Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to Introduce Songs at Live Shows

Ah, this is a song called "Killers," this one. Yeah. Give me some bad dreams, this one.
--Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, introducing "Killers" at a live show

The first concert I ever went to was by Jethro Tull, and I've been to several more Tull shows since then. Ian Anderson (the guy in charge of the band, which doesn't actually have a member named Jethro Tull) always talks during the show, bantering with the audience and introducing songs. Sometimes he alludes to the songs before announcing their titles, so that the hardcore fans will know what he is talking about before the others do. For instance, he might say, "You know, people sometimes ask me when Gerald Bostock will write his next poem..." and the fans immediately know that he is referring to "Thick as a Brick."

I think this is an awesome way for a band to connect with its fans, and it sets the live performance apart from listening to the album at home. When I went to see Nine Inch Nails, I was disappointed by how little Trent Reznor talked between songs. He mostly launched from one song to the next, sometimes alluding to which album the next song would be from. Of course, Nine Inch Nails is amazing live thanks to the awesome stage show they put on, so maybe they don't need audience banter to make the experience worthwhile.

What do you think? Should bands take the time to talk to their audience at live shows, or is it something that's cool, but not vital? Also, is there a band that you think does an especially good job at talking to the audience, or a certain introduction to a song that you think is great?



bluefish said...

A lot of bands don't talk to the audience at all, like Rammstein. They just start playing, go from one song to the next, wrap up, and leave. Their philosophy is that people come to hear the music, not listen to them jabber. Me, I haven't been to enough live shows to judge for myself. It's an interesting paradigm that we grow to feel like we want more personal connection with the musician, when really he or she is a complete stranger whom we only feel we know becuause of the music.

Kawaika said...

I haven't been to any shows. I see Vernian Process has a couple shows coming up in a few months. Might be worth going to.

Russell said...

My favorite guy that's "talkie" between shows is Weezer's Rivers Cuomo. He just says strange, nonsensical things that are catchy nonetheless. "Watch out for the big black vans!" "Scotch just makes me more thirsty."

Having seen more concerts than I can count, I've decided that what matters to me is that the band seem grateful in some way for the opportunity to play for the audience and show it. Established and more professional bands do this very well. Metallica strikes me as one that is very appreciative of their fans.

The worst was easily Sevendust. The guy was going for the easy cheers by calling out the name of the town. But he called out "Seattle" instead, obviously too drug addled to know where the hell he was. He was almost booed off the stage.

All in all I guess I wouldn't say there's a right way to go, but whatever way you do end up going will become part of what the band is known for, if it's anything special.