After viewing a poorly made concert DVD last week, I was compelled to share my observations
with a friend. Much to my delight, he unknowingly echoed my sentiments by suggesting
that I use these viewpoints as the basis for an article. With his encouragement, I
present to you...
Several elements I do not enjoy in concerts and/or performances preserved on DVD.
I do not mind watching a performance from differing angles, although I recognize that
those in attendance do not have this advantage. Even so, I consider this the compensation
for those among us who are unable to spend hundreds of dollars on concert tickets.
That being said, I deem it rather silly and quite annoying when a supposedly "live"
performance is marred by camera tricks: images in color periodically fading into black
and white (giving color blindness a whole new meaning); one frame multiplied a million
times as though the viewer has kaleidoscope eyes (a super power I do not possess);
repeated shots of a performer's body part (incredibly sad and hysterically funny at
the same time); zooming in and out on an image or suspending an image while the live
track continues playing in the background (a feeble attempt at the dramatic.)
If you are going to produce something like this, do not entitle it, "Live in (insert
name of exotic city here.) Employ a more accurate description, such as: "Live audio
tracks accompanied by semi-live shots of the band because we thought these camera
tricks were too cool not to use."
In my humble estimation, red lighting is rather depressing and difficult on the eyes.
When I see band members cast in this eerie glow, it is reminiscent of that unforgettable
scene in the film "Carrie," where actress Sissy Spacek is bathed in pig's blood.
Not especially appealing.
I will almost make an allowance for this if the performers are of a younger age--or
if it is Halloween. You go through an "artsy, experimental" phase and your heart's
desire is to don a wolf's head while wearing a red dress, ala Peter Gabriel in his
Genesis days. It can be amusing if done properly (whatever that means) but please:
I do not want to be haunted by visions of you wearing a ridiculous knit cap with feathers
coming out of the top and a winged outfit to match when you are nearing fifty years
of age. I enjoy silliness as much as the next person and readily embrace the magic
of childlike wonder, yet there is also great wisdom in growing old with dignity and
I find that a person can be theatrical and striking in their movements without resorting
to the aforementioned.
Over-the top stage sets
I believe that visual overkill can distract an audience from the music which, as far
as I know, is still designed to be the central element of a concert. Much like a performer
wearing gold, glittering Speedos with boots to match, an onstage replica of a massive
brick wall or a row of keyboards surrounded by UFO-type props is laughable at best
and generally ludicrous at worst. Can your rousing political anthem or melancholy
dirge be taken seriously against such backdrops?
Shouting "oh yeah" or some other variation of this during a song
I do not mean to be harsh or quell spontaneity, but how many times are you going to
yell, "Oh yeah!" during a song? Do demented, bird-like yelps enhance the piece being
I consider it far more endearing when a performer directly engages the audience.
Perhaps this reflects limited experience, yet I have rarely seen a performer simultaneously
sing and dance without nearly hyperventilating their way through a song and sounding
terrible in the process.
Beyond this, an individual's natural movements are a vast improvement upon contrived,
Regarding dancers: It is an unfortunate reality that many stage shows feature scantily-clad
women who are performing something akin to a strip tease. If I wanted to witness a
similar spectacle, I would be frequenting strip clubs--or the local mall.
Gross deviations from the studio-album versions of tracks
It is almost certain that I shall have many detractors on this point, and understandably
so. Yet I highlight the word "gross."
I prefer near-close versions of studio album tracks during a concert, although I am
not entirely averse to certain musical departures from the album versions. It depends.
However, If I pay over $100 for a ticket and have 15-minute solos inflicted upon me
that last longer than the songs themselves, I will be sorely disappointed.
Although some of these commentaries may be utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme
of things, perhaps it will mildly amuse my army of readers: two, to be exact, and
one of them is my editor.