Legendary UK songstress Kate Bush is dominating the Google Hot Charts in Australia, hot on the heels of a sold out performance London’s Hammersmith Apollo. The first of twenty-two shows was met with rapturous interest by an adoring fan-base that has been deprived of a live performance for decades. But the event is also interesting because it highlights stark differences in attitudes towards how we consume and interact with the artistic process.
Ms. Bush is a talented and unique artist who shares an intimate understanding of the dynamics of live performance, a knowledge which no doubt led her to ask those fans in attendance not to record or document the event on their phones. But, contrary to her wishes, videos of the concert were posted online within hours. The result was a viral frenzy over a handful of rather low quality videos. But what does it say about us?
Concert-goers have been reticent to lead by example and not chronically over-document their lives. It’s a common modern fascination, but is it the best way to interact with an art form? Or is it a limiting compulsion that removes the participant from the real world, positing them in a space compromised by ego and the outward appearance of things?
Ms. Bush isn’t the first artist to suggest that holding up a phone creates a disconnect form actually feeling and being in the moment. Uncompromising super singer Roger Daltrey, of classic Brit rockers The Who, noted that the modern phenomenon was absurd: “I feel sorry for them, I really feel sorry for them. Looking at life through a screen and not being in the moment totally – if you’re doing that, you’re 50 per cent there, right? It’s weird. I find it weird.”
In spite of these sage words, it seems more and more concerts are being interrupted by pesky red lights and outstretched arms. Though it’s difficult to imagine enforcing the rule in any punitive sense, music lovers and concert goers should yield to the wisdom of those they regard and choose instead to live the moment, fully and completely, one minute at a time.
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