I’m a crap heckler. But it’s so tempting at folk gigs; they’re usually small audiences and very often you really have had chats with the musicians, so it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can have a conversation between audience and stage. But the chances are that your supposed choice words were inaudible to all but you and merely disrupted the flow of performance. Some artists probably relish the banter, and it casts them in a good light. Others must find it less welcome; God knows, since I’ve started performing, I can’t imagine how I’d deal with it myself. So, I usually come away from opening my gob, wishing I hadn’t and feeling just a little bit stupid.
That said, I had a proud heckle last month at the Martin Simpson / Dom Flemons gig at Band on the Wall. The set was largely acoustic and they were about to play a jugband number, when Dom walks on stage with an electric kettle. It was clearly a set up, but the cross was well laid, the goal open, so it was irresistible. “Judas!” I cried. Mr Simpson was clearly delighted and, aside, explained to his partner the Mancunian relevance.
So, where do you stand on heckling? Is it all part of the extra buzz that differentiates live performance from the well rehearsed studio? Or do you wish the attention seekers would shut up as you’ve paid, not to see them, but the artist? Further, are you all passive audience members out there, or do we have some active hecklers? Any confessions-of-a heckler?