In an earlier post, I described my experience watching the new David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream and how it had affected the way that I viewed myself, my music and the creative process in general.
As a songwriter/musician who is about to step back into the world of live performance, the opportunity to see this film could not have come at a better time for me.
This is because seeing the film had firmly reinforced some of my tightly held views on live performance, the music played at a live performance and the relationship between the performer and the audience.
This can all be encapsulated into one phrase…
Don’t just be an entertainer, be a “creator of experiences” for your audience.
So, what does that mean to me? Well, first of all let’s look at what I think a live performance is (or should be in a perfect world).
A live performance should be a seamless and meaningful conversation between the performer and the audience.
It should go a bit like this…
The performer is on stage to deliver a message to an audience who is there to receive it. The audience upon receiving the message then acknowledges the performer indicating that the conversation is now complete with the end result being both parties (ideally) enriched in some way by it.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter whether you perform your own songs, other people’s songs or a mixture of both, just don’t seek to merely entertain your audience, become a “creator of experiences” for them.
Don’t get me wrong though, I personally know of some very talented cover musicians who are wonderful entertainers and do an amazing job of showing people a good time through their live performances
However, this “entertainer” label has never sat very comfortably with me. You see, I don’t want to be just an entertainer. I want to be one of those performers that creates an experience for their audience.
I want the audience to come away from one of my gigs being able to look at the world that they’ve “escaped” from for that moment in time, in a much different way.
As a performer, I reckon you create these experiences if you utilise the following in your live performances…
- Musicianship – You’ve got to have the musical skills to do it.
- Vulnerability – You’ve got to fully put yourself out on a limb while doing it
- Desire – You’ve got to really want to do it
- Enjoyment – You’ve got to find your happy place doing it
- Mindfulness – You’ve got to be fully aware of what you’re doing
- Professionalism – You’ve got to know what you’re doing as you’re doing it
- Humility – You’ve got to be humble as you’re doing it
Yes, I know it all sounds a bit lofty and maybe even arrogant of me, but this time around I would much rather set my own live performance bar as high as I can rather than just show up, go through the motions, take the money and go home again.
Of course this is irrespective of whether I am playing covers, originals or a mixture of both in my repertoire.
As Norman Vincent Peale once said… “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” and that is what I intend to do.
Watch this space and you’ll find out more of my upcoming gigs very soon and finally, do yourself a favour and catch Moonage Daydream before its season runs out.