Bev and I went to see Orchestre Baobab at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday night. They were very good and value for money. However, we felt that they would have been better suited to a smaller and more intimate venue (possibly aided by aided by more alcohol and dubious substances) rather than a large rather clinical hall. Not likely though because of the ecomonics of touring with a ten piece band. The post show discussions on the way home also threw up some interesting more general observations.
Firstly, is it us or are bands too often too loud? We found the noise levels were quite painful and it really took the edge off our enjoyment of the music. I suffered especially as I had lent out my ear plugs (which I carry for Health & Safety reasons when I am visiting manufacturing plants). We were sat towards the back of the hall so it must have been dangerous at the front near the speakers. In the end we were forced to retreat to the bar well before the end of the concert. Are these noise levels necessary or is it just that sound engineers are all deaf?
Secondly, it seems that as bands get famous they build up a loyal following. These people seem to feel that because they are "fans" who have bought a sweatshirt and know all the words, they have the right to take endless flash photos, interfere with the equipment, touch the performers and climb on the stage to dance with them. As a performer myself I know just how annoying it is when some drunken idiot, who thinks they are the most amusing person in the world, gets on stage and starts staggering around amongst thousands of pounds worth of instruments and kit.
Thirdly, this following of sycophants seem to lose all their critical faculties and wildly applaud everything whether it is good or not. We have been to gigs which have frankly been rubbish but the sycophants are still there lapping it all up. My opinion is that it makes performers lazy. If they get adoration whatever they do then there is no incentive to improve the quality of their offering, and may well blind them to any shortcomings.
Fourthly, why do we have the cult of the jazz solo? I get fed up when bands feel the need to have instrumental solos in every number, and even more fed up that you are expected to applaud every solo no matter how short or crap it was. It only encourages the sycophants, massages the egos of the soloists, and hides the unsung heroes in the back line. Used sparingly they are great but when it gets formulaic and obligatory then no thanks.
Well, that turned into more of a rant than I intended. Still, I think there are some points in there that are worthy of discussion.
PS Serious discussion only please. I get so depressed when these threads turn into personal slanging matches.....