I was listening to the magnificent Goodbye Cream LP today (on vinyl, natch) and as Eric, Jack and Ginger brought the mammoth 9 minute white hot solo of I’m So Glad to a screaming, shuddering halt, steam coming off the brake pads and rivets straining on the engine room boiler, a few people actually began to applaud during the few moments of ensuing silence. Yes APPLAUD. What were they thinking? Didn’t these lightweight fans know that this was just a temporary halt in proceedings before the band launched back into the main theme of the song and the closing vocal verse?
All of which brings me to concert etiquette. Have you ever noticed that there are several levels of gig-going fans? There are those who applaud the instrumental introduction to a song, presumably to show how clever they are. Then there are others who wait until the opening vocal line before the penny drops, at that point it’s safe for THEM to applaud. Still others wait until the very END of the song to clap, which is just as it should be,
Alternatively, some people like to applaud specific passages of a song. For example, Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding contains the line “Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked” and boy, did that single line draw some applause, especially during the Nixon era.
Likewise, Bruce Springsteen’s crowds all-but tear the roof off the sucker at the merest mention of New Jersey. Similarly, when Leonard Cohen (ironically) sings “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” the punters go mental in an orgy of self-congratulation.
So, to sum up. Clapping in the wrong place. Applauding yourself for recognising the song, or for simply acknowledging a certain line. It’s all grist for the concert-going mill. I’m sure you can think of others. Laughing way too loud at Randy Newman’s mildly funny betwixt song anecdotes for example. That’s other one. Or whooping like a demented gibbon as the Americans love to do, I’m sure we can’t get enough of that one. Or how about eating hot smelly food and drinking beer during the show? Mmmm, nice.
But enough of my yakking. Let’s hear some examples of concert etiquette that really wind you up. Or perhaps they don’t?