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Thursday, May 14, 2015

If I managed a young rock band these are the seven things I'd tell them

I've never been in a rock band but I've stood and watched enough up and coming bands perform to have realised a few things the people in those bands still don't appear to have realised. The other night I saw another lot of up and comers and found myself thinking the same things I've thought for years.

1. The most precious resource is not your music, it's the audience's attention. Don't let it drop for so much as a second.

2. Introduce yourself or be introduced. Bob Dylan has a man whose job it is to list his achievements and remind the audience who he is. And he's Bob Bloody Dylan.

3. Get on stage and start at least two minutes before your agreed time. And start, don't faff. In the early days Elvis Costello and The Attractions would *run* on clutching the tools of their trade, which was a signal. Any band who didn't want to waste their own time weren't going to waste yours either.

4. Audiences only really like two parts of a show - the beginning and the end.  Prolong the former by rolling directly through your first three numbers without pausing. End suddenly and unexpectedly. Audiences reward bands who stop early and punish those who stay late.

5. Between songs never approach the microphone and say the first thing that comes into your head. The chat is as important as the music.

6. In his excellent book The Ten Rules Of Rock and Roll, Robert Forster says "no band does anything new on stage after the first twenty minutes". Try to prove him wrong by doing one thing they're not expecting you to do. That's what the people will talk about on the way home.

7. Finally, there's nothing an audience enjoys more than hearing something familiar. If you think your songwriting and all-round musical excellence are enough to entertain a bunch of strangers for an hour with songs they have never heard before, bully for you. The Beatles didn't, but what the hell did they know?