Imitating the Euro-style after work drinking culture, &Union attracts a difficult crowd to cater for musically. Men in shirts and loosened ties who appreciate the craft beer, while making jokes about salaries; a mix of white collars and women wearing Narciso Rodriguez Black perfume. Ex-12th Avenue frontman and Idols Runner-Up, Mark Haze is tonight's entertainment. A kind of Blues Brother in a beaded cross up on stage with a mate - Peter Farrey? Farley? - the name gets lost in the chatter of the crowd. Someone makes a remark that the musicians "look like that band Jack Black plays in" and &Union "might as well have played a CD in the background".
This is an over simplification of the evening. Mark Haze may have melted into the branded backdrop (#RealMusicWednesdays), but he knows how to entertain this kind of audience. Playing covers that varied from Aerosmith "Dream On" and Foo Fighters "The Pretender" to Seal's "Kiss From A Rose", he kept the crowd engaged. Incidentally, these were also the songs he performed when competing in Idols, creating a cool from-television-to-reality experience for fans. Interpretations of dirty Blues tracks such as "Hoochy Coochy Man" were potentially lost on the nine-to-fivers, a passer-by making a comment that intimated that she believed the band were playing their own material, but no matter.
When Haze rocked through an acoustic cover of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", there was universal applause, whistling and raised glasses. No hipster cynicism or bored expressions - friends posed for group photographs and everybody seemed to be smiling. The crowd may not have noticed or cared about the technical guitar work of hammer-ons and hollow beats Haze executed for the "disco breakdown" midway through the Gaga track, but when he asked if everyone was "Having a good time so far?", there was absolutely no doubt that they were.
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