Reading Darwin’s post on the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert made me flash on the different aspects of seeing a group live – particularly if the group is one of one’s favourites. There were many such experiences featuring groups that had top priority for me in those days – quite a while back. Among them were the Beatles (in Dodger Stadium, so it was like they were miles away), Pink Floyd (the other extreme, as we were almost right under David Gilmour), Jethro Tull and a few others of that ilk. The Floyd and Tull concerts were in LA and at the height of the ‘flower-power’ trip, so thick clouds of noxious (nice-noxious) smoke were everywhere and all manner of psychedelics were being freely passed around. The groups did their thing and generally the vibes and everything else that went to make the experience were absorbed by those of us who were into the whole happening and thoroughly dug it. The music itself wasn’t the main concern in the sense that although everyone was there for ‘that’, listening intently is never usually the prime priority at these events – at least that’s how I see it. For me it’s the total experience – and seeing the bunch of folk who manage to penetrate my music-aesthetic, live.

All this was brought vividly into the mindspace whilst watching Darwin’s vidi-effort and listening to the Peppers. The crowd was obviously totally into the experience and for that many thousands, the experience must have been pretty close to, if not totally, awesome. However, what struck me was that the ‘jamming’ at the start was pretty low-grade-mediocre in all respects, to say the least and Californication was done, like ass-backwards. If you give a listen you will hear Kiedis’ vocals getting out of tune on more than one occasion and even the instruments were not ‘on’ –  nothing like the Peppers on disc – everything hitting the spot – studio perfection. Which is the point I’m trying to make.

Huge audiences in auditorium type venues create their own ambience, the energies generated affecting everyone in some way or the other, so that mostly it is the familiar ‘hits’ that the audience love combined with seeing their idols perform live that is the turn on. No matter that some of the singing drifts off key or that the guitar solos may not be upto quite the same standard as on the album – who cares! No one goes for these things with a critical ear – unless there is some totally unexpected disaster which fucks up the whole experience.

The smaller, more intimate concerts or performances are a different number altogether and somehow, after digging the biggies for so many years, I tend to prefer these smaller ones now. Like Java says: Differen strokes, maaan…

So there it is – a thought or two on concerts and performers – and us, of course

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