Sadly I didn’t get to see Stevie Nicks’ solo tour recently but she has been widely criticised for talking too much between the songs. I remember being mid-chat on stage once and an audience member yelling out (affectionately, I think!) ‘Shut up and sing!’ It didn’t offend me – I’m pretty happy when anyone wants to hear me sing! But I could very happily sit for hours listening to Stevie Nicks talk about her life and her music – it would be absolutely fascinating. But maybe it’s those there primarily to hear ‘Dreams’ and ‘Landslide’ who disagree.
For me, listening to an artist speaking on stage is a big part of why I want to see them live and I feel short changed if an artist barely says a word. When I fall for an artist’s music, I’m intrigued by the person behind the songs. Music is a universal language for sure, but it’s a stylistic, mysterious language. The spontaneous ‘chat’ is a window into the personality beyond the experiences that an artist pours into their music.
Adele is widely praised for her down-to-earth chatter between songs – I feel like she gets the balance right. One of my favourite bands in the world is Goldfrapp and the first time I saw them, in the US, lead singer Alison seemed to be having a rough night with her stage sound and the only speaking we heard her do was frustrated instructions to the sound engineer all night. The music performance itself was sublime but honestly, she didn’t come across as very likeable because she never engaged with the audience beyond the music itself. The same kind of thing happened when I saw them at the Sydney Opera House. I’m a card carrying Goldfrapp tragic, so these experiences didn’t deter me but they did take the sheen off my fandom for a while. Thankfully, at their recent performance at Vivid this year, Alison was in fine form and spoke at least 100 words – friendly and upbeat ones too! Of course I hung on to every one of them and my devotion was fully restored.
It can be about expectations. In a theatre I think discourse is expected and accepted, especially with a seated audience. In a band situation, engagement with the audience is a must for me – sometimes an audience feels like they need permission to get up and dance for example. But spontanaeity is the key and you wouldn’t want a lengthy monologue breaking up the flow of the music.
What do you think? And I know some Stevie Nicks fans are reading this blog, so what’s the verdict – more singing, less speaking? Or can she do no wrong?
See you next time,
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