Life in London: so many issues. Our inquisitive editor-at-large addresses the ones that nobody dares (or cares) to. This week: concertgoers-cum-amateur videographers
Last week, Kate Bush politely asked her fans not to film her upcoming Hammersmith Apollo gigs. Why? ‘I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras,’ she said. Fair enough. No quibbles with that.
But, Christ, how did things come to this? After all, if Kate Bush felt the need to make that statement, there must now be ticketholders going, ‘Jeez, I’ve waited 35 years to watch Kate Bush. What am I supposed to do? See her with my eyes?’
The reasoning, I guess, runs like this: it’s been 35 years since Kate Bush last wafted melodies around a London gig venue. Thus, odds are she won’t be back any time soon. Hell, if you want tickets to the follow-up gig, you’d best ringfence a chunk of your pension money for denture glue and a carer at whom you can bellow: ‘EH!? WHAT’S HAPPENING!?’
So do you really want to experience this once-in-a-lifetime musical happening by blinking at it with your fallible little eyeballs? By peering at it through two leaky globes that dribble fluid all over your face at weddings? Which don’t even alert you to text messages or allow you to play house music to other passengers on the night bus? Or, instead, are you going to film it through your camera phone? After all, camera is strong. Camera does not blink or weep. Camera remembers images for ever.
But camera is also wack. In the entire history of camera phones, not one decent gig video has been taken by someone thrusting their iPhone in the air. Unless you’re close enough to have inserted your phone into the nostril of the performer, they will appear to have been shot from the top deck of a passing bus. The music will sound as though it’s been recorded through a wet sock. The lights will overload your phone until your video looks like the invasion of a very loud alien race who bear a passing resemblance to Kasabian.
Why, camera people, why? Can’t you see that you’re ruining live music for yourselves? Gigs are meant to be transcendent. Immediate. They should be something that you surrender yourself to until you feel like the only things left in the world are you, the artist and a wobbly feeling in your tummy that things are never going to get better than this. They’re a chance to let go. To step outside yourself. But when you’re half-concentrating, half-watching a miniature replica on a screen? You’re just, well… you’re just dicking around with a smartphone.
So the rest of us need to help. Next time you see someone making a shitty film on their camera phone, point it out. ‘Man, this is low-res!’ you should yell. ‘Am I looking at a gig or a Magic Eye?’ ‘Hey buddy! I think you need a few more people’s heads in there!’ ‘Excuse me, mate, but I think your phone might accidentally be set to “Shit footage”.’
Say it loud enough and it’ll end up all over their video. And given that videos are how they remember things, maybe, just maybe it’ll sink in until their phone stays in their pocket. Then perhaps gigs will be something they’ll be able to look back on as a bright, visceral memory. Not as something they have to remember by going: ‘Yeah, that’s Kate there! That little speck in front of the bright blurry bit!’
For another of Alexi’s comical ponderings have a read of: How can we stop pedestrians pissing us off?