About Me

My photo
Give me music and give me noise....

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Darling! Your band were marvellous

In a recent article Michael Hann talks about a rather specialised variety of loyalty to a musician. The kind he's got in mind is when the artist makes a personal gesture (dedicates a song to someone for example). Hann says that after Billy Bragg played a tune at a 1987 gig specifically because Hann had requested he do so ahead of the gig, he was so grateful that he carried on turning out at Bragg gigs and buying his records long after he'd actually lost interest in the music. Hann reckons it's because these precious moments forge an “unbreakable bond” between fan and star, one that will endure for decades to come.

Blimey. What bizarrely disproportionate behaviour. Are we the audience really expected to be so humble, so cringingly grateful?

After all, we pay (usually) to go and see them, we clap and hoot (annoyingly, in the case of the latter), and we provide what many of the musicians want in the first place: an audience. That's plenty, isn't it? If a performer does something halfway decent, then great. No need to start tugging at our forelocks though. The way Hann tells it, the priest-musician will occasionally lean down and bless the pop supplicant, bestowing rock and roll grace with a name-check dedication or an old song played at a gig.

Oh Lord! Call me a music biz atheist, but my own thinking runs completely counter to this. At gigs my habit is to keep the theatrical fourth wall well and truly in place. On the rare occasions when I've become acquainted with a band it's been the beginning of the end. From that point on you're condemned to having to keep up a desultory "friendship". ("Hi, how's it going?" ... "Er, no, I wasn't at that one, I couldn't make it" etc). Before you know where you are you're having to explain why you weren't at their other gigs. Or you're having to fend off questions about their new songs ("Yeah, sounds pretty good", you lie).

You've lost your all-important anonymity. Now you can't just go, watch and leave. The end-result, in my experience, is that you begin to think twice about going to see them at all. Oh dear, why did you ever succumb to the fatal vanity of forming a personal connection with the "talent"?

So, you might have reached that elevated point where you were getting a friendly nod from the bassist when the band took to the stage, but you'd have been better off pretending you didn't know them or (better idea) going to see some other bands before the rot of familiarity set in. Either that or condemn yourself to many gigs' worth of coming out with the R'n'R equivalent of "Mwagh, mwagh. Darling! You were wonderful."

No comments:

Post a Comment