Do high-tech productions kill the 'live' in live concerts?

December 28, 2010
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Elsewhere at IBJ, we ran a story  looking at the possibility of decreased ticket prices for concerts in 2011 due, in part, to the sluggish economy. 

One defense given for the high prices was the high-quality of the productions.

Neil Diamond is quoted as saying: "As the shows get bigger, the expenses get bigger, so it's got to be translated somehow to the ticket price. If I just used the guitar it'd be a lot simpler, but then I'd have to put 50 people out of work."

While I see the pleasures in an occasional concert spectacular, the truth is I'd rather see Neil Diamond alone with his guitar than in a bigger show for triple the price. One of the downsides of high-tech concerts is that it's more difficult to be spontaneous--to actually be "live."

When you've got a dozen back-up dancers, pyrotechnics, laser effects, and endless costume changes, how easy is it for a band or performer to react to the moment?

Can Rush or Lady Gaga or Kiss or whoever your favorite big-arena band may be change a song because something is happening differently between the performers and the audience? Or because an artistic whim arises?

For me, one of the pleasures of seeing a performer in a concert setting is knowing that tonight's show isn't the same as last night's and last night's wasn't the same as tomorrow's will be.

My question: Would you rather see a stripped down show from your favorite act at $25 or a mega-production at $75?

Your thoughts?

  • Artist not Hype
    I go to live shows to see and hear the artist--forget all the bells and whistles that drive up ticket prices. Now, can you make that 7' guy standing up in front of me sit the heck down?
  • It's about the music
    I haven't been able to afford a concert in years. The flash and bang is nice but I want to hear the music and see the artist. Sometimes less is more. If not why are so many artist going to smaller venues for their shows.
  • $$$
    The only mega-production you are going to see for $75 is from the nose-bleed seats.
  • Small shows
    One of the best shows I've seen in years was when Tommy Shaw & Jack Blades came to the Music Mill. There were probably just 4 or 5 people involved with the show. It was awesome to see them sit down with their guitars and sing and play without special effects or anything fancy.

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