Dec 05

THE FT TOP 13 ENDINGS: 11: Fuddledumph – I Was Waiting For That

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Named after a John Peel quote, this is the alternate live ending. In particular, if a recorded version fades out, how is a band supposed to replicate this on stage? Of course on stage bands often have sound techs way back on the mixing desk who could just slide the fader down to silence. Whilst this is more than possible, it never happens at a live gig, possibly because a fade reminds the audience of the artifice of the live experience (bands playing songs which have never really existed in a live context, and passing them off as being more authentic). A live fade also does not signal the place for applause, and a sporadic starting applause is worse than none at all. It comes in close to slow handclap.

So why do singles fade out in the first place? Well, usually, because no-one has written a good ending. Sometimes because the song is too long, and the band would happily jam away until kingdom come(s on). The three minute pop song has had its ranks swelled by the three minute fade. So if the song does not have an ending, how is a band to end it live?

Generally, it is with a crescendo and the patter of tiny drums. What actually happens is often the interminable jam mentioned above, and with the band feeling unstoppable they often are: except for local fire regs and the building owner turning the power off (easily the best ending to any gig). But a jam which builds and builds has to end, you have the hit single that was being saved for the encore to play. And so someone, usually the drummer, takes it upon himself to try and wind the track up. Usually everyone gets it, and with a rousing crash of cymbals and what is left of the great lost drum solo, everyone stops at the same time.

Sometimes they don’t. That is the Fuddledumph moment. It often signals disharmony in the band, not to mention another round of four chugs of the same boring song. Watch out for anyone peddling “authentic” music for this: blues, folk and rock are particularly bad at turning a jam into a non-stop trip into hell. Because of this there is nothing better than a great, syncopated, jam stopping, drummer led termination of a fade-out song.

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