Monday, 2 February 2009

Where did the smiles go?

With this whole hysteria with Madonna's second leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour I had a few talks on concerts as a whole and how different singers/groups perform and interact with the audience. I wouldn't say that I've been to that many concerts and have quite the experience, but I think I can tell the difference between performances. A friend of mine was wondering what the whole fuss about Madonna was as she didn't enjoy her that much as she enjoyed a concert of a Bulgarian singer. It took me some time and a few more talks to assimilate to its fullest what she actually meant. At first I was like: What?! This is Madonna!...but thinking it over I was like: Hmm, she might be right.
I remember how excited I was when I went to my Marilyn Manson concert. I just couldn't believe that I was about to see one of the most important musicians in my entire life. I wouldn't say that I had great expectations, but I do admit that I was a bit disappointed. Yeah, I really say my idol, but it just wasn't the way I imagined it. On the other hand I had a wonderful time going to Clan of Xymox or Diary of Dreams, bands that less known and pretty much underground compared to the stature of Manson. Still, they kept all the time their connection with the audience and one could feel special.
Should this mean that the more famous you become the greater distance you have with your audience or just everything is up to the bands/performers themselves? Perhaps some are just too tired of being friendly to everyone and constantly cheering up the audience that expects the best. Could it be that we are too needy and we exhaust our idols, we turn them into greedy piggy banks that would say anything (mostly fake) just to make sure we visit their next tour. Imagine you are in the music business for the last two decades and you have had like six major tours with some over 300-400 gigs in total and you are still expected to be the guy that you used to be in the beginning. Let's be realistic, no one can last for ever and be as emotional as they were ten years ago.

to be continued...

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Interesting points. You remind me of a Madonna interview I recently watched, in which she said, "I try to find somebody in the audience to connect to."

I've attended one Madonna show--Coachella '06--where West Hollywood and Palm Springs muscle Marys only came for their diva, where scrawny "indie" kids hiding under their bangs hoped no one would recognize them. Both the unusual audience demographics and the setting made for a rather unique combination, yet everyone fed off the energy that Madonna gave, making it one of my favorite concerts. Sometimes I think the audience vibe and interaction gets overlooked, but--for me--it's as important as the on-stage performance. When I saw Ladytron at the same festival, they had no stage presence, but I enjoyed simply dancing in-sync with all the other audience members. When I saw a small act (Dirty Sanchez) in a club, I left early because everyone acted too cool to dance.

Indeed, Madonna is such a ubiquitous persona in pop culture and isn't known for her friendliness, but she used those characteristics to connect with us. We all knew her lyrics when she told us to sing, and we all laughed when she called someone a motherfucker after he had thrown a towel on her stage. I probably won't see her perform in Sofia, but I would like to go partly to experience the Bulgarian audience's vibe, as well as to witness how Bulgarians interact with Madonna.