Live concerts - not really for me

Published May 24, 2011

If you’re passionately interested in music, like I am, it seems to automatically follow that you’re supposed to be interested in live concerts. I have to confess that most of the time I’m not. It seems to be an unusual stance, since the “in the moment” experience of a live concert is often held up as more valid than the supposedly more sterile studio recording.

I was reminded of this when I read an interview with actor-turned-musician Hugh Laurie in the latest issue of The Word magazine. “I quite sort of believe in records, vinyl, as a form,” he states. “I don’t think of vinyl as a poor substitute for seeing something live”. Another proud non-fan of live concerts was John Lennon, who said in the mid-Seventies: “I prefer records, I always did. It’s like watching a painter paint – just give me the painting.” It strikes me that it’s very unusual to hear musicians say something like this, verging on the blasphemous. You sort of expect them to want to interact with their audience at all costs. But I have to agree with Laurie and Lennon: I’ve often been bored or uncomfortable at live shows, whereas a good record triggers my imagination, enables me to create my own pictures, and allows me to immerse myself in the music in a way that few concerts I’ve attended ever have.