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Arts & Entertainment, etc. / Music

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

December 28, 2010

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?

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