Saturday, November 15, 2008

We love you

To the 02 Arena for the first time to see an immaculate show by Leonard Cohen.

The audience didn't behave like crowds of 20,000 tend to do. When the house lights were extinguished there wasn't the usual delighted cheer. As far as I could tell there was only one person in that whole crowd who felt the need to announce their location with a war whoop. People applauded instrumental solos when they were distinguished enough to demand it. What conversation there was was kept to manageable levels, suggesting these people had all been to libraries or funerals and were therefore familiar with the principle of shutting the fuck up on occasion.

Inevitably they took pictures on their mobile phones but that's a form of madness too far advanced to turn back. And, inevitably also, some person felt moved to wait until there was a silence and then shout "We love you, Leonard!" What possesses such people? Do they imagine that this makes the artist feel secure? Or does it increase their worry that out there in the dark lurks the odd person who might turn up in their kitchen in the middle of the night with a knife or dedicate their lives to drawing full-sized portraits of them?

I've been at James Taylor shows where women shout this. To be fair, women have the decency to say "I love you, James", thereby at least claiming personal responsibility for the sentiment. Taylor has an elegant way of deflecting such compliments. "That's very nice of you but I think it's best we don't know each other."


  1. I wonder if you encountered the same experience we had at the O2 last year when we went to see Prince.
    I was amazed at the constant flow of audience members up and down the stairs, heading out and back from the concession stands during the gig. I'm not talking about a handful of people, I am genuinely meaning dozens of people on each stairway, up and down, without a break right throughout. They would return laden down with drinks and 'fast' food.

    I find it rather odd that people head out for an evening of what could be a once in a lifetime experience, yet the major thought on their minds is to miss a sizeable chunk of the show, in order to fill themselves and their chums with enormous amounts of drinks and 'snacks'.

    Maybe it is indeed this new-ish vogue of gig-going as a disposable way to spend an evening, on par with popping out to the take-away and then watching a DVD, in the sense that we all probably have no problem nipping out to the kitchen for a re-fill or some reassuring portions of Ben & Jerrys, but to bring this lifestyle to the O2 Arena (and elsewhere) seems 'inappropriate' to this old fogey....

  2. In every gig-going party there are a couple of fans who have dragged the rest along. The ones popping out for beer and pizza are the drag-alongees.

    The young lad Cohen was magnificent.

  3. I'm going to the Albert Hall tonight. God bless Scarlet Mist.

  4. I decided to pack in gig-going for good when I manoeuvred myself into position four bodies from the front at a Tenacious D gig, only to be asked to move by someone behind me because I was obstructing their view for photography purposes. Then someone next to me starting getting narky with a couple of 19 year old lads because they were insisting on moshing and bumping into him.

    It is possible that I am only getting the audience I deserve by choosing 30-something bands to go see. But then I went to a Doves gig not so long ago and the crowd were ace.