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It’s 2022, festivals are in full flow and live tours are back. It’s so nice to type, considering that two years ago I was starting to wonder whether we’d ever be able to experience it again. I think most people will agree that live music just presents something so special to all of us.
I think the main thing for me, and one thing we really missed during lockdown, is that connection you feel with an artist when you go and see them perform. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a crowd of one hundred of one hundred thousand when you go and watch someone live you feel a deeper bond with that artist, as if you’re part of an exclusive club that can say that they’ve been there. Artists did do their best during COVID, mainly through social media, but it was just no replacement for the experience of a live show. It isn’t even just about the music either, it’s that engagement. I was watching a video recently of Harry Styles and some clips of him interacting with fans whilst on stage and I have to say he’s incredible at it. The fans turn up for the music but he makes them laugh, get’s them dancing and talks to them in such a way that makes you feels as if you were sat opposite him in a room. This is what we’ve missed out on. Whilst we were actually treated to increased amounts of new music during COVID it was just so easy to feel disconnected from our favourites, only experiencing them through our speakers and screens. Back in November last year I had the great pleasure of watching Seafret perform live in Bridlington, their home town, and it was so special. I’ve actually been lucky enough to interview Seafret for the magazine, which was huge being a fan, but I almost felt closer to them watching them live on stage and addressing the crowd I was part of than I did through our zoom interview with just the three of us. It’s not something that is easy to put into words but in that moment you just feel part of something.
Being part of something is for me another huge part of what makes it so special. The crowd. It seemed as if it may never happen again two years ago but I cannot express how much joy it gives me to see pictures of Glastonbury absolutely packed out. Sure being in a crowd isn’t always great, there’s fighting drunks, smelly strangers and the tall person who stands right in front of you (my apologies) but it doesn’t matter when the music plays. Similarly to how you feel a connection to the artist there’s also this great sensation of belonging within a crowd. Gathering with people who have a shared love of the music, enjoying something together and sharing an experience. There could be people sat a mile away on the other end but it doesn’t matter; there’s an indescribable synergy that just brings everyone completely together in those brief moments. The singing is what I enjoy the most. Can you just imagine for a moment if you were only allowed to attend live music shows on the premise that you weren’t allowed to sing along? I can’t, in fact I don’t want to because it's too horrid to conceive. I’m lucky to have seen a few artists live in my time and the best moment of every show without a doubt is towards the end when they bring out the big hits that everyone knows, and thousands of strangers join together as if a rehearsed choir to give a rendition. There’s just something so therapeutic about those moments, belting your heart out, expressing your emotions through the song and feeling a comforting sense of belonging. I remember going to a Help for Heroes concert in Twickenham stadium many years ago and a DJ warming up the crowd by playing ‘Hey Baby’. The iconic ‘Ooh, Aah’ in the song was simultaneously bellowed by around 70,000 people and hearing it echo around the stadium was something I’ll never forget. It’s not just the big shows or festivals though, it’s the pub gigs and open mic nights that have been just as needed. For small artists struggling to make it through COVID who are now able to reach an audience and promote their music, to the loyal fans who go to every show and lets not forget the A and R folks at record labels looking for the next sensation.
Live music these days is becoming too much of a promotional tool for me. 300 years ago the dynamic was entirely different; you would attend live shows, operas and concerts to hear your favourite music and you may even buy some sheet music to try and replicate it on your own at home. These days the recorded music is king, after all album sales, streams and downloads are worth more cash than getting on stage. Live tours come about as a way to get everyone on Spotify listening to the album, but it just feels like it should be the other way around. As you all know I love to hark on about that old gem; ‘authenticity’. Allan Moore split authenticity in music down into three key elements: 1st Person authenticity relating to how the music and performance pulls from the artists own experiences, 2nd Person authenticity in which a performer “succeeds in conveying the impression of accurately representing the ideas of another, embedded within a tradition of performance”, and finally 3rd Person authenticity for when an artist is able to relate to those in the audience. Although I often joke about authenticity being this snobby buzz word that no one actually knows fully what it is, I think it's something that we all feel and no more so than in the midst of a great live performance. Moore’s three key elements all relate to expression and performance; how the artist feels, how they convey the emotions of the song and how the audience can relate to the artist’s expression. Note the key word audience, because this kind of thing doesn’t tend to happen over Spotify. Those true moments of magic happen live.
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