Friday, June 03, 2011

Take That and Robbie raise the bar for live music

I have seen most of my favourite bands. I have soaked up the raw energy of The Jam in their prime, the Manics at their peak of fame, the pink rabbits of the Flaming Lips and of U2's most pompous stadium best on two occasions. I enjoyed the majesty of the David Bowie Glass Spider, but the music was rubbish. But I will say this. I have never ever seen a live stage performance as dramatic, emotional and as awe inspiring as ... Take That at the City of Manchester stadium tonight.

It was so much more than a pop concert. Part Circ de Soiel, mixed with the Bolshoi Ballet, some X Factor, the Rat Pack, a smattering of soap opera drama and a boy band reunion concert. For each song to have a different stage and multiple dress changes suggests that the whole package now has been re-defined.

As if the reapperance of Robbie Williams wasn't enough - and frankly it would have been - the detail and the choreographed spectacle tonight have created a live event to change the whole game forever.

How disappointed will any one of the 400,000 people attending concerts here in Manchester be the next time they see a lame relay of hits from an old favourite? We've heard a lot of  talk about the music industry needing the live event to save the soul of music. It just won't be good enough. This was just incredible.

Footnote: The tour sold 1.1 million tickets in one day. 


tonypreece said...

Interesting comments and I agree that musicians have to raise their game if they want to keep earning money from their music, but as Take That changing the game, I'm not so sure.

I haven't seen their concert so I can't comment on it's quality but from what you describe it was quite a spectacle. However, I have seen most of those elements in concerts in the past (apart from the reformed boy-band element, unless you count Whitesnake (minus David Coverdale) a decade ago.

From immediate memory I can recall The Offspring and System of a Down putting on shows that wouldn't be out of place in the West End with the combination of music and theatrics. The Offspring had cops and robbers scenes, car chases, fire men and more (the fire men used their hydrants to cool down the audience in the hot summer sun!). Iron Maiden are also famous for their use of theatrics on stage. I first saw then in Holland in 2000 and again a few months later when they came to Manchester. Again the stage set and props were amazingly designed and choreographed.

Iconic German rockers Rasmmstein had a sucessful tour about 5 years ago with a lot of set changes to the stage - not after every song, but they made sure they used the stage to full effect and built a set to make sure they pulled it off.

Bryan Adams played a gig at the Nynex Arena as it was then, in the late 90s. He was on stage for four hours without a support act, but took a break half way through by inviting random people from the croud onto the stage to perform a rendition of Summer of 69!

These are just a few examples, but the concerts that really stick out in the front of my mind (Aerosmith performing the last ever concert at the old Wembley Stadium in 99 and the Iron Maiden gig I mentioned earlier) were special a very different reason. It was the sheer energy and stage presence of the band. They owned every bit of the stage and made sure that their crowds daren't sneeze for fear of missing something.

These days musicians are increasingly pricing their fans out of live concerts (there's only one 'must see' band left on my list that I haven't seen, but I refused to pay £70+ (face price) for a ticket). I think to succeed in the future live music needs more great songwriting, more great musicians, more great energy and stage ownership but less in the way of artificial fillers. I don't think those 200,000 you mentioned need be disappointed by a show where the performers perform their music without fillers. If it's done right the music will always be the element that pulls in the crowds; but unfortunately for future Take That's, I can't see X-Factor style over produced 'acts' ever having that future.

Michael Taylor said...

Cheer Tony - you've hit the nail on the head. I've been thinking about what exactly it is with Take That and their devoted fans. Their music is inoffensive. I can't say I don't like them. In fact I've never not liked them. The re-admission of Robbie Williams however has added another layer altogether.

So, it isn't the music. The music is a backdrop to a show. How many of the 400,000 fans (I miscounted) will go to any of the concerts you mentioned?

And how many other acts could get away with charging £80 and not spend £15m, employing a crew of 300?

Martin said...

Blimey Mickey T, you've changed!

Michael Taylor said...

It was the show that was "dramatic..." etc.

The music .. it's alright.

Not a patch on Manics.