Archive for america

An Audience, with Kev

Posted in Art, Life, Music, Short Stories, Thoughts, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2008 by kevmoore

audience raised handsI was asked in these hallowed pages what I thought the differences (if any) were, between audiences across the world.  I know I might be in danger of generalising here, but I feel there ARE differences.

They can vary from venue to venue, as well as country to country, but I must say, compared to the English audiences, the Germans are more up for a good night out. They turn the concerts int o a real event with beer tents dotted throughout the crowd, and stalls selling curious luminous “things to wave about” which has the effect of making the audience look magical when the lights go down.

My primary gig is playing in a band fro the 70’s, and I’ve noticed that in the UK, unless music is right up to the minute, there is a fear of being seen to like it. I hate this kind of bandwagon jumping, “Oh, Babyshambles must be great, they’re in the news all the time, because Pete Dohertys a junkie, so its like, really street cred.” Well, I’m sorry, they’re rubbish and he’s a loser. But people in England are so terrified of being scene to be out of date they clamber onboard the latest gaily coloured bandwagon before the paint has dried.

But in Germany, they will come, in their thousands to watch you for one reason, and one reason only. If the music is good. This means, we will play stadiums in Germany, where in previous weeks there will have been such diverse acts as Prince, Tony Christie and Kiss, all well-attended. The demographic of the crowd is also very different. Teenagers will accompany their parents to see bands like ourselves, Slade and T.Rex, and are not ashamed to be seen to do so. They are not behind the times. They like new music as well. They are just not blinkered to the past.

Americans are wildly enthusiastic, its child’s play to whip them up into a frenzy with a few well-placed yeahs! and woo’s! …yet I couldnt help noticing something a little “fake” in their punk attitude when I toured with The Gonads. Don’t get me wrong, non-violence is fine by me, but I know that a similar Brit punk crowd would have been a different kettle of fish altogether. How can I explain this…It’s as if I was in a movie about Punk rock, and the director was trying to capture a crowd scene of angry punks, snarling and raising their fists at the camera, but it was just an act. An example: We were playing in Long Beach, and an extremely large guy accidentally knocked the guitarists mike stand into his teeth. The guitarist booted the guy and he went down. I’m thinking “oh no….” but the guy got up, with a rueful look and said to the guitarist, “sorry, man”. I can assure you, no apologies would have been forthcoming in a UK punk gig!!

Another factor in Audience enjoyment is how grateful they are. When I was touring with Graham Oliver’s Saxon some years b ack, we were invited by a Scottish hotel owner to appear at his Hotel. Upon investigation, we found that it was situated out in the wilds, in a tiny village, so tiny the village was the hotel, a phone box, and three cottages! The hotel had a concert hall attached which could hold about 500. We decided it would be great publicity, and sure enough, we had a full page article in one of the National Dailys. The time of the gig came, and although the owner assured us we would have a crowd, we were skeptical. We needn’t have worried. Bikers and Rockers from the remotest areas of Scotland converged like Bees round a honey pot. The building seemed to jump in its foundations that night, sweat ran down the walls,and we rocked. It was one of the greatest gigs of my life. They were so happy we’d turned out for them.

The Russians also go bananas, they love a good night out. The Spanish, those I’ve played to, seem reserved, but it might not be typical.

But, back in the days when I wasn’t so successful, I used to have to earn my living in what I call “bread and butter gigs”. These were invariably on the Northern Club circuit in England. It is a graveyard for budding stars, and you can leave your ego at the door. It will mean nothing in these places. However, surprisingly, some were okay, but there is an area where the club circuit was so bad, our band actually forbade our agent to accept work there. It was Sheffield. Playing to a club audience in Sheffield was like staring Death in the face. I will never, ever, EVER play in one of those places again as long as I live, even if my life depended on it. I would have more self-respect busking in the streets.

When I walk out on the big stages in Europe, I am always grateful for the opportunity, and never ever forget those dark days when I was forced to play to people who looked on with bored indifference.

Kev Moore