What makes a rock concert memorable?
Going to see an artist whose music you love performing live on stage is always something to look forward to, and usually an event to be remembered, but some rock concerts are more memorable than others.
Is it just the music that made these concerts so memorable, or is there something else that enhanced the whole experience and turned it into an evening to be remembered
Granted, some rock bands come on stage and perform their greatest hits, sounding just like they did in the studio, at times almost making you wonder if they are actually playing live, or miming to the whole thing.
That is a big credit to the musicians themselves, as well as to the sound crew, for being able to accurately recreate the sounds as the fans all know them, from the studio performance.
But even if the sound is practically perfect, as I have found at a few concerts that I have been to, and even if the sets and lighting effects have been spectacular, can I now years later really recall much of the concert? In many cases, no.
Of course we always remember when things go wrong at a concert, like Heart performing at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, when halfway through the concert, lead singer Ann Wilson and the band didn’t start off a song quite right, so she called a halt, and they tried again. This didn’t work, so they tried a third time, and got it right, however you could sense the atmosphere between Ann Wilson and the rest of the band, and also the audience. It put a damper on the evening.
I have seen great musical performances that were not memorable, as well as bad performances that were memorable for only being bad performances. I have seen great lighting effects at concerts that were less memorable than those that had precious little in the way of effects.
But the factor that most of all makes a concert memorable, for me at least, is the way that the artist interacts with their audience, invoking a response from them, getting them up dancing in the aisles, and keeping them focused with all the enthusiasm that they can muster on the performance.
Probably the best band that I have ever seen perform live, as well as watching their recorded concerts, has to be Genesis.
When Genesis are in the studio, it’s just Phil Collins (Vocals, Drums), Mike Rutherford (Guitar, Bass Pedals) and Tony Banks (Keyboards), but for most of their live performances since the mid 1970’s they have
performed with Daryl Stuermer (Guitar, Bass) and Chester Thompson (Drums). The five of them on stage are not only great musicians, but the interactions between themselves and the audience, just make the event complete.
It’s the showman of the act though, Phil Collins, who not only provides great vocals and drumming duets with Chester Thompson, some of the highlights of a Genesis concert, but it’s the way he doesn’t just interact with the audience, it’s the way he controls the audience, that makes a Genesis concert so memorable.
A classic example of how Phil Collins does this is where after the first song or two, he stops to check how the audience is feeling and to welcome them to the show.
Tonight — we are going to play some new songs
The audience cheers loudly, as Phil uses body language to encourage their reaction.
We are also going to play some old songs
The audience goes wild, because the old songs are what they love to hear, and it takes a minute or two for them to quieten down enough for Phil to continue.
We might even play some VERY old songs
To which the audience gives it everything that they have got for a good three or four minutes, since anyone who knows Genesis live knows that they usually play a medley of songs from some of their best loved 1970’s albums, including In The Cage from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and Cinema Show from Selling England By The Pound.
In complete control of the audience now, Phil Collins continues…
But first, we are going to play a new song…
And now the audience has a dilemma, since they cheered louder and louder for the older songs than for the newer songs, yet here is the band announcing that they are going to play a new song, and yet they can’t show their disapproval, and so they are forced to cheer loudly whether they wanted to or not.
And they know that the master is in control, and they don’t care, and the rest of the evening takes care of itself.
Yes I have seen many other great concerts, but none as memorable as watching Genesis perform live.
What, I wonder, is the most memorable concert that you have ever been to?
Personal experience and memories.