaoke singers avoided it in droves. The sound was really good, and even most of the hosts were good, but the start time was just too unreliable. Then the bar staff and bouncers would be closing the doors around 11:30 and making everyone feel unwelcome. By about Midnight the karaoke would be drawing to a close, never mind that it advertised as going until 1am. The crowd would wander in about 11:30, and be pushed out soon after 12, so the place really never had a chance.

A couple of months ago I heard from the karaoke hosts at O'Donoghues in the city that they hoped to be at Paddy's in June, and I kept emailing Paddy's. But there was no response, and I didn't see any signs on the venue when I walked by. So it was with surprise that I noted small posters there just last week. 'How long's the karaoke been running?' I now asked the doorman, and he said it had already run two weeks but was struggling to attract singers. I'm hardly surprised as they can't be bothered answering emails from where2sing.com.

I poached a song list from one of the barrel-tables, and checked how many of my favourites it held. A good selection, and I counted 1200 songs in all, though with quite a lot of duplicates. The two hosts sang in turn, both looked mid-twenties, both well presented and courteous males. Both mentioned that they needed singers, and from the way that they were explaining to people to look through the song lists I think they must be novices. Later I was to ask one of them, and hear that 'Gatty' has been working in someone else's karaoke for a couple of years, and that this is his first solo effort.

There is something that sets seasoned operators apart from the newcomers, and that is in the way that the more experienced operators can pick singers out of a crowd at twenty paces. These hosts could not. Firstly, it would have been helpful to have some idea of how to request a song, for there were no song slips, and no apparent list. But in time the taller of the two hosts came wandering around clutching a clipboard and pen, but he chose to visit groups who were inclined not to sing. I smiled at him as he passed, and I was, I thought, rather obviously holding my song list in the way of one who has already found a song. But he passed by. Never mind, I thought let's see how long they manage to hold singers at bay.

Having successfully avoided finding the singers in the assembled twenty or so patrons, the boys sang another song each, then ran a music break. There was a group just in front of me that had obviously all walked out of an office together, and they looked sufficiently well advanced in their revelry to be good for a song. I read the newspaper, wandered about outside for a few minutes, chatted to the girl behind the bar, and then the karaoke was announced again. Surprisingly, it was the doorman and a couple of others who got up to sing, and I have to say the doorman seemed to carry the song. But after hearing songs from the hosts again, we went into another music break.

Around again came . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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