two solitudes: Alan Sawyer's views on the media industry

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why do I subject myself to this?

Last week I went to see UB40 in concert at Massey Hall. I've been trying to go to one of their concerts for 20 years or more, but it just never happened. I recall a couple of times when I was in other countries and UB40 had just been there or was going to be there just after I left. At last, my wish to see this band live, in all it's glory, was to be fulfilled. Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Great Big Sea at The Carlu. I'd 'seen the Sea' before, and not too long ago, but they're worth seeing again. Or so I thought.

In both cases, the sound mixing sucked. Big time. The vocals for Great Big Sea were pretty much inaudible. On top of that, the stage was backlit -- with the spots aiming right up into the balcony where we had the misfortune of sitting. For UB40, the bass was cranked so high the sleeves of my shirt kept moving to the rythmn. I admit that I was only about 10 rows away from the speakers, but still, that's overkill (or overbass). Again, many of the lyrics were lost (and would have been regardless of the bass). Why do they always crank the music so it drowns out the vocals?

Time and again I go to concerts, spending big bucks for the best tickets I can get. Time and again I come away disappointed by the sound.

After the UB40 concert I decided to spent a fraction of what the ticket cost to buy a concert DVD over the internet. I haven't got it yet and, obviously, it's not the concert I saw, but I bet the sound will be well-mixed and I will enjoy the experience much more on my home theatre system than I did at the live show. I'm still glad I saw them live, but it sure wasn't the experience I hoped for.
So, as for live concerts, I ask: why do I subject myself to this? And will I never learn.

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