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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

OMalleys Irish Pub karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Just needs foldback


This host comes with a surprising endorsement, for this is the host that used to run the Go Karaoke competition heats up on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, for Martin Chamberlain who is Go Karaoke. And Martin is known for working only with good hosts who have good equipment - indeed, as he has cut some of these adrift, he has as a result faced some stiff competition from them.

But Startrax Karaoke was not, at the time of this review, an outcast, having obviously not displeased the King enough to warrant execution, and was to be running heats of Martin's competition in the weeks to come.

But tonight is their Sunday gig at O'Malleys at Mooloolaba. Mooloolaba is your typical Sunshine Coast holiday town, great beaches and crashing waves, beach road rising and falling over the hills as it follows the coastline, and all the high rise holiday accommodation and tourist shops that you'd desire. Imagine the Gold Coast but without the yobbos, and you've got Mooloolaba.

At the end of the parade of shops, and located within a new and trendy arcade, is the equally trendy O'Malleys Irish Pub.

When it comes to getting the balance right between old and new, O'Malleys succeeds. Look at the ceiling and you see a modern plaster fabrication such as you would see in any modern shop, but move your eyes from the off-white of the ceiling and down to where the work has been done, and you see a modern recreation of an Irish pub. Many of the components you require for such a pub are there, but they have been placed in a manner that has not been intended to recreate authenticity, but rather this is a themed pub meant to convey the impression of Ireland in a modern setting. And, in that, it succeeds.

The main room is divided into two sections, one with the servery and tables on which to eat, and the other with its large stage and room in which to dance. Back near the entrance, and at the end away from the section with the stage is a room with pool tables, and in which a group is playing pool, and then there's an intriguing small room decorated and furnished like a small library in which smoking is forbidden, the atmosphere is conspiratorial, and in which a couple of young ladies are sitting and talking.

It's 8:30, and the hosts are setting up. I'm one of about half a dozen people in the place, and just ordering a pint of Kilkenny. The pouring of this delicious drop takes a bit of time, and as another customer approaches the bar, the girl serving me asks 'is it ok if I look after this other gentleman?' Of course, and how delightfully asked - probably the result of excellent training.

So many of these Irish places fall down on some details, but the management here is certainly on the ball. I see a girl walking around cleaning already clean tables, and nowhere do I staff just idly chatting. And soon we have the sound of the karaoke being tested, and I see that it has not taken the hosts long to drape a black cloth over a table on the stage, install a road case with some simple equipment, and plug it all in. There's a speaker on the floor just in front of the stage and to one side, but most of the sound seems to be coming from the ceiling mounted speakers set around the room; and these are intelligently set too, not just been bolted in every conceivable place, but being set in pairs just in front of each bulkhead and pointing at the audience in that section to give sound that still appears to come from the stage area.

Helen and David, the hosts for tonight, are also the owners of Startrax Karaoke, and thus I expect they have the best equipment and the most experience in hosting. Certainly, there's a natty little lightbox sitting on a low upturned barrel on the stage sparkling away the StarTrax logo - and very neat it looks as well. An LCD screen behind the hosts displays the karaoke song, and the singer has most of the large stage to himself.

Or herself, as it is in this case, as Helen kicks off the night with a slow song. She sings well, and obviously enjoys her performance - dressed informally as you'd expect for a beachside gig, and the bandana around her head adds a slightly hippie look. She's also the host, and has a friendly and fast line of banter.

The first singer up is a young guy doing something I don't know but which is announced by Helen as being written by her favourite artist who died recently. The first singer is followed by a middle-aged and portly man who is alone and obviously here just for the karaoke, and he sings something by ELO which also gets good applause. But the sound is really good, and even when I move position I find that the quality remains the same - the venue has obviously put good money into their sound system. Strangely, I can't see a foldback speaker on the stage for the singer, but the singers don't seem to be moving around and struggling to hear themselves, so I presume all is well in that department.

I get a songbook from the pile near the console, and find something that's slow enough to suit the mood but fast enough not to be boring. And it's only half a dozen singers before my name is called.

Did I mention that what deprives so many hosts of getting a really good rap on where2sing.com for their gigs is one glaring fault? Here's it's the lack of foldback on the stage, because as the song starts I hear a remarkably thin sound as I stand here. All the ceiling mounted speakers point forward, successfully filling all sections of the room with sound, but there's nothing for the singer - presumably whoever set up the venue's system thought that performers would have their own foldback. As I sing, I can hear a very thin reference of my voice, and have to trust that it is sounding better in the audience. Surely this host could hear how woeful the sound is on stage?

It's only a few minutes into the karaoke, but the crowd in this section of the room has doubled in the last few minutes, and people are flooding into the other section.

This is a place where only good singers seem to be, because some are good and a couple are great, and it's a joy to stand with a beer and watch. At the low, round table beside me is a guy sitting on his own and making . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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