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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Shut up and play!

As regular readers of this blog will know - both of them! - I’m never slow to find fault with performers for their behaviour at gigs.

It’s what this blog is for!

While I most definitely do appreciate the skill, nerve and downright unglamorous effort* that goes into gigging, especially at the lower-end venues, I’m still going to grouch when I feel like it.

My latest beef is with the people who thank all the preceding “brilliant” bands. Yeah, please give it up and show your appreciation…. Half the time I haven’t even seen the earlier acts and even if I have the tedious ritual of soliciting applause for performers who have … er, already been on and had their share is thoroughly redundant.

Applaud for this, applaud for that – I think we can decide when to clap our own hands. Doubtless the people who do this think they’re showing due “respect” for their peers. In fact it’s thoroughly dull and only pulls down their own performance.

Oh, the longeurs induced by some microphone ramblers. The worst rambler in my experience (so bad he holds a gruesome fascination that goes beyond the mere music) is Jeffrey Greene of the (now-defunct?) Butterflies Of Love. Listening to his excruciatingly over-extended - and generally pointless - monologues would regularly derail the BOL's otherwise excellent gigs. I heard him do this during his solo appearances as well. American football, the weather, Scotland, anything rattling around his head.  Blimey Jeff, just play a song will you…?

Those that say nothing to the audience might seem “rude” but actually they’re often in a different league to the over-polite appreciation-harvesters. The Jesus And Maychain’s famous backs-to-the-audience routine was obviously partly a gimmick, but it also added to the impact of their music. I saw them do this in the mid-80s and found it far more effective than their late-90s festival-pleasing shows.

Overall, I’d much rather have the in-the-zone effrontery of (say) David Thomas Broughton than any number of “nice” people saying thank-you every five minutes.  

So I say: shut up and play!

*By the way, even my dad once commented on the "hard work" put in by some bands when he saw the tatty old decommissioned ambulance that the Buff Medways were using to cart their kit around in. (Yes, my dad once attended a gig from Billy Childish and the boys. He did retreat to the back of the room to escape the volume though ….).

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