WILCO LIVE IN THE MANDELA HALL, BELFAST - 6.9.23
REFLECTION FOR WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

GRUMPY OLD STOCKI SURMISES THE AWFULNESS OF BIG CONCERTS

Killers Jan

photo: Janette Hughes

 

At one stage I thought I was in a Vision of Hell. 

It was only The Killers at Vital on the Boucher Road, about 4,500 steps from my front door.

The stories I had to tell… the blonde girl staring me out; helping a man roll of cigarette (what would Jesus do? and where were the police?); and being asked if I was a taxi driver, as I leaned against a fence without a car in sight! These are the funnies.

At times I felt frustrated, other times angry and occasionally fearful.

Now I have been going to live out door concerts since Chris De Burgh/Peter Frampton/Janis Ian at the RDS in 1983!!! This was not something out of my comfort zone - I thought. 

I mean I have been getting more and more of a grumpy old man in recent years but...

It begins with the need for alcohol (not me!). Many come already preloaded but the need for drink to enjoy the gig? I don’t understand. This causes a constant line of people walking through you to get to the bar or the toilets. 

Why would people spend £50 - £100 to go to gigs and shout at each other over the band. The entrance money could give you more food and drink money for a good restaurant or bar. 

I am left in total amazement as I watch some of the best music in the world being ignored and missed for a pint of cider. I mean The Killers in Belfast rocking it out to Teenage Kicks or covering The Smiths' Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before with Johnny Marr actually on guitar. And you were in the toilet?!?! WHAAAAAT!?!?!

The alcohol fuels a selfishness that then causes people to ruin the experience that others are having. If you don’t like The Killers enough that you are in the toilet while they play Teenage Kicks then you deserve to have wasted your ticket money but you have no rights to ruin the evening of a fan who has paid good money by standing in front of them and staring them out, asking them to roll a cigarette during their favourite song or just spilling the 4 pints over them that caused you to miss another song.

It comes down to a change in how we listen to and therefore appreciate music. I was there when Bruce Springsteen played Shane Castle to 100,000 people in 1985, 20,000 over capacity! I don’t remember anyone spoiling a song with drink or toilet breaks, just 100,000 people totally focused and going mad during Born To Run.

I was in the RDS Dublin for Self Aid in 1986. 3 band every hour for 12 hours and the crowd singing every single word of every single song. As I bluffed knowing the words to Christy Moore’s Back Home In Derry not one person was doing anything else but singing along.

Our relationship with music seems to have changed beyond recognition in those 35 years. Streaming among other huge shifts in the music industry and our culture has changed the respect a generation has for the song and the artist. 

When first support at the Killers, Cian Ducrot, told us he was number in the UK album charts I was dumbstruck. I had never heard of him. When Johnny Marr sang a song that had been in a movie the crowd around me went mad. It was a favourite but they’d never heard of Johnny Marr or the Smiths!

I am so grateful to have lived through a time when it was so important to almost all of us. Now, it is there in the background but we are more interested in a drink or a chat or annoying the person beside us. 

The artist deserves more. The fan deserves more. 

I did enjoy The Killers but there were so many things in the way of fully engaging. How lovely it was, just 22 hours after The Killers, to be in Mussenden Temple with just 80 well behaved fans, miles from a bar or toilets taking in every word and musical nuance of Duke Special. That’s how I’ll enjoy my music going forward.

Comments

AndyB

Don’t worry, you’ll be saying the same in two and a half weeks’ time about people at Deacon Blue in the SSE - but the music will be worth it!

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