I don’t know about you, but I would never willingly stump up hard earned cash in order to hear (often drunken) strangers having a natter or, more usually, shouting at each other. Unfortunately, in my experience, this tends to happen on an all-too-frequent basis when attending concerts.
In the past 12 months alone people have done their utmost to ruin my concert going experience at an assortment of venues, including Ed Sheeran at The Academy, Wild Beasts in Liverpool, Kasabian at the Manchester Arena, and the ultimate sacrilege of Bruce Springsteen at both the Sunderland and Manchester shows.
After queuing up for hours outside the Etihad Stadium in the pouring rain, I counted myself fortunate to find a couple of brilliant general admission covered seats for the Bruce show. Having seen the Boss the previous evening at the Stadium of Light my wife and I were determined to ensure we were not near any drunken women who looked like they might insist on carrying on a shouting contest for virtually the whole concert.
At Sunderland, Springsteen had been imperious as always. But it’s not that often that he performs one of my all time favourites – Point Blank – and the experience was ruined by two women (who were actually a couple of rows back !), despite continual stares from everyone around them wishing they would put a sock in it.
Of course, you might say I always had the option of asking them to quieten down, but I’ve tried that before at other shows and it rarely ends well… particularly where drink is involved.
Anyway, we were all set at the Manchester show until just before Bruce took to the stage, when the rain relented somewhat and a number of people made a dash for the pitch, leaving seats vacant. Imagine our joy when two more drunken women took seats near us.
Never mind we thought, they are two rows in front this time so we won’t hear them. How wrong can you be, but it was worse this time because out of the corner of our eyes we were distracted throughout the show, not just by the constant shouting, but also the hugging and gesticulating that went with it!
On occasions like this I spend a lot of the gig turning round with an incredulous look in the hope these thoughtless individuals will get the message. After all, WHY do they do it? Why presumably spend weeks looking forward to something and then talk through the performance (only to then applaud enthusiastically at the end of each song despite not having heard a word)? And HOW can they possibly think that what they have to say to each other is more important than what the artiste is conveying from the stage? It beggars belief…
Thankfully this doesn’t happen all the time. On rare occasions the audience can even be so captivated by a performance that the silence during each song generates an electric atmosphere, sliced by a crescendo of applause as each one ends. The last time I witnessed this was at a Laura Marling gig, at the Apollo of all places – who would have thought it.
Attending concerts can be a thrilling experience that stays with you long after the evening has ended. It’s frustrating indeed that too often I remember them for the wrong reasons. If only these annoying, selfish, mind-numbingly tedious idiots, would plump for a different option for their night out.