EDITORIAL: Did Ryan Adams really play in Byron Bay?
IS IT just me or has anyone else realised that these days seeing is definitely not believing.
You may have managed to save up an arm and a leg to be in the audience or in the gallery to see your favourite artist, band or performer but there a usually about 150 people in front of you who just cant believe they are there.
So they need to film it. By holding up their phones. In front of your face.
Or worse still they turn away from the artist or artwork to film themselves being there with the artist or artwork.
Weirdly, its as if artists and artworks now exist solely as a backdrop to the viewer's life which they are performing on social media.
I can feel myself getting sucked into a post modern black hole here so I'll proceed to a concrete example.
The other night I was lucky enough to see the American singer Ryan Adams perform an intimate show in Byron Bay.
Billed as an alt-country singer, I see Adams as a classicist taking the very best of American song writing and musicianship and refining these into songs at once familiar and lyrically arresting.
That's before we even mention his stellar guitar playing, the excellence of the band and his wonderful voice.
Adams is often seen as a musician's musician so being at this intimate show was kind of a big deal for fans.
But there they were again- the relentless documentarians and Adams, an often cantankerous performer, saw them to, and five songs in stopped the show to exhort the audience to put away their devices, saying words to the effect.
"Lets all just be here and share this together. Lets just record this onto our souls."
That's why he is a lyricist par excellence and the devices disappeared.
But there was another perennial live music scourge to be dealt with. The loud mouth.
The loud mouth goes to a live music shows specifically to have a conversation.
They especially like acoustic performances because it is so easy to shout over the top of the music everyone else is trying to listen to.
Of course the loud mouths were out in force at this 'intimate' show because it was so easy to shout that important conversation they had to have about how awesome the day's surf conditions had been, the new frock they bought and how amazing the video app on their new smart phone was, above the music.
Sure enough, another five songs in Adams stopped again to tell us that now he had been singing to us for about an hour he felt he knew us well enough to tell the loudmouths in the audience to shut the f@#k up because they were being incredibly f@#cking rude.
"There is so much shushing going on out there it sounds like we are playing to a pit of snakes," he said.
Again, quality stage repartee like that is worth the price of admission.
And it was a five star show from Adams. But we as an audience rated barely a two.