So you go to a concert. You love the band, think they’re the greatest thing you’ve ever heard. After the show you buy the CD. When you stick it in your player on the way home, you aren’t hearing and feeling the fire of that nights’ performance. What happened?
It’s a Saturday night, three hours earlier. Your standing in a line a half-block long outside of a tiny club in the downtown entertainment district. The doors open late. The line slowly begins to move.
Inside is a dark, split-level room. Tables and chairs line the rails on the upper level adjacent to a bar that runs most of the length of the venue’s inner sanctum.
Down three or four steps is the floor where maybe 100 people or so are gathering in front of the stage. The crowd is polite, well-mannered. As with all shows there is an air of anticipation.
Suddenly the lights dim. The energy in the room begins to amp up. You’ve never heard of the opening act but they’re good enough to be headlining. This is always an unexpected and very pleasant surprise.
After a brief intermission to reset the stage, the headliners walk out and suddenly the room is on fire. Zero to 60 in the blink of an eye and the beat of a heart.
Before even strapping their instruments on, already a singular, united front-an unspoken agreement between the band and the audience-has been formed and intuitively agreed upon.
This night, these next scant few hours, the stars and planets have aligned and a crowd and a group of musical artists become one. Everyone knows they are in the midst of something beyond their expectations- the perfect performance.
This is why true lovers of music go to live shows. Live music has a spirit. It cannot be felt anywhere but in the here and now, flesh and blood moment.
A photograph can capture the image of a person. No matter how many of them you take, you cannot capture the spirit within the person. You may capture a moment that speaks to what this person is like, but you cannot truly know someone just by looking at their photograph.
It’s this way with music. There are a plethora of great musical recordings. As great as they are, as exciting as they may be, they simply cannot convey what “live” gives.
No two performances are ever going to be exactly the same. The above mentioned group gave an unbelievable performance. The next time they take the stage will be different. Different night. Different crowd, different venue.
The live performance is a unique experience shared between audience and artist. It will only ever be exactly that way on one given night. The audience has an active role in this. Live music is a spiritual dance involving all present. The music breathes. It ebbs and flows. It feeds off the collective energy, good or bad, between giver and receiver.
When all are as one, this is when music takes on it’s mystical state. You may not even notice it or have never thought of it this way. The CD will never have the spark of live music because you cannot capture on any medium, what happens when a band and their audience are in it together. This is the spirit of live music.
Jim Ervin is a correspondent with the Highlands News-Sun and Highlands Sun. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.